Sometime in 2012, a YouTuber uploaded a video showing his German Shorthaired Pointer (also known as a German Bird Dog or GSP) killing a coyote. Likewise, there have been numerous reported incidents of GSPs attacking felines and other small pets – even their kind.
A particularly notable incident is an older German Shorthaired Pointer making its younger brother dig a hole (about a foot wide and deep) in the ground before shoving it inside.
Yet, this hunting breed has been repeatedly described as well-behaved and aristocratic, having performed excellently as good companions, children’s playmates, and versatile watchdogs.
So, that leaves the question: are German Shorthaired dangerous or not? Or are they both dangerous and “aristocratic”?
5 Disturbing Factors Making Your GSP Dangerous: How To Avoid Them
What makes a German Shorthaired Pointer dangerous? The answer to this question is mostly subjective. Are you willing to share the outdoors with your dog? Do you constantly yell at them? What kind of activities does your dog engage in?
The point here is that while GSPs were bred for hunting, pointing, and retrieving (HPR), whether or not they become dangerous depends on how you, the owner, raise and train this multipurpose hunting dog breed.
Below are factors that could make them dangerous:
1. Lack of Proper Exercise
The German Shorthaired Pointers are quite similar to babies. You can’t give your 7-month-old a single toy and expect them to still be interested in it after a few days.
Additionally, there’s a limit to how long you can keep the infant in a place before no one in the house can hear a thing unless the baby has been exhausted from engaging in various activities. The same is the case with a German Shorthaired Pointer’s temperament.
Without a daily high-energy exercise regimen lasting between one to two hours, your pointer will resolve to undesirable behaviors to meet their energy demands. This includes destroying furniture, tearing pillows, using footwear as chew toys, climbing fences, and barking (when they feel too confined), among other things.
A repetitive exercise regimen like a constant game of catch in your yard or a walk around the block won’t do much for this intelligent breed either. When your GSP is fed up, they start disobeying your instruction to fetch for the umpteenth time and start giving in to their prey drive and other desires.
2. Prey Drive
From about three months of age, the German Shorthaired Pointers’ prey drive kicks in. They become willful and are easily distracted, especially when they latch onto an interesting scent, sound, or sight.
Some are determined cat chasers, often with deadly intent. This can be particularly dangerous if you have felines or other small animals around.
You can overcome this issue through proper obedience training to instill control and discipline.
Remember the German Shorthaired Pointer that kept shoving its brother into a hole? GSPs sometimes get aggressive.
This can stem from something as trivial as rough play left unchecked from their puppyhood (like fighting for toys with other pets in the home) to more complex triggers like someone wearing a cloth of a certain color, seeing a new face, poor socialization, or even health issues like ear infections, hip dysplasia, or immune system disorder. The list goes on!
Signs of GSP Aggression
Some signs of GSP aggression include: biting, growling, snapping, baring teeth, stiff body, stiff movement, charging (followed by a bow), dilated pupils, and tail raised or tucked.
Types of Aggression Exhibited By GSPs
Types of aggression displayed by German Shorthaired Pointers are dog-to-dog aggression (especially dogs of the same sex), fear-induced aggression, dog-to-human aggression, pain-induced aggression, territorial aggression, and frustration.
Knowing who or what your pet’s aggression can be directed at helps to ascertain the triggers speedily.
Once you notice your German Shorthaired Pointer exhibiting aggressive behavior, the first thing you want to do is pay attention to your dog and identify the trigger. If the trigger is someone with long beards, you can simply tell your visitors to keep their beards short.
If the trigger is more nuanced and hard to spot, visit a dog behaviorist for diagnosis and treatment. An unstable GSP is unpredictable.
Remember, using compulsion or punishment to curb aggression will never yield a calm house dog. Aggression is mostly rooted in fear, and resolving to compulsion will most likely yield a dog with more destructive tendencies. Finally, watch out for subtle signs like increased barking since they only have a moderate tendency to bark.
4. Separation Anxiety
Although rare, German Shorthaired Pointers develop separation anxiety. This arises when you repeatedly leave them for long periods (about six hours), especially in confinement like their crate or a room.
Common symptoms include neurotic barking, crying, yelping, hyperactivity, and destructive chewing in the presence of a trigger like picking up your keys, tying your shoelace, saying goodbye to your dog, and so on.
Most of the time your dog demonstrates these behaviors, it is for you to let them out of their crate or the room they are confined in to burn some energy. So, the first thing you want to do after noticing these behaviors is to drastically increase your dog’s exercise. As a rule of thumb, a tired dog is a happy dog.
If the exercises don’t curb your dog’s obnoxious behaviors, you should visit a dog behaviorist to help your pet desensitize those triggers (usually through associating them with a positive connotation) and establish you as an effective leader your dog can trust.
5. Tendency To Jump
German Shorthaired Pointers are boisterous Velcro dogs (they love to be everywhere their owner is). So, they find it difficult to keep their delight in check when their family comes home after some time away or when they meet a new person.
This can be a problem if you have young children or aged relatives around, as they can easily get knocked down by the breed’s exuberant bounciness, especially when they are young.
As mentioned earlier, a tired dog is a happy dog. However, this can be a little complicated with GSP puppies as you have to limit their walks to about 30 minutes per day to avoid damaging their joints from shock absorption (especially on rough terrain).
Therefore, most of their activities should involve mental stimulation and obedience training – with lots of rewards. That said, you’ll still have to exercise patience and caution. GSP puppies are rambunctious and may find it difficult to rein in their excitement even after training.
German Shorthaired Pointers are what you’ll describe as toned athletes: clean-cut with striking outline and well-muscled. So, it’s okay to worry if this breed can be dangerous.
Potential dangers of having one include destructive chewing, biting, snapping, neurotic barking, furniture destruction, prey drive, and bounciness. These dangers are mostly caused by insufficient exercise, separation anxiety, learned obnoxious behaviors, and health problems.
To prevent your GSP from turning to destructive behavior, you need to establish a relationship where they see you as a trusted and capable leader.
Always engage your dog in vigorous exercise, make them take obedience classes, and always watch out for triggers (e.g., lack of early socialization) and health conditions (e.g., cold weather) that can make them aggressive. You also want to consider the ages of people in your home before getting one to avoid casualties.
Alternatively, you can avoid most of these negative traits by getting an adult dog, as most of them have already been trained to shed a majority of these concerning traits and undergone necessary health clearances and surgical correction. But why exclude yourself from the exhilarating experience of watching this great family dog grow?!
We hope this article helps you make an informed decision!