We’ll dive into the temperament. The GSP is best suited to a busy, active lifestyle. They are extremely intelligent and have a high working drive. They are best suited to experienced dog owners or those that can allow for their GSP to be predominantly outside exploring or working. They will need confident training, not for the faint hearted. A key aspect of this dog’s personality is that they instinctively have a very high prey drive. Even so, you should be wary when your GSP is off-lead, it can prove too tempting to most should a rabbit come into its eyeline!
Loyalty and close bonds to their family are what can be expected from a GSP. Families with older children or couples is a good family unit for this breed, they can be a handful and need a lot of time and dedication. But this can lead to them incapable of coping of being alone for extended period of times. If they are left in an unstimulating environment, they tend to display destructive behaviours. But this may never be an issue should you provide the right setting for them. You can start training them into creating coping mechanisms so that you can confidently leave them for short periods of time without worrying about them destroying your house!
Next we’ll delve a little bit into the health of these dogs. They have been bred to be hardy, outdoor dogs so on the whole, they’re healthy dogs that should be a part of the family for up to 12-14 years!
But we like to make our followers aware of concerns so they can best prevent any unnecessary suffering. Let’s begin with hip and elbow dysplasia. GSP’s and other medium to large breeds commonly suffer from this disorder. It comes from the joints in the hips and elbows not fitting together harmoniously. If left untreated, it can cause arthritis and even lameness. Whilst this is a hereditary issue, meaning that preventing it is to ensure that any breeding bitches and studs get full hip and elbow scores before being mated, owners still need to be aware and do their bit to prevent unnecessary suffering. If you buy a GSP from a working dog breeder, chances are that the bitch and stud have had all the tests run that you can think of. This gives working stock a bit more of a fighting chance not to suffer but it still isn’t a guarantee. If you should notice your GSP becoming stiff, sore, or reluctant to get up ect, it is always best to get them seen by your vet!
Another major concern I will share with you is GDV, or bloat. The symptoms are that the stomach will flip upside down in the chest due to a build-up of gas. Once it does flip, it is a time critical issue. When the stomach flips, it starts to restrict blood flow, which can very quickly cause your dog to go into shock. A way in which you can help prevent this from happening is to slow feed your dog. This will stop them swallowing excess air if they are allowed to quickly wolf down their food! Elevating food and water bowls can help prevent a Great Dane from swallowing air into their stomach. For a wet or raw diet, you may even want to look into slow feeder bowls, they are extremely effective. But for a dry diet, large kong wobblers are brilliant for their brains and their stomachs!
Now, I won’t be telling you exactly what type of food you should be giving you GSP, instead I’ll be highlighting the key aspects that should be included. You can then make your own mind up how best to provide that for your GSP.
You need to make sure that the food you choose for your dog is of good quality and contains the correct calories for their size and activity level. The structure you want to go for is high protein, moderate unprocessed fat, moderate carbs and high calories. This is on the basis that they’re suitably active for a working breed.
When looking for suitable food for your dog, you want there to be little to no by-products. So you want to check for real protein sources such as lean muscle, fish, seeds ect. Dogs are carnivores by nature, you want their food to include animal proteins wherever possible. Essential fats are another key part of their diet, key word being essential. The fats you want to be aware of in your GSP’s diet is omega 3 and 6. A fish based diet of either salmon, mackerel or sardines would give your dog an abundance of these fats. But for a less smelly option, pork, beef, hemp and flax seeds are also good option. As they get older, it may be worth adding extra Omega 3 into their diet to help ease the movement in their joints. Much like humans when they reach a certain age!
Now to the carbs. You want to stay away from starchy carbs, for example, rice or potatoes. These are less digestible and can be high in sugar. And try to include a small amount of grains to keep the possibility of bloating to a minimum. Instead try them with blueberries, apples, carrots, bananas, pumpkin seeds or almonds, to name a few. To keep their carbohydrate intake low, use their favourite option as training treats.
Lastly, vitamins and minerals. If you choose a more raw based diet, a lot of the protein, fat and carb sources I have mentioned contain a varied combination of what a GSP needs. But if you instead decide on looking for a ready made kibble or wet food. I’ll tell you the ones to look out for! The vitamins to include are D, E and B1, which can be found in good protein and carbohydrate sources. Don’t worry too much about vitamin C, whilst it’s good to include it, dogs are clever enough to manufacture it themselves! For minerals, you want to look for magnesium, selenium, phosphorous, manganese, sulphur and iodine. Again, these can be found in the forementioned protein, carb and essential fat sources.
Now, this can sound over-whelming, we aim to educate and guide all types of dog owners here at Fenrir. So we recommend to always consult a vet or registered canine nutritionist if you have concerns or queries.
So, let’s do a quick recap before the end. A GSP is a highly intelligent dog that will be more than happy spending the majority of its life out in the wilderness chasing everything small and furry. They take a strong and patient hand when it comes to training but when you’ve seen it through, you’ll have created a powerful bond with a loyal companion. Keep them in good condition and they will be up for outdoor adventures for at least 12-14 years! A few supplements made be needed in their twilight years but it’ll be worth it for such this fabulous working breed.