GUIDE: How To Pick A German Shorthaired Pointer Puppy

You have decided on a German Shorthaired pointer, and now you need to choose a puppy. There are so many folklore theories and misconceptions about selecting puppies. Some say you should choose the puppy that comes to you. Others that you should pick the most lively puppy. Some soft-hearted people choose the smallest or the shyest. None of these methods will ensure you necessarily get the right puppy for you and your home. So is there a better method to choose the correct puppy?

german shepherd laying down
Portrait of a German Shephard

Picking a German shorthaired puppy starts with choosing the correct breeder who is breeding with dogs talented in any discipline in which you wish to compete. Health issues of the parents are vital to consider. The puppy’s temperament should be suited to you, your family, and your level of experience.

This article will give you information on what is essential when looking for a German Shorthaired pointer puppy. You will learn about crucial factors to consider when choosing a breeder, what you should look at regarding the puppy, puppy temperament tests, and how to match your needs with the puppy’s temperament.

Choosing A German Shorthaired Pointer Breeder

german shepherd jumping for ball
german shepherd catches the ball

There are, unfortunately, a lot of shameless breeders in the dog world that will sell you any German shorthaired pointer. These puppies may not meet breed standards, maybe sick, unvaccinated, raised in poor conditions with minimal socialization. They may have a whole host of other undesirable complications. To ensure you have a positive experience with your German shorthaired pointer, you should choose a reputable, responsible breeder.

What Should You Look For In A German Shorthaired Pointer Breeder?

german shepherd jumping
Dog is jumping to for catching branch.

Some owners will only buy from a breeder who registers their dogs with a specific kennel club. One reason for doing this is that unregistered dogs may be disqualified from participating in particular sporting events or competitions. If this is your reason, then it is valid to choose a registered breeder.

Some people feel that a registered dog must be superior to an unregistered dog. Unfortunately, even registered breeders can be unscrupulous and indulge in breeding practices that are harmful to the dogs and lead to disappointment for the owner.

If you want to choose a registered puppy, find out what the registering body does to hold its members accountable. Some registration bodies are nothing more than a way to trace the genetic lineages of dogs. They do not inspect breeding kennels or dogs involved in breeding programs. If the registering body regularly inspects its breeders and plays an active role in mentoring breeders, you can rely on the breeders recommended by that registration body.

In some countries, it is illegal to breed without registering your dogs.

Unregistered Breeders

A lot of unregistered breeders may be disreputable and involved in puppy farming. Avoid these breeders at all costs. Following the guidelines on what to expect from a reliable German shorthaired pointer breeder, you will readily detect puppy farmers and uncaring backyard breeders.

There are, however, some unregistered breeders who breed lovely dogs and know their puppies well, lavishing every care on them. They complete all the health tests required and breed healthy dogs. You can consider these breeders when looking for your puppy.

Guidelines To Find a Good German Shorthaired Pointer Breeder

  • A reputable breeder will allow you to visit the kennels to view their adult dogs, including the puppy’s parents.
  • Many breeders use the current technology to send regular pictures of the growing puppies to potential owners.
  • Reputable breeders will show or give you information on their kennel set-ups. They will answer any questions that you have.
  • Good breeders do not have too many litters at once. A breeder with multiple litters ( more than two litters at a time) will not have the time to learn the puppies’ individual characteristics.
  •  The breeder should not have any hesitation in showing you documentation regarding health and genetic testing that may have been done on the dogs.
  • Ask the breeder how the puppies are raised.
  • Ask if the puppies are temperament tested or the breeder knows their characters.
  • Responsible breeders will have their own questions for you to answer so that they can ascertain your suitability as a home. They will want you to view the puppies before purchasing.
  • Ask when the puppies are vaccinated and dewormed.
  • The breeder should include a contract that states that he or she will, at any stage, take the puppy back or assist in rehoming the puppy if you are unable to keep it.

Assessing Health In German Short-haired Pointer Puppy

The puppy should be active and strong with a glossy coat. It should not have a pot-belly or a harsh coat – these are often a sign of worms. Check the puppy’s umbilicus (belly button) and around the groin area. Any lumps in these areas are probably umbilical or inguinal hernias. Some small hernias will resolve themselves as the puppy grows, but large hernias will need to be surgically repaired.  Check for any evidence of parasites such as fleas and ticks.

The puppy’s eyes should be clear with good eyelid conformation. Entropion (eyelids turn inwards) and ectropion (eyelids turn outwards) are health risks in German shorthaired pointers.

The puppy should have strong, straight legs and move easily. Look out for any abnormal movements or limping. Puppies with poor nutrition can show evidence of Ricketts and other skeletal deformities.

Some litters might have docked tails, and some undocked tails. Tail docking has become a very contentious issue worldwide. In many countries and states, it is illegal to dock a puppy’s tail unless there is a medical reason for it. Any puppies that do have their tails docked should have had it done by a veterinarian.

Questions To Ask About The Parents’ Health

German shorthaired pointers are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia. To minimize the possibility of the puppies having dysplasia, both parents should have their hips and elbows assessed. Assessment involves having the hips and elbows x-rayed under anesthetic. It must be done under anesthetic as the hips are widely abducted to get the correct image, which is painful for the dog.

The resulting x-rays are assessed and graded by a qualified veterinarian. There are various grading scales, and you should familiarize yourself with the scale used to know which scores are acceptable for breeding.

Progressive retinal atrophy  (PRA) is a recessive genetic condition where the retina degenerates, and the dog becomes blind. If this disease is present, the dog will become blind at about five or six years. It is possible to genetically screen for PRA, and you should ask the breeder if the parents have been screened for PRA.

German shorthaired pointers may also suffer from Type II  Von Willebrand Disease. This blood clotting disorder is present from birth. It can also be genetically tested, and the parents must be screened to ensure they are suitable candidates for breeding.

Degenerative myelopathy is another genetic disorder that German shorthaired pointers may get through inheritance. It is a devastating disease of progressive muscle weakness and degeneration. Any breeding dogs must have genetic screening to ensure this horrid disease is not passed on to puppies.

Hypothyroidism is genetically transmitted in German shorthaired pointers, and dogs that suffer from hypothyroidism should not be bred. Ask to see veterinary health certificates for the parents.

There are other diseases that German shorthaired pointers suffer from, but there is not a genetic screening test for every condition. Some disorders also have complex inheritance, which means that they are challenging to assess using genetic profiling.   

A valid health certificate from a veterinarian should be shown for both the mother and father of the litter,

Methods Of Raising German Shorthaired Pointer Puppies Makes A Difference

Breeders have different approaches to raising puppies. Some breeders keep their pups in outside kennels with little social contact with other dogs or people. This practice results in fearful, under-socialized dogs that may develop fear aggression, separation anxiety, and inappropriate dog manners. These puppies often develop phobias and are generally unbalanced dogs.

The period from three weeks to twelve weeks is an essential learning and socialization time for puppies. A knowledgeable breeder will expose puppies to other dogs, people, and as many other animals as possible. During this time, puppies should learn about bathing, grooming, and even the basics of wearing a collar and harness. They should also have the opportunity to get used to riding in a car.

It is best if German shorthaired puppies are brought up in the home environment. They can be put in a puppy pen for safekeeping when the breeder cannot supervise them. Apart from that, they should be a part of the household as much as possible. 

A Breeder Should Know The Individual Puppies

A knowledgeable breeder will ensure that he or she knows the temperaments of individual puppies. The breeder will recommend particular puppies for certain homes based on their characters. For example, a highly excitable or dominant puppy would not be well placed in a family with small children or elderly people. Some breeders hire dog behaviorists to assess the puppies’ temperaments.

Be Prepared To Go On A Puppy Waiting List

Good breeders often have waiting lists. It is a good idea to choose several suitable breeders and visit them. If you are comfortable with those breeders, ask to be put on their waiting list. It is better to wait a few months for a dog that will be with you for twelve to fourteen years than to buy the wrong dog that can make that twelve to fourteen years feel like a hundred years.  

Is Your Property Suitable For A German Shorthaired Pointer?

German shorthaired pointers do not cope well in apartments or houses with small gardens. They are high-energy dogs that need space to play. Your property needs adequate fencing to contain your high-energy dog that has a high prey drive. German Shorthaired pointers are athletic dogs that can easily jump walls and fences that are not high enough. Six feet boundary walls are considered sufficiently high to keep pointers in the garden.

Temperament Testing German Short-haired Pointer Puppies

There are a variety of temperament tests for puppies. The tests usually include aspects such as friendliness, confidence, dominance, ball drive, willingness to tug on a toy, noise, touch, and sight sensitivity. Tests can be geared towards specific programs such as guide dogs, search and rescue, etc.

The American Kennel Club has various temperament tests available; One popular test is the Puppy Aptitude Test (PAT). Another is called the AKC Temperament Test. There is an American Temperament Test Society that exists solely to test dogs’ temperaments. Temperament tests can be accessed from the various institutions with tables to assist with interpreting the scores.

Are Puppy Temperament Tests Reliable?

Studies show mixed results regarding the reliability of puppy temperament testing. The parents’ temperaments and the environmental factors have a significant impact on the puppy’s temperament. Knowledgeable breeders are often better at assessing the characters of puppies than tests. Tests occur on one day, and the puppy may be sleepy or just eaten a meal or just having a quiet day, which will affect the test results.

A breeder spending time with the puppies can assess over many weeks and have a good idea of the puppy’s energy level, dominance, and reaction to new experiences. The breeder usually has a good impression of the puppy’s temperament by eight or nine weeks, when puppies typically go to their new homes. Experienced breeders have dealt with many litters over the years. They have gathered a wealth of experience that you should make use of when choosing your puppy.

Vaccinations, Deworming, And Microchipping.

All puppies should have had at least one vaccination by the time you collect the puppy. In some cases, breeders will not allow puppies to go to new homes unless they have had two vaccinations. Vaccination practices vary from country to country and from one veterinarian establishment to another.

Check on your country’s recommendations and clarify this with a veterinarian that you trust. Puppies should be dewormed at two to three-week intervals starting at approximately three weeks. It is vital to microchip puppies, and most registering bodies require puppies to be microchipped before they are registered.

What Is Your Purpose In Buying A German Shorthaired Pointer Puppy?

When buying a German shorthaired puppy, you must be clear in your mind as to what role you want the dog to perform. Are you purchasing a family pet, an agility dog, a hunting dog, or a search and rescue dog?  A gundog will have different selection criteria to a family pet. A puppy purchased for agility competitions or obedience training will also need to have specific traits. Some people buy a dog for multiple purposes, and this should be taken into consideration.

Choosing A German Shorthaired Pointer Puppy As A Gundog

The most crucial factor in choosing a gundog is to purchase a puppy from proven gundog lines. Choose a breeder who works his or her dogs in the hunting field. It is even better to choose a breeder who competes with their dogs in competitive field trials. This gives an objective measure of how good the parents are as gundogs.

It would be best to choose a confident, friendly puppy that wants to interact freely with people. This puppy is less likely to be afraid on the hunting field and will develop a close bond with his or her owner—a strong owner-dog bond results in easier training of gundogs.

Noise Sensitivity And Choosing A German Shorthaired Pointer Puppy

Noise sensitivity is one of the surest ways to put a nail in the coffin of a gundog’s career. Noise sensitivity can be retrained, but it is a complex and time-consuming process. Request that the breeder helps you choose a puppy that is less likely to have a fear of gunshots. Many breeders that hunt have developed their own tests to identify puppies that may be scared of loud noise. These will generally be less confident and shyer puppies in the litter.

Training a puppy to noise exposure must be done very carefully. It should not coincide with any of the natural fear periods a puppy goes through.  If noise exposure is carried out incorrectly, it can cause noise phobias in even the most confident puppies. Phobias that develop at an early age are the hardest to remediate. Noise training in young dogs must be a positive experience.

Your Personality Is Important In Choosing A Puppy

It is essential to be realistic about yourself and objectively evaluate your personality when choosing a puppy. If you are a naturally dominant person, you may intimidate a shyer, soft-natured puppy. Similarly, if you are a gentle person, not given to imposing your will on others, a dominant puppy may become your worst nightmare. Even if you can manage the dominant puppy, it will be a strain to constantly behave in a manner that does not come easily to you.

Match Your Family To The Correct Puppy

Breeders commonly ask prospective owners for details on who lives in the family home. New owners can sometimes be offended by these questions stating that they can handle the dog. It is crucial to remember that the dog must interact with the whole family.

A very hyperactive or dominant dog will not be a good match for a family with young children or elderly people as they are likely to be knocked over. A dominant dog may challenge anyone who he perceives to be weaker than himself. This behavior can be particularly dangerous with children.

If you have a family that includes young children, it is best to choose a confident puppy who fits in at the mid-level of the litter pecking order. Lower energy levels and a laid-back attitude will make this pup a good fit for a family with children. It is not advisable to choose the most dominant or the most submissive, shy puppy.

The dominant dog is likely to challenge the children. Children often inadvertently hurt or bump puppies. A shy puppy that lacks confidence can become afraid in these circumstances and may even become a fear-biter.

Match Your Experience To The German Shorthaired Pointer Puppy

Be realistic about your experience in handling dogs and the sporting discipline you want your dog to perform. If you are inexperienced in handling dogs or training hunting or agility dogs, then it is best to choose a dog with a more pliable personality. A headstrong, dominant dog could be more than you can handle and result in you not enjoying your sport and resenting the dog.

Other Pets In The Home

It is advisable to consider other pets in your home when purchasing a German shorthaired pointer puppy. If you have birds or poultry, you must accept that you will probably need to have them enclosed and not free-ranging. German shorthaired pointers have a hunt drive that is mainly triggered by birds. If you want to free-range poultry or have your parrot fly around freely, it would be wise to reconsider your choice of a German shorthaired pointer. Some pointers may possibly be socialized to birds, but it will always be an uneasy situation.

Small dogs and cats may also trigger prey drive in pointers. It will be essential to socialize the pointer puppy with these animals. Should you own a pack of dogs, consider the structure of the pack. If you have an excessively dominant male dog in the pack, avoid choosing a dominant male puppy. The same would apply to a dominant female dog. Dominant dogs are quick to fight, causing extensive damage to each other and your bank balance when they need veterinary treatment.

Common Mistakes

People purchasing puppies make some mistakes that can land them with an unsuitable dog. The sad result is that many of these dogs end up being rehomed. Rehoming dogs is traumatic for all involved.

Buying The Puppy That “Chooses Them’

Many people sit down on the ground, and they feel the puppy should choose them. This thinking is based on a very romantic notion of having an instant bond with a dog. Instant bonds seldom happen. The other puppies may have been sleeping. This puppy may be more dominant, and any host of factors could influence that puppy coming up to the prospective buyer. None of these is because the puppy chooses that owner.  You may be lucky and end up with the right dog, or you may choose the wrong dog completely.

Choosing The Puppy For A Coat Marking Or Color

Choosing the puppy because of a particular color or coat marking without regard to temperament is like gambling. The puppy’s character is much more important than the color or coat markings.

 Choosing The Shyest Or Smallest Puppy

Some people with soft, gentle natures are drawn to the littlest, shyest, or weakest puppy. Although they mean well, their actions may not be in the puppy’s best interests. These fearful, retiring puppies need to go to quiet homes where they are not challenged by many other pets or noisy children. It requires as much skill to grow and raise these puppies to their full potential as it does to train the most dominant puppies.

Choosing The Biggest Puppy

The biggest puppy is not always suited to your needs and family. His temperament is important and not his size. Sometimes the largest puppies are more prone to growth and skeletal disorders than smaller puppies in the litter. This is not always the case, but it is something to bear in mind.


Choosing the correct German Shorthaired pointer puppy is vital for a mutually beneficial partnership that will last for the dog’s life – usually twelve to fourteen years. You need to diligently check the kennels and choose a responsible, knowledgeable breeder. Choosing the right breeder will make selecting the right puppy a lot easier as you can rely on the breeder to assist you. Be aware of health issues and try to match your temperament, family, and other pets to the right temperament puppy. Don’t let your emotions overpower your decision-making; allow the breeder to guide you to choose the best puppy for you.


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