Labs vs. Pointers The Great Debate
It seems like everyone is asking what is better, a Labrador Retriever or German Short Hair Pointer? There are many differences between the two but understandably it is going to come down to personal preference of the hunter. In my opinion these two breeds are representatives of the best qualities a hunting dog can have and this article will discuss some of those impressive traits.
Okay, first I want everyone to know that I enjoy hunting with both breeds! Whether it be together or separately...they always impress us. Its fun to watch a GSP and Lab work together through a field and show off their own special abilities. Its even better to see them doing what they instinctively know when its just a lab or just a pointer by your side.
GSP's are very, very active dogs! They need tons of activity/exercise to be content and sit quietly by your side. A Lab will be a more mild in the "crazy hyper" department! Labs will usually sit by your side contently by the time they are 1.5-2yrs old with the right training and attention and most times even sooner. GSP's will continue to be excited and energized by nature until they are much older. This is just one of the differences in disposition between the two breeds and should not affect their hunting ability. (unless they are so hyper they do not train/listen...or if they are so mild they have no drive to hunt)
Some of the other differences between the two is going to be their temperament and size. The Lab is generally 60-80 lbs and the GSP would be 40-55lbs. Not an extreme difference but it could be a deciding factor. The coats these two breeds have differ as far as the amount of shedding...GSP's have very short/dense hair and minimal shedding as where a Lab has thicker/longer hair and this does cause more shedding. Now, on to temperament! A GSP is a family dog but has a very strong personality and may be too high-strung around small children where the Lab has a more friendly/sweet personality and could be considered the more popular family dog. The similarities GSP's/Labs share as far as attitude are as follows: intelligent, loyal, playful, reliable, easily trained, and attentive.
As far as retrieving I believe the Labs will have the edge here. They are known for making remarkable retrieves from areas/situations that a GSP may not, especially in very cold weather water. Not to say that a GSP will not retrieve! Many consistently do for their owners and I have seen some that do. The fact is though, a GSP is named a "pointer" for a reason just as Labs are named a "retriever." This is one of the biggest differences between the two breeds. Retrieving, flushing, and pointing! Consider this: you are hunting pheasants and as we all know they like to run, a Lab will chase and pressure that bird until it flies. GSP instinct to point can leave you chasing false points across a field because these birds don't generally hold.
In the end, it most definitely comes down to personal preference and which dog will suit the specific needs of the hunter and the type of hunting to be done. It also rests on the family to which it will become a member of. If you do some research on the history of these breeds and the opinions of other breeders you will find that there is plenty of mixed feelings about which is better. I believe that they are both amazing breeds and have proven that they deserve our respect for the work they do!