The German Shorthaired Pointer is a sporting dog par excellence, having achieved the distinction of earning more than 100+ Dual Championships since the 1950's. Only one other breed, the Brittany Spaniel, can claim this honor. Development of the German Shorthaired Pointer began in Germany logically enough in about 1860, or perhaps a little earlier. Until about the middle of the 19th century, hunting privileges had been reserved for the titled and wealthy, who kept large kennels of various kinds of hunting dogs, each with his special purpose.
But with the advent of social change, the sport became available to men of more humble circumstances, and they needed an all-around hunting dog of moderate speed, excellent nose, pointing, flushing and retrieving ability; one who could work closely as well, for this new type of hunter traveled on foot and had no need for far-ranging hounds whose quarry might be miles away. Well that is quite a tall order to say the least! But patient and imaginative German breeders to whom we owe so many of our finest sporting and working dogs embarked on the undertaking with their customary optimism and zeal.
|German Shorthaired Pointer|
Modern authorities disagree on all but one point: the basic stock was founded upon an Old Spanish Pointer, then very popular in Germany. This fellow was a large-boned, rough-coated, liver-and-white canine with a broad head, and most important of all the instinct to pause momentarily before flushing game. His faults seem to have been a poor nose, a sluggish gait and a surly disposition. It is generally conceded that the Hounds of St. Hubert, which were described by George Turberville in 1607:
“The black hounds originally came from St. Hubert's Abbey in Ardene. These are the hounds which the Abbots of St. Hubert's have always kept in honor and remembrance of the Saint, whereupon we may conceive that all good huntsmen shall follow them into Paradise.” According to historian Edward C. Ash, “these dogs were found mighty of body with short legs, and slow; the bloodhounds of this color prove good, especially those which are very dark and coal black.”
It has also been suggested that the developing breed was crossed with the bloodhound, the foxhound, the setter and almost certainly with the English Pointer to improve the nose; but since no accurate records were kept prior to 1900, and hot dispute over the exact origin abounds, it is impossible to state with certainty all crosses that were tried.
|German Shorthaired Pointer Weight Standards: m - 55 to 70 lbs., f - 45 to 60 lbs.|
Height Standards: m - 23 to 25 inches, f - 21 to 23 inches
Coat: short, single, smooth, liver and white
Common Ailments: Dysplasia, an overeater
At first the experimental breeding produced some haphazard even grotesque results. The breeders themselves were secretive and at odds with each other. There were those who stubbornly pursued perfection of head and ear, others who strove for leaner bodies and longer legs, and still others who were concerned with coat color. Historians of the breed credit a Hanoverian prince named Albrecht zu Salms-Brauenfels with a major role in the animal's development. It was he, who, in the midst of the confusion, counseled the breeders to stress performance rather than beauty; to breed only the dogs with the desired hunting abilities, predicting that, in time, the lineaments would take care of themselves. The principle of “form follows function” is true in any anatomical physiological development: the body will adapt to the uses to which it is put.
It is interesting to note that this theory closely parallels the thinking of Charles Darwin, whose writings first appeared in 1858. This excellent advice was ignored by many; but those who were wise enough to follow Prince Albrecht's suggestions began to produce the very promising forerunner of the German Shorthaired Pointer. Subsequent inbreeding and linebreeding resulted in the dog we know today a first-rate sporting animal.
The American Kennel Club German Shorthaired Pointer
In 1883 a Shorthair Nero von Hopenrade distinguished himself in the German Derby. Then, several decades later the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America was formed in 1930, and the breed was accepted by the American Kennel Club that same year. The modern Shorthair weights 60 to 80 pounds and stands 23 to 25 inches at the shoulder. He is a compact animal, with a straight, short back, a deep chest, substantial neck and broad skull. His head is almost rectangular in profile with very little stop, although his brow line creates the impression of a stop. He has broad, high-set, close-handing ears, nicely rounded at the tip. His coat is short, smooth, and hard, and may be solid liver-and-white, or speckled liver-and-white with solid liver head and ears. He has large nostrils, a square muzzle, and his nose is slightly darker than his coat. His tail is docked to two-fifths its natural length.
|German Shorthaired Pointer|
He especially excels in hunting quail, pheasant or duck. The well-trained Shorthair will stand at point a few feet from the quarry until the hunter reaches shooting range; he will then advance slowly but inexorably until the bird has been driven into the air, and he will then retrieve from land or water the hunter's prize. He works closely and quietly, getting his scent from the air although he can, when necessary, track from spoor, and is used successfully for upland game shooting as well. He is keen and willing and seemingly tireless. He goes about his job with a workmanlike concentration, and is so determined to accomplish his task that he has been known to retrieve game from trees! With these attributes, then, it is not surprising that he can readily learn the exercises necessary to win Field Championships.
The temperament of the German Shorthaired Pointer makes him an ideal family dog. He accepts and loves all members of the household equally. He will sleep indoors or in the kennel. He desires to please and responds to praise and joyfully participates in games or work. He is extremely easy to maintain, and does well on a diet of good commercial dog food, with vitamin supplements added as necessary. He can be obedience-trained, but may require a bit more patience on the part of the trainer and a little more time for this work than do dogs which are bred primarily for obedience work. Needless to say, children love him as a companion, for he will gaily chase a ball until their arms tire of throwing it; and he loves nothing better than a romp and a swim at the beach or river, or a walk in the woods where he can explore to his heart's content. The German Shorthaired Pointer is an elite-type among sporting dogs, a source of infinite pride and pleasure to his trainer, and a beautiful and affectionate member of the family.