Your German Longhaired Pointer
Caring for Your Faithful Companion
German Longhaired Pointers: What a Unique Breed!
Your dog is special! She’s your best friend, companion, and a source of unconditional love. Chances are that you chose her because you like GLPs and you expected her to have certain traits that would fit your lifestyle:
- Excellent hunting dog
- Eager to please and responsive to training
- Great with kids and other dogs: a true family pet
- Affectionate, easygoing, and lovable
- Lively, with a friendly personality
- Loyal and Obedient
However, no dog is perfect! You may have also noticed these characteristics:
- Requires vigorous, frequent exercise and space to run
- Exhibits signs of separation anxiety if left alone too much
- Can be rambunctious and rowdy, especially as a younger dog
- Sees cats and small animals as prey unless trained otherwise
- Does not tolerate harsh reprimands or negative-reinforcement training
- Has a tendency to escape, wander, and roam
Is it all worth it? Of course! She’s full of personality, and you love her for it! She is an energetic hunting dog that is always on the go. With proper exercise and socialization she can be a kind, gentle, and calm family companion.
The German Longhaired Pointer is a versatile all-purpose hunting dog that originated in Germany during the late 1800’s. German Longhaired Pointers are rare outside of their homeland. This gun dog is able to point, retrieve, trail, and hunt on land and water. The GLP, like all German pointers, has webbed feet. They are passionate on the hunt and amusing and entertaining while at play. The German Longhaired Pointer can be independent and strong-willed and they require a confident leader. The GLP thrives on strong relationships with their family and tends to bond deeply with one special person. German Shorthaired Pointers are powerful and athletic: a six foot jump over a fence is not uncommon! The German Longhaired Pointer is a generally healthy breed with an average lifespan of 12-14 years.
Your German Longhaired Pointer’s Health
We know that because you care so much about your dog, you want to take good care of her. That is why we have summarized the health concerns we will be discussing with you over the life of your Longhair Pointer. By knowing about health concerns specific to German Longhaired Pointers, we can tailor a preventive health plan to watch for and hopefully prevent some predictable risks.
Many diseases and health conditions are genetic, meaning they are related to your pet’s breed. There is a general consensus among canine genetic researchers and veterinary practitioners that the conditions we’ve described herein have a significant rate of incidence and/or impact in this breed. That does not mean your dog will have these problems; it just means that she is more at risk than other dogs. We will describe the most common issues seen in German Longhaired Pointers to give you an idea of what may come up in her future. Of course, we can’t cover every possibility here, so always check with us if you notice any unusual signs or symptoms.
This guide contains general health information important to all canines as well as the most important genetic predispositions for German Longhaired Pointers. This information helps you and us together plan for your pet’s unique medical needs. At the end of the booklet, we have also included a description of what you can do at home to keep your GLP looking and feeling her best. You will know what to watch for, and we will all feel better knowing that we’re taking the best possible care of your pal.
General Health Information for your German Longhaired Pointer
Dental disease is the most common chronic problem in pets, affecting 80% of all dogs by age two. And unfortunately, your GLP is more likely than other dogs to have problems with her teeth. It starts with tartar build-up on the teeth and progresses to infection of the gums and roots of the teeth. If we don’t prevent or treat dental disease, your buddy will lose her teeth and be in danger of damaging her kidneys, liver, heart, and joints. In fact, your GLP’s life span may be cut short by one to three years! We’ll clean your dog’s teeth regularly and let you know what you can do at home to keep those pearly whites clean.
German Longhaired Pointers are susceptible to bacterial and viral infections — the same ones that all dogs can get — such as parvo, rabies, and distemper. Many of these infections are preventable through vaccination, which we will recommend based on the diseases we see in our area, her age, and other factors.
Obesity can be a significant health problem in German Longhaired Pointers. It is a serious disease that may cause or worsen joint problems, metabolic and digestive disorders, back pain and heart disease. Though it’s tempting to give your pal food when she looks at you with those soulful eyes, you can “love her to death” with leftover people food and doggie treats. Instead, give her a hug, brush her fur or teeth, play a game with her, or perhaps take her for a walk. She’ll feel better, and so will you!
All kinds of worms and bugs can invade your GLP’s body, inside and out. Everything from fleas and ticks to ear mites can infest her skin and ears. Hookworms, roundworms, heartworms, and whipworms can get into her system in a number of ways: drinking unclean water, walking on contaminated soil, or being bitten by an infected mosquito. Some of these parasites can be transmitted to you or a family member and are a serious concern for everyone. For your canine friend, these parasites can cause pain, discomfort, and even death, so it’s important that we test for them on a regular basis. We’ll also recommend preventive medication as necessary to keep her healthy.
Spay or Neuter
One of the best things you can do for your Longhair Pointer is to have her spayed (neutered for males). In females, this means we surgically remove the ovaries and usually the uterus, and in males, it means we surgically remove the testicles. Spaying or neutering decreases the likelihood of certain types of cancers and eliminates the possibility of your pet becoming pregnant or fathering unwanted puppies. Performing this surgery also gives us a chance, while your pet is under anesthesia, to identify and address some of the diseases your dog is likely to develop. For example, if your pet needs hip X-rays or a puppy tooth extracted, this would be a good time. This is convenient for you and easy for your friend. Routine blood testing prior to surgery also helps us to identify and take precautions for common problems that increase anesthetic or surgical risk. Don’t worry; we’ll discuss the specific problems we will be looking for when the time arrives.
Genetic Predispositions for German Longhaired Pointers
Suspected Disease Risks
If you have a common dog breed, there’s probably a lot of genetic research and clinical epidemiological data that have been collected and analyzed over the years, and this large amount of data means that we can confidently predict higher than average risk of certain diseases for these breeds. When the dog breed is more rare, or has not been studied because of geographic or other isolation, we have no stockpile of documented history to draw upon when making preventive healthcare recommendations. We can however, make some educated guesses based on disease risks for dog breeds that share conformational or genetic links with your German Longhaired Pointer. Based on these similarities, the following disease risks may carry higher risk, although supportive research has not been identified.
There are several types of inherited bleeding disorders which occur in dogs. They range in severity from very mild to very severe. Many times a pet seems normal until a serious injury occurs or surgery is performed, and then severe bleeding can result. Von Willebrand’s disease is a blood clotting disorder frequently found in German Longhaired Pointers. We’ll conduct diagnostic testing for blood clotting time or a specific DNA blood test for Von Willebrand’s disease or other similar disorders to check for this problem before we perform surgery.
Distichiasis is a condition caused by extra hairs that grow inside of the eyelid and rub on the surface of the eye. This is one of the most commonly inherited diseases in dogs, and your Longhair Pointer is more likely than other dogs to develop this painful condition. If untreated, these abnormal hairs can cause corneal ulcers and chronic eye pain. Several treatment options are available, and the prognosis is good once the hairs have been permanently removed.
Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus, also known as GDV or Bloat, usually occurs in dogs with deep, narrow chests. This means your Longhair Pointer is more at risk than other breeds. When a dog bloats, the stomach twists on itself and fills with gas. The twisting cuts off blood supply to the stomach, and sometimes the spleen. Left untreated, the disease is quickly fatal, sometimes in as little as 30 minutes. Your dog may retch or heave (but little or nothing comes out), act restless, have an enlarged abdomen, or lie in a prayer position (front feet down, rear end up). Preventive surgery in which the stomach is tacked down or sutured in place so that it is unlikely to twist is an option. If you see symptoms, take your pet to an emergency hospital immediately!
Cancer is a leading cause of death among dogs in their golden years. Your German Longhaired Pointer is a bit more prone to certain kinds of cancer starting at a younger age. Many cancers are cured by surgically removing them, and some types are treatable with chemotherapy. Early detection is critical! We’ll do periodic blood tests and look for lumps and bumps at each exam.
In humans, an allergy to pollen, mold, or dust makes people sneeze and their eyes itch. In dogs, rather than sneeze, allergies make their skin itchy. We call this skin allergy “atopy”, and Longhair Pointers often have it. Commonly, the feet, belly, folds of the skin, and ears are most affected. Symptoms typically start between the ages of one and three and can get worse every year. Licking the paws, rubbing the face, and frequent ear infections are the most common signs. The good news is that there are many treatment options available for this condition.
Allergies, swimming, overgrowth of hair in the ear canals, or an accumulation of earwax can all predispose your dog to ear infections, which are painful and annoying. Longhair Pointers are very often afflicted by allergies, which cause itching and inflammation in the ears and elsewhere. The earlier we diagnose this disease, the less discomfort and pain he will suffer. Be sure to call us if you notice him scratching or shaking his head, a foul odor from the ears, or if his ears seem painful to the touch. By monitoring for ear infections and treating them early, we also reduce the likelihood of eardrum damage that can lead to deafness. Most ear infections tend to recur until we work together to control the underlying cause.
Eating Weird Stuff
In addition to the nutritious diet you provide, German Longhaired Pointers often eat things they’re not supposed to—rocks, coins, plants, and socks, among others. Your pet carries the item in his mouth to check it out or play with it, or he thinks it’s food. When swallowed, these objects often get stuck and have to be surgically removed. Some of what your dog eats may be toxic and can poison him. If you notice that he is vomiting or not acting right call us immediately.
German Longhaired Pointers are prone to multiple types of heart disease, which can occur both early and later in life. We’ll listen for heart murmurs and abnormal heart rhythms when we examine your pet. When indicated, we’ll perform an annual heart health check, which may include X-rays, an ECG, or an echocardiogram, depending on your dog’s risk factors. Early detection of heart disease often allows us to treat with medication that usually prolongs your pet’s life for many years. Veterinary dental care and weight control go a long way in preventing heart disease.
You’ve probably heard of hip dysplasia, an inherited disease that causes the hip joints to form improperly and leads to arthritis: it is common in German Longhaired Pointers. You may notice that he has lameness in his hind legs or has difficulty getting up from lying down. We can treat the arthritis — the sooner the better — to avoid discomfort and pain. We’ll take X-rays of your dog’s joints to identify the disease as early as possible. Surgery is sometimes considered in severe and life-limiting cases of hip dysplasia. Keep in mind that overweight dogs may develop arthritis years earlier than those of normal weight, causing undue pain and suffering.
Knee Ligament Tear
The cranial cruciate ligament is one of the four tough bands of tissue that hold each knee together. A torn cranial cruciate ligament is a common injury in active dogs, which includes your GLP. Usually surgical correction is done to stabilize the knee and help prevent crippling arthritis. Physical therapy and multimodal pain management are necessary to get the best outcome. Keeping him at the right weight, feeding a high-quality diet, and avoiding too much twisting of the knees (like playing Frisbee) are key in avoiding this painful injury.
Older Longhair Pointers may develop this disease, in which the vocal cords become paralyzed and hang down into the airway. Watch for noisy breathing, especially when exercising or in hot, humid weather. In severe cases a pet can collapse and have difficulty breathing. Mild cases can be managed with changes at home and possibly medication. Bring him in right away if you notice signs because you don’t want this problem to become a surgical emergency!
Longhair Pointers are prone to a common condition called hypothyroidism in which the body doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone. Signs can include dry skin and coat, hair loss, susceptibility to other skin diseases, weight gain, fearfulness, aggression, or other behavioral changes. We’ll conduct a blood screening test annually to screen for the disease. Treatment is usually simple: replacement hormones given in the form of a pill.
Skin Blistering Disease
Skin Blistering Disease (Epidermolysis bullosa) is a group of diseases characterized by separation of the top layer of the skin from the rest. Affected German Longhaired Pointers usually get blisters or ulcers on the bony prominences of the face, legs, paw pads, gums, or any area of skin friction. The condition can be diagnosed by collecting a small skin sample for laboratory analysis. There is no specific treatment, but together we can help your dog live a long, happy life by managing his environment to minimize trauma, and controlling the occasional skin infections. Immune suppressive medications are sometimes needed to manage flare-ups.
Taking Care of Your German Longhaired Pointer at Home
Much of what you can do to keep your dog happy and healthy is common sense, just like it is for people. Watch her diet, make sure she gets plenty of exercise, regularly brush her teeth and coat, and call us or a pet emergency hospital when something seems unusual (see “What to Watch For” below). Be sure to adhere to the schedule of examinations and vaccinations that we recommend for her. This is when we’ll give her the necessary “check-ups” and test for diseases and conditions that are common in Longhair Pointers. Another very important step in caring for your pet is signing up for pet health insurance. There will certainly be medical tests and procedures she will need throughout her life and pet health insurance will help you cover those costs.
Routine Care, Diet, and Exercise
Build her routine care into your schedule to help your GLP live longer, stay healthier, and be happier during her lifetime. We cannot overemphasize the importance of a proper diet and exercise routine.
- Supervise your pet as you would a toddler. Keep doors closed, pick up after yourself, and block off rooms as necessary. This will keep her out of trouble and away from objects she shouldn’t put in her mouth.
- Brush her coat as needed, at least weekly to prevent tangles and mats.
- German Longhaired Pointers generally have good teeth, and you can keep them perfect by brushing them at least twice a week!
- Clean her ears weekly, even as a puppy. Make sure to keep her floppy ears dry. Don’t worry—we’ll show you how!
- She is a high energy hunting dog so a securely fenced yard and leashed walks are a must.
- She needs activity and excels at dog sports like field trials, obedience, and agility.
- She loves the water, and swimming is a great form of exercise for your GLP.
- Keep your dog’s diet consistent and don’t give her people food.
- Feed a high-quality diet appropriate for her age.
- Exercise your dog regularly, but don’t overdo it at first.
What to Watch For
Any abnormal symptom could be a sign of serious disease, or it could just be a minor or temporary problem. The important thing is to be able to tell when to seek veterinary help, and how urgently. Many diseases cause dogs to have a characteristic combination of symptoms, which together can be a clear signal that your German Longhaired Pointer needs help.
Give us a call for an appointment if you notice any of these types of signs:
- Change in appetite or water consumption
- Tartar build-up, bad breath, red gums, or broken teeth
- Itchy skin (scratching, chewing, or licking), hair loss
- Lethargy, mental dullness, or excessive sleeping
- Fearfulness, aggression, or other behavioral changes
Seek medical care immediately if you notice any of these types of signs:
- Scratching or shaking the head, tender ears, or ear discharge
- Inability or straining to urinate; discolored urine
- Cloudiness, redness, itching, or any other abnormality involving the eyes
- Dry heaving or a large, tight, painful abdomen
- Vomiting, refusing food, tender abdomen
- Coughing, exercise intolerance, rapid breathing at rest
- Leg stiffness, reluctance to rise, sit, use stairs, run, jump, or “bunny hopping”
- Louder than normal panting, especially when hot or after exercise
- Dull coat, hair loss, sluggish, weight gain
- Blisters or ulcers on the skin or gums, fever
Partners in Health Care
DNA testing is a rapidly advancing field with new tests constantly emerging to help in the diagnosis of inherited diseases before they can become a problem for your friend. For the most up-to-date information on DNA and other screening tests available for your pal, visit www.Genesis4Pets.com.
Your Longhair Pointer counts on you to take good care of her, and we look forward to working with you to ensure that she lives a long and healthy life. Our goal is to provide the best health care possible: health care that’s based on her breed, lifestyle, and age. Please contact us when you have questions or concerns.
- Ackerman L. The Genetic Connection: A Guide to Health Problems in Purebred Dogs. Second edition. AAHA Press; 2011.
- Breed Specific Health Concerns [Internet]. American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, Inc. [cited 2013 Apr 11]. Available from: http:/www.akcchf.org/research/application-process/program-area-rfps/bloat-rfp.html
- Collier, Mallory. All About the Breed: German Longhaired Pointer [Internet]. Yahoo! Contributor Network. Yahoo!; 2009 Feb 3 [cited 2013 Apr 11]. Available from: http:/voices.yahoo.com/all-breed-german-longhaired-pointer-2572465.html?cat=53
- German Longhaired Pointer [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 2013 Feb 26 – [cited 2013 Apr 11]. Available from: http:/en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Longhaired_Pointer