Do German Shorthair Pointers Retrieve?

German Shorthair Pointers are dogs used in hunting. As their name suggests, they are used in hunting to point game, but many people ask if they can do other work such as retrieving. A dog capable of fulfilling more than one hunting function is useful and makes it easier for the hunter. He only needs to bring one dog instead of several.

German Shorthaired Pointers are dogs capable of performing various roles in hunting. They can hunt, and point as well as retrieve. Retrieving can be done on both land and water. They are regarded as all-purpose hunting dogs used to hunt birds, raccoons, possums, and deer.

This article explores the history and characteristics of German Shorthaired Pointers. It looks at different retrieving types and whether a German Shorthaired Pointer is equipped for all kinds of retrieving. A hunting dog must have the physical and mental characteristics necessary to complete the tasks.

History Of Pointers

German Shorthaired Pointers were bred in Germany in the 1800s. The breeders used Old Spanish pointers, Continental pointers, German Bird Dogs, Bloodhounds, and English pointers to develop the breed.

The aim was to create a versatile, fast hunting dog with enough energy and aggression to deal with large prey. At the same time, the dog should have a friendly, reliable temperament around the home or farm.

German Shorthaired Pointers – Breed Recognition

German Shorthaired Pointers were first recognized and registered as a breed in 1872 by the German Kennel Club. They were seen briefly in England around 1887 at a dog show. Still, their popularity did not increase until after World War II.

The American Kennel Club first recognized German Shorthaired Pointers in 1930, registering them as sporting dogs. Their popularity declined in the United States around World War II but increased again in the 1950s.


When a pointer scents prey, it will freeze in position with its tail held stiff in an upward position, one front foot lifted, and the nose directed towards the prey’s position.

Hunters in days gone by would know where to throw their nets to capture the birds. In modern days the hunter will shoot at the prey.

In both of these hunting methods, it was essential that the dog freeze in position and not get caught up in the net or run into the firing line when the hunter shot.


Retrievers are dogs used in hunting to retrieve game that has been shot. The dog must find and pick up the downed prey and return it to the hunter without biting into it.

The ability to carry game in the mouth without biting is referred to as the dog having a “soft mouth.” The retriever may be required to retrieve prey from the land or the water.

Retriever Characteristics

Retrievers are taught to be patient and must also learn to mark where birds fall after being shot. The dog must be very well controlled. Some hunters prefer the dog returns the bird/ prey to their hand, and some like it dropped at their feet.

Such precision shows advanced levels of obedience and control. Retrievers must be strong swimmers as they are sometimes required to retrieve birds from a dam or lake.

Blind Retrieve

Sometimes, a dog cannot see to mark where a bird has gone down, which is common when hunting waterfowl. In this instance, a hunter will give the dog directions on finding the downed prey.

These directions may be provided by voice, hand, and whistle commands. Using commands is called a blind retrieve and is the ultimate test of a retriever and his owner’s relationship.

Retrievers Shake On Command

Many hunters hunt from a boat. They do not want their dogs to shake the water from their coats as a dog vigorously shaking could capsize the boat. It would also spray the occupants with water. The retriever must wait until given the command to shake.

German Shorthaired Pointers – Multi-Purpose Dogs

Hunter’s bred German Shorthaired Pointers to hunt or track prey, point to the prey’s position, and retrieve the game once it is down.

German Shorthaired Pointers are friendly dogs who love to please their owners. The desire to please is a valuable trait in a hunting dog as it makes it easy to train to the level needed for hunting.

German Shorthaired Pointers Are Intelligent

Their intelligence assists the dogs in learning and developing the necessary skills for hunting. They are well equipped to remember and mark where prey has gone down.

This ability is vital for retrieving. They have a natural desire to retrieve, making training much quicker as the dog does it naturally.

German Shorthaired Pointers Have Good Noses

Good retrievers have excellent scenting abilities so that they can sniff out downed prey in thick brush. Bloodhounds were used in the development of German Shorthaired Pointers to ensure they have a good nose.

Training A German Shorthaired Pointer

Training must always begin with basic obedience when the German Shorthaired Pointer is a puppy. Once obedience is well established, the dog may start with simple field exercises.

It is important not to push dogs too fast in their training as this can often ruin a dog. It is vital to teach a reliable recall as this is the foundation of any dog working in a hunting field.

Steps In Retrieval Training

The most basic retrieve is called a Simple Retrieve. The dog must retrieve an object from a short distance and sees it being thrown or placed.

The second step is Memory Retrieval. The object is placed on the ground, and the dog is led away and then required to find the item using his memory.

 A Blind Retrieve is when the dog does not see where the object is placed and must follow the owner’s commands to find it.

A Split retrieve is when the dog must retrieve two objects. Retrieving two items is an advanced level of retrieving.

Do German Shorthair Pointers Retrieve Ducks?

The answer to this question is an unqualified yes. German Shorthaired Pointers have webbed feet – designed to help them swim.

Some breeds will retrieve better from water than a German Shorthaired Pointer as they are stronger swimmers, e.g., Labradors.  

However, a well-bred and well-trained German Shorthaired Pointer is a versatile dog in the hunting field and will retrieve ducks and other waterfowl.

Do German Shorthaired Pointers Suffer From The Cold

German Shorthaired Pointers have short coats and are therefore not as resilient to cold water as dogs with thick, water-resistant coats such as Labradors and Newfoundlands.

They can cope with moderately cold water and have a great deal of energy and enthusiasm when hunting. Owners should not use them for work in frigid water.

There are adjustable neoprene vests that can be fitted to German Shorthaired Pointers when retrieving from cold water. The neoprene vests help to keep the core temperature stable when the dog is working in cold water.

Hunters must closely monitor their dogs and call a halt to any activity where the dog is not coping.

How Does A German Shorthaired Pointer Compare To Other Dogs

Some dogs do some jobs better in the hunting arena than German Shorthaired Pointers. Spaniels are generally better at flushing than German Shorthaired Pointers because they are smaller and can get under low-hanging bushes.

They are also naturally bred to flush. A Labrador is better at water retrieving due to the thickness and water resistance of his coat. Although other dogs may be better at specific hunting jobs, the German Shorthaired Pointer is a versatile dog who can hunt, point and retrieve.

A Variety Of Prey

German Shorthaired Pointers can adapt to a variety of targets when hunting. The most common quarry are birds, e.g., quail, grouse, pheasant, and waterfowl. German Shorthaired Pointers can adapt to hunt raccoon, deer, possum, and foxes.


German Shorthaired Pointers are versatile dogs in the sport of hunting. They are fast, strong, and intelligent dogs, capable of retrieving, hunting, and pointing.

German Shorthaired Pointers can retrieve both upland hunts and waterfowl hunts. Their short coats make them susceptible to freezing conditions, but they can cope with moderately cold conditions.

German Shorthaired Pointers are energetic and have a high hunt drive, making them a valuable hunting team member.

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