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German Shorthaired Pointers: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

German Shorthaired Pointer temperament, personality, training, behavior, pros and cons, advice, and information, by Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

German Shorthaired Pointer dog breed

Good-natured and adaptable, but primarily bred to be a hunting dog, the German Shorthaired Pointer has a high energy level and belongs with an equally athletic owner who will take him running, biking, or hiking.

A walk around the block is barely a warm-up for a vigorous German Shorthaired Pointer. Too much confinement can lead to barking, hyperactivity, and destructive chewing.

Toward strangers he may be very friendly or somewhat reserved, so his alarm bark may be welcoming or mildly protective. But this is NOT an aggressive breed.

Most German Shorthairs are good with other pets, but some can be aggressive with strange dogs, and some are determined cat chasers.

Obedience training is a must for instilling self-discipline and control, for this breed can be a bundle of intense energy. Fortunately he is eminently trainable . . . but he does not obey blindly. Indeed, though the German Shorthaired Pointer can become focused when required to do so, he is easily distracted and does know his own mind and you need to be both patient and firm.

If you want a dog who...

  • Is large, tautly-muscled, and athletic
  • Has a sleek easy-care coat
  • Thrives on vigorous exercise and outdoor activities
  • Makes a sensible watchdog, but is good-natured and dependable with almost everyone

A German Shorthaired Pointer may be right for you.

If you don't want to deal with...

  • Vigorous exercise requirements
  • Rowdiness and exuberant jumping, especially when young or not exercised enough
  • "Separation anxiety" (destructiveness and barking) when left alone too much
  • Possible aggression toward other animals – chasing instincts
  • A distractable mind of his own – tends to ignore calls and commands when an interesting sight or scent catches his attention

A German Shorthaired Pointer may not be right for you.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

More traits and characteristics of the German Shorthaired Pointer

If I was considering a German Shorthaired Pointer, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Providing enough exercise. German Shorthaired Pointers are athletic dogs who need regular opportunities to vent their energy and gallop. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored, which dogs usually express by barking and destructive chewing. Bored German Shorthairs are famous for chewing through drywall, ripping the stuffing out of sofas, and turning your yard into a moonscape of giant craters.

    If you simply want a pet for your family, and don't have the time or inclination to take your dog running or hiking or biking or swimming, or to get involved in hunting, or agility (obstacle course) classes, or advanced obedience, I do not recommend this breed (unless you adopt an older adult with a mellow temperament).

  2. Bounciness. Young German Shorthaired Pointers (up to about two years old) romp and jump with great vigor, and things can go flying, including small children and infirm people.
  3. Potential animal aggression. Many German Shorthaired Pointers are perfectly fine with other animals. But some individuals are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex. And quite a few German Shorthairs have strong instincts to go after cats and other fleeing creatures, often with deadly intent.
  4. Potential training difficulties. German Shorthaired Pointers are capable of learning a great deal. But they are not the easiest breed to train. Some individuals have an independent mind of their own and can be quite willful. Other German Shorthairs are easily distracted by exciting sights, sounds, and scents, and it takes some training experience to get and keep the dog's attention. Read more about German Shorthaired Pointer Training.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.

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