German Shorthaired Pointers are rapidly increasing in popularity as pets, partially thanks to the breed winning Best in Show at the 2016 Westminster Dog Show. They’re also becoming more common as working dogs in airports and the police force, making the breed even more visible to the public.
Pointers are adorable, playful, and affectionate. The German Shorthaired Pointer is a remarkably healthy breed with a long lifespan. Unfortunately, these brilliant dogs are often given up for adoption. While the German Shorthaired Pointer can be a great companion animal, there are some things that potential owners need to know ahead of time.
Exercise is mandatory
“High-energy” is a huge understatement when it comes to German Shorthaired Pointers. It’s difficult to truly appreciate the energy of the breed until you live with one. They need a large amount of exercise every single day, rain or shine. A leisurely neighborhood walk won’t cut it–nor will 30 minutes of playtime at the park. If you plan to own one of these athletic dogs, prepare to adopt an active lifestyle.
While many dogs do fine with a single hour of walking, pointers need hours of exercise. This includes mental exercise, such as trick training, scent games, and puzzle toys. Vigorous play is also a must; tug games, play dates with other dogs, and flirt poles are good options. Some owners take up running or jogging because of their pointer.
They shed an awful lot for a short-haired breed
One might assume that a short-haired breed wouldn’t shed much. This is definitely not true for German Shorthaired Pointers! In fact, they shed a LOT. Since most have a mixture of dark (brown or black) and white fur, it’s impossible to pick furniture that will hide the shedding. Instead, resign yourself to the fact that you’ll be sweeping or vacuuming every single day.
They don’t always get along with smaller pets
The German Shorthaired Pointer has been bred to hunt and many have strong prey drives. Be careful when mixing this breed with cats and never trust them alone around birds or small animals. Your pointer might seem friendly towards your guinea pig but an unsupervised interaction can suddenly end in tragedy.
Pointers are needy dogs
German Shorthaired Pointers are highly affectionate, cuddly dogs. They’re perfect companions and tend to follow their owners from room to room, not wanting to be left out. This can lead to problems when the owner has to leave, however. The breed is prone to separation anxiety and treatment often involves a combination of training, behavioral therapy, and medication (in severe cases). Expect to arrange for a dogsitter or dog walker to stop by, at least at first. Dog daycare is another option. Otherwise, crate your new dog until you can be sure that she or he can handle being left alone.
Their high intelligence seems great…at first
If bored or under-exercised, your German Shorthaired Pointer will destroy your home. This is not much of an exaggeration; the breed requires a lot of entertainment and “work.” Your pointer wants a job to do and you can either provide one or have your dog make one up–often at the expense of your belongings. If your pointer isn’t being used for hunting or competition, consider a home agility course or k9 nose work kit. These tools are especially useful for days when the weather is too extreme for long walks or play sessions in the yard.
German Shorthaired Pointers represent years of selective breeding and were designed to be perfect hunting dogs. Now they’re more likely to be found sleeping indoors on your couch. This is a breed that requires serious commitment, however, so make sure to do your research before bringing one home.