9 Winning Facts About the German Shorthaired Pointer
This amalgamation of dog breeds is one of the most versatile working dogs out there. Learn more about the spotted German shorthaired pointer.
1. SURPRISE: THEY COME FROM GERMANY.
Although pointer-like dogs can be traced all the way back to Ancient Egypt, the German shorthaired pointer was first bred in Germany (as the name suggests).
2. LOTS OF BREEDS WENT INTO ITS CREATION.
The German shorthaired pointer was bred before the first studbook was created in 1870, so the exact breeds that went into its bloodline are unknown. Most people believe that the foundation of the breed is the German bird dog. Other dogs thought to have contributed to the breed include the Spanish pointer, the English pointer, the Dalmatian, the Weimaraner, the tracking hound, and the Vizsla. (The German shorthaired pointer shares its long snout and floppy ears with most of those breeds.)
3. THEY WERE BRED TO HUNT …
No one knows who specifically spearheaded the breeding of the GSP, but we know a dedicated group of German hunters were behind efforts to shape the breed in the mid-19th century. At the time, hunters were in search of the perfect hunting dog, capable of catching game on both land and water. GSPs were bred to hunt a variety of animals, from small game like squirrels and opossum, to larger game like boar and deer.
4. … BUT THEY HAVE OTHER TALENTS, TOO.
German shorthaired pointers have also been used to guard homes, pull sleds, and sniff for bombs. They have a variety of different attributes that make them perfect for any job in and out of the water. Their water-resistant coats repel debris as they swim, while their spoon-shaped webbed paws act as paddles. On land, their heavy nails help them get traction on even rough terrain.
5. THE AIR FORCE USES ONE.
Haus is a German shorthaired pointer that was donated to the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing by American Legion member George C. Evans. The well-trained pooch is used for sniffing out explosives. “Our primary mission is to search vehicles and packages for explosives upon entry to the base,” one of his handlers, Staff Sgt. Zerrick Shanks, has said. “We also conduct random walking patrols for suspicious packages and activities.” Haus is a hard-working dog with an important job, but it’s worth noting he also happens to look pretty spiffy in goggles.
The Air Force isn’t the only organization capitalizing on the pointer’s ability to sniff out explosives. The TSA also uses the dogs, including one named Pina. As part of the official canine explosives team, she sniffs boxes and crates in New York and New Jersey for any suspicious odors. Luckily, she has yet to find any potentially dangerous scents that weren’t placed there for training.
6. THEIR NAME COMES FROM THEIR STANCE.
Pointers, as the name suggests, naturally use their bodies to point when they find game. They lower their heads, keep a steady gaze, and lift one of their front paws—taking the shape of an arrow directing hunters to the prey. This pointing behavior is so innate, even puppies that have never been on a hunt will sometimes do it.
7. THEIR NOSES MATCH THEIR COATS.
According to the American Kennel Club, the GSP comes in eight different colors, including white, liver, and black. If you’re unsure what color your dog is, just take a look at its nose. Liver colored dogs have liver noses; black colored dogs have black noses.
8. THEY PERFORM WELL IN AGILITY EVENTS.
Agility is a popular canine competition in which well-trained dogs are led through an obstacle course. Due to the nature of the obstacles (which include tunnels and jumps), the events require a strong bond between dogs and their handlers, as well as natural motivation and conditioning. The German shorthaired pointer’s speed, grace, and willingness to learn make them an ideal breed for the sport. The AKC has been holding prestigious Agility tournaments since 1978, and the highest title, the Preferred Agility Champion (or PACH), was instated in 2011. As of 2015, there are 8 PACH-titled German shorthaired pointers.
9. ONE JUST WON 'BEST IN SHOW' AT WESTMINSTER.
The winner of "Best in Show" at the 140th Westminster Dog Show is a German shorthaired pointer named C.J. He and his owner, Valerie Nunes-Atkinson, are currently making the rounds as part of their media tour, showing up on programs like Good Morning America and The View. Nunes-Atkinson told The New York Times that she's always known C.J. was a winner: "At 6 weeks, he walked across the living room floor and we said, 'Oh, my.' He has that sparkle that makes you stop and look at him. We expected great things from him from the start."
All images courtesy of iStock unless otherwise stated.