A Vote For the GSP
I hunted over my first German shorthaired pointer (GSP) in the early 1960s. That experience shaped my bird dog choice for the future.
Due to our TV show, I’ve had the good fortune to hunt over some of the finest bird dogs in North America. Most of the dogs have been either an English setter, pointer, Brittany or the GSP. They are all remarkable bird dogs with outstanding pointing skills. However, the most versatile breed amongst those four is, in my opinion, the shorthair. “…the German shorthaired pointer sits in triumph as the most successful Continental pointing breed in the world” Pointing Dogs, Craig Koshyk, 2011, Page 232.
Most enthusiastic bird dog people know the history of the GSP. It was developed in Germany in the mid-1800s; however, the foundation for the GSP began much earlier as dogs from France, Spain and Italy migrated to Germany. Decades of breeding amongst these dogs eventually produced the GSP. Although there were GSPs in the States before WW II, their popularity grew quickly after the war.
What traits make the GSP so popular? The GSP is similar to a Swiss Army Knife…it can do just about everything we ask of a pointing dog…and just a bit more. Recognizing that no rule is ever perfect, let’s examine the traits of the GSP.
Bidability: There is a strong desire to learn. My wife (Susan) has a female (Dena) GSP that ranked in the top ten nationally in obedience. The GSP craves obedience training.
Nose: Your author truly believes that the nose of the GSP is equal to any of the popular pointing dog breeds. I’ve seen our GSPs point and pin ruffed grouse at 50’ to 60’. In the prairies, they’ve pointed birds at 100’.
Tracking: Recovery of wounded game is very important to all sportsmen. The ability to track a wounded bird is exceptional.
Retrieving: Either naturally or with just a small amount of training, the GSP is an outstanding retriever…both on land and from water.
Range: The range on our GSPs has always been excellent for the cover at that time. In the dense ruffed grouse woods, they’re always within bell range. In the prairies, they always adjust and reach-out farther.
Intelligence: Often cited as being one of the most intelligent of all dog breeds.
Nature: The GSP is good natured and has a strong desire to please.
Appearance: You’ll never grow tired of hearing “oh, what a beautiful dog”.
Okay, you say no dog can be that perfect. What are the drawbacks? Yes, there are a few. The GSP has a slightly stronger desire to catch a bird. That means breaking the GSP to wing and shot might take just a little more training. Another issue is that due to their tracking skills, they may run a little too much with their nose on the ground. All pointing scent is in the air. As a puppy, run them in grass that is a little above their head. They’ll learn to run with their head up. And thirdly, the GSP is a high energy dog. That means it is not a dog that you can leave all day in the house while you’re at work. The GSP must receive daily exercise or it can be very destructive. It’s not an all-day house dog so don’t buy one for that purpose.
A final quote from Pointing Dogs, Craig Koshyk, 2011, Page 231, GSPs are renowned for an intense, but friendly, cooperative temperament.
Copyright 2020 Paul Fuller