The Deutsch Kurzhaar is a breed that likely goes back to a start before the 1870, which marked the end of the Franco-Prussian War. However, with the end of the War, Germany was united as one nation and it is likely that during this time, more focus in an organized sense was put upon the breed.
Midway through the nineteenth century, hunting in Germany, and in Europe overall, ceased to be the exclusive province of the wealthy landowner. As a result, a need arose for a true versatile utility hunting dog—a jack-of-all-trades that could perform many tasks for the average hunter. A breed was desired that would take the place of kennels full of “specialist” breeds, such as hounds, retrievers, and pointers. To this end, German hunters tried for years to develop a single versatile breed that would find and point upland game and small furred game, retrieve all shot game from both land and water, and function perfectly as a tracker of wounded big game in the forest, as well.
These hunters used and combined a variety of bloodlines from available breeds to attain their desired goals. There exists no absolute records or agreement regarding what exact earlier breeds may have been used to create the Deutsch Kurzhaar. In the early days of forming the breed, it seems that those striving to seek a homogenous type for the Deutsch Kurzhaar had no set breed guidelines telling them what to do. Therefore, the consistency of what was used very well could have varied from breeder to breeder or region to region. Most agree that the breed resulting was a mix of the Hannoverian Schweisshund, the Old Spanish Pointer, the Old German pointer and the English Pointer. Some sources even state that the foxhound was used to slim down the body structure and add speed. At some point, a need for a standard arose. These efforts led to the establishment of the Klub Kurzhaar in the 1870’s, with its strict regulations and testing system. As a result, the wonderful breed we know today as the Deutsch Kurzhaar (German Shorthair) was born.
The very earliest Deutsch Kurzhaars did not disclose a specific “type” when it came to conformation. Some were tri-colored and heavy boned and some were short legged and most were slower in the field from what we know of the breed today. They most certainly did not reflect the set type we see in the Deutsch Kurzhaar today, yet their function remained largely the same—a breed to hunt both fur and feather, while exhibiting the capabilities to function in field, forest and water.
The first known standard for the breed was established in 1879 and in 1890 was the formation of the first Deutsch Kurzhaar club, the Braun-tiger-klub. The club name was changed in 1891 to the Klub Kurzhaar and the first field tests under the club were held in 1892. (The Klub Kurzhaar also produced the first studbook in 1897 up until 1968 when the Deutsch Kurzhaar Verband took over the production.) In the year 1907, according to some breeders at the time, belief that there was loss of pigmentation and a need for a higher nose, the Deutsch Kurzhaar was crossed to a few black English Pointers. One of these was a black colored female import named Beechgrove Bess from William Arkwright’s famous black English Pointers. When the numbers of these black English Pointer to Deutsch Kurzhaar breedings were high enough to justify a separate registry in the breed book, they were kept in a section of the Zuchtbuch called "Zuchtbuch Preussisch Kurzhaar" for 10 years until discontinued in either 1934 or 1935 because the percentage of English Pointer blood was so little. Essentially, these Prussian Kurzhaars were back to being the "same Deutsch Kurzhaars" as all the others, and the studbooks were combined.
Leading up to WWII, the breed continued to progress. A more set “type” was now seen and had been consistently produced for some time. When WWII came about, the breed endured its hardships with the control of a fascist government and with the war the population as a whole suffered. Many of the white colored dogs were destroyed because some felt they did not blend with the forest, among other reasons. With the advent split of East and West Germany, one side was left suffering. However, the exchange of dogs never ceased and the breed survived and continues to flourish.
The exact date of the first Kurzhaar to be imported to North America is not known precisely. There exist photos from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s of individual dogs taken here in the US, which were almost certainly brought here with them by early German settlers to our country. The breed’s firm establishment on our shores, however, was the result of the concerted efforts of Dr. Charles R. Thornton, of Montana. In 1925, Dr. Thornton imported a Kurzhaar bitch in whelp from Austria to satisfy his varied hunting needs in the Western Frontier, as well as those of his friends. Between 1925 and 1930, Dr. Thornton brought a great many dogs to the US and whelped others here. Dr. Thornton applied for AKC recognition of the breed under the name “German Shorthaired Pointer-Retriever”, but was turned down, with the purported reason being that no dog could be designated as both pointer and retriever. Eventually Dr. Thornton reapplied with the breed name “German Shorthaired Pointer”, and the AKC approved the breed in 1930. Perhaps this unfortunate resulting designation of the breed as simply a “pointer”, as well as the lack of knowledge and availability of the German testing system and breeding regulations, was responsible for the ultimate dilution of the versatile skills that separates many American bred GSP’s from their cousins, the Deutsch Kurzhaar today.
This intelligent, calm, affectionate breed is meant to be, and is happiest living in and around his master's home, and is fully capable of, and should be utilized for, hunting anything and everything he is asked to. Prior to 1993, hunters who had Shorthairs in the US and Canada that retained the original qualities of water love, tracking crippled game, and finding and pointing game at a range suitable for a foot hunter were few and far between, and those that existed were at a loss to show their dogs' inherited natural abilities, cooperation, and trainability, and how to maintain those qualities in future generations. To attempt both of these goals, a group of enthusiasts joined together to form the North American Deutsch Kurzhaar Club (NADKC), which was formed in 1993. Today, the breed’s parent club (Deutsch Kurzhaar Verband) oversees at least several dozen regional clubs, one of which is the NADKC. The NADKC has set its aim to continue the growth of the Deutsch Kurzhaar in North America under the German standards.