Devotees of the German Short Haired Pointer and Labrador Retriever breeds may be horrified at the idea of cross-breeding the two, but this mix is quite popular with many people, some of the hunters.
The hunting community tends to have a more open approach to cross-breeding because they are more interested in the dog’s functionality than the purity of its bloodline.
German Shorthaired Labradors are loving, intelligent, athletic dogs that can be used for hunting, dog sports, and companionship.
They are gentle, sensitive, and need a lot of human interaction and exercise. This cross-breed has been around a long time and is popular with hunters and active families.
The German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) Lab mix has even got its own name – the German Shorthaired Lab (GSL). The two breeds are hunting and working dogs with admirable traits in each breed.
However, they were also bred to be good companions for humans that would fit well into the family home. So what are some of the characteristics that you could expect from a GSL?
Size Of The German Shorthaired Lab
They tend to be a bit bigger than their parents if pedigreed GSPs and Labradors are bred together.
GSPs and Labradors are on the larger side of medium and are certainly not the biggest dog breeds out there. For some reason, their offspring tend to be on the taller side – at least as tall as their GSP parent.
GSPs can reach twenty-eight inches at the shoulder in height. The height of a GSL puppy from a Labrador and a purebred GSP can vary between twenty-six and twenty-eight inches, while their weight ranges anywhere between fifty-five and eighty pounds. The females are typically a bit smaller than the males.
If you breed two GSLs together or a GSL with a Labrador, their offspring may be a bit shorter – around twenty-three inches at the shoulder and a bit lower for females.
The tallness seems to come from the GSP parent, so the more diluted the GSP genes, the more likely the puppies are to resemble a Labrador in size.
It is difficult to anticipate the adult size of the puppy because it all depends on how the parents’ genes have combined.
You will get smaller dogs and bigger dogs from the same litter, but they are all likely to fall within the medium-sized range. Each puppy will be different, even within the same litter.
Their lifespan ranges from between ten and fourteen years. German Shorthaired Labs have been around for years and are not part of the more recent designer dog fad.
They are high-energy dogs that need a lot of exercise and a large garden to play in, so they are not suitable for apartment living.
If they don’t get enough exercise and mental stimulation, they can become bored and destructive and do a lot of damage in the home environment due to their size.
They have floppy ears and a friendly demeanor and are big enough to discourage would-be intruders from entering a property but are more likely to lick strangers than bite them.
The Labrador is famous for its gentle, playful temperament, and both breeds are prized for their loyalty and intelligence.
The GSL, like its parents, is usually highly amenable to training and needs to be involved with its humans. In fact, they can form such strong bonds with their families that they could suffer from separation anxiety when you leave them at home.
Their intelligence means that they need mental stimulation as much as physical exercise, which can be provided through training and games such as fetch.
GSPs, as pointers, were bred to be able to use their own minds when working at a distance from their owner as a hunting dog, while the Labrador traditionally works more closely as a retriever.
GSPs can therefore be a bit more independent than Labradors, but when you mix the breed, you could have some puppies who have a more independent personality than their siblings.
However, both GSP and Labrador breeds need a high-level interaction with their owners, and their offspring are likely to require the same.
Both breeds are eager to please, although this is likely to be more intense in the Labrador – a highly cooperative dog.
Their puppies may lean towards the GSP side and not be quite as biddable as a purebred Labrador.
The German Shorthaired Labrador is likely to be a good family dog and behave lovingly to all family members who treat it well.
They are very gentle and love being around children as they are very playful, but you should be careful that they don’t knock a small child over by accident.
Children should always be taught to approach the dog with respect and gentleness in return. German Shorthair Labradors make good therapy dogs because of their loving, gentle nature.
They also usually get along just fine with other pets just fine, although the GSP in them may tempt them to chase small animals, including cats.
Neither the GSP nor the Labrador is particularly territorial or aggressive, and so their offspring are unlikely to exhibit these traits. This means they can be safely taken to dog parks and public areas where other dogs may be present.
Both breeds are high-energy dogs, so German Shorthaired Labradors will need a lot of physical exercise. You can teach them to go running, hiking or cycling with you and they need a large garden in which they are free to run and play. GSPs and Labradors love water, so allow your GSL to get into your swimming pool when they are big enough to climb out themselves.
If a GSL doesn’t get enough exercise and mental stimulation, they can get bored and act out by chewing up the furniture or other household items or digging huge holes in the garden. A daily walk of an hour and a half at minimum is recommended for GSLs. If you are a single sedentary person, a GSL is not the dog for you.
The personality of a German Shorthaired Labrador could generally be described as mellow, and they make good watchdogs but not guard dogs because they are too friendly with strangers. They are emotionally sensitive and should never be treated harshly. When hunting, they are alert and energetic and do have some prey drive, so it’s best not to leave them alone around chickens, hamsters, and other small household pets.
GSLs can be used in sports like dock diving, hunting, and other dog agility competitions. They also make good service and guide dogs. Playing with frisbees, balls, and sticks is another good way to ensure they get enough exercise. They have keen noses, and you could play games with them where you hide objects around the garden for them to find.
German Shorthair Lab Coat
Labradors have solid coats that come in only three colors – yellow, chocolate, and black. GSPs coats have various patterns and patches, but the two main color combinations are white and liver or white and black.
Their coats can have many spots, patches, and ticks against a white background, and they can also have a black or liver roan background. Some of them come in solid liver or solid black.
Therefore, a German Shorthair Lab can have a mixture of liver, white, black, chocolate coloration, or solid black, depending on how the genes play out.
If a puppy’s appearance favors its GSP parent, its coat can be a mix of different colors and patterns and may not be a single solid color.
It is almost impossible to predict the color combinations and patterns that will emerge in mixed puppies, and there is likely to be significant coat variety in a single litter.
Whatever the color of a GSL pup’s coat, it is likely to be water-resistant because both GSPs and Labradors have water-resistant fur. A GSL will have short rough hairs in its upper coat and a dense undercoat.
While professional grooming isn’t necessary, it does require regular brushing because these dogs shed seasonally.
Brushing once a day will minimize dog hair in your house, and you can get special shedding tools that help remove the thick hair from the undercoat.
If you brush your dog regularly, it won’t need baths very often either. A GSL can be prone to ear infections if it gets water in its ears, so it is advisable always to dry them after the dog has been swimming. Cleaning their ears regularly can also prevent infections.
You may need to trim their toenails occasionally, but these dogs usually get enough exercise to keep their nails short with normal wear and tear due to their energetic nature.
Dietary Requirements Of German Shorthaired Labradors
Anyone who has previously owned a Labrador will know that they are incredibly food-driven and will eat just about anything – even to the detriment of their health.
German Short Haired Labradors also have a healthy appetite and should be fed a high-quality diet specifically designed for medium-sized dogs to prevent obesity.
They should be discouraged from begging for food, and feeding them scraps from the table is a no-no. They need a consistent diet with more protein and fat than carbohydrates.
Chew toys and bones are a must to keep them distracted from chewing valuable household items.
They must be taught that they only get fed at certain times of the day and cannot expect food anytime in-between, although they can convince you that they are always hungry.
Obesity does not make for a healthy, happy dog, so you should avoid over-feeding them. A mixed diet of wet and dry food is preferable to dry kibble alone as it can reduce the chances of bloat.
German Shorthaired Labrador Health
GSLs are generally very healthy dogs with few genetic diseases. However, it is always best to obtain one from a reputable breeder who has checked the parents for certain common health conditions such as elbow and hip dysplasia, retinal atrophy, and epilepsy.
Cross-breeds are often healthier and live longer because they benefit from two different gene pools in which defects due to interbreeding are unlikely.
German Shorthaired Labs are prone to ear infections, but these can be avoided through regular cleaning and drying the ears when they get wet.
Some of the more severe health conditions they can suffer from are bloat, obesity, cancer, entropion, and joint dysplasia, but many other dog breeds can get these too.
Bloat is life-threatening and can affect all deep-chested dogs, and GSLs are no exception.
It is sometimes called twisted stomach or gastric torsion and occurs when the stomach twists, causing an obstruction or when the stomach expands too much.
Signs to watch for are a visibly distended tummy, anxiety, drooling, pacing, and dry retching. Bloat can also cause shortness of breath and pale gums, and immediate veterinary attention is necessary to avoid death.
It is better to give smaller meals two or three times a day than one large meal a day to prevent bloat. It can be caused by a variety of factors, and the ASPCA recommends the following safety precautions when feeding your dog –
- Feed two small meals a day
- Include some canned or other wet food in the diet
- Put the food bowl on a floor rather than a raised dog feeder
- Feed dogs separately as there is less chance of competitive guzzling
- Use a slow feeder bowl if your dog tends to bolt down its food
- Make sure that your dog has water to drink during and after a meal
Hip dysplasia occurs when the hip joint isn’t properly formed, and the two ends of bone rub together painfully, leading to a loss of insulating cartilage.
This can result in lameness and chronic pain in the hip joint and cause it to degenerate. Dogs can be immobilized by this condition, so seek veterinary care early to prevent severe joint damage.
A blood-clotting disease called Von Willebrand’s Disease is genetic and inherited from a pup’s parents. Skin problems such as allergies and hot spots are also a possibility.
Hot spots are itchy and painful areas known as acute moist dermatitis that can be aggravated by scratching or licking and develop into a painful oozing lesion.
German Shorthaired Pointers are unlikely to suffer from these health conditions if adequately cared for and purchased from a reputable breeder.
German Shorthaired Labradors are a popular gentle, intelligent, and loving mixed breed that suffers from very few health problems.
They are medium to large dogs that thrive on mental and physical stimulation and are high in energy.
GSLs make good pets for active families that are into outdoor activities, and they need a substantial garden in which to run and play and work off steam.