German Longhaired Pointer

Peter Richards
Peter Richards (BVSc, MRCVS, University of Bristol)
 
Photo of adult German Longhaired Pointer

Of the three German Pointer breeds, the German Longhaired Pointer is the least well known. They are far less common than their more popular cousins, the German Shorthaired Pointer and the German Wirehaired Pointer. They are a medium to large gun dog breed with an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years.

It’s thought that the German Longhaired Pointer is the oldest of the three German Pointer breeds. While pictorial evidence from the 4th century shows dogs being used to flush game for hunters using hawks and falcons, a dog recognisable as a German Longhaired Pointer did not emerge until the 19th century. Initially, they were known as stubborn dogs with strong characters, however, the modern German Longhaired Pointer is an amiable character with plenty of affection who loves spending time with their family.

The original German Longhaired Pointer was a formidable hunting dog with excellent endurance and physical ability. While they lost the negative aspects of their personalities, they have retained their need for exercise. German Longhaired Pointers require large amounts of exercise and plenty of attention from their owners. Without time to let off steam, they quickly become frustrated, noisy and destructive. With this in mind, a German Longhaired Pointer is not suitable to an apartment or even an urban lifestyle. They are extremely loyal dogs, and while this is a great trait, it does make them susceptible to separation anxiety. If you’re planning on leaving a German Longhaired Pointer alone for long periods they will most likely become frustrated and destructive. The perfect environment for a German Longhaired Pointer would be accompanying their owner on regular outdoor excursions where they are free to run about, following as many scent trails as possible.

About & History

Pointer-type dogs have been around for many centuries. Before firearms became the weapon of choice for hunters, many used falcons and hawks to hunt their quarry. As in modern hunts, dogs were used to flush game from the undergrowth which the bird of prey could swoop down on. Some dogs developed a behaviour where, rather than dashing headlong into the bushes, they would stand and point to the game with their noses before putting it up. This pointing behaviour was recognised as desirable by hunters who propagated it. Once firearms became popular and hunting moved from enclosed woodland to open fields, this pointing became even more useful. With a dog indicating more or less where the birds or other quarry would be put to flight the hunter had a greater chance of a successful hunt.

In the 19th century shooting was a popular past time among the landed gentry of Europe. They took great pride in their hunting dogs and in breeding the fastest pointers with the best nose and more endurance. This was the age when the science of selective breeding began to take off. With many aristocrats taking an interest in science they set about breeding their idea of the perfect hunting dog. From these experiments, several breeds emerged each with their own society of aficionados. Among them was the German Longhaired Pointer, which appeared in the mid-19th century. The breed standard was formalised at the first dog shows in Frankfurt between 1878 and 1879, which set the characteristics of the German Pointers. Even though breeding was now based on physical appearance, they did not lose their hunting ability. However, it’s been noted that their personality has altered from stubborn and unpredictable to friendly and stable.

Appearance

German Longhaired Pointer Large Photo

The German Longhaird Pointer is an elegant and athletic dog. They are muscular dogs with a strong form. German Longhaired Pointers are a medium to large breed, reaching an adult weight of 27 to 30kg. Males tend to be taller with a height range of 60 to 70cm, while females are usually 58 to 66cm at the withers. They have a similar facial structure to spaniels with a triangular shaped muzzle and a high forehead. Their eyes are brown while their noses are black. The ears are rounded and hang down to the chin. They have deep chests with a slight abdominal tuck. Their limbs are long, muscular and, as with other German Pointers, have webbed toes.

The coat is between 3 and 5cm long on the body. On the tail, ears, abdomen and backs of limbs, there is feathering of the hair. Their coat is wavy, but not curly, with a firm texture. German Longhaired Pointers have a dense undercoat with a seasonal shedding pattern. The coat is normally a solid colour, however, white markings are allowed on the paws, muzzle and chest. There are two possible coat colours:

  • Brown
  • Dark Roan

Character & Temperament

German Longhaired Pointers are calm and friendly creatures. As with many working dogs, they have huge amounts of energy which needs to be burnt off each day. Those who expect a German Longhaired Pointer to sit quietly at home will be disappointed as they turn to destruction to alleviate their frustration. They are all-terrain dogs who love an outdoor lifestyle whether there’s water, hills or plains. Another trait that they have retained from their working background is their intelligence. German Longhaired Pointers are a clever breed that have learned how to work with their owners to achieve a common goal. They bond very quickly with their family and don’t enjoy being left alone for long periods of time.

German Longhaired Pointers make good family pets and are known for being affectionate and good with children. They love to play games and expend all their energy. But remember, they are big dogs who might be too boisterous for young children. As with any dog, younger children should be supervised to keep them both safe. If you’re looking for a kind, gentle dog who will get you out and about for hours each day, a German Longhaired Pointer would be on your list of loyal companions.

Trainability

A German Longhaired Pointer is eminently trainable. Not only are they intelligent, they have heaps of energy and love to please their owners. As such, they are suitable for sports like agility and obedience trials. The German Longhaired Pointer is not a headstrong breed. They require a gentle hand when training, with plenty of positive reinforcement to stop them from becoming discouraged.

Training is especially important in young German Longhaired Pointers. While a well trained puppy will become a calm and affectionate companion, a poorly trained and socialised puppy may grow up to be aggressive and difficult to handle. Socialisation is essential in this breed to prevent them turning into anxious adults.

Health

German Longhaired Pointers are generally healthy dogs with an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years. There are no known conditions associated with the breed at the moment. However, minor concerns have been raised about their susceptibility to ear infections.

  • Ear Infections – As with other breeds where the ear hangs down over the ear canal, German Longhaired Pointers are more susceptible to ear infections. While these may be mild to start with, if they’re not dealt with they can quickly spiral out of control and establish a chronic problem. Owners should check their dog’s ears regularly for signs such as a build up of wax, reddening of the skin or an unpleasant smell. This is particularly important in dogs that like to swim as water entering the ear canal creates humid conditions in which bacterial and yeast infections thrive. Luckily, there is a wide range of treatments available for ear infections on prescription from veterinary clinics.

Exercise and Activity Levels

German Longhaired Pointers require huge amounts of exercise. They will need between one and two hours of running around in open spaces to satisfy their needs. This makes them unsuitable for urban environments. Don’t believe that you can get away with just letting them out into a yard either! The quality of exercise needs to be high, ideally with purpose and mental stimulation, as well.

It should be remembered that German Longhaired Pointers are hunting dogs who love to follow a scent. When out on a walk, they are unlikely to stay close to their owners, often roaming hundreds of metres on either side of them. A good recall and obedience are highly desirable.

Grooming

When they’re not shedding, German Longhaired Pointers are fairly low maintenance. Weekly brushing is recommended to prevent their long hair from tangling and forming mats. If they spend a lot of time rummaging through the undergrowth, some time spent picking burrs and other plant debris from the coat is beneficial. During their seasonal shedding in autumn and spring, they will need to be brushed daily. Their nails should be trimmed when required and remember to check their ears regularly for any problems.

Famous German Longhaired Pointers

Despite being excellent hunting dogs, German Longhaired Pointers are often overlooked in popular culture and eclipsed by their better known cousins, the German Shorthaired Pointers.

So, whilst there may be no famous German Longhaired Pointers in the limelight as of yet, as with every breed, there are plenty of quasi-famous ones on Instagram, which is a wonderful resource for anyone considering adding the breed to their household.

Cross-Breeds

There are not yet any recognised German Longhaired Pointer cross-breeds available.

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