German Shorthaired Pointers are great family dogs. They make for loving companions that are full of energy and eager to please. Since the German Shorthaired Pointer was bred to be a hunter, some people may wonder why these pups are so affectionate.
German Shorthaired Pointers are so affectionate because of their intelligence and loyalty to their family. These dogs enjoy interactions with humans and are eager to please. They were bred to be sporting companion dogs, so they prefer being close to their owners.
Throughout this article, I’ll discuss this topic in detail, including some breed history that contributes to their affectionate nature. I’ll also discuss some of the demands of German Shorthaired Pointers and give you some tips for raising your pup right.
Personality and Temperament of German Shorthaired Pointers
German Shorthaired Pointers (GSPs) are typically very friendly, loving, and affectionate dogs. Like many other canine breeds, they develop a strong bond with their family and prefer to spend most of their time with their humans.
There may even be some science to help explain why we bond so closely with our four-legged friends. Research has shown that bonding between humans and dogs is facilitated by gazing into each other’s eyes, just like what happens between two people.
The personality and temperament of the German Shorthaired Pointer are naturally playful and affectionate. A 2002 study on dog personalities found that pointers were one of only two breeds analyzed that scored negative on “aggression,” showing that these dogs are lovers, not fighters.
German Shorthaired Pointers like to be close to the family, so much so that they’re unofficially referred to as the “velcro” breed. Often, a GSP will follow family members around the house, and he wants you to include him in your activities. As long as he’s getting enough exercise, he will be a calm house dog and will be content just to be nearby without demanding too much of your attention.
Even though these dogs are loveable family dogs, they’re still very high-energy and can be too much around small children. It’s a good idea to constantly monitor how little ones do around your GSP before leaving them unattended.
Hunting and Sporting Companions
Early breeders bred German Shorthaired Pointers to be companion dogs for hunting. They “point” with their body to assist their companion in finding prey. The breed has adapted over time to be a versatile sporting dog, remaining highly competitive and one that loves attention and praise.
As hunting dogs, they’re always curious. These intelligent pups are fiercely loyal to their human companions, and they want to feel your trust and demonstrate theirs to you.
These traits are primarily due to their history. German Shorthaired Pointers came about during the 19th century in, you guessed it, Germany. The breed originates from the German bird dog and a mix of German Bloodhounds and possibly an English or Spanish Pointer.
The goal of this new breed was a versatile hunting dog that was also obedient, a loyal companion, and one that would do well with the family. Pointers were also bred to locate game and “point” at it, not attack and kill it, which meant they had to be easily trainable and not too aggressive.
The result of all this produced the dog that so many know and love today. German Shorthaired Pointers are still eager to perform “work” for their family, even if they’re not used as hunting dogs, and crave the love and affection of their humans. These dogs are eager to please, and their intelligence helps them pick up on their owner’s feelings.
The German Shorthaired Pointer is a popular dog with a lovable spirit. His intelligence, loyalty, and affection are some of the many reasons he’s a great family dog. His natural instincts make him an ideal sporting companion, explaining why Field & Stream named the GSP one of the six best-hunting dogs that make great family pets.
Are German Shorthaired Pointers Affectionate With Other Animals?
German Shorthaired Pointers typically get along with everyone in the family, including other pets. However, they’re still hunting dogs, so their natural instincts may cause them to “hunt” squirrels, birds, or unfamiliar cats. They may otherwise just be annoying to other small pets in the home.
These dogs aren’t aggressive by nature, so they’ll be polite and not bark or snarl once other dogs become known to them. However, a German Shorthaired Pointer who doesn’t get enough physical activity may become hyperactive and chase and bark at every critter that he notices.
German Shorthaired Pointers that are raised with other animals will typically live with them happily without any issues. However, animals can be unpredictable, so it’s best not to leave very small animals (like birds or mice) unattended with your GSP without securing one of them.
If your dog spends enough time outdoors without supervision, you may find that he returns with trophies in the form of dead birds, rats, squirrels, or even cats. This could cause a problem with neighbors, and most people don’t want their dogs roaming and killing wild animals. To prevent this, you should avoid allowing your GSP to roam freely unless he’s in your fenced-in yard.
Are German Shorthaired Pointers Protective?
GSPs are very loyal and attached to their family, so you may wonder if they make good “guard” dogs or if they’re very protective of their humans.
German Shorthaired Pointers are typically protective of their family and home. However, they aren’t aggressive by nature and are unlikely to intervene physically. They’ll do a great job of pointing out an unusual sound or sight by barking and possibly pointing.
These dogs are great running or jogging partners. They enjoy any opportunity to run and burn off some energy. If you’re looking for a pup that can keep up and help you feel safer while running alone, a German Shorthaired Pointer is a good option. I’d recommend getting a hands-free leash if you plan on running with your GSP (available on Amazon.com). I used this all the time when my dog was younger and would join me for my morning jogs.
Caring for a German Shorthaired Pointer
German Shorthaired Pointers are low-maintenance dogs that don’t require much special care as compared to other dogs. However, there are a few points of difference to keep in mind to ensure your GSP stays happy and healthy.
Exercise Needs of a German Shorthaired Pointer
I’m starting with this element of GSP care because it’s one of the most important and is often the most challenging for owners. These dogs are high-energy who require a significant amount of physical activity and mental stimulation. When they don’t get enough exercise, they can become destructive and engage in undesirable behaviors.
The American Kennel Club recommends a minimum of two sessions daily of significant physical activity. This isn’t the dog for you if you only have time for a quick walk before and after work, and they’ll not do well left alone all day or in a kennel without any interaction.
German Shorthaired Pointers love to play and will engage in almost any activity that you choose. They like to impress their humans with their abilities, so a good old game of fetch is a great way to let your GSP run hard. They’re also excellent swimmers, with webbed feet and a muscular body that makes it easy for them to paddle through the water. I have an article specifically about their swimming abilities – Can German Shorthaired Pointers Swim?
Check out my Recommended Toys page for the perfect toys that will help tire out your GSP!
Training a German Shorthaired Pointer
Though much of their lovable personality comes naturally, like all dogs, a German Shorthaired Pointer’s temperament and personality are also impacted by their training and upbringing. GSPs have so much energy that they may act out without training, and you’ll also want to make sure that you have their inner hunter under control.
GSPs are very trainable, especially at an early age. However, with all that energy and potentially not knowing what to do with it, the puppy years can be especially challenging with this breed. Giving the young pup some tasks to learn right away will help establish your status as the Alpha and allow you to bond through positive reinforcement.
The American Kennel Club recommends that you start training your German Shorthaired Pointer right away, as soon as you introduce him to his new home. Starting with name recognition and plenty of treats will help him learn that you’re in charge right away and engage him to learn more tasks. My dogs love the salmon flavored Blue Buffalo Wilderness Trail Treats Wild Bits (available on Amazon.com).
Like most dogs, these guys do better with many short training sessions throughout the day. If you spend 5-10 minutes at a time at regular intervals, you’ll make faster progress, and your GSP will be figuring out what you want him to do in no time.
Once your GSP learns some new tasks and behaviors, he will need to move on to something new to keep him mentally stimulated. These dogs do very well in agility training and competitions, working dogs, or even show dogs.
If you are having a difficult time training your GSP, check out Brain Training For Dogs. You are able to train your dog at home and learn from a certified trainer who has trained military and police dogs for over 10 years.
German Shorthaired Pointer Challenges
Even though there are many benefits to owning a German Shorthaired Pointer, and you would be hard-pressed to find a more lovable family dog, the breed does pose some challenges for owners.
Physical Energy & Exercise Challenges
The breed is high-energy and high-maintenance when it comes to ensuring that they get enough exercise. If they don’t get enough physical activity, they may become bored and act out in destructive ways. Left inside the home, he may chew or dig at floors, try to escape, or chase small animals.
GSPs are known to jump over fences if they get bored in your backyard. Having enough room for your dog to run full speed is helpful but not required. If you have a small yard or live in an apartment, you’ll need to be able to commit to trips to the dog park or exercise somewhere that he’ll be able to run.
While German Shorthaired Pointers are easy to train because of their intelligence and eagerness to please their owners, their brains can sometimes get the best of them. They’re independent thinkers and can sometimes become willful or stubborn. This is one of the reasons that very short but frequent training sessions are ideal.
They also get bored or distracted easily, so it may be challenging to keep them focused and engaged during training sessions. They’ll be looking at anything that moves by nature, so you may have more luck doing early training in an isolated environment before moving on to more public spaces.
It’s also a good idea to start small and begin training as soon as you bring your GSP home. These dogs respond well to clicker training and a lot of positive reinforcement.
I recommend these pet training clickers available on Amazon.com, because they come in a handy two-pack (I always seem to misplace one of mine) and a convenient wrist coil so you can keep your hands free for signals, petting, and handing out treats. Also, the button is big and easy to click, and it produces a loud enough sound that your pup can hear it even if he’s not right next to you.
Finally, German Shorthaired Pointers adore their humans. They form strong bonds with their family and want to be by their side. This is one of the things that makes the breed a great family dog.
However, it also means that they’re susceptible to becoming lonely and suffering separation anxiety if they’re left alone for too long. This breed shouldn’t be left at home alone all day or kept in a kennel. They need time and space for physical and mental stimulation, and they require ongoing and sufficient interaction with their human family.
Responding to Challenges
Many of the issues you may face with a German Shorthaired Pointer are related to insufficient physical activity or mental stimulation. The best way to prevent these problems is to be proactive about ensuring that your furry friend gets plenty of exercise and the opportunity to use his hunter instincts.
Something that may help with all these issues is this Swift Paws Home agility game available on Amazon. It’s a 300 ft. (91 m) course with a remote-controlled moving toy that zips along the course for your dog to chase.
I think it’s fantastic because you don’t have to have a huge yard to let your dog run full-speed and chase to his heart’s content. This type of toy allows your GSP to hunt, and since it’s remote-controlled, you don’t have to wear yourself out in the process.
German Shorthaired Pointers are loyal and affectionate dogs. Though they were bred to be hunting and sporting dogs, they’ve become among America’s most popular family dog breeds. Their attachment to their family is due to a combination of their versatility and their upbringing. Still, if they don’t get enough physical and mental stimulation, they will likely become a challenge to handle.
- Science: Oxytocin-gaze positive loop and the coevolution of human-dog bonds
- ScienceDirect: Personality traits in the domestic dog (Canis familiaris)
- Canna-pet: German Shorthaired Pointer Temperament & Personality
- Field & Stream: 6 Hunting Dog Breeds that Make Good House Dogs
- American Kennel Club: How to Train a German Shorthaired Pointer Puppy: GSP Training Timeline
- Companion Animal Psychology: What is Positive Reinforcement in Dog Training?