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WESTWIND GSPs ...    as featured in Gun Dog Magazine..

... the home of AKC Master Hunters 

 - Presents a Short History of the German Shorthaired Pointer -

Westwind GSPs are steeped in the history of the breed.  German Shorthaired Pointers have an interesting history that has been the subject of several books.  This is an abbreviated look at the most important mile stones and the events surrounding the development of German Shorthairs and some of the best German Shorthair Breeders of all time.

What Americans refer to as the German Shorthaired Pointer is known in Germany as simply the Kurzhaar (Shorthair) and in Europe as the Deutsch Kurzhaar.  To the originators of the breed, pointing was only one of the many traits the German Shorthair should possess. Therefore a good portion of the breed’s ancestry was derived from the various hounds of the day as well as from the Spanish Pointer, English Pointer and Arkwright Pointer - that were used at various times to reinforce pointing instinct.

It would be more accurate to consider German Shorthaired Pointers, especially before 1900, as scent hunters.  In Europe our breed, along with other sporting breeds, is often referred to simply as a Barque - a French word which loosely translates into “hounds hunting by scent.”  The German Shorthairs of today owe their superior tracking abilities to the early introduction of scent hounds into the genetic make up of the breed.

However, one of the most common misconceptions about the GSP - that English Bloodhounds were used in putting the breed together - owes its origin to a simple translation error.  Early English speaking breed historians read from original accounts that Schweisshunds (a German word that means Bloodhounds) were used and assumed that meant English Bloodhounds.  Blood Scenting Hounds were an existing class of dogs that existed in Germany to trail wounded big game.  Specifically the Hanovarian Schweisshunds and the Wiemaraner had been developed in Germany from the St Hubert Hund and the early French Gascon Hounds.

In the very early years, before the advent of firearms, the focus was on developing a dog that could hunt both fur and feather from both land and water even at night without commands.  At this time the nobility and wealthy landlords had huge kennels of specialized dogs - pointing dogs, trailing dogs, retrieving dogs.  They were Falconers that did most of their hunting with birds of prey in daylight.  The Kurzaar, unlike the Wiemaraner that was developed by the royalty of the Wiemar Republic, was very much the dog of the common man.

It is important to our breed today that those less fortunate were forced to feed their family by hunting game with nets at night in a manner that would be consider poaching by today’s standards.  Because of this it was also a good idea for their dog to be quiet enough to be kenneled indoors so no one would know it existed.  It is from this social dynamic that the very earliest dogs were developed.  Today the German Shorthair is still well known for being and exceptionally biddable family dog that can do virtually anything in the field.

Unlike nearly every other sporting breed the German Shorthaired Pointer wasn’t developed from the inbreeding of a single specimen.  Most breeds and virtually every line of sporting dog are the result of the liberal and purposeful use of a particular specimen who possessed the desired characteristics of the breeder.  In tracing our dogs back to the very beginning of the German Stud Dog Books we noticed something very interesting.  There are many places that the pedigrees would eventually end with “Sire Unknown” “Dame Unknown” and they were not the same animal not even in the same decade.

Oddly, when the breed was first recognized and records of actual breedings were being kept the Kurzaar hadn’t even developed into a recognizable type.  The result being that our modern Grerman Shorthair genepool comes from many different sources. The drawings and early photos of Kurzhaars clearly show this.  Some of the more important dogs were:


Hector I whelped in 1872 – the No 1 entry in the original German Studbook - was white and liver. Yes, there have always been white and liver German Shorthairs.  Many of the early German breeders would dunk the whites because they didn’t want their Deutsch Kurzhaar to resemble the English Pointer.  Much to their frustration they were unable to eliminate the white coats.  What they didn’t understand was that white hair is a recessive gene that is carried by animals that aren’t white themselves - like red hair and blue eyes in humans.  Recessive genes are nearly impossible to completely breed out.

Feldmann I, an early experimental animal, who looked more like a Basset Hound was even tri-colored.  Yes, there are still a few tri-colors born today - although most are quickly killed by ignorant breeders who assume that something they didn’t know about must have happened at breeding. NFC/FC Patrica von Frulord who won both National Field Trial Championships in 1971 was a tri-color.  Normally a tri-color will have a small patch or two that is tan in color.

Treff 1010 whelped in 1881 - an important early dog used for his energy and drive - was solid brown.  Most German Shorthair fanciers are of the mistaken impression that solid brown is a color when in fact it is genetically a patch - one solid patch that covers the entire dog.  Because this patching gene (that allows a dog to be one solid color) is a dominant gene every solid dog (either brown or black) alive today will trace back to Treff 1010.  We have dogs in our genepool that we have traced back to Treff 1010, largely through his descendent Axel vom Wasserschling the solid liver who was used so often by the Germans after World War II.  Another interesting thing about Treff 1010 is his number.  Although he was 79 in the German Stud Dog Books he is known by Treff 1010 because he was dog 1010 in the Austrian Stud Dog Books.  The Austrians were actually registering Kurzhaars years before the Germans - maybe they should rightfully be known as Austrian Shorthair. 

And then there was a dog named Golo Holzweiler who was whelped in 1902 clearly from an English Pointer cross.  His stellar field performance is solidly behind most of the successful German lines developed before World War II.  These were the great field dogs that were imported by early American enthusiasts.  The names of the German kennels are familiar to breed historians today.  These were the Sudwests, Blitzdorfs, Radbachs, Beekes, Wildburgs, and Beckums that are behind all Westwind GSPs of today.  Not only did Golo have the characteristic dish face of an English pointer, his coat was short and of a white and brown ticked nature very similar to that of an English Pointer.  Interestingly his coat color was rapidly absorbed by the dominant roan ticking gene of the German dogs he was bred to - there were virtually no white descendents of Golo even a generation later.

The white dogs developed by the Germans - thru their attempt to rid themselves of white - are of a different genetic code than the white of the English Pointer.  While white is a dominant gene in the English Pointer it is a recessive gene in the German Shorthair - all of the dominant genes were culled.  Genetically white hair in the German Shorthair coat is what geneticists call "self colored" or without pigment - genetically the same as the "blue" hair in breeds like the Austrian Healer and Great Dane.  Furthermore the white hair on a German Shorthair is longer and much softer than the pigmented hair on the same dog.  This fact accounts for the fussy outline of one side of a patch on a real German Shorthair - as the longer white hair in the ticked area overlaps the edge of the patch giving it a fuzzy outline. 

In addition the recessive white of a true German Shorthair has a translucence to it - much different than the short, coarse and opaque white hair of an English Pointer.  Some of the original Danish dogs imported into this country after WWII had hair on the back of their hind legs long enough to nearly resemble the feathers on and English Setter.  If your dog's coat has short coarse opaque white hair that is the same length as its pigmented hair you might have good reason to believe that its coat color didn't come from the recessive white gene developed by the German breeders more than a century ago.  In fact it was the softness of the white coat {which didn't dry out as quick} and the corresponding lack of pigment on the pads of the feet which the old Germans felt made the pad less tough that drove them to try and eliminate the white coat in their versatile dog.  So contrary to popular lore not all modern white coats are the result of illegal pointer crosses - although some clearly are.

In 1912, fearing loss of pigmentation and eye color, the Germans outcrossed to the solid black Arkwright Pointers. It is from this cross to these magnificent solid black Pointers (done in Prussia) that we get the black dogs of today. Carried for some time in a separate Prussian Kurzhaar Stud Book these dogs have for generations been recognized as Kurzhaars in Germany. Because black is a dominant gene one of the parents of every black Kurzhaar born since 1912 had to have been black.  Therefore some of the great German dogs of the past generation trace directly back to this influx of pure pointer genes.  For years the black dogs accounted for as few as 5% of the dogs registered in Germany, but over the last decade their numbers have steady increased with estimates as high as 20% of pups being born in Germany today are black - many of those solid black.  The black dogs survived largely because of the efforts of the Pottmes Kennel - which is solidly behind many of the top performing dogs in Germany today.

It is truly amazing how ignorance contributes to so many myths about black German Shorthairs.  Over the years we have heard so called experts state as "fact' that black has to be the result of illegal breeding to black and white English Pointers or of all things Labradors.  And many show people seem to be worried that once the black gene is introduced into the show ring that it will take over the genetic code.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  With black being a dominant gene it must be displayed in one of the parents or no puppies from any resulting litter or from the decedents of any resulting litter could possibly be black.  Actually it is more of a wonder that any blacks survived until today.

Virtually all of the traditional liver and roan coated shorthairs trace back to Mars Altenau whelped in 1914 - who was a traditional tick-patched breed pillar.  It really wasn’t until his time that the early dogs would have been recognizable as a German Shorthair by today’s standards. In fact the majority of Kurzaars that existed previous to WWI didn’t much resemble German Shorthairs of today.  Unlike most breeds that were developed by a single person from the get of a single specimen the German Shorthaired Pointer was developed by many people.  Each of these original breeders had their own ideas as to what mix of existing dogs should be included.   Therefore the dogs looked very different from one another and carried very different genes even though they were all registered as Kurzhaars.


Often there were heated arguments among the original breeders as to what the new Deutsch Kurzhaar should look like and how best to breed this versatile dog.  Most of the breeders before 1900 felt that "ideal form" needed to be bred for.  There was much ill-advised nationalistic pride involved in the decisions made by these early breeders.  Oddly the Germans didn’t have an identifiable bird dog.  The English had their pointer – developed from crossing the Old Spanish Pointer with Fox Hounds.  The French had their Braque Francias de Petite Taille (Small French Pointer) that looked very much like modern dogs.  But the Germans didn’t have their own pointing dog.

Although the Klub Kurzhaar had been organized in the 1870s it wasn’t until after 1900 the idea that “form will follow function” was adhered to by most breeders. The acceptance of this idea lead the Germans to develop their testing system.  Originally it was meant to simply be a way to publicly demonstrate the traits of dogs that might be used at stud by other breeders.  Dr. Kleemann, after whom their most important breed competition the Kleemann Seiger or KS was named, was the person most responsible for championing this line of thought.

Inside Germany the Kurzhaar underwent tremendous consolidation following WWI, with breed development reaching a crescendo of incredible progress by the 1930s.  The German National Dog had finally arrived and it started to draw the interest of sportsmen from around the world.  The German breeders were ecstatic that people who had been importing dogs from England, Ireland and France for years were finally interested in their dog.  Their response was to put their best foot forward and send some of their very best blood to the United States, Denmark and England.  Interestingly they sent no blacks and only a few solid brown dogs to the US and a large number of really nice white and liver dogs to Denmark.

It was from the dogs originally sent to Dr Thorton of Wyoming as early as 1925 as well as Jack Shattuck of Minnesota, Joseph Burkhart of Wisconsin and Walter Mangold of Nebraska in the 1930s that our breed standard was written.  Which explains why black and tri-color were expressly excluded from the AKC breed standard - even though they were clearly being registered in Germany at the timeFrom these original imports the old American lines like Columbia River, Pheasant Lane, Big Island, Schwarenburg, Waldwinkle, Strauss, Oak-Crest, etc. were developed.  All of which are gone today - having been absorbed into and forming the basis for other lines.  Virtually all of the lines developed in North America before WWII were tick patched dogs, with a few solid brown dogs thrown in. 

The Danish however developed a love for the beautiful white dogs they originally received from Germany.  All of these dogs descended from Nikita v Dubro Glinosee (whelped in Germany in 1917) who stamped his stellar body type and recessive white gene on all future Danish generations.  He was solidly behind Holevgaard’s Wotan II - the Danish taproot who carried Nikita’s traits forward into the Moesgaard, Doktogaarden and Skovmarken dogs.  Unlike the Germans the Danish didn’t try to eliminate the white coat - in fact they bred for it.  When any breeder breeds recessives genes together he will only produce recessive genes - as the dominant genes were permanently eliminated long ago.  This explains the extremely high percentage of white dogs in Denmark in the middle of the last century.


And then it happened 1939 - World War II started.  Hitler invaded Poland virtually overnight.  Although the first part of World War II went very well, Germany would eventually suffer the devastation of being over run by Allied Forces.  By the end of the war the Germans knew they were going to suffer defeat.  Knowing that they were going to be over run, the Nazis hid all of their most precious treasures - they hid their gold, their diamonds, their artwork, their Lipizzaner Stallions and their Kurzhaars.

The Germans transported their very best dogs to Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia where they would be safe.  Unfortunately for the breed these countries ended up being behind the Iron Curtain after WWII.  As Germany was divided after WWII - it left what became West Germany without access to the best Kurzhaars.  In addition, as the Allied forces overran Germany most breeders inside Germany were forced to throw open their kennel doors and let the remaining dogs run so they would have a chance at saving themselves during the invasion.  The toll on the gene pool that survived in West Germany was horrific.

Therefore, following World War II the West Germans were faced with rebuilding their beloved Kurzhaars from a very limited genepool.  The United States, Denmark, England and even Russia had access to better specimens than the West Germans.  This is a historical fact that is often over looked.  When listening to even knowledge people talk about the history of the breed it is as though World War II never happened, or it is as though WWII had no effect on the breed in Germany - which simply isn’t true. 

While the Germans struggled to rebuild their lives as well as the Kurzhaar, the German Shorthaired Pointer enjoyed a time of phenomenal improvement in the United States during the prosperity that following World War II.  American soldiers like Dick Johns and Bob Holcomb made lasting friendships with important Breeders during the reconstruction of Germany and imported a few key animals when they returned home. Hjalmer Olsen imported one Danish National Champion after another from his homeland.  And there was the chance importation of a single Austrian dog named Greif v. Hundsheimerkogl into California.

Although the war in Europe had effectively limited the importation of any new blood for nearly a decade things came together nicely after WWII - to make the 1950s a time of very significant advancement for the GSP in the United States.  What happened here was similar to what had happened in Germany during the 1930s.  The new imports had the good fortune of being breed into the existing American dogs.  These dogs had been meticulously line breed from some of German's very best stock by the knowledgeable breeders who cherished them.  Dogs with genetic material perfect for the new imports.

It could be argued that 1968 was the zenith for the German Shorthair in the United States.  In that year three of the top four finishers at the AKC National Field Trial Championship already had their Show Titles. This was the era of the true Dual Champion – the single most difficult title for any German Shorthaired Pointer to earn anywhere in the world.  While the Germans have had thousands of  KS dogs (as many as 53 in one recent year) America had less than 200 DCs in the first 50 years of AKC sanctioned competition.  In fact it became so difficult to achieve a Dual Championship that the AKC lessened the requirements a couple of years ago.

Today, unfortunately, there is a major social dynamic that is a significant threat to the German Shorthair world-wide.  Societies are becoming less and less tolerant of hunting and hunters.  As more and more people grow up in urban environments disconnected from nature and its harsh realities this will likely continue.  Unfortunately, hunting has all but vanished in the countries that were so important to the development of the Deutsch Kurzhaar. 

Denmark made hunting illegal long ago - gone are the great kennels of Denmark and their wonderful field dogs.  The German’s haven’t had bird hunting, as we know it, for a generation and they are now forced by animal rights people to hold their prized killing of a predator test outside of the borders of Germany.  Even Australia recently gave up gun ownership and their fine GSPs will no doubt suffer from it and fall into the uselessness that bemoans any pet breed.  While the English still have limited bird hunting their habitat consists of broken up very small fields so different from the great plains of North America.  So it falls on the United States and Canada to continue to test and develop the bird hunting GSP for future generations of sportsmen.


Here at Westwind GSPs we feel this responsibility and take it very serious.  It is from the heyday of the true Dual Champion that our breeding stock was selected.  We were fortunate enough to know breeders who were steadfast in their attitudes about the importance of the Dual Champion.  These were people who successfully blended the superior US stock that existed after WWII with the few key German imports of the 1950s to create a truly amazing example of what the German Shorthaired Pointer should be.  We trust that you can see this influence in the Westwind GSPs of today.

We have dedicated ourselves to keeping this vision of the German Shorthair alive - if not in title in type.

At Westwind GSPs we remain committed to breeding superior animals.   We believe strongly in testing our linebred stock in the toughest arena left - hunting wild game birds on the Great Plains of North America.  Everyone is aware that there are less than ethical people breeding German Shorthairs today - individuals pursuing ego driven titles - that knowingly bastardize the German Shorthair. We have been DNA mapping our dogs for a long time and challenge others to do the same.  We aren’t swayed by the latest fades or the hot new National Champion - having seem them come and go time and again.

We remain committed to our goal of Serious Bird Dogs for Serious Bird Hunters by preserving our proven and time honored genepool.  We believe that breeding true to type is breeding true to the bred.  If your attitudes about the German Shorthair are similar we invite you to contact us.  If nothing else we can talk dogs.

                                                                                             - Gary Hutchison
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