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5 Reasons to Adopt A German Shorthaired Pointer

New GSP friends with volunteers Lindsay and Matt. When she’s not working with GSPs, Lindsay teaches middle school math two doors down from me.
New GSP friends with volunteers Lindsay and Matt. When she’s not working with GSPs, Lindsay teaches middle school math two doors down from me.

Several Christmases ago my friend Dana brought home a white and red speckled puppy that her friends had found wandering in a grocery store parking lot. The vet told her the puppy whom we now know as Pete, is part pit bull, part Pointer. That was my first exposure to Pointers. About a month ago I met some new Pointer friends–perhaps Pete’s distant relatives?

I think Puppy Pete resembles an English Pointer, so my guess is he prefers tea and crumpets whereas his German counterparts go for schnitzel and sauerkraut.

CA GSP RESCUE: They Hunt for a Good Home

So, I met the charming German Shorthaired Pointers at the inaugural Orange County Race for the Rescues. The dogs, some former rescues, others still waiting to be rescued, participated in the 5K with their handlers. Tigger, my fluffy Golden, and I completed the 1K which I found out is only .62 of a mile–it was his first time. (He’s already training for next year so he can go the distance).
Tigger was a star at today’s event. Something about a furry Golden makes people melt. “Can I pet your dog?” was a frequent question. My response was something to the effect of: “Of course. He thinks you exist to do just that.”

Tigger, not a Pointer,  might need pointers for how to complete a 5K. He successfully completed the 1K with no training.

For three decades, the California German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue, located near Fallbrook, California (North San Diego County), has been tirelessly working to place unwanted German Shorthaired Pointers in homes. The organization was founded by Jan Flaherty, a second grade teacher and avid AKC German Shorthaired Pointer dog show competitor. She began seeing dogs who needed help and initially took them into her home. The need was so great that eventually a kennel was purchased in the high desert so more GSPs could be sheltered and cared for with the goal of finding permanent families.

5 Reasons to Adopt a German Shorthaired Pointer

1. GSPs are excellent family dogs

German Shorthaired Pointers adore their people! They love humans in general, including children. GSPs were bred to hunt during the day and be at home with their family at night. According to the AKC’s breed description, “The German Shorthaired Pointer thrives as part of an active family. He is an even-tempered, intelligent and loyal family watchdog that has enthusiasm for its work.” And because they long for interaction with humans, GSPs need to be in the house at night rather than left outside.

2. You need an exercise accountability partner!

The German Shorthaired Pointer is considered one of the best dogs to have as a running partner.  They are both speedy and have endurance. Runner’s World Magazine touts them as top dog in two running categories: 1. ) “long and steady run” of 10 miles and 2.) “going fast” with a 7 minute mile time. So whether you’re a marathoner, sprinter, or neighborhood jogger, a GSP would love to join you.

Animal Planet’s Dog Breed Selector states: “Bred to be an active hunting companion, this breed has a good deal of energy and requires a good deal of exercise. It thrives on mental and physical stimulation and can get both by hunting, hiking or playing with its owner for a long period — at least an hour — every day.” If you are committed to a rigorous exercise regimen, perhaps a GSP will be your perfect pal.

3. GSPs have a long life expectancy for a large breed dog

“Having a 6-year old German Shorthaired Pointer is like having a 3-year old lab. For a large dog, they have a long life expectancy,” CA GSP Rescue volunteer Jeanne Miller informed me. Why not select a companion that will be there for you and vice versa for a longer time?

4. GSPs are a healthy breed

When we picked up our baby Tigger from the breeder three years ago, she said, “Your dog will die from cancer. That’s what happens to Goldens.” My previous Doberman died in her sleep at age 9 due to heart problems which is sadly, very common in Dobermans.  GSPs are not susceptible to one breed particular illness; they are generally very robust dogs. Each dog, of course, is a unique creature and anything can happen, but to know that perhaps your older dog will less likely require expensive medications and medical procedures is something to be excited about!

5. The CA GSP Rescue is like a match making service

Like Patti Stanger from Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker. . . but much nicer,  CA GSP volunteers will match you with a dog that is appropriate for your lifestyle and energy level. One of the questions potential GSP parents are asked is, “What is your exercise plan?” CA GSP volunteers pride themselves on matching up the energy level of each dog with its potential new owner.

In addition, all family members who live in the dog’s future home must come to meet the dog so that CA GSP can ensure that it’s a good fit for all parties involved.  Adoptive dog parents can be sure that the rescue is going to ensure a good fit between humans and canines.

Quirks to Consider

Like all breeds, there are a few quirks related to German Shorthaired Pointers, so they’re not the best breed choice for everyone. First, they need exercise and lots of it. It’s worth repeating. This is a high energy breed meant to hunt. Unless GSPs are used for hunting, thereby outside and active for hours, they have to be walked. And not just around the block. And once walked, they will still have energy to play.

Also, they typically are not good with cats. Did I mention they are hunting dogs? A cat will probably be viewed by most GSPs as prey. There are exceptions, of course.

Finally, a GSP will bond like glue with its human. Be prepared for separation anxiety. If you are away on a business trip  or vacation, the dog might not eat for a few days.

How to Help CA GSP Rescue

Adopt a dog! The main activity of CA GSP Rescue occurs in Bonsall on Wednesdays and Saturdays when the available dogs are brought from their foster homes or the high desert kennel for a meet and greet with potential adopters. During this time the dogs are walked, exercised, and practice obedience training. Jeanne Miller said, “A GSP is like a Doberman on steroids.” The dogs are highly intelligent, therefore need to have both their brain and brawn exercised; obedience training is crucial.

If you don’t live in California, but you’re still interested in adopting, you can check to see the GSP rescue in your region at the National German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue website.


If the pitter patter of little GSP feet are not in your future due to lifestyle or you already have a home filled with hounds, you can still help worthy dogs by donating to the CA GSP Rescue. Your donation could help dogs like Sage. Sage is a beautiful young female who was rescued from a kill shelter. She had been hit by a car and required surgery. She now sports a full leg cast (and for some reason reminds me of a female, canine version of Tiny Tim). Sage is doing well, but the medical bills were not cheap. You can designate your funds to go specifically to Sage’s cause (100% of it will go to help her, not toward administrative fees). Take a look at this beautiful girl who needs a little extra TLC. 

Pupdate! Since this article was written, the goal was met for Sage’s surgery, but you can still help by making a donation here to the CA GSP Rescue general fund to help them continue to rescue, rehabilitate and find forever homes for GSP’s in need.

5 Reasons to Adopt a German Shorthaired Pointer from CA GSP Rescue
Posted in 12 Days of Rescue, Stories About Dogs  by Susan Friedland-Smith. For more about this article and to follow Susan’s blog, click here.

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