Der Deutsch Kurzhaar
by Gayla B. Salvati, DVM, MS, Dipl ACT
In a world of modern technology, words like “tradition” often seem to be out of place. But hunting is a sport where tradition runs deep. There will always be those who prefer to hunt with a bow, insist on tying their own fishing flies, or who carry a hawk instead of a gun. It is in this spirit that those who love hunting dogs called the Deutsch Kurzhaar work hard to preserve the traditions associated with the breed as well as the integrity of its breeders.
The history of the Deutsch Kurzhaar (German Shorthair) and its development as a breed probably began with dogs that were used to hunt feathered game with nets or in combination with falconry. The particular hunting dogs that made up the Kurzhaar were mostly from Spain, France and Flanders. They were admired for their usefulness in the hunting fields because they would point their game, rather than flush it. The Germans sought out the most desirable of these gun dogs and used them to develop a gundog that would serve his master with courage and desire in the field. The Kurzhaar was to be the all-purpose hunting dog. He was to possess the perfect balance that would allow him to excel at pointing and retrieving of feathered and furred game and the determination and senses to track down and bring back game that was wounded or crippled. He would be able to hunt waterfowl in the morning then easily switch gears to pheasant, partridge and quail in the afternoon and provide a hare for the stew pot as well. All of this in a dog that should show true loyalty and companionship at home and is always a joy to his master.
The Germans were true disciples of the often-heard adage that “form follows function”. If only the most excellent performers in the field were used for breeding stock, then the Kurzhaar would find his true form.
It was based on this principle that the Deutsch Kurzhaar Verband (DKV) over 100 years ago developed the breeding and testing regulations for the Deutsch Kurzhaar that are still in use today.
The popularity of the Kurzhaar has spread beyond the borders of his home country in Germany. He has found his place in many homes across the world and in many different hunting fields even while still maintaining his integrity as a true versatile gundog. Many of his new home countries chose to adopt the German breeding standards in order to keep him true to his original purpose, even while adapting him to new and unique types of game not found in Germany.
So what is a Kurzhaar really? Is he any different from a German Shorthaired Pointer?
The English translation for “Deutsch Kurzhaar” is German Shorthair. In many English speaking countries he is known as the German Shorthaired Pointer. So the difference isn’t as simple as a name. The basic difference is in the registry used to register the dog. A Kurzhaar must be registered with the DKV in Germany no matter what country he lives in. If a dog is registered with the DKV, then the German rules and standards for breeding apply. There are many other dog registries around the world that recognize the Kurzhaar as a breed, usually as the German Shorthaired Pointer. However, these registries have chosen to adopt their own breed standards and either have different breeding requirements or no requirements at all. Because this allows the possibility of hunting dogs being bred that have not proven themselves in the field or that may pass on genetic defects or faults, these registries are not recognized by the DKV.
What are all these breeding requirements about? Well, it begins at birth. Each litter of Kurzhaar puppies is examined by a Breed Warden shortly after birth for any congenital defects or problems and they are given an official tattoo in their right ears that indicates their DKV registration number. If the puppies are born outside of Germany, an official appointed and approved by the Breed Warden who acts on his behalf does the tattooing.
One thing that sets the Kurzhaar apart from many other breeds is that just because he has his registration number now, doesn’t mean that he is eligible to be bred in the DKV. He has to prove himself yet in order to gain that privilege. Every Kurzhaar that is bred in the DKV has passed a certain level of field tests proving his ability as a versatile hunter. In addition, he has been examined for the quality of his form, and has at least a “good” conformation rating as determined by a panel of judges. He also does not have any serious bite, eye or any other genetic problems. And finally, he has been tested to make sure that he does not have hip dysplasia. All of these requirements help to ensure that the Kurzhaar remains a wonderful versatile gun dog while minimizing genetic problems that can wreck havoc on a breed if perpetuated by careless breeding practices.
So what are the field and conformation tests all about? Here is a short synopsis.
When the pup is about a year old he is evaluated at his first test, the Derby. This is essentially a test of the pup’s natural abilities with evaluation of nose, search, pointing, and cooperation. Desire to work and obedience is also noted. Puppies are given “prizes” based on their scores in the Derby with a Prize 1 being the highest and a Prize 3 being the lowest. A puppy that does not pass does not receive a Prize. This same Prize system is used in all DK tests.
In the Fall of that same year, the slightly more mature pup is evaluated in the Solms test. This test is much more comprehensive than the Derby. Fieldwork, water work, rabbit drag, manner of retrieving, cooperation, obedience, desire of work and manner of hunting are all evaluated in the Solms. Fieldwork includes scoring of nose, search, pointing, and work on winged game birds including retrieving and searching. Water work includes a blind retrieve from dense cover and a search behind a duck from cover.
If a dog is unable to test in the Solms due to injury or other circumstances, he can be evaluated in an AZP (older dog breeding test). The AZP is run exactly as the Solms is, only the judging criteria is more strict, since the dog is expected to be more mature and further along in his training.
All Kurzhaars must pass at least a Solms/AZP test in order to be considered “fit for breeding”.In addition to these field tests, a dog must also be examined by a conformation judge at a Zuchtschau or “breed show”. Dogs are judged on their conformation and other areas such as their bites and eyes are evaluated. Any faults that are present are noted at this time. The dogs are then given a rating of “V” for excellent, “SG” for very good, or “G” for good. A dog that is given a rating of less than “G” is not considered fit for breeding. Any severe conformation fault or problem with a bite (e.g. under/overbite), or eyes (e.g. ectropion, entropion) may reduce the conformation rating given to a dog or even make him unfit for breeding.
There are many more tests that a Kurzhaar may be evaluated for that are too numerable to go into detail about. There are various conformation titles, many more kinds of field tests, and specialty tests that evaluate things like tracking or retrieving skills. There are even some titles that are a combination of all the above. These other tests are not required for breeding eligibility, but instead help to determine which hunting dogs are “the best”.
One of the most prestigious titles that a Kurzhaar may gain is the “KS” or “Kurzhaar Sieger” which means “Kurzhaar Champion”. This title is gained at the Kleeman test, held every other year and only in Germany. The Kleeman combines both a Zuchtschau and a field test. What makes the KS title so difficult to obtain is that it in order to qualify to participate in the Kleeman, a dog must gain a Prize 1 in all of the required field tests from puppy-hood to finished utility dog, as well as several of the specialty retrieving and tracking tests. Gaining a KS title is truly a difficult journey that takes several years to accomplish.
Perhaps the most difficult of all the field tests is the VGP or Utility Dog test. This is a test that is not exclusive to Kurzhaars, but is given by the umbrella organization of all versatile dog clubs in Germany called the JGHV (Jagdgebrauchshundverband). This is the supreme test of versatility and evaluates a dog in 28 different categories of hunting work. Excellence in retrieving, pointing, tracking and water work as well as obedience, a good temperament and work ethic are just a few of the things required of a VGP dog. A VGP title is not required for breeding, but because it is the most comprehensive measure of versatility in the field, many Kurzhaar breeders strongly prefer a VGP title on their breeding stock.
It is easy to get caught up in all the tests and titles that a Kurzhaar may possess. However, the true appeal of owning a Kurzhaar is not the letters behind his name. As most hunters know, only a limited amount of time can be spent searching the fields and ponds for game. The rest of a dog’s life is spent at home at his master’s feet. The Kurzhaar is a wonderful companion at home and prefers the company of people. They want most of all to please their masters, whether they are finding him game or sitting by his chair. A Kurzhaar owner is often scarcely able to decide which gives him more pleasure; the sight of a beautiful dog quivering on a staunchly pointed bird, or the obvious joy the dog shows when playing a game of fetch in the yard with the children.
The Kurzhaar is steadily making his mark here in the US. Kurzhaar owners not only enjoy hunting him across the United States on a variety of game, but also participation in various AKC, NAVHDA, and Shoot-to-Retrieve events. In fact, the DK may be one of the best kept secrets in the gundog world and has proven that he can excel right along with the best of the specialists and versatiles already enjoyed by so many American hunters.
So, where does one go to find out more about this versatile breed? A good start would be to contact the Kurzhaar club nearest you. If you are in the United States, the club is called the North American Deutsch Kurzhaar Club or the NADKC. The NADKC web site at www.nadkc.org contains all the information needed to get you started. You can find information on joining the club, which is a great way to find out more about the Kurzhaar in America and in Germany, or you can find information on litters and breeders here in the States or nearest to you. You can find out more about the tests and breeding requirements, as well as links to web pages and contacts in your region and a list of FAQ’s about the Deutsch Kurzhaar. If you are adventurous, or speak a little German, you can visit the DKV web site in Germany at www.deutsch-kurzhaar.de Some of the search engines such as Google have features that offer pretty accurate, if not sometimes amusing, translations of sites in different languages that may aid you in your browsing. Last but not least, you can contact myself, the Regional Director of the Mid-South Region, at Gayla@redearthoutfitters.com. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Gayla B. Salvati, DVM
von der roten Erde Kennel
Hunting Dogs for The Discriminating Hunter
Deciphering an Ahnentafel
If you are like me, you don’t read German very well. This can make deciphering titles on an Ahnentafel (pedigree) a little difficult, especially since there are so many different testing clubs out there that award their own titles.
So, I have tried to put together a short menu of the most common title abbreviations you might find on a dog’s Ahnentafel and what they mean just as a matter of reference. Perhaps this will help take a little mystery out of all those little letters and numbers for you.
D = Derby
This is the test for puppies born after the first of October of the year before last. It is basically a natural ability test and is held only in the spring. You will see a “D” followed by a number. This stands for Prize 1,2 or 3 which is what is awarded based on the pup’s performance if he passes the test. A pup may enter more than one Derby and each result will be recorded on the pedigree.
(J) = “Youth”
Gun dogs that pass a Derby in their first year receive this notation (J) for “youth” behind the assigned prize category (e.g. D1(J))
(*) = Andreas star
If a dog intentionally or by chance shows excellent work on in tracking an unseen rabbit or hare during a given test, it is marked with an Andreas star, but this has no effect on the overall scoring of the test. (e.g. D1*)
S = Solms
Held in the autumn of the same year as the Derby, this test is the next level up from the Derby. A number indicating that the dog was awarded a Prize 1,2, or 3 will follow the “S”. The Solms may be entered more than once, and each result will be recorded on the pedigree.
AZP = Alterszuchtprüfung
This is the “Older Dog Breeding Test” and is basically a trial for dogs that for some reason were unable to be tested in a Solms test. The rules are the same as for the Solms, but a higher level of performance is expected in consideration of the dog’s age. These dogs should not be over 6 years old.
IKP = International Kurzhaar-Prüfung
This test is held every other year, alternating with the Kleeman Trial. It is regarded as a “warm up” for the Kleeman.
Kl. Ausl. Prfg. = Kleeman Ausleseprüfung
This is the “Dr. Kleeman Trial”. Hunting dogs that pass this test will have “Kl. Ausl. Prfg.” Stamped on their Ahnentafel. Dogs that receive a Prize 1 at this test are awarded the “KS” (Kurzhaar Seiger) title. In order to qualify to test in a Kleeman, the dogs must have a conformation rating of at least “SG” (very good), must have first prizes in both the VGP (Verbandsgebrauchesprüfung) and either Vbr. (Verlorenbringen) or SW (Verbandsschweissprüfung), pass of the hardness test (mS), plus two first prizes in Derby, Solms or AZP field tests. This is basically a field test with conformation qualifications.
KS = Kurzhaar Seiger
This is the “Shorthair Champion” title awarded to gun dogs that achieve a Prize 1 in the Dr. Kleeman Trial. This title is added to the name of the dog rather than listed after the name with the other titles. (E.g. Quasi KS vom Bieberstein)
Diana Prfg. = Diana Ausleseprüfung
This title is no longer in use as of 1957. Prior to this, dogs and bitches were judged separately, the dogs at the Dr. Kleeman Trial and the bitches at the Diana. Since 1957, both sexes have been judged together although an award is given for the Best Dog and Best Bitch at each Kleeman (Kleeman Sieger/Siegerin).
The above titles are awarded only to Kurzhaars by the Kurzhaar Verband. However, there are other titles that may be awarded by the Jagdgebrauchshundverband (JGVH). This organization includes all of the versatile hunting dog clubs in Germany, regardless of breed.
VJP = Verbandsjugendprüfung
This is a national breed club youth trial, roughly the equivalent of a Derby. These dogs are not awarded a Prize number, but rather a score that appears behind the “VJP”. E.g. VJP 68
HZP = Verbandsherbstzuchtprüfung
The autumn trial of the national breed club. The equivalent of the Solms. These dogs are not awarded a Prize number, but rather a score that appears behind the “HZP”. E.g. HZP 181
VGP = Verbandsgebrauchesprüfung
This is the Association Utility test. It is designed to test finished versatile hunting dogs in all aspects of field, forest, and water work. A score and Prizes 1,2 or 3 are awarded to dogs that pass this test. Passing this test qualifies a hunting dog for registration in the German Register of Utility Dogs (DGStB).
Btr. = Bringtreueprüfung
The retrieving reliability test. This requires finding a fox placed in undergrowth at least 3 hours previous to the test. The dog is released at least 150 yds. from the fox and must search with no help from the handler.
Vbr. = Verlorenbringen
Retrieve of wounded game. Requires trailing and retrieving a hare over a distance of about 300 yds. while the trail is still warm but the dog has not seen the game.
AH = Ambruster Halt award
This title is given for obedience in the presence of game
SW = Verbands-Schweissprüfung
This is the specialty blood tracking title, and will be followed by a Prize score of 1,2 or 3. An “SW” is a 20 hour specialty blood track, while an “SW” followed by a “/” is a 40 hour track. E.g. an SW /2 is a Prize 2 awarded for a 40 hour blood track.
Sch. H = Schutzhund
You will occasionally see the Schutzhund title on an Ahnentafel followed by a Prize 1,2, or 3. This is the test for police or protection dogs and requires elements of obedience, tracking and seeking and detaining criminals.
WS = Welt Sieger
BS = Bundes Sieger
RS = Reichs Sieger
These are all show titles that may be won at a single show (e.g. the Welt Seiger show). They are awarded to the Best of Breed winner if that dog has a “V” conformation rating. The RS or Reichs Sieger is no longer in use.
ES = Europa Sieger
This is for “European Champions”. To be awarded this title, a dog must obtain four F.C.I International Canine Federation Challenge Certificates (CACIB) or National Challenge Certificates (CAC).
VDH Champion = Verband für das Deutsche Hundewesen
This is the Society for German Dog Breeds Champion. It is given if four CACIBs have been awarded under four different judges.
CACIB = Certificates d’Aptitude au Championnat International de Beaute
Conformation title awarded only at international shows. Dogs must usually be older than 18 months.
CAC = Certificates d’Aptitude au Championnat
German conformation champion