How large is a GSP? How much do they weigh?
The Standard calls for a medium sized breed with
males to be 23 - 25" at the withers and weight 55 to 70 lbs and females
21 to 23 " at the withers and weight 45 to 60 lbs. Not all GSPs conform
to these heights and weights. It is important to understand that GSPs
are a very energetic breed and pound for pound very strong in spite of
their apparent size. Considered a very athletic, lean and muscular dog
with the majority of their body weight attributed to muscle.
How long do they live?
The average longevity for the breed is 10 to 12
years of age. A relatively hardy breed many live to be 13 years with
some even longer. Considered seniors at or around the age of 9 some may
require a change in diet or activity level because they will continue to
try to work like they did as a younger dog.
What do they eat and about how much?
It will depend on their age and activity level.
All GSPs should be fed a well-balanced food designed for active dogs
that usually contains a higher fat/protein ratio content in addition to
essential trace vitamins and minerals. Puppies and developing young
dogs should be fed a diet developed specifically for their needs.
Depending upon its age a young GSP may require feeding more than two
times in a day. It is recommended to use the same type of dog food and
follow the feeding schedule used by the breeder. Once they reach
adulthood being fed twice a day; AM & PM is sufficient. Adults may
eat from 2-5 cups of food a day, depending on their individual
metabolism and activity. A dog training hard or hunting in cold weather
will require substantially more than one simply going on walks and
sleeping on the couch. A GSP that lives outdoors in a cold climate will
need a diet specific to their needs during the winter because they do
not have the type of coat nor layer of fat like some breed to insulate
against the cold therefore, they lose a lot of body heat even when
sleeping. This may require increasing the amount of food with each
meal. Because the breed is subject to bloat or torsion they should not
be fed immediately after running or other demanding exercise nor should
they be allowed to run or exercise for at least an hour after eating and
drinking. The ideal evening mealtime would be after the day's
exercising and activities are through for the day.
Where should they live/sleep?
The Breed was not developed to be kennel or pack
dogs but to interact with their owner and family. A GSP that gets a
lot of exercise and interaction with family makes a great housedog. If
not in training or hunting they must have a secure area to exercise or
be taken on regular runs where they can let off steam. A GSP that is not
exercised regularly will find a way to release pent up energy
regardless if kept inside or outside. Crate training is recommended for
various reasons. It helps with housebreaking the puppy and allows the
adult dog a defined place to sleep and be confined when not allowed
controlled freedom in the house. Because of their curious nature and
high activity level, it is best if young dogs sleep in a confined,
secure place, such as a crate. This assures that the dog does not
“accidentally” get into trouble during the night when he wakes up and is
unsupervised. Older, mature dogs that have proven themselves
trustworthy housedogs, can be allowed to sleep unconfined at their
GSPs may be kenneled outside if provided adequate
shelter, bedding and water but they will not be ignored. An ignored GSP
becomes a bored GSP and a bored GSP becomes a destructive GSP. Much
like the bright student that gets into trouble because of boredom in the
classroom the same can be said of the bored GSP because of its high
intellect and curious nature. This bored behavior can result in
barking, digging, chewing and overall general destruction. If a GSP is
going to be an outside dog, their owner needs to be aware that a dog
left to their own device can be extremely destructive.
What are the grooming needs of a GSP and how often should they be done?
Maintenance of the GSP is minimal compared to
many other breeds, but there are still some areas that require
attention. The ear because of its shape and fold it doesn't allow for
adequate airflow thus providing a warm moist environment conducive to
yeast infections in the ear canal. Your vet can demonstrate proper ear
maintenance to you and regular cleaning with mild solution, designed for
ears, will help keep this area under control.
Good dental health is a must. The family dog can
be taught at a young age to have its teeth brushed with a toothbrush
and toothpaste formulated for dogs. Under no circumstances should one
use toothpaste formulated for people because it contains an ingredient
harmful to dog. Also, provide chew toys that are designed to clean teeth
and stimulate gums. Don't give hard bones or processed hooves as they
may cause damage to the teeth of dogs that chew aggressively.
Toenails should be kept trimmed. Long nails can
be hazardous to the dog running in the field or in the kennel run by
getting caught in something and possibly torn off. Besides bleeding
profusely the dog's foot will be tender and sore until the nail grows
back. A puppy can learn to have its feet handled at a young age and its
toenails trimmed. It is best to do them once a week and remove only a
small portion from the ends being careful not to cut into the quick.
Also, if the toenails are long it can affect how the dog walks and bears
Shedding……YES, being a short coated dog does not
keep them from shedding. The dark hair shows up on the light stuff and
white hairs on the dark stuff!! Also because of the hair length it can
become imbedded in some fabrics and carpeting and difficult to vacuum
out. Regular brushing using a rubber horse brush or grooming glove
along with periodic baths will help to some extent. Like some other
breeds GSPs will "blow" coat depending upon climate changes and
hormones. It is best to use a mild shampoo or one formulated for dogs
so as not to strip essential oils from their coat. One also needs to be
careful to keep soap or water out of the ears and eyes when washing the
head. A good quality, balanced food with essential fatty acids will help
to keep the coat healthy and may help reduce shedding. A healthy,
parasite free, clean GSP will shed the least possible. Outdoor dogs
living in colder climates will develop an undercoat that looks and feels
soft and will shed out in the spring. This undercoat can be encouraged
to all come out at once by closely timed baths and brushing as the
weather begins to warm.
Some GSPs may have loose lower eyelids(ectropian)
that do not fit tight against the eyeball. Not a desired attribute
because it allows dirt, dust, weed and grass seeds to come in contact
with the eye. Grass and weed seeds can be very painful and may cause
damage to the eyeball. When hunting with such a dog, it is recommended
that you carry saline solution to flush out the eyes periodically during
How much exercise do they need; how frequently?
GSPs were bred to be hunting dogs and as such
require daily exercise. If they are not in an active training program
then a daily routine that includes some form of exercise preferably
morning and evening. The ideal would be time to run and/or play in a
secure fenced area; at least a half hour AM and PM. If you do not have
the facility for that a brisk morning and evening walk or jog are
essential. Swimming is also a good form of exercise. City dwellers may
have to be more creative with providing their healthy high energy GSP a
daily opportunity to blow off steam and stay in condition, maybe a
treadmill type dog jogger, or a local dog park where a ball or frisbee
can be safely chased.
What toys and supplies do I need to buy?
A sturdy collar with clearly marked identity tags
and two different lengths of leashes. One for keeping the dog close to
one's body and the other to allow the dog a bit more distance away. A
retractable lead, i.e. the flexi lead is fine as long as the individual
understands it can be dangerous to both the dog and owner if used
improperly. The flexi was designed to keep the dog close by with the
lock feature "on" or "off" with the recoil feature active to allow the
dog to move further away. The dog should not be allowed to wander about
and become entangled in the cord because the recoil is not activated
nor should the dog be allowed to run and hit the end of the flexi with
full force as the cord can break or the handle jerked out of the hand.
Flexi's were designed for different weights and it is important to have
the correct one for the dog's adult weight even when using with a puppy
or young dog. Dogs need to "checked" and not allowed to hit the end of
the lead at full stride.
One should never put their dog's name on the id
tag. Should the dog be taken on purpose the person will then know its
call name. The id tag can simply be marked, "I'm Lost" or "Please
Return" along with a contact number. Dogs should always wear some type
of collar and identification when outside even for short periods of time
in their own yard. It is best if the dog has a microchip implanted
under the skin between the shoulder blades and registered with the AKC’s
Companion Animal Recovery program. The microchip is about the size of a
grain of rice and contains all of the necessary information to contact
the owner should the dog become lost. Most vets, shelters and other
like type organization have a universal scanner to check for microchips.
It is recommended to have the microchip implanted by a Vet or an agency
that does this on a regular basis. Be careful of loose fitting collars
and dangling tags when the dog is confined to his crate or running in
the field as there is the possibility of it becoming tangled or caught
on something causing harm to the dog. A “choke style” collar should only
be used in specific obedience training situations and never used when
the dog is off lead or out in the field hunting. Only snug fitting flat
collars with a flat id tag attached by rivets should be used in the
field. Be prepared to buy more than one type and size of collar to
allow for the growth of the puppy into the adult sized dog and the type
A stainless food bowl and water bucket work best
for a couple of reasons. They don't break are easy to keep clean
because the surface doesn't harbor germs and won't cause contact
dermatitis like some of nylon or non- ceramic bowls.
A crate is a must. It should be large enough for
the dog to stretch out and stand up and turn around but not so large
that it does not provide the secure “den” feeling that dogs
instinctively seek. There are various types, wire and plastic. Different
situations call for different crates, be sure the crate chosen has a
secure method of fastening the door so it can't be pushed open. Wire
affords good air circulation, but is not as secure to the dog as a
plastic crate. Plastic crates are required by the airlines should there
be a need to ship the dog. Bedding that can be easily washed. Some
looks really nice but if the dog has an accident it would be difficult
to clean properly. Plastic backed items may work well as a moisture
barrier but can also retain heat and be uncomfortable for the dog.
Most GSPs like to retrieve and enjoy anything
they can fetch including items you may prefer they leave alone. It is a
good idea to teach your dog early to chew on the ones designed for that
purpose and leave the others alone. The market is full of products good
for helping reduce tarter on their teeth that can help maintain dental
health. Dogs may have a preference of which ones to chew and not all
dogs may like to chew on these types of things and may need
encouragement. Some dog treats such as rawhide bones and rope toys
should be given to the dog only with supervision. These types of items
can be dangerous if the dog eats them rather than just chewing them.
Some dogs take their time and simply enjoy chewing, while others simply
destroy them swallowing large pieces that can become lodged in the
intestine creating a dangerous situation. Puppies should never be
allowed to play with or chew items unsupervised. It is also important
to account for all of the toys regardless of age when the dog is through
playing with them.
Are they good with children?
For the most part the breed enjoys a reputation
of being good with children. If considering a puppy or older dog it is
important to ask if it has been socialized with children as well as
adults. Due to their high level of intelligence and inbred desire to
function with and for people they seem to understand that infants and
very young ones need care and protection, and tend to be tolerant of
little ones’ play. This is not to say that an exuberant pup will not
knock a toddler down or accidentally bite when trying to grab a toy.
When visiting a new litter, you may find the dam protective of her
brood, and should respect that for what it is and never approach the
whelping box unless the owner is present and in control of the mother
dog. You also may encounter a GSP alarmed at the antics of small
children, which should be explainable by asking if the dog has ever been
exposed to youngsters. Aggression toward or fear of people of any size
or age is not typical GSP temperament and should be avoided in any dog
you may take into your home.
Are they easy to train?
Yes, IF you keep the lessons simple and
consistent. If new to the breed it always helps to work with another
knowledgeable individual. The GSP is very eager to please and will work
hard for positive reinforcement. They are not generally stubborn or
hard-headed but can be quite creative. They pick up new exercises very
quickly. Due to their high intelligence level, the biggest challenge is
to keep them focused, and not let them get away with “inventing”
variations to the exercise being taught. Because of their extreme
sensitivity to people, the trainer must always be watchful of their own
body language and reactions to issues that come up during a training
exercise. As a general rule, a calm demeanor providing quick and clear
reward for desired behavior, while ignoring or if necessary simple
verbal correction of undesired behavior will net you an enthusiastic and
talented working partner.
Should I crate train my GSP?
ABSOLUTELY!! The crate was designed with the GSP
in mind!! If introduced properly and in a positive manner, it becomes a
safe haven and a secure “den” for the dog. This way the dog has a place
to go when things get too hectic and it needs a break. When the dog has
to travel, its “home” can come along and the dog will always have a safe
place regardless of the circumstances. Just as you wouldn't leave a
very bright three year old child unattended the same analogy could be
used about leaving an unsupervised GSP alone in the house and expect it
to be good!! No one likes surprises and an unsupervised child and or
GSP can be full of them if left to their own devises. When left safely
in a crate,(hopefully not the child) when you come home, you know that
you can enjoy your dog without the trauma of a big unexpected mess.
Last, but certainly not least, if your dog is ever ill and required to
be "crate rested" either at home or at the Vet's office, it will help
with recovery time if they are familiar with a crate rather than the
feeling of being trapped in a cage.
Is it fair to the dog if I don’t plan to hunt?
GSPs are most commonly thought of as prized
hunting companions, but what the avid hunters who treasure them know is
this is not just because they have fantastic noses, tremendous
endurance, great heart and strong field instincts. This breed was
developed with versatility in mind, and the German breeding programs
succeeded admirably at what they set out to do. They are also bred for
tracking, for companionship, for watching over their territory and
ridding it of vermin, for working in rough terrain both on land and in
water. What is not fair to this breed is to ignore them and sentence
them to a sedentary life with limited human companionship. If you can
find activities in your life that afford the dog the opportunity to work
with and for you, you will have a happy and well-adjusted animal no
matter what that activity may be. The temperament, physical and
intelligence qualities you read about in this piece allow the GSP to
excel at just about any activity you are interested in which can include
How do I find a responsible breeder and what health issues should I ask about?
The GSPCA Breeder Referral
is a listing of GSP breeders located through out the U.S. Some have
hot links to their individual websites and those that don't have other
contact information. While the Parent Club offers this service it is
important to note this is not to be considered an endorsement,
guarantee, recommendation or approval. It is the Breeder's
responsibility when it comes to the health, temperament and advertised
attributes of the puppies and dogs offered for sale. While the GSP
breed is considered relatively free of genetic problems when compared to
most other AKC breeds, there are health clearances that breeders can
At a minimum breeding stock should be certified against hip dysplasia by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)
with a ranking of at least good or excellent. Some breeders may use
PennHIP as a means to assess the hip joint and the amount of laxity both
of which can be a predictor of future hip health problems. GSPs rank
107th in hip dysplasia with only 5.3% of the Xrays submitted classified
as dysplastic. This data is skewed by the probability that most bad
Xrays are never submitted to the OFA, which makes the certification all
that much more important. Breeders are also starting to screen elbow joints with few problems found in GSPs (98.2% checking clear).
Many breeders check eyes for Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) cleared through the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF); another genetic eye condition Cone Degeneration (CD)
can only be cleared by a DNA test. A dog can be determined to be a
"non carrier and/or normal", a "carrier" or an "affected". Normal means
just that, the dog doesn't carry the genetic disease. A carrier has one
half of the genetic material to produce the disease but does not have
the disease. Affected dogs have inherited both halves and will exhibit
symptoms of the disease which causes the cone receptors in the eyes
begin to degenerate and by the time pups are 9wks of age the breeder
would begin to notice these pups have a problem with depth perception,
seeing comfortably during the daytime and difficulty locating a light
colored object on a light background. Termed "day blindness" which is a
misnomer in that the dog is not "blind" just that it sees better in low
Some will also have thyroid levels tested; test for Von Willebrand’s Disease (VWD) a blood clotting disorder; and have heart function also cleared through the OFA.
It helps to know the health not only of the sire
and dam of a litter, but also of their parents and littermates. How long
did they live? What if any kind of health issues did they have?
Courtesy of the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America (GSPCA)