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– Breed Priorities – German Shorthaired Pointers

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346– February, 2015

German Shorthaired Pointers

By Nikki Riggsbee

The German Shorthaired Pointer grows in popularity each year, and it is the third most popular Sporting breed, thirteenth ranked among all breeds, according to the most recent AKC registration statistics. It is a breed with sufficient breeder-judges to invite and a breed that is easy to outline, with a short coat and a typically full profile stack – two features that help improve a survey.

Twenty-six breeder judges were asked to take the survey, and twenty-five agreed to do so. Eighteen completed surveys were returned, with a couple less than completely completed. Almost all of the breeder-judges have over forty years in the breed and have judged it for nearly thirty years on average. Almost half have judged their national specialty, and most have judged other German Shorthaired Pointer specialties. Some judge only this breed. Others judge several sporting breeds, the Sporting group, or multiple groups.

Prioritizing Virtues

The survey included a list of breed characteristics from the German Shorthaired Pointer standard for the breeder-judges to rank by priority. Below is the list of breed characteristics in order by the average rank, from most important (1) to least important (16).

1. Aristocratic, well-balanced, symmetrical with power, endurance, agility

2. Shoulders sloping… and well-covered with muscle, …well laid back

3. Short back, but standing over plenty of ground

4. Smooth lithe gait

5. Head clean-cut, neither too light nor too heavy

6. Stifles well bent

7. Chest … impression of depth rather than breadth

8. Pasterns strong, short and nearly vertical

9. Neck of proper length

10. Eye medium-sized, almond-shaped, dark brown

10. Friendly, intelligent, and willing to please

12. Scissors bite

13. Length of the muzzle equal the length of skull

14. Feet compact, close-knit and round to spoon-shaped

15. Ears broad, set fairly high, lie flat and never hang away from the head

16. Hair short and thick and feels tough

The group was unanimous on the importance of “Aristocratic, well-balanced, symmetrical with power, endurance, agility” (1st), with all but two placing it first. Next greatest agreement, with almost ninety percent, was on “Shoulders sloping… and well-covered with muscle, …well laid back” (2nd). After that, with eighty percent concurring, was “Hair short and thick and feels tough” (16th).

“Short back, but standing over plenty of ground” (3rd) had sixty percent agreeing. “Back” was closely followed by “Smooth lithe gait” (4th), although thirty percent put “Gait” in the last quartile. The only other virtue with a slim majority was “Pasterns strong, short and nearly vertical” (8th).

Several other virtues had half of the breeder-judges agreeing on their importance, with the others having other opinions: “Head clean-cut, neither too light nor too heavy” (5th), “Stifles well bent” (6th), “Chest … impression of depth rather than breadth” (7th), “Neck of proper length” (9th), and “Ears broad, set fairly high, lie flat and never hang away from the head” (15th).

Some virtues had split opinions. While “Head” had half place it in the second quartile, six experts had it in the third quartile. “Feet compact, close-knit and round to spoon-shaped” (14th) was considered middling important by seven, but closer to bottom by six surveys. “Eye medium-sized, almond-shaped, dark brown” (tied for 10th) was placed all over.

Additional input would break the tie at tenth between “Eyes” and “Friendly, intelligent, and willing to please.” The average for “Neck” (9th) was just a tenth of a point more important. “Head” (5th) and “Stifles” (6th) also had very close average ranks as did “Length of the muzzle equal the length of skull” (13th) and “Feet” (14th).

“Balanced” (1st) was nearly three points ahead of “Shoulders,” emphasizing its top importance. Two points separated fourth and fifth placed virtues, emphasizing the value of the first four.

Ranking Faults

The survey also included a list of German Shorthaired Pointer faults from the standard for the experts to rank. Here are those faults in sequence from most serious to least serious, based on the average rankings.

1. Excessively long, roached or swayed back

2. Loose, short-bladed or straight shoulders

3. Cowhocked legs

4. Hackney gait

5. Definite Pointer Stop

6. Nervous or flighty character

7. Pointed muzzle

8. Tail curved or bent toward the head

9. Bone structure too heavy or too light

10. Skull too broad, too narrow, flat, or too rounded

11. Tail not “set high”

12. More than one inch above or below the described heights

13. Long hair in the body coat

14. More than slightly longer than tall

15. Level bite

16. Lacking the “tendency to single track”

The greatest agreement was on the first three faults: “Excessively long, roached or swayed back” (1st), “Loose, short-bladed or straight shoulders” (2nd), and “Cowhocked legs” (3rd). The only other fault with a majority was “More than one inch above or below the described heights” (12th).

Some faults managed to have half the group concur on the degree of the problem: “Hackney gait” (4th), “Definite Pointer Stop” (5th), “Nervous or flighty character” (6th), “Pointed muzzle” (7th), “Bone structure too heavy or too light” (9th), “Level bite” (15th), and “Lacking the ‘tendency to single track’” (16th).

Some faults had bipolar distribution of rankings. “Straight shoulders” (2nd) had a majority put it in the first quartile, but seven put it in the second. Half thought “Pointer Stop” (5th) quite serious, while more than a third had it middling. Half had “pointed muzzle” (7th) as above average seriousness, while the same number put it below average. The last three faults had the group disagree between not very serious and somewhat serious.

Some averages were very close, so that additional surveys could change the relative ranking. The first two (“Bad back” and “Straight shoulders”) were less than a tenth of a point apart. “Hackney” (4th) and “Pointer Stop” (5th) were similarly close as were “Long hair in the body coat” (13th) and “More than slightly longer than tall” (14th).

Essential Characteristics

The breeder-judges were asked to specify four to six essential characteristics that a good German Shorthaired Pointer must have.

Most often mentioned were proper balance, including length of neck and body and angulation, and correct movement. Next most often listed were a friendly, intelligent temperament and good front. Also specified several times were a correct head as described in the standard and correct tail carriage and set.


The survey included two sets of outlines, six dogs and six bitches. The judges were asked to place each set based on their outlines alone, and then select Best of Breed from between the best dog and best bitch. The outlines were traced from photographs of real dogs, so none is perfect.

Before reading further and using the priorities above, select your Best of Breed and Best of Opposite Sex from the German Shorthaired Pointer outlines.

The judges’ placements were averaged to determine their collective selections. Top male was German Shorthaired Pointer “D,” who had the best average placement and eleven first place scores. Those who liked “D” said he had “balance and type,” “length and return of upper arm and bend of stifle,” “good front and rear, topline, and length of neck,” and “well-proportioned and symmetrical.”

The next favorite male was German Shorthair “B,” who was very close behind “D” in average placement and had six first placements. Among the reasons for selecting “B” were “overall balance,” “good outline and proportion, legs well set under body,” “short back, good topline and tail set, stifles well bent,” “excellent rear,” and “most typey.”

The German Shorthaired Pointer bitch with the highest average placement was “Z,” who was most often placed first among the bitches. The breeder-judges who chose her commented that she was the “best balanced, with best length and return of upper arm,” had “good topline, good length of body, good rear,” and “good proportion, blend of neck into shoulders, stands over plenty of ground.”

In second place among the bitches was German Shorthair bitch “Y.” Those who liked her described her as having “good outline, better head, proper angles” and “most typey, most balanced.”

The Best of Breed German Shorthaired Pointer with the highest average score, most first placements, and most often designated BOB was dog “D.” Twice as many breeder-judges picked “D” than any other Shorthair, dog or bitch. Next most often selected BOB was dog “B.” Although the group didn’t always agree when prioritizing the lists, they found the same dog.

German Shorthaired Pointers “B,” “C,” and “D” were the only males that were placed first at least once. All of the bitches were placed first on at least one survey. Many liking just a few outlines may be because the others were less competitive. When many do well, with different experts selecting different individuals, the dogs are likely close in quality.

Dogs “B,” “D,” and “E” were never out of the ribbons. All of the bitches were unplaced on at least two surveys. The dogs out of the ribbons most often were “A” and “F;” bitch “X” was unplaced most often.

Comments from German Shorthaired Pointer Experts

•?This dog has to be able to run with stamina in tough terrain.

•?Hocks should always be set vertically; stretching straightens out the angulation.

•?Important are absolute physical soundness and movement.

•?Tail must come off in a smooth line from the spine.

•?Proper balance includes good length of neck and body, slightly longer or equal to height at the withers.

•?The dog must first look like a GSP, and then balance; the parts must fit together.

•?Keep in mind the purpose for which the GSP is bred. Can this dog function in the field? Is the dog balanced with appropriate angulation to permit it to run in the field? Does it have sufficient length of neck and proper muzzle to allow it to retrieve?

•?Tail carriage must not be high.

•?Slightly thin is better than too fat.

•?Must be well-balanced, in good condition, move correctly covering a lot of ground.

•?I’d rather see a dog almost out of control than see a GSP behave as a robot.

Thanks to the German Shorthaired Pointer experts for sharing their knowledge.

This discussion is not intended to promote fault or part judging. One should always evaluate a whole dog as a package. One develops and improves his picture of excellence by deciding what to emphasize for each breed. They say that evaluating dogs is a matter of what you will forgive. Having priorities can help with that process.

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Posted by on Feb 23 2015. Filed under Current Articles, Editorial, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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