German Shorthaired Pointer Breed Information Guide: Photos, Traits, & Care

Written by: BARK

September 13, 2022

The German shorthaired pointer (not to be confused with its longhaired or wirehaired cousins, which are separate breeds) is one of a kind. With its characteristic brown head and spotty body, this dog breed stands out in a crowd.

german shorthair pointer pointing in a field

Although its days of helping with the hunt are long over, the German shorthaired pointer maintains a love of adventure, a loyal vigilance, and an eagerness to please. Mix all these traits in with a handsome face, and you have one pretty perfect pointer puppy on your paws.

Breed Overview

  • Height: 20–26 inches
  • Weight: 45–75 lbs
  • Lifespan: 10–13 years
  • Breed Size: Medium–Large
  • Colors: Liver roan, liver & white, liver, white & chocolate, black & white, brown
  • Good With: Kids, other dogs,
  • Temperament: Sweet, loyal, loving

Also Known As…

GSP. Kurzhaar, Deutsch Kurzhaar (DK), Deutscher Kurzhaariger, Vorstehhund. The dog of all trades; the canine triathlete.

What Is The History Of The German Shorthaired Pointer?

To understand the history of the German shorthaired pointer, you need to break the breed name into three bite-sized pieces. Luckily, the first two are easy.

First, is the “German” part. Dogs that looked and acted vaguely like the German shorthaired pointer have roamed Europe since at least the 1200s. However, the GSP as we know it didn’t appear until the 1800s, when they were selectively bred by upper-class breeders in what is now Germany.1 They remained in Germany and the surrounding areas until after World War I, when Americans took an interest in the breed and brought them across the pond.2

Next, the “shorthaired” segment. Well, that one’s pretty self-explanatory. (But in case you need confirmation, go see if you can pet the next door neighbor’s adult dog—tell them it’s for “research.”)

The final “pointer” part is perhaps the most intriguing. GSPs are part of a larger class of dogs known as pointers. The pointer puppy name comes from the animal’s ability to “point” at birds, rabbits, and other small game during the hunt. Once the pupper pointed out a possum or peafowl, a German nobleman would fire away. Because GSPs and firearms often went hand in hand, some people also referred to these canines as “gundogs.”

So, there you have it. The German shorthaired pointer slowly made its way from the acreages of German aristocrats to the backyards of everyday dog lovers.

german shorthair pointer with owner near a river

How Big Do German Shorthaired Pointers Get?

Height: 20–26 inches

Weight: 45–75 pounds

How Long Do German Shorthaired Pointers (Generally) Live?

The average lifespan of a German shorthaired pointer is 10–13 years. This life expectancy puts it on par with breeds like the Great Pyrenees and the Chow Chow.

What Is A German Shorthaired Pointer’s Temperament & Personality Like?

As with all dog breeds, it’s impossible to give a blanket statement that covers the temperament of tens of thousands of pups. But in general, you’d be hard-pressed to meet a sweeter, more loyal companion than the German shorthaired pointer. Why? It all comes down to the breed’s history.

German shorthair dogs were involved in hunting quails, raccoons, and other forest creatures, but they never did the dirty work. They simply led their lords and ladies to the appropriate clearing and closed their eyes. As such, German shorthair dogs are anything but aggressive. 

These days, they channel their intelligence and energy into loving your entire family and friend group—and not into tracking innocent woodland creatures.

Are German Shorthaired Pointers Good With Kids? Cats? Dogs?

GSPs don’t care if you’re nine or 90; they’ll love you all the same. These friendly and strange dogs are exceptionally good with children of all ages. They’re patient, gentle, and respectfully playful if the situation allows it.

Cats may have a harder time feeling at ease around GSPs. You see, kitties look awfully similar to the critters that these gundogs used to chase down. Even if your bird dog has never led a hunting party in its life, that pointer instinct can turn on when you least expect it. If you want your German shorthaired pointer to live alongside felines, it’s best to introduce them during the puppy stage.

When it comes to other dogs like a Chow Chow, Maltipoo, or Golden Retriever, the GSP is as amicable as ever. Your bird dog will treat most other dogs like members of the pack—so long as they’re respectful.

In fact, that’s the general rule with German shorthaired pointers: they treat others how they want to be treated. In other words, play nice with a German Shorthair Pointer, and you’ve got a friend for life. (To ensure everyone plays nice with your versatile hunting dog, always supervise meetings with kids and other canines.)

german shorthair pointer puppy running

Are German Shorthaired Pointers High Energy?

Yes, yes, and yes. Oh, and another thing: yes. The GSP might as well be a bullet train covered in fur. Thanks to centuries of traipsing through miles of forest, the German shorthaired pointer is a bottomless pit of energy.

Daily exercise is a must for any German Shorthair Pointer. To keep your GSP in peak physical shape, aim to exercise together for around an hour each day. Activities can come in the form of chase-the-ball, climb-the-mountain, or even swim-across-the-lake (since GSPs have webbed feet).

Overall, if you’re a runner, hiker, swimmer, biker, or general fitness enthusiast, you’ll be a perfect match for a German Shorthaired Pointer puppy.

Are German Shorthaired Pointers Hard To Train?

This might all sound too good to be true, but… yup! GSPs are known for their trainability. They’ve been confidently taking orders for a few hundred years already—why stop now?

GSPs are the perfect combination of intelligence and eagerness to please. These strange dogs are smart enough to know what you want, and they’ll gladly do a trick a million times over if you ask for it.

Need more proof that German shorthaired pointers are highly trainable? In 2016, the winner of the Westminster Dog Show’s “Best in Show” was a GSP named CJ.2

Do German Shorthaired Pointers Have Health Issues?

Compared to other breeds, GSPs have a reasonably clean bill of health. Even so, there are a few issues to look out for, including:3

  • Joint problems – Some GSPs can suffer from hip or elbow dysplasia. This issue with ill-fitting joints can sometimes lead to arthritis.
  • Eye problems – Juvenile cataracts and cone degeneration (CD) are common ocular problems in GSPs.
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease (VWD) – This blood clotting disorder causes cuts and scrapes to bleed longer than usual.

When responsibly bred, GSPs are far less likely to experience these dog health conditions. And even if they do, they can still live long and healthy lives with proper care and treatment. The vet is your best friend, so don’t forget to visit regularly if you own a German Shorthaired Pointer puppy.

GSP with its face in a human palm

Do German Shorthaired Pointers Need To Be Groomed?

While every dog breed needs some amount of grooming, GSPs are relatively low maintenance. As German shorthaired pointers shed semi-regularly, they don’t need haircuts. However, they do need the occasional brushing; once every few days should suffice.

One area that warrants special attention is their ears. The GSP’s long, floppy, oh-so-adorable ears cover their ear canals, making them the perfect hiding place for moisture and bacteria. Be sure to inspect and clean the ears every week or so. Throw in a regular mani-pedi and some dental care, and your GSP will look—and feel—like a million bucks.

How Much Does It Cost To Care For A German Shorthaired Pointer?

Between the cost of living and lifestyle choices, it’s impossible to say for sure how much it costs to bring a  German bird dog into the family. But, on average, you should budget at least $1,600+ per year.

GSP with tongue out


An adult GSP will eat between two and five cups of food per day, depending on their activity level. To that end, fueling your German shorthaired pointer could cost you around $60/month.

Why not give your GSP the best food on the market? With BARK Eats, you can. A monthly subscription keeps a steady flow of high-quality dog chow coming to your front door. All you have to do is input your dog’s height, weight, and dietary needs, and experienced veterinarians will take care of the rest. Try it today and take 50% off your first month!

Routine Vet Care (Healthy Dog)

If you want to avoid hefty healthcare bills, later on, your best bet is to visit the vet on the regular. Every six months should do the trick. Some of your typical vet expenses will include:

  • Vet fees ($45–70 per visit)
  • Heartworm medications ($45)
  • Vaccines ($25–35 per shot)

Preventative Medications For German Shorthaired Pointers

GSPs are built for the outdoors; they want it, they love it, and they need more of it. Anytime you have an adventure-loving dog, you need to keep the fleas and ticks away. At roughly $120/year, these anti-pest medications are well worth it.

And if you want your GSP to remain your mountaineering buddy for as long as possible, you should also take care of their ever-important joints. Ask your vet if glucosamine chondroitin supplements are right for your pup; they can help promote healthy elbows and hips. An annual supply will run you about $110.

German Shorthaired Pointer Grooming

Beyond odds and ends like brushes, nail clippers, and doggy shampoo, you might want to indulge in a spa day for your German bird dog. A simple bath will probably cost you $35–50, while a full-service appointment will be closer to $100

pair of GSPs in a pickup truck

Toys, Treats, Beds, & Accessories

And now comes all the rest. But hey—at least it’s the fun stuff! For all-you-can-eat treats, you’re looking at around $80/year. Depending on your taste in toys, budget an extra $60 on top of that.

Save yourself some gas money and bring the toys ‘n’ treats to you! With BarkBox, fun new goodies are never far away. For $23/month, your GSP will get 2 treat bags, 2 cute toys, and a meat-tastic chew. Drop $29/month for the Super Chewer, and you’ll receive those 2 treat bags PLUS 2 rugged chew toys and 2 protein-packed meat chews. DOUBLE YOUR FIRST BOX FOR FREE.

While you’re at the pet store, don’t forget to grab the rest of your must-haves:

  • Food and water bowls ($20)
  • A dog bed and blanket ($40–90)
  • A leash ($20)
  • A collar ($15)
  • A grooming kit ($40–70)


  1. German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America. GSP History.
  2. Sports Illustrated. Behind the scenes at the 2016 Westminster Dog Show.
  3. German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America. Buyer Education.
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Written by: BARK

September 13, 2022


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.