How large is a GSP? How much do they weigh?
The Standard calls for a medium sized breed with males to be 23 – 25″ at the withers and weight 55 to 70 lbs and females 21 to 23 ” at the withers and weight 45 to 60 lbs. Not all GSPs conform to these heights and weights. It is important to understand that GSPs are a very energetic breed and pound for pound very strong in spite of their apparent size. Considered a very athletic, lean and muscular dog with the majority of their body weight attributed to muscle.
How long do they live?
What do they eat and about how much?
Where should they live/sleep?
GSPs may be kenneled outside if provided adequate shelter, bedding and water but they will not be ignored. An ignored GSP becomes a bored GSP and a bored GSP becomes a destructive GSP. Much like the bright student that gets into trouble because of boredom in the classroom the same can be said of the bored GSP because of its high intellect and curious nature. This bored behavior can result in barking, digging, chewing and overall general destruction. If a GSP is going to be an outside dog, their owner needs to be aware that a dog left to their own device can be extremely destructive.
What are the grooming needs of a GSP and how often should they be done?
Good dental health is a must. The family dog can be taught at a young age to have its teeth brushed with a toothbrush and toothpaste formulated for dogs. Under no circumstances should one use toothpaste formulated for people because it contains an ingredient harmful to dog. Also, provide chew toys that are designed to clean teeth and stimulate gums. Don’t give hard bones or processed hooves as they may cause damage to the teeth of dogs that chew aggressively.
Toenails should be kept trimmed. Long nails can be hazardous to the dog running in the field or in the kennel run by getting caught in something and possibly torn off. Besides bleeding profusely the dog’s foot will be tender and sore until the nail grows back. A puppy can learn to have its feet handled at a young age and its toenails trimmed. It is best to do them once a week and remove only a small portion from the ends being careful not to cut into the quick. Also, if the toenails are long it can affect how the dog walks and bears weight.
Shedding……YES, being a short coated dog does not keep them from shedding. The dark hair shows up on the light stuff and white hairs on the dark stuff!! Also because of the hair length it can become imbedded in some fabrics and carpeting and difficult to vacuum out. Regular brushing using a rubber horse brush or grooming glove along with periodic baths will help to some extent. Like some other breeds GSPs will “blow” coat depending upon climate changes and hormones. It is best to use a mild shampoo or one formulated for dogs so as not to strip essential oils from their coat. One also needs to be careful to keep soap or water out of the ears and eyes when washing the head. A good quality, balanced food with essential fatty acids will help to keep the coat healthy and may help reduce shedding. A healthy, parasite free, clean GSP will shed the least possible. Outdoor dogs living in colder climates will develop an undercoat that looks and feels soft and will shed out in the spring. This undercoat can be encouraged to all come out at once by closely timed baths and brushing as the weather begins to warm.
Some GSPs may have loose lower eyelids(ectropian) that do not fit tight against the eyeball. Not a desired attribute because it allows dirt, dust, weed and grass seeds to come in contact with the eye. Grass and weed seeds can be very painful and may cause damage to the eyeball. When hunting with such a dog, it is recommended that you carry saline solution to flush out the eyes periodically during the day.
How much exercise do they need; how frequently?
What toys and supplies do I need to buy?
One should never put their dog’s name on the id tag. Should the dog be taken on purpose the person will then know its call name. The id tag can simply be marked, “I’m Lost” or “Please Return” along with a contact number. Dogs should always wear some type of collar and identification when outside even for short periods of time in their own yard. It is best if the dog has a microchip implanted under the skin between the shoulder blades and registered with the AKC’s Companion Animal Recovery program. The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and contains all of the necessary information to contact the owner should the dog become lost. Most vets, shelters and other like type organization have a universal scanner to check for microchips. It is recommended to have the microchip implanted by a Vet or an agency that does this on a regular basis. Be careful of loose fitting collars and dangling tags when the dog is confined to his crate or running in the field as there is the possibility of it becoming tangled or caught on something causing harm to the dog. A “choke style” collar should only be used in specific obedience training situations and never used when the dog is off lead or out in the field hunting. Only snug fitting flat collars with a flat id tag attached by rivets should be used in the field. Be prepared to buy more than one type and size of collar to allow for the growth of the puppy into the adult sized dog and the type of training.
A stainless food bowl and water bucket work best for a couple of reasons. They don’t break are easy to keep clean because the surface doesn’t harbor germs and won’t cause contact dermatitis like some of nylon or non- ceramic bowls.
A crate is a must. It should be large enough for the dog to stretch out and stand up and turn around but not so large that it does not provide the secure “den” feeling that dogs instinctively seek. There are various types, wire and plastic. Different situations call for different crates, be sure the crate chosen has a secure method of fastening the door so it can’t be pushed open. Wire affords good air circulation, but is not as secure to the dog as a plastic crate. Plastic crates are required by the airlines should there be a need to ship the dog. Bedding that can be easily washed. Some looks really nice but if the dog has an accident it would be difficult to clean properly. Plastic backed items may work well as a moisture barrier but can also retain heat and be uncomfortable for the dog.
Most GSPs like to retrieve and enjoy anything they can fetch including items you may prefer they leave alone. It is a good idea to teach your dog early to chew on the ones designed for that purpose and leave the others alone. The market is full of products good for helping reduce tarter on their teeth that can help maintain dental health. Dogs may have a preference of which ones to chew and not all dogs may like to chew on these types of things and may need encouragement. Some dog treats such as rawhide bones and rope toys should be given to the dog only with supervision. These types of items can be dangerous if the dog eats them rather than just chewing them. Some dogs take their time and simply enjoy chewing, while others simply destroy them swallowing large pieces that can become lodged in the intestine creating a dangerous situation. Puppies should never be allowed to play with or chew items unsupervised. It is also important to account for all of the toys regardless of age when the dog is through playing with them.
Are they good with children?
Are they easy to train?
Should I crate train my GSP?
Is it fair to the dog if I don’t plan to hunt
How do I find a responsible breeder and what health issues should I ask about?
The GSPCA Breeder Referral is a listing of GSP breeders located through out the U.S. Some have hot links to their individual websites and those that don’t have other contact information. While the Parent Club offers this service it is important to note this is not to be considered an endorsement, guarantee, recommendation or approval. It is the Breeder’s responsibility when it comes to the health, temperament and advertised attributes of the puppies and dogs offered for sale. While the GSP breed is considered relatively free of genetic problems when compared to most other AKC breeds, there are health clearances that breeders can provide.
The coat pattern of GSPs can be quite varied ranging from solid to one with markings. The coat color of the purebred GSP will be liver and white or black and white but not a combination of liver, black and white. Some shade of liver may be very dark but the color of the dog’s nose will indicate whether it is a liver dog i.e. brown nose for a brown dog or black nose for a black dog. BUYER BEWARE: One may see advertisements for “rare” GSPs based on color. One should approach these advertisements with caution, because the responsible breeder understands there is no “rare” colors found in the breed. There is a recessive gene that can result in the dilute color of gray (d, d) or the expression of the lemon color (e,e). DNA tests are available to determine if either the sire or dam carries the recessive gene that produces these colors. Reputable breeders will not produce either of these colors intentionally. Currently the Parent Club breed standard as written does not allow for the black variation to be shown in the conformation ring but that does not preclude the black version from being registered with the AKC or to compete in all of the performance events, i.e. field trials, hunting test, agility, obedience, and tracking.
At a minimum, breeding stock should be certified against hip and elbow dysplasia by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) with a ranking of normal for elbows and at least good or excellent for the hips. Some breeders may use PennHIP as a means to assess the hip joint and the amount of laxity both of which can be a predictor of future hip health problems. GSPs rank 107th in hip dysplasia with only 5.3% of the Xrays submitted classified as dysplastic. This data is skewed by the probability that most bad Xrays are never submitted to the OFA, which makes the certification all that much more important.
There is also an eye clearance through the OFA Eye Certification Registry which checks for juvenile cataracts; another genetic eye condition Cone Degeneration (CD) can only be cleared by a DNA test. A dog can be determined to be a “non carrier and/or normal”, a “carrier” or an “affected”. Normal means just that, the dog doesn’t carry the genetic disease. A carrier has one half of the genetic material to produce the disease but does not have the disease. Affected dogs have inherited both halves and will exhibit symptoms of the disease which causes the cone receptors in the eyes begin to degenerate and by the time pups are 9wks of age the breeder would begin to notice these pups have a problem with depth perception, seeing comfortably during the daytime and difficulty locating a light colored object on a light background. Termed “day blindness” which is a misnomer in that the dog is not “blind” just that it sees better in low light conditions.
Some will also have thyroid levels tested; test for Von Willebrand’s Disease (VWD) a blood clotting disorder; and have heart function also cleared through the OFA.
It helps to know the health not only of the sire and dam of a litter, but also of their parents and littermates. How long did they live? What if any kind of health issues did they have?