History of the Deutsch Kurzhaar

The information presented here is a brief summary of generally accepted historical data about the hunting Deutsch Kurzhaar (DK), its origin and its purpose. As with any historical compilation some important facts have undoubtedly been lost over time and some information has been left to subjective interpretation. There are numerous publications available that describe the events that evolved the DK. We suggest that those who are interested in the colorful history of this versatile breed evaluate as much published information as possible in order to further understand this incredible versatile hunting dog.

The DK is a product of two major events that helped shape the late 18th century and early 19th century hunting environment in Europe and Germany:

  • First, the advent of the shotgun in 1750 brought to the forefront the idea of owning a hunting dog that could both locate and retrieve game of all types and made its production a necessity.
  • Secondly, hunting privileges that were formerly reserved only for those of wealth and/or nobility became available to those of lower social and economic status, i.e. the common man.

It was well accepted by ethical hunters of the time that no good person would leave dead or wounded game to waste; thus a well rounded versatile hunting dog was desired. Though wealth was no longer a factor regarding a persons right to hunt, keeping several dogs, each with its own hunting expertise, was a costly proposition for the regular foot hunter. That considered, the idea of owning one well rounded (Versatile) hunting companion emerged. To that end many creative breeding strategies ensued.

The origin of the DK breed, as with all other dogs with pointing skills, included the ancient Spanish pointer. It is also widely accepted that some form of blood tracking hound played a significant role in the outcome. Some form of Saint Huberts Hound is widely considered the most likely contributor. Additionally, the Hubertus Brachen and English Pointer have been mentioned along with other unnamed European blood tracking and pointing breeds of the time. Information is sketchy and opinions weighted with nationalism and rumor. Suffice it to say that several different ingredients eventually made it into the pot in an effort to produce the right combination of genes.

Over time, by selective skilled breedings the ingredients were eventually honed into a single form; the Deutsch Kurzhaar. The early aspirations of the common German foot hunter to construct an all around family oriented versatile dog had finally come to fruition. The Germans desired a utility hunting companion that could locate and bring to hand, furred or feathered game from land or water, had the ability and the courage to dispatch predators, and when requested, the skill and instinct necessary to follow the blood trail of wounded game. The versatility and good temperament of the DK is well known by serious hunters. Over the years DK blood has been used to enhance the development of other versatile hunting breeds.

Many breeders and owners of the German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) fallaciously refer to their breed as Deutsch Kurzhaar. In fact there is little doubt that there are significant differences in breed standard and most importantly, the measurement of hunting aptitude. The GSP has been bred without regulation or restriction since its introduction to North America in the 1920’s; especially with respect to performance testing designed to improve the ability of the versatile Deutsch Kurzhaar. Now approaching the century mark of unrestricted breeding and no versatile performance standards, the (GSP) has evolved into a distinctly different breed.

The DK of today has emerged as one of the worlds premier versatile hunting dogs. It is the completed manifestation of those ideals inspired by the necessity of the German foot hunter to own and hunt with one versatile dog. The culmination is a dog well mannered in the home with the children and capable in the field, in the woods or in the water.

A well trained DK can seamlessly fill a day by retrieving downed waterfowl from a cold pond at the crack of dawn, pointing and retrieving birds in the afternoon, finding and retrieving furred game shot on the way home. After all of that following the blood track of wounded big game in the dark that evening.

The Deutsch Kurzhaar is of calm, stable temperament, possesses the instincts, courage, desire, athleticism, durability and endurance that enable it to successfully perform any hunting task required. It is animated, extremely alert and fully conscious of the surroundings.

The DK is athletic in appearance, symmetrical and well proportioned. It projects the appearance of controlled agility and power. The DKs endurance in the field is reflected in form by its deep chest, short angled top line and muscular build. The DKs head is conspicuously noble in appearance yet gender is easily discernable. The eyes are brown and dark, set in a stop-less forehead. The coat is short and thick and its texture feels slightly coarse to the hand.

Colors consist of combinations of brown, black and white. They include solid brown (braun), solid black (schwarz), varying roan and ticked combinations including liver ticked (braunshimmel) or black ticked (schwarzshimmel).

The DK is a medium sized dog and at the withers, males ranging from 62-66 centimeters and females ranging from 58-63 centimeters. The DK is endowed with a strong will and considerable prey drive thus needs a well structured consistent training regiment in order to keep him busy and contented. He is loyal and loving and desired to be with his master and family, exhibiting an innate desire to please.

Form Follows Function:
There were essentially to lines of thinking in the early stages of versatile hunting dog breeding:
The "form" group led by Karl Brandt and Samezki were nationalistic, wanted nothing British. They wanted to use only German stock. This group knew that to retrieve a fox over an obstacle, for example, the dog must stand taller, have a bit longer neck and a lot stronger neck and back. And they set out breeding toward that conformation, trying to get function to follow form. They favored the long, dangling, circular ears and the stopless or Greek profile as indications of a purebred German precisely because the English pointer's ears were small and tight, and his dish face had a definite stop. This small but vocal faction held the upper hand in the beginning and as a result progress was much delayed because many fine performing specimens were discarded because they failed to exhibit the "legendary" ancient German conformation.
The "function" group was led by Prince Albrecht zu Solms-Braunfels and Baron von Zedlitz. Solms was a pioneer breeder, had a fine kennel of pointers and setters (and some experimental breeds), pushed for the introduction of pointer blood. Zedlitz was a sports writer using the pen name "Hegewald" and was of the same mind. This met with considerable opposition from the patriotic, "form first" boys. It is difficult to know exactly what breeds produced the shorthair because of this conflict. In the beginning, many German breeders were secretive, intentionally vague and evasive about their breeding stock to avoid being labeled "Anglophiles." In those early days it was mostly talk and most of the discussion centered on the multipurpose dog to come, the pointer debate, what tests (field trials} should be set up, the strange results of various crosses and "what should we try next?" Because in the beginning pointing was about all one could count on, the pointing instinct seemed to be dominant in most crosses.
“The only way to develop the wished-for utility dog-of-all virtues is to take and use only the dogs best performed in those requirements”.

Prince Albrecht zu Solms-Brauenfels

The St. Hubert’s Hound:
Predecessor to many blood tracking dogs
The Spanish Pointer:
 Predecessor of all dogs that stand to game