Trying to decide between a German Shorthaired Pointer and a Labrador Retriever as your next pet and field companion?
Well,These are two breeds I know a lot about. I have lived with both, hunted with both and been through the ups and downs with both so i think i can help you decide.
Obviously, I have Hank, my GSP, but a very good friend of mine has a Black Lab that I’ve spent a lot of time around.
Hank has spent a lot of time around my friend’s Lab too, so I can literally do a side-by-side comparison of the two of them for this post, which comes in handy.
I just want to point out right out of the gates that this isn’t me telling you which breed is better.
Instead, I’m just sharing what I know about them from my own experiences, because you might be looking at one or both breeds as a potential addition to your household and I want to give you all the information I can. So, let’s look a little closer at them both!
I’ve covered Hank’s temperament before, so I won’t go into too much detail here. But suffice to say, he’s an active, excitable boy with a very active, excitable temperament.
From my experience, Hank is a pretty normal GSP too, so if you’re looking for a super calm, chilled out dog to have around the house, GSPs won’t be a great fit for you.
When I look at my friend’s Lab though, they’re very different from GSPs. Hank will run around like a dog possessed whenever he sees my friend, but my friend’s Lab is much calmer when I enter a room.
Don’t get me wrong, they still get excited, but just not Hank’s level of excitement. Instead, their temperament is probably best described as being much more even-tempered.
They’re very trusting and kind dogs, who happily befriend other dogs and people with ease, but they do so in a much more relaxed way than GSPs do.
In terms of their personality, the two are sort of similar, with the key differences really coming from their different outlooks on life.
Both breeds are very friendly and trusting, and both are intelligent breeds. Where I see the most difference is in how they apply that intelligence. Hank is really smart, and incredibly curious.
That means I have to keep him busy at all times if I want to keep him out of trouble.
My friend’s Lab, on the other hand, shows their intelligence in a much calmer way again – rather than constantly needing stimulation, they are able to show off their intelligence by following commands and being in control of themselves.
Again, these differences are mostly to do with how active a GSP is, and how much calmer a Lab is.
But both dogs will get along brilliantly with other dogs and strangers, and they aren’t really associated with aggression at all.
Of course, there’s always the saying that there’s no such thing as a bad dog, just a bad owner – so a large part of their personalities will always be formed by the way they have been raised by their owner.
That being said, if you treat both breeds right and care for them properly, their personalities will always be kind and fun-loving.
In terms of how compatible these dogs are with family life, I can say with confidence that GSPs make for excellent family pets.
I’ve seen Hank interact with everyone from babies to elderly people, and he always seems to know exactly how to act around them.
His excitable nature is loved by all, and I’ve always thought he somehow knows how to control himself better whenever a younger or older person is around – dogs just seem to have a sixth sense for this sort of thing.
But just like I’ve seen Hank around families, I’ve seen my friend’s Lab too, and they perform just as well. I think with Labs they are excellent family pets because of their slightly calmer nature.
Don’t get me wrong, they can match your children’s energy levels and play around all day, but their patience and kind personalities make them a calming presence to be around too. They also love being petted.
My friend’s Black Lab would quite happily sit around and let you stroke and pet him all day, and this is an excellent quality to have when children are involved because they will always want to be doing something with their dog.
In terms of both breeds compatibility with family life, they’re both excellent and there’s no reason they shouldn’t fit into your family perfectly, no matter what yours looks like!
I think there’s a tendency to overlook a Labrador Retrievers heritage more than a GSPs, because Labs are so often associated with being kind family dogs nowadays, but they too were originally bred for hunting purposes, exactly as GSPs were.
Thankfully, I’ve had a lot of experience around my friend’s Black Lab whilst hunting, and they and Hank will often join me on hunting trips, so I can really see the stark differences between the breeds – and there are quite a few differences to talk about.
Let’s take pheasant hunting, for example. Picture the scene. It’s me, Hank, my friend, and his Black Lab walking through fields looking for pheasants to hunt.
Me, my friend, and their Black Lab are all walking near to one another on the lookout for pheasants, as calm as you like. Meanwhile, Hank is running around the fields like a lunatic – desperately searching for a pheasant to point at.
Now, you might think his excitable nature was a hindrance, but honestly, if it weren’t for Hank, we might never have found any pheasants that day.
He was so eager to please and be the one to find the pheasants for us that his help was invaluable.
Now the Lab was helpful enough – always happy to retrieve the pheasant once we’d shot it, but not particularly interested in being the one to go and find them.
Then we went duck hunting, and the results couldn’t be more different. The Black Lab was so patient, watching the ducks like a hawk, but not moving an inch until the duck was shot and ready to be retrieved.
Hank… Well, Hank was being Hank. His excitement overtook all of his senses, and rather than sitting patiently like the Lab, he would run around and startle the ducks before we had a chance to shoot.
He’d happily retrieve them once we’d shot them, but I think part of his problem was his eagerness to please in this case.
He so wanted to be the one to bring the duck back to us that he simply forgot to let us shoot one first before he went charging in.
As you can see from my experiences above, if you only need a dog to retrieve rather than get involved in the hunt, a Lab is a perfect choice.
Their patience and even-temper are ideal for this. If you want a more active hunting dog to help locate, startle, and retrieve your kills, then GSPs are better, so it really comes down to what you need them for.
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.
I think the last point above sums up this whole post well. It all depends on your needs and what you’re looking for from your dog.
Both breeds are excellent choices, and Hank and his Black Lab friend are both perfect examples of the breeds. Honestly, I think whichever one you chose would be perfect, because they’re both just such friendly, well-rounded breeds!