How to Care for a German Shorthaired Pointer

GSPs are an active breed often serving as gun dogs.
shorthaired german pointer image by Aleksander from

German shorthaired pointers were bred from German bird dogs, scent hounds and trail dogs. These dogs are known for their intelligence and excellent scenting ability, which combined help make the dogs -- nicknamed "GSPs" -- proficient in trailing and tracking. Though they are often regarded as sporting dogs, German shorthaired pointers make great pets for active families. The breed needs plenty of daily exercise but requires infrequent grooming because its coat is short, so shedding is not a large concern.

Step 1

Select a high-quality dry food for your German shorthaired pointer, one that has a high fat/protein ratio. Because GSPs are active dogs, they require more fat and protein in their diet than some other breeds. Choose a type of dog food formulated for the specific age group of your dog -- puppy, adult or senior.

Step 2

Feed your GSP at least twice a day depending on the activity level of your dog. An adult German shorthaired pointer should get 2 to 5 cups of food through the course of a day. Dogs that are not being trained for hunting and those that do not get a lot of exercise may require less food than more active dogs.

Step 3

Provide your dog with plenty of fresh water. Give your GSP his own water dish, and refresh and refill it at least once a day.

Step 4

Set up a crate for your German shorthaired pointer to provide him with his own space. Place a padded blanket or dog bed inside the crate, and keep your dog's food and water bowls nearby to further establish the area as "his" space.

Step 5

Keep your dog in his crate at night. This is an essential step in housebreaking German shorthaired pointer puppies and it recommended for adult dogs. The breed is uncommonly curious and active, so keeping your dog confined or "crated" during the night will prevent him from getting into trouble. You won't necessarily have to shut the crate door every night for for the dog's entire life.

Step 6

Clean your German shorthaired pointer's ears once a week by squeezing a few drops of dog ear cleanser into the ear canals. Using a dry cotton ball, wipe away any discharge and extra cleanser. Because these dogs have floppy ears that restrict airflow to the ear canal, they are more prone than pointed-ear breeds to get ear infections.

Step 7

Brush your dog's teeth once a week using a dog toothbrush and specially formulated dog toothpaste. You can also give your pointer special treats and bones designed to promote gum and tooth health.

Step 8

Have your German shorthaired pointer's nails trimmed regularly to keep them short. Ask your veterinarian to trim your dog's nails during regular checkups, or take the dog to a professional groomer. If you let your GSP's nails grow long they may get caught on something while the dog is running and could get torn off. Even a home-confined dog needs his nails trimmed regularly.

Step 9

Brush your German shorthaired pointer at least once a week to control shedding. Use a grooming glove or a firm bristle brush to remove dead and loose hairs.

Step 10

Bathe your dog only as necessary -- if you bathe your pointer too frequently, it could dry out and irritate his skin. Because GSPs are very active dogs that enjoy being outside, they may get muddy from time to time. Simply let the mud dry on your dog's coat, then brush it out with a wire-pin brush or a bristle brush.

Step 11

Give your German shorthaired pointer at least 30 minutes of exercise in the morning and again in the evening, every day. Let your dog run free in a secure, fenced area if possible. If you do not have a big fenced yard, take your dog for a brisk walk or jog twice a day.

Step 12

Enroll your GSP in obedience training classes. These classes will help teach your dog basic obedience skills while helping you learn how to control your dog. The younger you begin training your dog, the more likely he is to respond to the training.

Step 13

Take your German shorthaired pointer to the veterinarian for regular checkups. Talk to your vet about certain conditions to which this breed is prone and discuss prevention methods. GSPs are particularly prone to gastric torsion, epilepsy and hip dysplasia, and they have an increased chance of developing a hereditary bleeding disorder called von Willebrand disease.

Step 14

Train your dog to track and trail game if you plan to use him for hunting. This breed is well-known for its all-purpose hunting dogs; they are skilled in scenting, tracking, trailing and retrieving game.


  • German shorthaired pointers are particularly prone to gastric torsion, a condition in which the stomach bloats, so avoid feeding your dog immediately after running. It is also wise to wait at least an hour after feeding your dog to exercise him.

  • Never use human toothpaste on your dog, because it could contain ingredients that are harmful to your dog.

  • Do not attempt to trim your dog's nails unless you have been trained to do so by your veterinarian. A dog's nail contains a quick that, if severed, will bleed profusely and cause the dog pain.

  • Do not purchase a dog of this breed if you do not have the time to devote to exercising and playing with him. German shorthaired pointers are very active dogs, so they are likely to become depressed if they do not receive adequate exercise and attention.


  • You can kennel German shorthaired pointers outdoors if you give them adequate shelter and bedding. These dogs were bred to interact with their owners, though; they'll be happier if they get to stay indoors with the family.

  • Start at a young age, if possible, in teaching your dog to let you brush his teeth. The younger you start, the more likely your dog is to accept this treatment.

  • When bathing your German shorthaired pointer, avoid getting any water in his ears, eyes or nose. Wet ears can lead to ear infections.

Items You Will Need

  • High-quality dry dog food
  • Water dish
  • Crate
  • Padded blanket or dog bed
  • Food bowl
  • Dog ear cleanser
  • Cotton balls
  • Dog toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Grooming glove or firm bristle brush
  • Wire-pin brush


About the Author

Katherine Barrington has written on a variety of topics, from arts and crafts to pets, health and do-it-yourself projects. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a creative writing concentration from Marietta College.

Photo Credits

  • shorthaired german pointer image by Aleksander from