TLDR: Yes! GSP’s are excellent duck hunting dogs that can also hunt many other types of game. However, there are some limitations discussed further below.
Finding a good gun dog is a big process, there are so many factors to consider. Often times, while doing gun dog research, it seems that so many dogs are good at hunting 1 or 2 different types of game but thats about it.
Fortunately, GSP’s are excellent hunters and are very versatile in their game they are able to hunt. From their love of the water to their insane prey drive, if it flies, in a GSP’s mind, it dies.
German Shorthairs Were Born To Hunt
Quite literally, these dogs were born and breed to be loyal hunting companions and hunting dogs. The GSP was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1930, but in its native Germany, its origins date back to the 17th century or before. According to the AKC, it’s likely the GSP descended from an early breed called the German Bird Dog which itself was a combination of even earlier breeds.
Along the way, there was the influence of Spanish and English pointers as well as several hounds and tracking dogs. The first studbook for GSPs didn’t show up until 1870. More from Pheasants Forever.
This is my GSP, Hank, in this pic he was hunting ducks on public land in Wyoming. Temps that day ranged from 20-35 degrees and for a few hors out and only being 6 months old, he did an INCREDIBLE job, with the only downside of him trying to retrieve a decoy every so often instead of the actual duck….what? it happens!
Can A German Shorthair Pointer Duck Hunt?
We have all seen the images of German Shorthair Pointers hunting in South Dakota Pheasant fields, but what about taking that same GSP and putting them on some waterfowl?
Are German shorthaired pointers good for duck hunting? Fortunately, I have some good new, and that is a simple YES! German Shorthair Pointers are great duck hunting dog breeds. However, there are some limitations like will all breeds, lets look further into this and see the strengths and weaknesses of GSP’s in a waterfowl hunting environment.
I know this from personal experience as I have duck hunted with my GSP and met many GSP owners who hunt ducks with their GSP. Pictured in this article is my GSP, Hank who I took duck hunting at 6 months old in the very cold Wyoming fall weather.
Not only could he instinctively retrieve the birds, but he naturally didn’t mouth the duck and overall looked like he was loving it.
German Shorthair Pointers Hunting Abilities
GSP’s are often overlooked for anything other than pheasants because so many hunters move on once they read the “Pointer” word in the name.
Yes, GSP’s are pointers, and they will point at everything, but that doesn’t limit their hunting drive or capability. From Pheasants, grouse and doves, to tracking deer and retrieving waterfowl, these dogs really can do-it-all when it comes to hunting.
German Shorthair Pointers are known in the gun dog industry as the “Swiss Army Knife of Hunting Dogs” or otherwise labeled as “versatile hunting dogs” due to their sheer drive and energy to all things wild game.
Can A GSP Handle The Cold Weather?
German Shorthairs Pointers do very well in cold weather. Their thick short coat provides ample protections from cold temperatures, wind and water.
However, like all strengths, there are weaknesses and some of those come in the form of dealing with those cold temps. From personal experience with hunting waterfowl with my GSP, Hank, I’ve learned a few things.
Temps above 30 Degrees Fahrenheit and your GSP will have no issues either stationary in a blind or running down game. Once that temp drops int the low 20’s or below, the GSP doesn’t do as well in a blind scenario (unless its heated).
I noticed while my GSP loved to hunt even in the cold temps, he would shake the entire time while staring at the sky from the blind (even while wearing a quality neoprene vest.
In very cold temps, a GSP would rather be a mobile hunter as he can keep his body temps higher while running down birds in a field. Constant shaking from 4:30 am to Noon, and your GSP will have burned A LOT of calories.
If you plan on having you’re GSP in freezing temps in a non-heated blind, you will want to ensure they take in lots of calories so they have the sustained energy needed to stay in type hunt as long as you. Although their “mind” will keep them out, there bodies will need substance.
GSP’s Energy Levels and a Duck Blind
On last limiting factor with a GSP and Waterfowl hunting is again, sitting stationary in a duck blind. Sure, they will sit there for a while and wait it out with you.
But, GSP’s “know” when they are hunting and after a while if your just Sky-busting and/or missing birds, your GSP is going to get stir crazy and you may find yourself trying to go back and forth from looking at birds and trying to keep your GSP from scaring off patterning ducks as they circle your decoys.
GSP vs Labrador Retriever Duck Hunting
I spent many years hunting with a buddy who owned a great lab for duck hunting, I got to see these two breeds side-by-side for many trips in all sorts of conditions that Wyoming has to offer. From high-winds and freezing temps to warm early season days.
Some observations were that my GSP had more drive and energy but lacked the ability to just sit in the blind stationary, he just wanted to get out and run after everything.
On the other hand my buddies lab was more mellow but had no desire to find or point birds, he literally only wanted to retrieve ducks, beyond that, he didn’t care.
Now, this is not a scientific test by any means, instead a very small example of what you may see on a larger scale.
German Shorthair Pointers and Hunting Injuries
Because GSP’s hunting drive seems to completely take over their mind once the orange vest comes out of the truck, they tend to lose all ability to foresee danger.
My GSP has ran straight through barbed-wires fences, injured his paws countless times. Because of this, I strongly recommend getting a gun dog first aid kit and look into pet health insurance.
GSP and Duck Hunting Final Thoughts
Can a German Shorthair Pointer be a great duck hunting dog? Yep! I own one and have witnessed countless other GSP’s be great waterfowl gun dogs.
With that said, the only downsides is that the GSP breed just wants to run and has a high energy drive making it tough to sit still in a duck blind. Depending on your setup, location and weather, the GSP might be the perfect hunting dog for you.
GSP Items We Love
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Carhartt Tradesman Leash: Every dog owner needs a good leash, and all leashes are NOT treated the same. This Carhartt dog leash is very well made, is durable enough to deal with a GSP’s strength (yes, pulling too). I’ve had cheap leashes in the past, they aren’t worth it, grab this instead.
Furhaven orthopedic and Memory Foam Bed: If you have a GSP, you know, they LOVE to lay around, cuddle and sleep (when they aren’t running circles around the living room and yard.
This dog bed is so great because GSP’s love to rest their head on “pillows” just like humans and this dog bed has a built-in “pillow” perimeter that my dog uses every day as a pillow. Hank loves this bed.
SportDOG Brand 425X Remote Trainer: You know what sucks more than having your GSP run around the neighborhood or after a rabbit at your local park? Not having the ability to stop your GSP and recall them in an instant.
With the Sport Dog 425x, you have complete control for up to 500 yards (yes, 5 football fields end-to-end). Its battery lasts a LONG time, its sleek, lightweight and your pup won’t ever be out of your control with it on.
WEST PAW Zogoflex Qwizl Dog Puzzle Treat Toy: Our GSP’s love to play, even when we may not have the energy to entertain them ourselves. Maybe it’s work, maybe it’s the end of a long day, who knows.
But, all you need to do is give this Kong to your GSP and they will entertain themselves for quite a while, while you finally get some rest. Hank has had this for years now and it’s still kickin!
GSP German Shorthaired Pointer Hat: Represent your GSP pride with this great trucker, snapback style German Shorthaired Pointer ball cap. It’s got a modern look but also shows others your favorite dog breed. The best part? The glances and smiles from those who also have a GSP, its always a conversation starter!
Kurgo Baxter Backpack for Dogs, Saddlebag Back Pack Harness: I don’t know about you, but my GSP loves to adventure with us out here in Colorado. That means hiking, mountain biking, and camping all year.
Our GSP sees this saddle bag break out and he can’t stop wiggling his butt knowing where are headed outdoors. Toss in the car keys, a snack bar and some kibble, you are on your way to outdoor fun with your pup!
URPOWER Dog Seat Cover Car Seat Cover: Ok, this is last but it is the MOST beneficial item you will get. Don’t, believe me, Take a road trip with your GSP in the back seat. Once you arrive, you will have GSP shedding hair all over your back sweat.
This slick hammock-style seat cover creates a waterproof barrier between your lovely truck’s interior and your GSP’s shedding hair. Hunting and having a wet GSP? No Problem! Did your GSP decide to chase a goose into the lake? No big deal! This seat cover is a lifesaver.