German shorthaired pointers are popular hunting dogs around the world. People choose them for many purposes, from bird hunting to tracking wounded game.
However, people start to be interested in the breed because of its color, and we are not talking about the usual brown or liver. There seems to be a new trend of buying black GSPs, a color previously not recognized by AKC.
Where Did Black German Shorthaired Pointers Come From?
Black German shorthaired pointers came from the mix of other breeds used to create the GSP everyone knows today. All pointers are said to come from the line of Old Spanish Pointers, which were brought to Germany (and other parts of Europe).
Pointers from Spain were then crossed with bloodhounds, Arkwright Pointers, and native to Germany Deutschen Bracken, all of which had black hair genes.
Although in the early stages of the established and registered shorthaired pointers in Germany, people owning and breeding those dogs had a fancy for brown and white dogs, black puppies were still bred and grew up to be great working dogs all the same.
- Black German shorthaired pointers have existed since the beginning of the race.
In the late 19th century, a black dog signed into the German Shorthair Studbook won all the prizes in the working dog classes.
Back then, people didn’t really like black-colored dogs, and although they were still signed into the Studbook, they were usually referred to as fox retrievers.
- The early 20th century saw a big wave of Arkwright black pointers mixed into the breed.
A breed called Arkwright Pointers after its founder might have had a bigger influence on today’s GSP breed than others (even including black English pointers, which were in the mix).
William Arkwright didn’t mind the color of his dogs as long as their conformation and character were impeccable. In fact, a lot of his dogs were solid black.
Many German pointer breeders noticed Arkwright’s dogs because of their superior performance.
It is believed that Arkwright’s pointers were in one class with English pointers, and both breeds were considered under the Prussian Shorthair Studbook.
Some breeders also considered it a good tactic to crossbreed their German shorthaired pointers with black pointers because of the pigment of GSPs.
Their color started to wash out, becoming lighter, and they believed that a cross with a black pointer would be a proper remedy.
- Two separate Studbooks from Germany joined together in the 1920s, bringing together two, formerly believed, separate breeds.
In the late 1920s, the Prussian Shorthair Studbook was incorporated into the German Shorthair Club, bringing black color and all its patterns and markings into the light.
It didn’t make black pointers any more popular, but it changed breeders’ view on the dog coloration, and since then, black German shorthaired pointers were treaded equal to liver-colored ones.
- Black German shorthaired pointers were bred in the background by a few breeders regardless of the fashion.
It is not to say that black GSPs went out of fashion so completely to lose the black gene altogether.
There were breeders, like founded in 1903 Pottsiepen (Pottmes) Kennel, who were known for their black German shorthaired pointers, and one of their dogs, Quell Pottmes, was the first black German Champion.
Even though not favored for a few centuries, the black German shorthair pointer gene has survived since the creation of the breed and has become more popular among dog enthusiasts.
Are Black German Shorthaired Pointers Rare?
Black German shorthaired pointers are rarer than the liver ones. Some people never saw one in their life and still believe it doesn’t exist. However, black GSPs are real, gaining popularity from year to year.
There are a few reasons why black German shorthaired pointers are so rare:
- the fashion preference of early breeders,
- the color discrimination of the Nazi government,
- small numbers of black dogs for breeding.
1. Fashion statement.
The rarity of black GSP can be blamed on the early breeders who preferred brown dogs. German shorthaired pointers were bred specifically to be liver color from the beginning of the breed.
There were many markings permitted, like patching and roan. Even so, generally, a “brown” dog was the most desirable above other colors.
2. Color prejudice.
Another reason why there may not be so many black GSPs was the German fascist government during WWII, which insisted on wiping out white dogs and any other color of hunting dogs that didn’t blend with the forest.
Due to the factor that many black GSPs were killed or shipped for protection to foreign countries, post-war GSPs from Germany are primarily brown, and so are dogs imported to the U.S. from their native country.
3. Small gene pool.
The black color is dominant, and only a few lines carry the gene. Because liver was the most desired color, many people chose to breed only with liver dogs.
Nevertheless, black GSPs are gaining popularity due to their rarity. A well-seasoned hunter knows that the color of the dog matters less than the dog’s character and hunting ability.
All the same, many people who are not hunters and choose to keep German shorthaired pointers as pets pick a dog based on its color, and black seems to be the new hype, dethroning previously most sought-after liver roan.
Notwithstanding that, only a few German shorthair pointer breeders own black dogs, consequently making it difficult to locate the favored black puppies.
However, the black color in GSP, although not as common, is also considered a standard. In fact, the black GSP is so rare that many non-GSP people don’t consider it purebred at all.
It happens a lot in America since, for a long time, the German shorthaired pointer breed standard in the AKC books didn’t include black color at all.
Are Black German Shorthaired Pointers Purebred?
Black German shorthaired pointers are purebred dogs, just like the standard brown and liver ones.
Many people that are not well acquainted with GSPs automatically assume that black dog is not purebred. The problem lies in breed genetics. German shorthaired pointers were formed by crossing many different hunting breeds, i.e.,
- German hounds,
- Spanish pointers.
It ultimately led to GSPs having different colors. Despite that, the beginning of German shorthaired pointers saw brown dogs as the most popular amongst hunters of the 19th century.
The very first dog, Hektor, and bitch, Diana, registered in what’s known as the GSP studbook were brown and white.
Yet in 1898, a black dog winning all prizes in working dog classes, Sepp Frankfurt, was registered as a Deutsch-Kurzhaar, although the dog was referred to as fox retriever or “tiger dog” at the time because the color of the era was brown and white.
In 1927 the Prussian shorthair was included in the Club Shorthair Studbooks, and with it came black, black and white, and black mold colors, making them more popular.
Since 1933, black shorthaired pointers were on equal standing with white and brown dogs in breeders’ eyes, however still not as popular.
The black gene prevailed during the war, and near wipe-out of German shorthaired pointers, and now is coming back in use, though very slowly.
Are Black German Shorthaired Pointers Accepted?
Since the breed’s early days, there has been a dispute between European and American breeders and fans of German shorthaired pointers whether black GSPs should be permitted on the show or if they are even considered purebred at all.
According to AKC, which oversees all registered dog breeds in North America, black GSPs are to be disqualified from the ring.
However, it doesn’t mean that the black dogs are not purebred. The AKC rules only apply to the conformation ring and not to determine breeding stock.
In the AKC’s breed’s color and markings description, black, black and white, and black roan are considered standard colors, although a note about coloration states that any area of black would disqualify the dog.
This means that if you are an owner of a black GSP in America, you can still register your dog, hunt over it, participate in the field trials, but your dog will not be qualified on show rings for conformation.
It also means that if a dog is liver (solid, patched, thicked, or roan) but has any black areas, it would also be disqualified. It is worth mentioning that this type of coat also means that the GSP is not a purebred dog since the color all over the body has to be uniform (either black or brown but not two at the same time).
In Europe, on the other hand, black GSPs are more welcomed. In Germany, where the breed originated, there is less force on color preference.
More colors are permissible, and black is amongst them. In fact, the study of 2007 brought up to light the numbers of registered dogs, and 21% were black amongst them.
Although still a rare occurrence, black GSPs are treated the same as any dark or light brown pointers.
Black German shorthaired pointers are rare enough that some dog fans may not even realize their existence, but they are still considered purebred dogs.
Black GSPs went through a few rough patches during the centuries since their establishment in the 1800s. They were not the most popular amongst the first breeders and then nearly exterminated in their native country during WWII.
In spite of that, the black gene survived and is now getting more popular. While still not allowed in the American show rings, black German shorthaired pointers are as good hunters as their liver-colored brothers and sisters, and some people believe they could be even better.
Being an owner of a solid liver GSP, I can only say that the color doesn’t matter as much as the dog’s hunting ability and doesn’t influence the dog’s character.