The German Shorthaired Pointer is an all purpose gundog… a dog that hunts, points and retrieves. This takes no time at all to read but much more time to explain and understand. The original German breeders had as their ideal:
- A dog that would work in all conditions of weather and cover;
- Would hunt, point and retrieve tenderly on land or in the water;
- Track wounded game;
- Act as a guard against poachers;
- Be brave against predators.
This is only part of the description of a German Shorthaired Pointer. The last two sentences do not appear anywhere in the English standard. What few people new to the world of dogs will understand from the foregoing is that any breeder would consider themselves very lucky if one puppy out of a litter came near the specification in all it’s aspects. I would like to underline one or two words for further consideration:
Any dog bred to do the work of three or more breeds combined must have more intelligence than is the norm in most of the other gundog breeds.
This is a trait especially demanded in both the German and English standards, and it can equally be described as obstinacy.
This is a trait that was only sought by the Germans, but it must be born in mind that this can crop up to a great degree in the most unexpected places. I find it a convenient trait in a house-dog, but it can cause problems when allied with character defects. If you would like a guard dog I would suggest one of the working breeds specially bred for this purpose.
To be brave against predators can be a polite way of saying they should have killer-instinct, and in Field Trials on the continent, the dogs are required to kill a small animal such as a Fox.
German predators can be much bigger and fiercer than any likely to be met with in this country and it is not unknown for German Shorthaired Pointers to kill cats unless trained not to do so.
Most responsible breeders look first for working homes, then show homes and lastly pet homes. Approximately 1500 German Shorthaired Pointers are registered each year so it is obvious that a great many are going to pet homes. People see some of the gundog breeds leading very quiet sedentary lives and imagine that all gundog breeds are the same, with the same requirements. This is a dangerous generalisation. Some dogs in every breed are going to behave outside the norm for their breed. A German Shorthaired Pointer, by its very breeding for a highly difficult and complex number of expectations, is not going to be a norm within the gundog group. They have been bred to work outside in all weathers, eight hours a day, seven days a week, and some of them are capable of doing just that. They need plenty of varied exercise, they need human love and companionship and they need occupying. They are very like children and are slow to mature, some never do, and their adolescence can be very trying. They are physically strong dogs with strong wills and need consistent handling from the cradle to the grave. Discipline with a capital D and Training with a capital T often stifles the initiative and can produce hard headed dogs. Many are like a piece of elastic, the harder you pull your end the further away the other end becomes.
One of a German Shorthaired Pointers most endearing traits is his love of his people and unless brought up from a very small puppy to kennelling, prefer to live as one of the family. They are remarkable for their companionship traits and do not thrive away from people. Many dogs come into rescue for just this reason. If you have to chastise a German Shorthaired Pointer the “more in sorrow than anger” approach usually works best. They should never be allowed to exercise without supervision. A good home does not need acres of land for him to roam. Nor is it possible to share a picture book garden with one, unless you can fence off a fairly large piece of it for him to enthusiastically turn into the mountains of the moon. They love to dig and their faeces need collecting regularly. If shut outside or inside for long periods on their own they can become very noisy and destructive. They can also use their considerable enterprise and initiative to escape in order to find the company, exercise and interest that they need.
Before taking one on, be very sure that all members of your family are equally keen. Are you young, strong and patient? Do you love long walks? Live within easy reach of the countryside or a large park? This is not the breed for the elderly, no matter how active and young children can get knocked about by a young thoughtless dog. They have an average life expectancy of 10 to 12 years so unless you can see your future stretching before you without overseas postings, or having to change your accommodation into places where pets are not allowed, don’t have one. It will break both yours and the dogs’ heart to part and they are not the easiest breed to re-home.
A properly reared German Shorthaired Pointer is one of the greatest joys in this life and if they are not in the other then I don’t want to go.