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  • Writer's pictureJoanna Lee

Life with a German Shorthaired Pointer | Collaboration

Updated: May 12, 2023

Wikipedia defines a GSP as such: The German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) is a medium to large sized breed of pointing dog developed in the 19th century in Germany for hunting. A versatile hunting breed, being an all-purpose gun dog suitable for both land and water, they are streamlined yet powerful with strong legs. While a hunting breed that retains a strong drive to find and chase game, they are extremely energetic and can excel at a wide variety of dog sports. Their demeanor when well-socialized is friendly toward both people and fellow canines, with some tendency to be velcro dogs.

American Kennel Club defines a GSP as such: The versatile, medium-sized German Shorthaired Pointer is an enthusiastic gundog of all trades who thrives on vigorous exercise, positive training, and a lot of love. GSP people call their aristocratic companions the 'perfect pointer.' Male German Shorthaired Pointers stand between 23 and 25 inches at the shoulder and weigh anywhere from 55 to 70 pounds; females run smaller. The coat is solid liver (a reddish brown), or liver and white in distinctive patterns. The dark eyes shine with enthusiasm and friendliness. Built to work long days in the field or at the lake, GSPs are known for power, speed, agility, and endurance. 'Noble' and 'aristocratic' are words often used to describe the overall look. GSPs make happy, trainable pets who bond firmly to their family. They are always up for physical activities like running, swimming, organized dog sports; in fact, anything that will burn some of their boundless energy while spending outdoors time with a human buddy.

I get a lot of questions from current GSP owners & prospective GSP owners about what life is like with a GSP. Pros/cons to the breed, exercise/training requirements and personality traits are the most common things asked. I asked multiple GSP owners to write about life with their dog. In this blog post there are a wide variety of owners with diverse lifestyles. Enjoy :)

Joanna & Nyx

Prepare yourself for my novel. My name is Joanna and my GSP is Nyx. She is almost 2 years old. We got her from Triple Flush Kennel, her parents are Birdie & Deke. Prior to Nyx we had another GSP puppy, Theo, he unfortunately passed away at 7 months old in a tragic accident. I didn’t discover Triple Flush until after he passed away and my friend introduced me to Tim and Tammy and I am forever thankful for that introduction. Tim and Tammy are phenomenal breeders that are truly dedicated to bettering the breed, producing well rounded and versatile dogs, and they’re just amazingly generous people. They have welcomed us like family and supported us every step of the way. I am so thankful to have them in my life and yes, we will be getting another puppy from them in the future!

I grew up with GSPs, both my family and my uncle had them. My family’s GSPs were active pets and my uncle hunted with his. As an adult, my first dog was a rescue with behavioral issues. I knew my next dog would be a well bred dog like the dogs I grew up with. I have a very active lifestyle, I run and hike 5-6 days a week, and I wanted a dog that could keep up with everything I did for many many years. I also wanted a dog with a stable, confident and social temperament after my last experience with Kane who does not have that. I wanted a dog that could go everywhere and anywhere with me and love it all. This is exactly the dog I got and I have never been so thankful & grateful. Nyx is the happiest dog you will ever meet. She has never had a bad day in her life and you cannot be sad around her bouncy & sassy self.

I think overall I was very prepared to bring home a GSP. People’s main concern with this breed is the exercise need and that was my main motivation for getting this breed, to keep up with my exercise schedule. We brought Nyx home at 8 weeks old and her puppyhood was relatively easy. She was quick to crate train and house train. She struggled a little with ‘fear of missing out’ when she was young which sometimes made crating her in new places a challenge; thankfully this was short lived. Her recall training was an absolute breeze, she is biddable and cooperative with a high desire to please. She is both food and toy motivated, making training easy. I do utilize balanced training methods, including an ecollar for recall and a prong collar for leash walking. While she has a high desire to please she also has high prey drive and hunting instincts. Safety is my main priority to allow her the off leash time she has earned, which is why I chose to use an ecollar. She never destroyed things in the house or caused issues, but I think this was largely due to my management. She wasn’t left unattended or unsupervised in the house ever, so she never had the opportunity to build bad habits. I do work from home which allowed me to always give her a variety of mental and physical stimulation throughout the day. However, I also made sure to prioritize crate training while I worked and left her home alone frequently to prevent separation anxiety. Nyx is naturally a very socially appropriate dog with both people and dogs, I attribute this largely to genetics. However, I did carefully also plan out exposure and socialization when she was young to ensure that I brought out the best in her.

Adolescence was a whole different ball game and so far the most challenging part of owning her. This period started around 10 months old and I think we are finally coming out on the other side at 22 months old. Adolescence is HARD because they look like an adult dog but they are still so immature. I am very lucky in the sense that she never had any weird fear periods, behavioral issues or reactivity during this time but she did have a huge desire to range, and range far. Now, certainly part of this is genetics. GSPs are bred to cover a lot of ground independently while hunting so this is something that I kept in mind during her training. Her recall never suffered during this time, also very lucky, but I was having to recall her every 2 minutes because of how fast she was putting distance between me and her. I am also aware that some of the problem was created by me and lack of expectations/ consistency in training. She was allowed to range far on wide open hikes above the tree line or while hunting birds but not on a wooded hike? Yeah, I can see how that would be confusing to a young dog. I think one of the most frustrating parts of this was the whirlwind of inconsistency. For weeks or even months she would be perfect while hiking and then bam, we would have an awful week. There is a lot going on in a dog’s brain during this period, just like a human adolescence, so it makes sense that it would be a rollercoaster. I did identify certain triggers during this time, such as hiking with certain other dogs (including Kane) and hiking with certain other people (Josh, my fiance). I think it was very much an over arousal triggered behavior which is very normal in adolescent dogs and the same reason many dogs go through reactivity bouts during this time. My desired behavior with Nyx is a moderate range with frequent natural check-ins and I think we have finally reached that level in her training. I am sure we will still have bad days, because everyone does, but lately that goal has seemed more than achievable and it is an absolute dream.

As far as exercise needs go, she gets mental and physical exercise every single day. Physical exercise always includes some off leash time. Mental exercise ranges from training sessions to puzzle toys/kongs. We exercise 5-6 days a week together, including hikes, trail runs, bikejoring, or frisbee. I don’t necessarily track our exercise but on average we do anywhere from 1-3 hours of physical exercise per day. She doesn’t need this everyday but I am very active and got a dog that fitted that lifestyle. She could happily sleep on the couch for a few days at a time with no issue but where is the fun in that. I do not have a backyard so all our bathroom breaks entail going on a walk. In the morning we do a short walk or play session, or in the summer we run before work. During my work day she sleeps the whole day. Her nickname is Potato for a reason. She used to be crated for a lot of my work day but now she rotates between the couch, bed and dog bed in my office for her nap, ideally finding the spot with the most sun. She is just starting to earn privileges to be out of her crate when we are out of the house and at night, but we still utilize her crate a lot. I finish work at 3pm and she gets a majority of her exercise in the afternoon (if we didn’t run in the morning). After this, she sleeps for the rest of the night. We also incorporate training sessions for meals or sometimes randomly during the day. She has a fantastic off switch and is generally sleeping whenever we are in the house.

The main reason I got a GSP was to have a hiking and running partner. I don’t believe that a hunting dog needs to actively hunt to be fulfilled or happy. We did not have any intentions to hunt when we got Nyx but I was prepared to give her plenty of other outlets. We did end up doing some bird training with her and eventually Josh took up hunting as a new hobby. She has so much natural ability it was hard not to. She has done her Natural Ability Test through NAVHDA, passing with a perfect score. She has also done 2 legs of her AKC Junior Hunt Test. She hunted 7 days this season, including preserve hunts and wild hunts. While she is a phenomenal hunter and is very fulfilled after a day in the field, I think she is just as happy after a day of climbing mountains. We have also dabbled in dock diving and nosework, both of which she loves and excels at. She honestly loves being by my side, no matter what we are doing. She is a true companion, through and through, and is fulfilled by making me happy. She is the dog I envisioned in my life, a dog I can truly take anywhere and do anything with.

I think the most important thing to remember is, these dogs were bred purposefully for a job. Even if you don’t hunt or only hunt occasionally, there are many other days of the year when they need mental and physical fulfillment. I never feel like I have to go out of my way to exercise Nyx, but I also think that speaks to the fact that I carefully selected this breed for my lifestyle. Some days she looks like she would prefer to not join me on a run and I'm the crazy one of us! Don’t discount the value of off leash free time or the value of structure in the home. They need a balance to be fulfilled; and a fulfilled dog is a happy dog.

In short, she is my absolute dream dog and I don’t know if another dog will ever live up to how high of a bar she has set. She is the definition of versatility and lives up to the breed standard of being energetic, confident, loving, loyal, trainable, biddable, independent, social and happy. She can hike for 8 hours with thousands of feet of elevation gain 4 days in a row or she can snuggle me on the couch. No matter what we are doing, she radiates happiness and it is impossible to not smile when you are around her. As a breed they are a perfect match for me and I am not sure I will ever own another breed. They truly embody everything I want in a dog.

Kasie Rae, Abby & Gus

After becoming a first time GSP owner, I was quickly convinced they are one of the best kept secrets. They have it all - drive, athleticism, affection and brains. Wanting a friend for our Australian Cattle Dog, we needed something that could match seemingly endless energy. Yes, they need mental stimulation, your time, training and ample exercise (think lottttts of running!), but if you are able to provide these things, you’ll have the most amazing dog. We now have 2 GSPs, Abby 1.5 and Gus 8 months, and I completely understand why you see people with a handful! Both have been easy puppies (well, especially compared to our two ACDs) and a complete joy every day. They play hard and they cuddle harder. You will literally never sleep, shower or go into a room alone again. Also expect to share the covers, the couch and your lap! They are sweet but bold. Independent but want to please. I can’t imagine ever living without a German Shorthaired Pointer - truly a well-rounded, incredible breed. Some facts about Abby and Gus:

  • Both were crated as puppies but now never need it

  • Abby is ball obsessed but Gus has shown no interest

  • Neither hunt, though their parents are national field champions

  • Abby thrives at dock diving

  • Same breeder and same mom

  • Both play and run several miles a day off leash on our property

Alestra, Bode, Aelin, Enzo and Tuukka

Maybe it’s insanity, or maybe it is just a testament to how incredible this breed is, but I have 4 GSPs! My name is Alestra and here’s some background on my crazy pack, our lifestyle, and other considerations for getting a puppy or becoming a multi-pet family household. I first fell in love with German Shorthaired Pointers when my older brother brought home his boy Bradley. Bradley could play fetch all day, cuddle harder than any living being, and could learn any trick in what felt like five seconds! Bradley is still around, but I knew as soon as I got old enough, I wanted a pal just like him.

Before I got my first pup, Bode (currently 1.5 years old), I did a ton of research to see if as a single, fresh out of college, working professional person I could meet his needs. As an outdoor enthusiast who has always been obsessed with dogs, I knew I could make it work! After 3.5 months with Bode, I knew he needed a companion more than what I was capable of giving and along came Aelin (1 year and 4 months old currently). THEN as fate would have it, in some sort of Hollywood fashion, I met my current partner Lauren who I met because she owns Bode’s littermate brother, Enzo. Lauren has two GSPs of her own, Tuukka and Enzo, and once we fell in love and moved back to Colorado, we became a family of 4 human feet and SIXTEEN puppy paws! *Insert eye bulging gasp haha*

Since you have some background, I’d like to give more insight as to our lifestyle and some other things that I think are good for new or prospective GSP owners to know. We are a very active couple, we have a backyard, a large house, and we are just 15 minutes away from a ton of mountain trails, dog parks, open fields for running, etc. Before I moved to Colorado, I lived in a VERY small apartment in Virginia, but managed to raise two GSP puppies on my own, so there is hope of being a successful owner no matter where you live! It truly comes down to your time and willingness. As amazing as GSPs are, they do not come without difficulty and consideration. Before I move onto the fun stuff about owning these dogs, I’d like to caveat it with this: We train our dogs multiple times a week, we take them on 3-6 mile walks/hikes multiple times a week and every Saturday/Sunday, we bikejor with them, we give them brain toys, etc. and they STILL get into crazy energetic fits. Our pups stay in their kennels while we go to work during the day, but will spend all evening and weekend with us exploring or adventuring. Our lifestyle truly is our dogs and we don’t make plans unless we think through the dogs’ activity level, duration in the kennel, and meal times. We wouldn’t have it any other way though! We love our crew. Additionally, Aelin is currently task trained to be my service dog, and barring my company’s HR approval, she will be coming to work with me soon. Even in her adolescence and rebellion phase, she is still in tune with me 24/7 and knows it’s time to work when that vest goes on, which again I think is a testament to the drive and willingness to please of this breed. These dogs are not for everyone, though, as their “terrible twos” are enough to make most people mad, but if given the time and energy as puppies, they become the best pets you could hope for! So, to wrap up my disclaimer, do your research and make sure you can give them lots of time and energy.

Now to the good stuff! These dogs are down to do quite literally anything. Want to bike or run or hike 10 miles? They’ll go the whole time with a happy tail and smile on their face. Want to have a chill day? They’ll Velcro to you and be the best cuddler you’ve ever had. Need someone to make you laugh when you’re down? Just watch a GSP like Bode try to be graceful! That’s probably my favorite thing about them. Besides their amazingly good looks, they are truly the complete package. I could go on forever about why I love my dogs, but I’ll keep it short. From their goofy personalities that blossom in time, to their random zoomies, to their confidence, to their drive, their only downside is that they can’t live forever. (Okay, and maybe the crazy raptor biting phase of puppyhood!)

With a multi-dog household, a super important and often overlooked consideration is individual time with each pup, as well as outings with different combos/pairings of dogs. It’s super important for the pack dynamic for each dog to get time with just us alone, as well as doing an activity with another brother/sister in the pack. Plus, it makes it more fun for us humans too because every combo has a completely different vibe and energy. Tuukka and Aelin? Down to work hard and stay focused. Enzo and Aelin? Play time the whole time! Enzo and Bode? Down to train, or adventure and sniff about, also lots of stick stealing or tug-of-war. Just make sure to take this into account if you are thinking of adding another dog to your family! When introducing a puppy to a multi-dog household, take it slow. Bring the puppy in by holding it, and give your adult dogs (one at a time to meet the new guy or gal) the space to sniff and understand what the heck this little thing is. Some dogs take much more time to adjust than others, so be patient, and don’t forget the usefulness of pack walks.

Bottom line? These dogs will give you their all if you give yours in return. I could ramble for days, but if you have any more specific questions feel free to reach out to me on Instagram, I usually answer pretty quickly!

Rachael & Willow

My name is Rachael and Willow is my 4-year-old GSP! When we were researching dog breeds a few years ago, my husband and I knew we wanted a dog that could fit in with our active lifestyle while also being a great family dog. We do a lot of ultrarunning and hiking and wanted a trail companion with stamina who could join us on all of our adventures. We ultimately decided to get our GSP from a breeder for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve never had my own dog that I raised from a puppy, and I really wanted to have that experience. Secondly, it was really hard to find a rescue without a 6-foot fence requirement, which was a bummer.

A day in the life with a GSP is always filled with a little bit of physical and mental stimulation. Because both my husband and I work from home half time, we are usually able to give Willow off-leash time every day, which is generally a frisbee session or a hike. We also do lots of neighborhood walks, both structured and sniffari style. Every day she also gets some kind of mental stimulation, whether that’s a training session, food puzzle, tug session or a game of find it where she sniffs out treats throughout the house. She has free reign of the house (but was crated for the first year), and typically sleeps in her cozy cave downstairs (although I relish the nights she chooses to sleep in bed with us because she gives the BEST cuddles!)

I really wish I had known the importance of having a good trainer on hand before we got Willow. She was a very intense puppy and had a wicked bout of selective hearing during adolescence. She has also developed some dog reactivity as well, which is likely the result of her being overstimulated by her surroundings. I really would have benefitted from someone with experience with sporting breeds, clear communication, recognizing triggers and the importance of using the environment as a reward. We now have worked with several trainers we love and trust which has helped immensely. I just wish we had done that sooner!

Owning a GSP has been pretty much exactly what I expected. I know there are a lot of people who say, “GSPs aren’t good for first time dog owners”, but I couldn’t disagree more. I think the key is being truthful about your lifestyle and ability to commit to providing them the mental and physical exercise they require. If you do your research and land on a GSP as your perfect fit, I can promise you it will be your greatest adventure! The one thing that did surprise me a little was that we did not deal with any separation anxiety at all with Willow. I expected a very Velcro dog, and while she has her moments, she is much more independent and comfortable being alone than I thought she would be!

I will 100% always own a GSP – I truly have not met another dog like them. They are goofy, loving, up for anything and high on life all the time. I don’t own another dog, but I have several friends with Vizslas, and in my experience, GSPs are a bit more independent, and prey driven overall.

Becky, Heidi, Memphis & Jessie

I was invited by Joanna to share what it’s like to own and live with a GSP. My name is Becky and I have 3 female GSP’s, Heidi, Memphis & Jessie (listed eldest to youngest). The first 2 I brought home as puppies and another I acquired as an adult dog, just recently actually, I’ll dive into that a little bit later, but they’re all from breeders. We don’t have breed specific rescues in Canada, or at least not where I am, and I chose to purchase from a breeder because that’s how I would acquire a purebred GSP. My love for the German Shorthaired Pointer developed when I made a friend at the dog park with my non-GSP, Winston, he is a beagle/spaniel cross (who fits in gloriously with my big energy girls). Anyway my friend has two GSP/Weim crosses and it got me Google searching both breeds, after quite a lot of reading, I felt like a GSP was more my style, and I can’t even tell you why to be honest. My 2 eldest, the ones I’ve owned since pups, they are from the same breeder and are half siblings, they have different moms and share the same dad. Though they are related, they couldn’t be more different, in looks, personality and athleticism. One thing I wish I would have known about GSP’s is how different their breeding and bloodlines can be, a quick example of this is how much they run, Heidi’s mom is field trial bred dog, they are built to cover a ton of ground quickly. I’ve been asked by people who meet her in real life and don’t know the breed if she was part greyhound, simply by how fast she runs, but on top of that her stamina is of the charts. Heidi’s biggest tracked day was over 60kms (37.5 miles), Memphis on average covers about 20% less than Heidi does. I have step counters on my dogs to attain this information, which also helps me decide how many calories to feed them each day. I could elaborate on their diets, but that’s for another day. Heidi’s parents are both American bred GSP’s and Memphis’ mom is a German bred (deutsch kurzhaar), or DK for short. Jessie, my third and newly acquired GSP, is also half American and half German/DK bloodlines. Though you would think they are all the same, after spending much time with both, I find the DK’s have a slightly different look, style, drive and personality about them. I actually might even prefer them, and my next dog will be a full DK.

Alright, more about our daily life now. We live on a small farm in rural Northern BC, Canada, we lead a very different lifestyle than most, and I’m thrilled to share it with you. One aspect of our life that usually surprises a lot of our followers, is that my dogs have free range of our property, it is not fenced, but I have spent a lot of time teaching and reinforcing our property boundaries. They spend a lot of time outside unattended and I never worry about them leaving, that being said they are not left outside to roam free when I am not home, they are crated inside the home when I am not there. Do I think my dogs would be destructive in the home left alone? No, I don’t, but they are safe and comfortable in the kennels and it’s good for them to maintain that type of structure. I work from home the majority of the time, so my dogs don’t spend excess amounts of time in their kennels and I think it’s important to keep them as part of their routine. My dogs typically get a lot of exercise, I would say probably more than your average dog or GSP even. Since I have the luxury of working from home my dogs can come and go in/out of the house as they please during the day, but it’s not unusual for them to do 20+kms (12.5 miles)/day without me, meaning this is how much ground they cover by playing and chasing squirrels in the yard. In the summer they join me on hikes, horse back rides and ATV adventures, in the winter we hike, and snowmobile mostly, we even do a little dog sledding when the snow conditions are good. My dogs motivate me to get out and exercise, to explore new areas and to meet new people, and in order to be able to do all the things and see all the people, they need to be well mannered. We spend a lot of time training so they understand how they are expected to behave in different scenarios.

My dog Heidi and I hunt grouse together, this past fall we even tried our hand at some waterfowl. I am always in the back of my mind preparing for hunting season, with steadiness, retrieves, holding their retrieves, etc. We hunt for fun, our hunting season is short here in Northern BC, and the closest NAVHDA club to us is over 8 hours away, so being a member is not logistically attainable for us at the moment. I am lucky to have met some local friends who also hunt, so we spend a lot of time bouncing ideas off one another and hunting together, it’s always nice to have a cheerleader. Sometimes we attend some summer agility classes, agility is not my passion, but it’s a really nice way to get the dogs some socialization and the opportunity to be handled in an area with distractions. We spend a lot of time in the country and don’t always get a chance to work around many public distractions, so these give us the best opportunity to do so in a controlled environment. My dogs are completely chill in the house and can be for several days with minimum exercise, they have great off switches and I joke that when they aren’t running they’re sleeping. We recently had about 40 days of temps that dipped as low as -50, which if you’ve ever experienced, is barely tolerable, even for brief moments. The dogs were happy with short potty breaks and bundled up chore time. We have horses, pigeons and rabbits, so even though the weather can be intolerable at times, chores still need to be done, and it’s the perfect time for the dogs to burn off some steam, but I’m sure I spent more time bundling the dogs up with coats and booties than I did actually doing chores outside.

Puppyhood vs adolescence vs adulthood, now this is a loaded topic!! I find as puppies, GSP’s are incredibly trainable and willing to learn, they advance leaps and bounds and those first 6 months make you feel as if you can rule the world together. Then comes the 8-18 month stretch where they gain some independence perhaps even a little stubborn streak, they push their boundaries and pretend like you taught them nothing up to this point. Okay maybe I’m over exaggerating just a little, but the struggle is real. My girls are all relatively young. But I honestly feel like 3-3.5 years of age is when they really start to mature and become super solid dogs, although I’m sure they will continue to get better with age and eventually reach their “prime”, but this is something I’d need to give feedback on in a few more years.

I would love to take the time to add a small blurb about my newly acquired GSP, I purchased her as a started bird dog, she is almost 2. I honestly haven’t had much of a chance to do much formal training with her yet, she came home on New Years Eve, so one month today. In that time we have worked on getting her situated and comfortable in our home with 3 other dogs, and 2 cats. She has been learning her property boundaries, our etiquette on hikes/adventures and getting conditioned physically for all of our activities. She’s a bold, confident and independent girl and I can’t wait to get working her in the field on birds and share more of her as time goes on.

I’m not really sure what I expected when I got a GSP, as I didn’t have much experience with them prior to bringing one home, but the breed is perfect for me, at this point in my life I actually don’t see another breed being more suitable for us. I truly believe overall my dogs make me healthier, both mentally and physically, they challenge me to be creative with training, and they get me moving my body on a daily basis.

Kama & Luka

How do you even sum up life with a GSP in a blog post? I’ve really struggled with where to even begin. I guess we’ll start with the obvious… Hi! I’m Kama, the human in this duo, and my pup is named Luka. Luka is a 3 and a half year old German Shorthaired Pointer, he came to us right at 8 weeks old and has changed my life in ways I couldn’t even imagine.

Luka is my first dog. I've loved dogs my whole life and have always wanted one, but for a multitude of reasons was never able to have one. If you know me, I take my time when it comes to making a big decision, I like to research the heck out of everything, look around and know my options. But once I make a decision, I commit 100%. So when my partner and I finally decided that we were ready for a GSP puppy, I started my search very quickly. We wanted a GSP because we had both been in love with bird dogs for years. I wanted a smart, active breed that could adventure with me, but also liked the “velcro” temperament of GSPs that I had read about. As I started my search, many breeders wouldn’t even consider us as we lived in the city at the time in a 500 sq ft apartment, we didn’t hunt and didn’t have any bird dog experience, I can see how we raised some flags. Regardless, I knew I was committed to giving a dog the best life possible. Eventually we found a breeder that was willing to work with us, Luka was already born at the time and so just a few weeks later, on a sunny August day, we were picking up our precious puppy from the airport. When we opened up Luka’s cargo crate in the parking lot, he timidly ventured out, my eyes welled up with tears, and he lay down at my feet and started chewing on my sandal straps… and I guess you could say the rest is history.

The first year with Luka was challenging to say the least. Of course he was an absolutely adorable puppy and I relish the sweet moments we shared. I was prepared for the physical activity that a GSP requires, but nothing I had read truly prepared me for the level of mental stimulation and training that he needed in that first year. From puppy basics, to managing teething, crate training, leash manners (still a struggle), recall, trail manners… we were constantly working on something. And when we’d have a breakthrough in one area, he’d find a way to run circles around me (sometimes literally) in another area. I saw people online and in person that seemed to just be in an effortless relationship with their dogs, and I had many days where I wondered if I had made a mistake as I often felt way in over my head. But, like I said, when I make a decision, I commit 100%. I read constantly about training, watched videos, and talked to other dog owners. We spent hours and hours training, troubleshooting and training some more. Luka is smart, loves to work and is eager to please… but he’s also mischievous, full of sass and certainly knows how to get your attention. Looking back, it’s easy to put on blinders and only remember the sweet puppy moments, but that year was a complete overhaul to my lifestyle. Raising Luka took up all of my spare time, I basically gave up any hobbies and extracurriculars that didn’t involve being outside.

And now fast forward to present day, Luka is 3 and a half years old and he’s grown into such an amazing adventure dog and an amazing companion at home. He still sasses me regularly (particularly when it comes to dinner time) and has some mischievous moments, but day to day we have a solid foundation and a good mutual understanding of doing life together. When I say Luka is an amazing adventure dog, I’m not kidding, GSPs are absolute machines. He can hike big elevation hikes for 8 hours without complaint and he can join me for a 20km trail run without skipping a beat. He doesn’t need a big adventure every single day, sometimes life happens, but I’m quite committed to getting him out for at least 30 mins even on the busiest of days. He has learned to navigate complicated terrain with me and has seen more mountain summits, lakes, forests and waterfalls than most humans could even experience in a lifetime. When picking a GSP I envisioned being outdoors with my dog, but this turned out to be better than my wildest dreams. Luka has continued to overhaul my lifestyle and priorities, we moved out of the city and to a mountain town, we can walk to the trails and he has off leash freedom on a daily basis. We have surrounded ourselves with friends who have dogs and like to adventure outdoors as well. I can pretty confidently say that none of this would have happened if it wasn’t for Luka coming into my life. And at home things really settled when he turned about 2 years old. He still wakes up with extreme anticipation of breakfast every morning, but once his routine is complete, he’s happy to snooze the day away while I work. He anticipates adventure time in the afternoon, followed by dinner and then spends the rest of the evening curled up with his body slumped against me on the couch. He really is the best of both worlds, having a GSP is such a commitment but also an incredibly rewarding experience. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Sean, Jenny & Echo

Every time I mention that we own a GSP, I can invariably count on a couple comments. The most common is something along the lines of “oh my gosh, I absolutely love GSPs, they are adorable” and very close behind it comes the comment that closely resembles — “I know someone with a GSP, and it is absolutely insane”. Oftentimes the first comment is followed by the second comment, and I can’t count the number of horror stories I have heard about GSPs that jump fences, dig holes, run away, and the list goes on.

Honestly, I had heard a version of all of these stories before we had even picked Echo up, and there was always a piece of me that wondered if we were making the right decision. Although, as I constantly reminded people, we had survived the puppyhood of an English cocker spaniel, so we were ready for a low energy dog like a GSP. Fortunately for us, I still stand by that statement, and while we may not be a single breed household, the German Shorthaired Pointer has solidified itself as a standout in our hearts, and there will no doubt be more in our future.

Why did you choose a GSP?

I wish I could say that picking the GSP was a perfectly planned decision, but instead I will say that the result of the decision was perfect. Our GSP, Echo, is from Trillium GSPs out of Wisconsin, and she is the fourth member of our dog pack. The GSP wasn’t immediately the frontrunner when it came to picking a dog breed. For years, I had been wanting a hunting dog, and I had been fortunate to hunt behind several phenomenal dogs of various breeds. Years ago, I had envisioned myself with a lab, a do-it-all hunting dog that was friendly and good in the house, but as I spent more time in the field, it became more obvious that a pointing breed fit my needs a little better.

I had spent some time researching griffons, shorthairs, English setters, small munsterlanders and for a long time, I was really considering a pudelpointer. But that was when life’s beautiful serendipity set in and Jenny found Echo with a breeder that she had been following on Facebook for quite a while and everything fell into place. We had just watched Nyx score a 112 on her NAVHDA Natural Ability Test, and watching her amongst the other dogs really cemented the shorthair as a top contender.

Did you get your dog from a breeder or rescue? Why did you choose the option you did?

Echo came from a breeder. We have two dogs that we rescued in the house and we love the idea of rescuing a dog. However, the purpose of getting a new dog was to find the perfect hunting/household dog and we felt that getting a dog from a reputable breeder who has put a lot of thought into their breeding strategies gave us the absolute best shot at getting that dog. She is now 10 months young.

Something you wish you had known before getting a GSP.

Housebreaking and crate training will not be the easiest… Actually I’m pretty sure we did know this, but I must have repressed every memory of it. It bears repeating in case you are anything like me and that comment goes right over your head the first couple of times you hear it. Echo was a pretty vocal puppy in the kennel when she was young, and although she loves her kennel now, it was certainly a process to work through her screaming. She was definitely not shy about making a mess in her kennel, and she continued to have accidents long past when our other dogs had figured the bathroom situation out. We were mostly able to handle this by closely monitoring her water intake (she’ll drink like a camel if you let her), and fortunately we work from home, so she got lots of chances to go outside.

Day in the life

I’ve heard people tell stories of running/roading their GSP for tens of miles a day just to wear them out enough to calm down but that certainly hasn’t been our experience with Echo. There is no doubt that she needs daily exercise and activity, but we’ve found that as long as she gets both physical and mental stimulation, she can be quite content hanging out with us in the house. Although, with four dogs in the house, we have a lot more structure to our relaxing time than when I was a new dog owner of one. Echo will spend her non-active time in her kennel, on her bed in my office, or on her bed in the living room. To be clear, we have worked pretty extensively on the “place” command and she does much better with structured relaxing time.

Typically her daily exercise will consist of a long walk or a run with me and at least 15 to 30 minutes of frisbee mid-day, although she can and will play frisbee for hours without complaint. We also try to fit in at least one 5-15 minute training session a day and the mental stimulation is definitely what allows her to be the most calm. However, we have busy work schedules, and on occasion there are days that she does not get much exercise outside of roughhousing with the other dogs in the yard. I am extremely grateful that she is able to get through those days without much complaint. It’s more or less impossible to go longer than a day without any kind of fulfillment for her or she does start going crazy. That being said, our weekends during hunting season consist of some pretty long days in the field and its not uncommon to see her run 25+ miles a day for multiple days in a row.

Hunting and Trials

We just wrapped up our first hunting season with Echo, and she has exceeded all of my hopes and expectations. She is my first hunting dog, so there were many things that we were figuring out together but the shared purpose and passion that we have with Echo has created a bond unlike anything I could imagine. There is nothing more fascinating than watching a dog learn to find and point birds as they fulfill a genetic master plan that unfolds almost like magic. In the hunting off-season, we plan on running her in a couple varieties of field trials and hunt tests, and we are counting down the days to her NAVHDA NA test. These events will help give us training standards to work towards, and continue to fulfill her natural hunting instincts until we can be back in the uplands again.

Last thoughts

I cannot say enough good things about the Echo and GSP’s as a breed. Obviously, my sample size is small, but I am sure there will be many more of these dogs in our future. I am constantly impressed by the amount of drive that Echo has. Sometimes it can feel a little overwhelming, as she does her 100th spin of excitement while walking out our back gate to play frisbee. Thankfully she is very attentive and is always eager to please. She is quick to pick up any new skill we teach her and is always excited for her training sessions. She is incredibly gregarious and loves meeting new people and dogs and I never have to worry about her causing trouble or being aggressive. I certainly can’t always say that about my rescue. I can say without reservation that I am a GSP convert.

Megan & Nisha

My name is Megan, and I currently live in the Phoenix area with my 3 sport dogs. Ruger is a 6-year-old mix (mostly Border Collie and Australian Shepherd) that I rescued when he was around 5 weeks old. Titan is a 5-year-old Dutch Shepherd I adopted from a local Malinois rescue when he was 18 months old. Nisha is my youngest and is a 2-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer. My journey into GSPs and the dog sport world started with Ruger. He always was an especially difficult puppy but had a never-ending amount of energy and drive. I stumbled upon a Facebook page one day for an open dock practice at a local dock diving facility and the rest is history. Ruger from the beginning was jumping off the dock confidently and we began competing. As I branched off into other dog sports and really started enjoying it, I decided I should get a second dog. I knew I wasn’t ready for a puppy again yet (Ruger was 2 years old at this point and still a handful) so I explored local rescues when I found a post about an adorable young Dutchie. I contacted the rescue and adopted Titan about a month later. A few years went by and I was very comfortable with where I was at in my life and with my dogs. I had no plans to get another dog towards the end of 2019, but life always likes to throw curveballs doesn’t it? I met Nisha’s breeder (Eve Hoehle, Von Major Sheds) through a rescue group. She had posted about an adult GSP she was fostering, and I thought it would be a great fit for a friend of mine, so we began chatting. At the time, she was expecting a litter and kept pestering me that I would be a great fit for one of the puppies. I always laughed about it because I had no desire to get another puppy, but she sure enjoyed spamming me with pictures and videos when the litter arrived and as they grew. Eve was keeping a male, but her eyes were really fixed on the teal collar female. She kept her until she was about 14 weeks old when she finally broke me down and convinced me to just come meet her. I immediately fell in love. I played with Nisha in the backyard as she fearlessly sprinted across the dog walk and played with all the other agility and enrichment toys in the yard. She was everything you could want in a sports prospect so we discussed me taking Nisha as a co-own and if she eventually passed her health testing and was a versatile and successful dog, that Eve would get to keep a female puppy from her. Nisha’s mother is an amazing solid liver GSP named Loretta and is Eve’s heart dog in every sense of the phrase. Eve has become one of my best friends since owning Nisha and I take a lot of pride in the fact that I can return a piece of Loretta to her. It really has made all the hard work we have put into training, the hours traveling on the road to different trials, the literal blood, sweat, and tears so much more meaningful. Nisha recently has completed all her health testing and will be bred the next time she goes into season, so I have been very busy prepping and educating myself about whelping and raising a litter the last few months.

I was fortunate enough to be moved to permanent work from home shortly after bringing Nisha home. I wouldn’t consider her a “COVID puppy” but in a lot of ways she was. She was raised with me being home and able to take breaks throughout the day and work her appropriately. I had a lot of initial concerns with this because the last thing I wanted was her developing separation anxiety as so many COVID puppies did. I made it a point to still create a similar routine as if I wasn’t working from home. She still has set crate time and place bedtime and is expected to be quiet and respectful while I am working. I have found that having that off time during the day and sticking to it helps tremendously. It is no secret that GSPs have a lot of energy. It can be very overwhelming and daunting at times and a big reason that so many are rehomed or surrendered to rescues. They’re highly intelligent, but almost to a fault because if they are bored, they will find something to do with all that mental and physical energy. It frustrates me to see so many posts online about them becoming destructive or neurotically pacing around the house all day because they don’t know what to do with themselves. I believe that they are a breed that thrives off structure.

A typical day with Nisha is pretty laid back for the most part. I am usually up around 7:30 am and the first thing I do is feed the dogs and then put them up in their crates and I start work at 8:00 am. I don’t really take a lunch break because I can just get up and grab something from the kitchen when needed, so my lunch break is usually spent playing some scent games with the dogs. I try to make sure they each get individual training time during this time. It is either scent work drills or we work on trick training. I also typically run Nisha on the Dog Pacer for about 30 minutes during this time, so she gets some mental work and physical work halfway through the day. I have found that scent work is one of the best ways to tire her out mentally. We compete in AKC Scent Work trials, Barn Hunt, and Nisha is also now a trained Shed Hunting dog. She went to a board and train last year for Shed Hunting and now can go track and retrieve them for me out in the wild. It is an easy thing to practice at home as well after some hold conditioning and retrieval training. It’s a fun activity if anyone is interested in learning more about it, we primarily look for UKC Shed Dog events as they are geared more to a higher level of shed hunting, but NASDA also has shed tracking (you just must start at a very novice level and work your way up). This year I hope to finish Nisha’s UKC Shed Championship. I also would encourage anyone to find a Scent Work club or trainer in your area. This has been my go-to thing to practice at home. If there is poor weather it is easy to practice indoors, the kits you need with the various scents are inexpensive and last for a while, and any props you might use for hides can be purchased at a dollar store. It is something you could train yourself after simply watching a few online videos, but I absolutely recommend a trainer if you plan on trialing as it helps with little things like fine tuning an alert, leash handling, discrimination, etc.

I am typically off work around 4:00pm and most of the evening is dedicated to my dogs most days. Usually from 4:00-7:00pm I take them to go play fetch, frisbee, go for a walk, train at a store nearby, etc. Nisha usually gets a solid hour of running during this time whether that’s just playing ball with a Chuck-It or doing some frisbee practice. It really helps burn off that last little bit of energy and then the rest of the evening we can relax. This surprises people when they ask about how much exercise she needs in a day because overall it isn’t much. I have talked to GSP owners who say they feel like theirs needs to run for hours nonstop. I don’t believe people should be looking at is as: “How quickly can I physically wear out the dog so they calm down?”. If anything, all you are doing when you run a dog relentlessly all day is increasing their strength and stamina. I only focus on what would be considered conditioning. Once that becomes routine for them you aren’t going to have those neurotic incidents because they know what to expect from you every day. It also really drives home my opinion that mental work is crucial for them and should also be part of their daily routine. Our weekends are almost always filled with dog sport trials so the schedule there varies, but on those magical weekends we don’t have a trial, Nisha enjoys sleeping in with me. They really are a breed that becomes a lot more of a lifestyle than just a pet, and if there’s one thing I could tell someone interested in the breed it is just that. Just going for a walk or jog once a day probably won’t be enough for them. Taking time out of your day to make sure they are stimulated not only physically but mentally as well is crucial to their overall wellbeing.

Nisha overall is everything I could have ever hoped for in a sport dog. I have dealt with issues like reactivity and anxiety with my 2 rescues that having a dog that is extremely stable and neutral in any environment I put her in makes my life much easier. She gives her all to everything I ask of her and I always know I can rely on her at any trial. As for our future plans, I really don’t see myself owning a breed other than the GSP. The drive, energy, versatility, and temperament are unmatched in my opinion. There certainly are other breeds that have high levels of all those things, but some breed characteristics just aren’t the same. The way they engage with you, their biddability, and their desire to work and please is just different with some breeds. My only hope would be that anyone researching the breed and considering adding one to your life is that you really understand that whatever exercise you think right now that they need, it’s more. It also is more than just running them into the ground every day and you need to put an emphasis on mental stimulation as well as a solid structured routine.

They truly are a special breed. Whether you’re an avid hunter, a die-hard sport competitor, or just an active person/family, the GSP is a great fit. If anyone ever has questions or wants some more tips about the breed or how to get into a particular dog sport, my IG DMs are always open! Just get out there and have fun with your dog!

Carissa & Atlas

Hi everyone! My name is Carissa :) I have three dogs - two rescues (Benny & Teko), and one GSP (Atlas). We live in Western Massachusetts near the Berkshires! We love hiking, camping, and adventuring throughout New England and beyond.

Atlas is my first German shorthaired pointer and he certainly will not be my last. He is 1 years old and full of love. I could not ask for a better dog. He has hands down made me fall in love with the breed. He is smart, athletic, biddable, and such a well rounded dog. I have dreamed of owning a GSP for as long as I can remember!

Atlas came from Windheim GSP out of New York state and I could not recommend them more! Denise, the breeder over at Windheim, is nothing short of incredible. She cares deeply for her dogs and truly cares about bettering the breed. We stay in touch, connect in person, and share photos often. While I am a huge advocate for rescue, I decided to go through a breeder being new to the breed. I don’t regret it one bit and would 100% get another pup from her.

Atlas is the perfect breed for our lifestyle. We are super active and can easily meet his needs which is so important when it comes to owning a GSP. I was always told that GSPs are the best dogs you’ll ever own as long as they are fulfilled. That could not be more accurate.

Our weeks vary slightly, but a typical day in the life is as follows:

- Wake up around 5:30am and go for a trail walk or hike (in the winter they are shorter, summer they are longer so that wake up time varies)

- Crated all day at home while I work my 9am-5pm job (Once or twice a week we do have a dog walker that stops by to let the dogs out, so he will have about 30 minutes of outdoor time with his siblings on those days).

- Home by 5:30pm. Some nights he will run around outside with his siblings and/or work for his dinner, but a majority of his exercise comes from AM walks and long weekend hikes!

On the weekends we typically go for a bigger hike. Sometimes we hit a mountain, sometimes we go bushwhacking and sometimes we play in a field. Regardless, we take him out to blow some steam! I will say, we are very fortunate to live where we do. We have 6 acres to explore, and part of our yard is fully fenced in so he is able to hang out and run outside daily.

Truthfully, Atlas seems to be pretty chill for a GSP. I went into GSP ownership thinking I would have to exercise him like crazy, but he gets plenty of mental stimulation and physical fulfillment. He has a great off switch, but this took a lot of time and training. I will say, he did learn how to settle from his older siblings :)

Atlas and I have done some bird dog training throughout our training journey, but do it just for fun! Atlas comes from good show line, so we have been doing some handling classes lately. We have been contemplating dabbling in the show world, but who knows what the future holds! While we may hunt and show eventually, he is a family dog first and foremost. I wanted a hiking companion and he is just that through and through. The other stuff is just extra fun :)

Puppyhood was a struggle for us. He was a typical puppy, but his crate anxiety was a huge challenge for us. My other two dogs were easy as hell to crate train so I was fairly confident going into Atlas’. Boy did that humble me. He had anxiety to the point where it would give me anxiety, I wouldn’t want to leave him, and we had many sleepless nights. It was a really rough patch for us, but eventually we worked through it. He still struggles with it from time to time, but he has made huge strides. Whenever we come home from work he goes nuts, but we always make him settle before letting him out. It’s all about consistency, management, and patience. I think crate training will be forever a work in progress for us.

Though GSP ownership is fairly new to me, it has been the best experience of my life. I now understand why they say once you own a GSP, you’ll never own another dog. While I absolutely love my mutts more than anything, GSPs are my heart breed. I cannot see myself without a GSP. While Atlas is my wild child, he is also my very best friend. The bond with a GSP… ahhh, I think only those who experience it can understand.

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