Get to Know the German Shorthaired Pointer: Making the Point on the Hunt and at Home

This active dog was bred to be a versatile hunter as well as a faithful companion to humans.


Pointer, tracker, retriever, show dog, agility dog, obedience dog — and most of all, companion — the German Shorthaired Pointer may be the most versatile breed on earth. This versatility is the result of a concerted effort to produce an all-around hunting companion.

More interesting facts about the German Shorthaired Pointer

  • In the 1600s, the heavy Spanish Pointer was crossed with a scent trailing hound to produce a dog who could trail as well as point mammals and birds. Later crosses to English Pointers gave the dogs a stylish look and a higher carriage hunting style.
  • It wasn’t until the 1800s that a concerted effort was made to develop the breed into an all-around hunting dog. At that time many specialist hunting dogs abounded, but a hunter would have to own a kennel to have some of each, or limit himself to hunting just one kind of game over one kind of terrain.
  • Prince Albrecht zu Solms-Braunfeld of the Royal House of Hanover is credited with leading the effort to develop the breed.

  • The do-it-all dogs that were developed became known as Deutsch Kurzhaars. They could hunt upland birds and water fowl, and they could point, retrieve, and even trail and face off against feisty mammals. If a hunter could have just one dog, this was it.
  • In the early 1800s two of the dogs, named Nero and Treff, distinguished themselves at the German Derby to such an extent that their progeny became so desirable they are now considered the foundation of the modern breed.
  • The first German Shorthaired Pointers to come to the United States came to Montana in 1925. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1930, an incredibly short time after arrival.

  • During World War II many European breeders sent their best German Shorthaired Pointers to Yugoslavia for their protection. These dogs became separated from the rest of the gene pool when Yugoslavia became one of the Soviet Union’s satellite states.
  • By the 1960s German Shorthaired Pointers had become a dominant force in pointing trials and dog shows.
  • The tail is customarily docked in North America. However, it is usually left long in Europe because of rules prohibiting docking.

  • The AKC standard allows colors of only liver or liver and white. Black or black and white German Shorthaired Pointers are disqualified from the AKC show ring but are accepted in many other countries.
  • It’s easy to confuse the German Shorthaired Pointer with the Pointer, but the Pointer always has a long tail and has little or no ticking (flecks of color). It may also be confused with the Dalmatian, but the Dalmatian is smaller, has a wider, shorter head, and usually has distinct coin-sized spots instead of ticking or large patches (although occasional patches are seen).
  • Two German Shorthaired Pointers have won Best in Show at the Westminster dog show, in 1974 and 2005.

  • The German Shorthaired Pointer is the 13th most popular AKC breed, up from 21st a decade ago.
  • German Shorthaired Pointers are featured in Robert B. Parker’s Spenser book series, and in the books Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had as well as Run, Rainey, Run and Bashan and I.
  • Owners include Ben Stein, Efrem Zimbalist Jr, and Christy Turlington. It’s surprising more celebrities don’t own them.

Do you own a German Shorthaired Pointer? Have you spent time with one? Let’s hear what you think about this fascinating breed in the comments. And if you have a favorite breed you’d like us to write about, let us know that, too.

Interested in other breed profiles? Find dozens of them here.

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About the author: Caroline Coile is the author of 34 dog books, including the top-selling Barron’s Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. She has written for various publications and is currently a columnist for AKC Family Dog. She shares her home with three naughty Salukis and one Jack Russell Terrier.

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