German Shorthaired Pointer Temperament & Personality

characteristics of a german shorthaired pointer

If you’re considering getting a dog, it’s easy to see why the German Shorthaired Pointer might catch your eye. This breed of smart, loyal, and active dogs, has a stunning multi-colored coat, expressive eyes, and big floppy ears. They have every quality you could possibly want in a great pet.

But, German Shorthaired Pointers can easily be filed under “too smart for their own good,” and can use their smarts to make their own rules and take over your household. This breed needs a lot of activity, and if they aren’t given proper exercise and mental stimulation, they will find other ways to vent their energy, which can sometimes lead to destructive or less-than-ideal behavior habits. And while this breed can be stubborn, they are typically very receptive to training. German Shorthaired Pointers have an amiable temperament and personality and can make excellent family pets if given the proper attention.

Breed History of The German Shorthaired Pointer

Because of their unique history, the German Shorthaired Pointer is a very versatile dog, perhaps the most versatile of any breed. As the name suggests, the GSP was created in Germany during the 19th century as a multipurpose hunting dog that could point out game. But the breeders at the time didn’t just want a phenomenal hunting dog; the goal was to breed an all-around versatile, obedient hunting dog and companion.

german shorthaired pointer personality

The German Shorthaired Pointer was derived from the German Bird Dog and several German Bloodhounds and perhaps even Spanish or English Pointers.

The breeds used excelled as gun dogs, water dogs, track and trail dogs, and scent hounds, each varying widely in their appearance. Early versions of the GSP weren’t aggressive enough, and were not fond of the water, leading to other crossbreeding to correct these behaviors.

This crossbreeding resulted in long, lean, remarkably athletic dogs with an elegant look to go with strong noses and big personalities.

Careful consideration was given to create a great all-around hunting dog that would also make an intelligent and affectionate companion. The German Shorthaired Pointer works well as a hunting dog both in water and on land. This breeds coat is actually water repellant, and they have webbed feet, making them an impressive swimmer.

The GSP first arrived in the U.S. in 1925 by Dr. Charles Thornton and was bred shortly thereafter. Five years later the dog was registered with the American Kennel Club, and according to the AKC, the German Shorthaired Pointer is currently the 11th most popular breed of dog.

German Shorthaired Pointer Personality

Bringing home any dog, but especially a German Shorthaired Pointer is a long-term commitment and relationship that will come with its share of challenges and learning phases. German Shorthaired Pointers have great personalities and are fun-loving dogs, but need to be given the right stimulation to be happy, or they will become a real burden. This article will go over some of their most notable traits and you can decide if you will be able to provide a good home for a GSP.

German Shorthaired Pointer Temperament

A German Shorthaired Pointer’s temperament is influenced by a number of factors. This includes each individual dog’s heredity, training, and socialization with other animals. The most common characteristics of the German Shorthaired Pointer is having friendly temperaments and curious and playful spirits. They are usually eager people pleasers, willing to approach people or be approached and are receptive to being petted by strangers.

Meeting a GSP’s parents before you bring home a pup can help you learn what his temperament might be like when he gets older. If the parents, especially the mother, have a good temperament and are friendly, this is usually a good sign that your pup will grow to have a similar disposition. That being said, you probably won’t want the puppy who is beating up on his litter mates, nor the one who is hiding in the corner from his siblings. Try to find one somewhere in the middle, who is playful, but not too rough, and not avoiding being social.

Early Socialization

Speaking of being social, a German Shorthair needs to be socialized when he’s young with many different people, other dogs and animals, and sights, sounds, and experiences to make sure he grows up to be a well-rounded dog. He will do well in puppy obedience training classes, and bringing him around other people and dogs early on can go a long way.

german shorthaired pointer temperament

To socialize your puppy, you can also bring him to the dog park, walk around your neighborhood, or take him to your local stores and restaurants that allow dogs. Essentially, you should take your dog along with you as much as you can to expose him to as many people, places, things, and situations as possible.

Activity Requirement

The first thing you need to know about the German Shorthaired Pointer is that they have energy to burn. In fact, because of their athleticism, German Shorthairs have often been compared to triathletes, so you can imagine the level of activity it might take to tire your pup out.

Your GSP won’t even consider a walk around the block to be a warmup. You’ll need to dedicate an hour or two each day to make sure your German Shorthair gets in some vigorous exercise because if those demands aren’t met, your dog might turn to some destructive behavior.

German Shorthaired Pointers are best-suited for active families who will love to take their dog along on adventures. And while they are bred for hunting, you don’t have to hunt to make your dog happy. This includes runs, hikes, and even bike rides; the more exercise the better for these dogs. Your pup will happily trot along on the longest hike or run you can handle. This breeds smarts and athleticism also make him perfect for agility training.

Almost immediately, a GSP will retrieve anything you throw at him to chase but may need some training off the leash to be reliable in open spaces like parks. These dogs are great picks for families who want to involve their pup in everything they do. Even if your dog isn’t given enough activity he will become bored and could turn to digging, chewing, and tearing things apart to vent his energy. He’s even been known to hop fences to explore the neighborhood or chase anything that moves.

If you aren’t able to dedicate enough time to these activities, then a German Shorthaired Pointer might not be the breed for you. But if you are able to meet this dog’s exercise demands, you will have a happy, loyal companion who will be a calm house dog, eager to lay by your side.

Personality of the German Shorthaired Pointer

The German Shorthaired Pointer is a smart and friendly dog who is eager to please. This breed has a big personality and is very smart, many people even think they are advanced enough to develop senses of humor. Although this breed will be well-behaved with proper training and early socialization, they are still a bold and boisterous dog who can be stubborn at times.

GSPs hate being left alone and will stay by your side wherever you go. They will love everyone in your family as well as those who come around often but have been known to choose a favorite.

Relationship With Your Family

German Shorthaired Pointers loves people and will want to be around family at all times, almost to the point of being clingy. They will often follow your every move around the house and need to know where all members of the family are at all times. This breed needs constant human interaction to be happy and wants to be involved in whatever you do.

While they are a very friendly dog as long as they have been socialized early, a German Shorthaired Pointer can be very protective of his humans and home. Some will have more of an intense need to protect their pack than others, but in general, this is not an aggressive breed. Though they may have a strong alarm bark or sometimes be reserved around strangers, this breed typically will not pose any danger.

German Shorthaired Pointers are also usually great with kids, but since they are so powerful, they should be supervised when around small children. Their playfulness and exuberance can sometimes cause unintentional injuries, so your pup and children should not be left alone, especially since small children don’t understand an animal’s boundaries. You can train your dog and child to be gentle with each other, but it may take some time for them to learn.

Relationship With Other Animals

personality of the German Shorthaired Pointer

Because they are a hunting dog, the German Shorthaired Pointer often may not be compatible with small pets like cats. This breed has a strong instinct to hunt and chase, which might make life miserable for a small pet in your family. They also may not do well with birds.

German Shorthaired Pointers can sometimes be trained to live in harmony with other small animals, especially if they have been raised with other animals, but you should never leave them together unsupervised, as this breeds natural hunting instinct can kick in at any time.

If your dog is left outdoors to his own devices, it may come back with trophies in the form of dead cats, rats, birds, or other small animals.

Your dog will most likely be quite proud of himself for these accomplishments, but unless you are using your GSP for hunting, you probably don’t want him hunting and killing other animals around your home.

You can manage this behavior by not allowing your dog to run free in your neighborhood or even out in the local park. If you plan to leave your dog in your yard for extended periods of time, you will need a high fence to keep him enclosed, as he has a tremendous leaping ability. This is another behavior trait that can be curbed by making sure your dog has plenty of exercise.


German Shorthaired Pointers are highly intelligent dogs who are capable of learning a great deal, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they are the easiest to train. Because this breed is so smart and independent, they will require some patience to train in order to show that you are the boss. However, German Shorthaired Pointers are also eager to learn and have a job to do, so they will generally be open to training and learning new tricks throughout their life. The key is consistency and being a firm and confident leader.

Your pup will thrive in an environment where he has structure and leadership, as he instinctively requires a need for both. Because this breed is so clever, a GSP is fiercely independent and will do whatever they want if they feel you aren’t an effective leader. This doesn’t mean that this breed is disobedient; they just doesn’t see you as the one in charge. You’ll need to have a firm hand in training to make sure your GSP understands his place in the family, clearly showing that you are the leader of the pack.

You should begin training your puppy the day you bring him home, otherwise, you will have a more headstrong puppy. Socialize him early and enroll him in obedience classes when he has had the required vaccinations. Obedience training should be viewed as a must for this breed to help temper his bursting enthusiasm and learn control.

It can be difficult to train a German Shorthaired Pointer to focus, but they are able to learn with consistent training exercises. Once your pup learns a behavior, he will then need something new to stimulate him mentally. This breed can handle a wide range of jobs and activities, from agility training to field and hunting competitions, as well as making great show dogs. They have even been used as sled dogs, for bomb and drug detection, and as therapy dogs.

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