What Americans refer to as the German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) is known in Germany as simply the Kurzhaar (Shorthair) and in Europe as the Deutsch Kurzhaar.
The precise origin of the is unclear. Dogs that pointed were known to have existed in Europe as far back as the 13th century. According to the American Kennel Club, it’s likely that the GSP is descended from a breed known as the German Bird Dog. That breed itself is related to the Old Spanish Pointer and Hannover Hound, who were cross bred in the 1600’s. It is also likely that various German hounds and tracking dogs, as well as the English Pointer and the Arkwright Pointer also contributed to the development of the breed.
What can be referred to as an all purpose hunting, pointing, retrieving breed GSPs were soon after introduced to Germany. German hunters spent generations crossing various breeds until they perfected this versatile bird dog sometime in the 1800s. They were so successful that, to this day, GSPs are among the top-winning breeds in competitive hunting events.
The GSP breed was first imported to the UK in the early 1920’s and then brought to the United States in the mid 1920’s. The breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1930.
The first AKC German Shorthaired Pointer Show was held in 1941, and the first GSP Field Trial was held just three years later in 1944. For many years these dogs were seen as dual purpose – being both worked in the field and shown in the ring. Sadly, this is no longer possible as working GSPs require docked tails to protect them from harm in the undergrowth, and show dogs are no longer allowed to be docked.
German Shorthaired Pointers come under the category known in the gundog world as HPR, or Hunt Point Retriever. An all purpose group of dogs that are skilled at flushing and locating game for their handlers, as well as retrieving it for them.
The GSP has been hunted with success on a variety of quarry: game birds, possum, rabbit, raccoon, and even deer. With his webbed feet and sleek but sturdy construction, the GSP is recognized as one of the canine world’s finest swimmers.