Is the German Shorthaired Pointer the right dog for you?

When first thinking about adding a dog to your family, you need to consider your lifestyle and what exactly you want the dog to do. Before you even contact breeders or a rescue organization, carefully consider and answer the following questions:

Why do I want a dog? GSP's are not the breed for everyone. They do best with an active family geared toward activities that include the dog. They were bred to be a versatile hunting dog capable of hunting feathered and furred game, pointing and retrieving and tracking wounded game. They are bred to run and need a great deal of exercise, mainly being allowed to run off leash. Simply walking around on a leash will not be enough. They are loving, loyal family companions that can also guard your family.

Does my family want the dog? Are there any known health problems in any family members that a dog could cause a problem? Think about asthma, allergies, etc.

What am I looking for in a dog? Disposition and activity level should be two most important considerations. If you are a person who likes staying in and watching TV, an active breed may not be what you are looking for.

How large will it get? A full grown male GSP will be about 24-25 inches tall at the shoulder and can weigh from 50 to 75 lbs. A female will be about 22-24 inches and weight from 45 to 65 lbs.

Do I have the time to devote to bringing up a puppy? Many, many people only consider a puppy as they want to be able to raise in their family. Puppies are cute and irresistible. But raising a puppy is similar to raising a small child. Potty training, chewing stages (teething) socialization (puppy kindergarten) and exercising are all things to consider when thinking about a puppy.

Does your lifestyle work with owning a dog? If you and your family are gone all day, are not home at consistent times and spend a lot of time outside of the house going to activities, a dog may not be for you at this time. Dogs need your attention. Shorthairs are especially social and don't do well left by themselves for long periods of time. They can get into all kinds of trouble when left alone, such as barking, digging, and chewing. Dogs also thrive on a routine and do best when their humans feed, play with them and exercise them at regular times every day. Take the time to visit several breeders before deciding on a puppy. Consider where the litter is raised. Are the puppies kept in the house, surrounded by people and activites or are they left to their own devices in a kennel run outside with little attention or exercise? Good breeders do everything they can to prepare their puppies for the life with the new owners. They handle the puppies every day, invite people over to handle the puppies for socialization, and supply many toys and noises so that the puppies are exposed to many things. They introduce them to crates and take them places to get them used to traveling. Finally, a good breeder will never release a puppy before 7 to 8 weeks of age. The puppies need that final time together to learn about themselves and each other. Puppies that leave their littermates at 6 weeks frequently do not have the time to learn that biting hurts and consequently, as puppies grow, they bite their owners, not meaning to hurt them, but not understanding that it does hurt! That extra time with the litter teaches them that it does hurt. Although all puppies chew on their new families, it has been documented that puppies which leave the litter at 6 weeks have many more problems with biting. So, don't be in a rush to get that pup!

What should you ask a breeder? A good breeder will be open to any questions you ask. You should ask what their goal was in producing this litter. The idea behind good breeding is that breeders want to better the breed. Each time they produce a litter, they are trying to produce better puppies. They should be able to explain to you what their reasons were to bring the two parents together. You should ask what health clearances were done. At the very minimum, both parents' hips should be OFA'd for hip displaysia. There are more tests to be done for eyes (CERF and CD), heart, thyroid and von Willabrands (bleeding in dogs). Always insist on seeing copies of the health clearances. Ask about the puppy contract. A good breeder will only sell a puppy on a contract which covers both the buyer and the seller. Usually within the contract is a guarantee for the puppy's health and for any genetic problems that may crop up in the puppy's lifetime.

What will the breeder ask you? A good breeder will take time to ask the puppy buyer questions to make sure this breed and a puppy in this litter will be a good match. Breeders will want to know if you have done your research on this breed to make sure you know what you are getting yourself into. They will want to know if you have owned a dog before, where you will keep the dog, if everyone is gone all day, what arrangements will you make for the puppy (you cannot leave a puppy home alone all day nor can you leave it alone in a crate), and what your plans are for the puppy (hunting, showing, family dog etc). A good breeder will be a mentor for you and your family, able to answer any questions you have on raising your puppy.

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