English Pointer vs German Shorthaired Pointer: What’s the Difference?

Written by August Buck
Published: May 12, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/BranstonandTwiglet
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There are a number of pointer dog breeds, but what are some of the traits of both the English pointer vs German shorthaired pointer? What might these two breeds share with one another, and in what ways are they different? If you’ve always wanted to know more about hunting dogs, you’re in the right place!

In this article, we will compare and contrast the English pointer and the German shorthaired pointer in a variety of ways. We will address their physical appearances as well as their ancestry so that you have a full understanding of both breeds. Finally, we will go over their behaviors and lifespans in case you are interested in adopting either of these two breeds. Let’s get started!

Comparing English Pointer vs German Shorthaired Pointer

English Pointer vs German Shorthaired Pointer
The German shorthaired pointer is smaller than the English pointer, in both height and weight.

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English PointerGerman Shorthaired Pointer
Size26-28 inches tall; 65-75 pounds21-25 inches tall; 45-60 pounds
AppearanceShort coat found in a variety of colors, including black, white, brown, and red. Spotted with a long muzzle, and has large, floppy ears. Large barrel chest and points their paw and tailShort and shiny coat only found in solid black or brown, or a mixture of color and white. Often spotted, with floppy ears and a tail that points straight back when they find their mark. Barrel chested and long legged with webbed toes
AncestryOriginated in England in the 17th century; originally bred to point out prey only, but evolved to hunt as wellOriginated in Germany during the 17th century; developed from many different breeds in an attempt to make the perfect bird dog
BehaviorHighly intelligent and active; requires a high level of exercise and stimulation, but can get easily distracted during training sessions. Friendly to allEager to please, highly trainable, and very active. Requires a lot of exercise and doesn’t like being left alone, but loves to relax with their family after a hard day’s work
Lifespan13-16 years12-14 years

Key Differences Between English Pointer vs German Shorthaired Pointer

English Pointer vs German Shorthaired Pointer
The German shorthaired pointer lives a slightly shorter life compared to the average English pointer.

iStock.com/BranstonandTwiglet

There are many key differences between the English pointer and the German shorthaired pointer. The German shorthaired pointer is smaller than the English pointer, in both height and weight. Additionally, the English pointer is found in more colors compared to the German shorthaired pointer. Finally, the German shorthaired pointer lives a slightly shorter life compared to the average English pointer.

Let’s go over all of these differences in more detail now.

English Pointer vs German Shorthaired Pointer: Size

English Pointer vs German Shorthaired Pointer
The English pointer is larger than the German shorthaired pointer in both height and weight, though these figures typically overlap depending on gender.

Anna Pozzi – Zoophotos/Shutterstock.com

One of the primary differences between the German shorthaired pointer and the English pointer is their size. The English pointer is larger than the German shorthaired pointer in both height and weight, though these figures typically overlap depending on gender. Speaking of figures, let’s take a closer look at these measurements now.

In terms of height, the English pointer reaches 26-28 inches tall on average, while the German shorthaired pointer only reaches 21-25 inches tall. Additionally, the German shorthaired pointer weighs 45-60 pounds, depending on gender, while the English pointer is 65-75 pounds when fully grown.

English Pointer vs German Shorthaired Pointer: Appearance

English Pointer vs German Shorthaired Pointer
The English pointer comes in more colors than the German shorthaired pointer overall.

iStock.com/slowmotiongli

It can be extremely difficult to tell the difference between the German shorthaired pointer and the English pointer just by looking at them. They are both dogs with short coats, often spotted, with large floppy ears and barrel chests. However, the English pointer comes in more colors than the German shorthaired pointer overall.

Otherwise, the distinctions between these two breeds are subtle. The muzzle of the English pointer is slightly longer than the muzzle of the German shorthaired pointer. Additionally, the German shorthaired pointer has webbed feet to help them swim, while the English pointer does not.

English Pointer vs German Shorthaired Pointer: Ancestry and Breeding

English Pointer vs German Shorthaired Pointer
In case you hadn’t already guessed, the German shorthaired pointer originated in Germany, while the English pointer originated in England.

Jelena Safronova/Shutterstock.com

While both of these dogs are pointers, which means they were bred for the same general purpose, there are some differences between the ancestries of the English pointer vs the German shorthaired pointer. In case you hadn’t already guessed, the German shorthaired pointer originated in Germany, while the English pointer originated in England.

However, both of these dog breeds came about during the 17th century, and they were both bred for pointing out game rather than retrieving it. Overall, the German shorthaired pointer was bred to retrieve game and prey more than English pointers. In fact, English pointers originally assisted Greyhounds while hunting, pointing out the prey for Greyhounds to fetch, which is not something that can be said for German shorthaired pointers.

English Pointer vs German Shorthaired Pointer: Behavior

English Pointer vs German Shorthaired Pointer
The German shorthaired pointer struggles more with separation from their family compared to the English pointer.

Vitalii_Mamchuk/Shutterstock.com

When it comes to the behavior of both of these pointer dog breeds, there are a few differences. Overall, both the English pointer and the German shorthaired pointer are fantastic family dog breeds who love to be with their family. However, the German shorthaired pointer struggles more with separation from their family compared to the English pointer.

Both of these highly active dogs require ample exercise and stimulation, though the English pointer is more easily distracted during training compared to the German shorthaired pointer. That’s why it is important to train any hunting dog breed in a location with few distractions and loud noises.

English Pointer vs German Shorthaired Pointer: Lifespan

English Pointer vs German Shorthaired Pointer
The English pointer lives an average of 13-16 years, while the German shorthaired pointer lives 12-14 years on average.

VP Photo Studio/Shutterstock.com

A final difference between the English pointer and the German shorthaired pointer is their lifespan. The English pointer lives an average of 13-16 years, while the German shorthaired pointer lives 12-14 years on average. However, with adequate exercise and a well balanced diet, both of these breeds can live long and happy lives!

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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.