Braque Francais and German Shorthaired Pointer bear many resemblances, and to an untrained eye, they easily mix together.
Most people take French Pointers for miniature German Shorthairs, but they are two separate breeds.
Although both were designed as versatile hunting breeds with pointing and retrieving as their leading traits, one can distinguish these two breeds after a little observation.
Braque Francais – French Pointer
The Braque Francais originated in the south of France, and breeders now distinguish two types: a bigger Gascony type and a smaller, more popular Pyrenean type.
The American Kennel Club doesn’t recognize the French Pointer, but an FCI, UKC, and Canadian Kennel Club have both Gascony and Pyrenean types in their books.
The breed is rather rare in North America, with no record of the Gascony type ever being imported to the continent.
They were bred from a stock of working dogs used in Spain, France, and Italy around the Meditteranean sea.
The breed was known first in the late 1600s as a big-sized pointing dog with long ears and a white and brown coat. This is the stock now known as Gascony.
Later the need for a smaller and faster dog pushed breeders to develop the same dog but in smaller proportions to work closer and a little bit faster than its bigger counterparts. That’s how the Pyrenees came to exist.
Although the smaller type is more popular than the bigger one, neither of them is particularly well known outside of France, with only a handful of breeders in North America.
German Shorthaired Pointer
It is believed that all the shorthaired pointing dogs in Europe developed from the same stock of working dogs from Southern France, Spain, and Italy.
It is highly possible that Braque Francais, as a breed established in the early 1600s, was somewhat involved in creating German Shorthaired Pointers.
Like its smaller French cousin, GSP was developed as a versatile hunting dog predisposed to pointing and retrieving on top of tracking wounded animals.
The breed is highly popular with hunters and non-hunters alike. It is a well-recognized breed taking up a permanent place in the top 10 dogs registered with AKC.
What are the Differences Between French and German Pointers?
Taking a closer look at French and German Pointers, one can start to see their differences. Although there are two types of French Pointers, we will compare the Pyrenean – a smaller type, as it is more popular outside of its country of origin.
The Braque Francais is a medium-sized dog, standing at about 19-22 inches at withers and weighing up to 50 lbs.
Its head is more of the shape of an English pointer’s head – wider and more square than the German Shorthaired Ponter’s.
The breed also has a naturally shorter tail than GSP.
German Shorthaired Pointers are around 3-4 inches taller than the Braque Francais Pyrenean type. They are also around 15 lbs heavier.
The head is slim and “noble” looking, not as robust as that of the French Pointer.
Coat and Color
French Pointers coat should be short with fine hairs. There is no undercoat.
The color is usually white and chestnut brown, but never black. Although the breed standard permits a solid chestnut brown color, there aren’t many solid-colored dogs on record.
Every dog has at least a little bit of white on them.
They can also be tri-colored: white, chestnut brown, and tan. The third color is usually visible only above the eyes, on the lips, and the legs.
The coat pattern can be white with brown roan, patched, ticked, or a mixture of the three, but the most commonly seen in this breed is the white and brown patched.
German Shorthaired Pointer has short hairs in a single layer. The hair is fine all over the body, with still more delicate hair on the head and ears.
Acceptable colors are brown, black, white and brown, and white and black. The patterns are usually roan, patched, ticked, or any mix of them. There are a lot of solid-colored dogs on record.
Any black, red, orange, lemon, tan, or yellow color is disqualified by AKC standards. By FCI, black dogs are accepted as it was the original color of the brees, and yellow-tan markings are a new acceptable addition.
Other colors are considered non-purebred dogs.
German Shorthaired Pointers are often nervous, high-strung, and anxious. They possess a natural affinity for water and are born with the instinct to track, point and retrieve.
GSPs are friendly and curious dogs. They like to explore new places and make friends with people and most other dogs, but they don’t tolerate other pets in the house too well due to their high prey drive.
As a shorthaired dog and one that is really attached to its owners (on the verge of being called a shadow or a velcro dog), it doesn’t do well outside in a kennel.
On the other hand, it is also not advisable to keep a German Shorthaired Pointer in an apartment because it is a dog with a lot of energy and can’t be confined to small spaces.
The breed needs a lot of physical and mental exercise; otherwise, the dog gets bored, which leads to whining and crying or even destructive behavior.
As a very social dog, German Shorthaired Pointers don’t bode well left alone for too long, especially with nothing to do.
Although GSPs are not the best guard dogs, they can be protective and can make for very good watchdogs, alerting the owners of anything or anyone approaching.
German Shorthaired Pointer is very easy to train due to their rather docile character, although they can get boisterous when young and have a relatively short attention span when filled with energy.
Braque Francais is more relaxed, laid-back, and easy-going than the German Shorthaired Pointer. The breed is usually calm and as easy to train as GSP but is more sensitive.
French Pointers are not dominant dogs, and they would rather follow than lead until they go to the field where their hunting instincts kick in.
They are more docile than German Shorthaired Pointers, they also love people, but they are also extremely good with children.
Outside, Braque Francais have almost as high energy levels as GSPs, but it’s easier to control them.
Unfortunately, they are not good as guard dogs or even watchdogs. The reason is that they are super stranger friendly, and they treat every new person as their new best friend.
They also won’t alert you about incoming wild animals, as they rather go and explore a new threat than alert their owners about it.
French Pointers are not as protective as the GSP. However, they are perfect for living in the apartment because of their calm and quiet nature.
Unfortunately, similar to German Shorthaired Pointers, they cannot be left alone due to their strong attachment to their family and resulting separation anxiety.
German Shorthaired Pointers can get a little skittish with a lot of shouting and rough handling. For this breed, too much is too much, and they won’t perform well if they are too scared.
However, in the field, they are tough little dogs. The best tactic for their training is to teach them basic commands and train them in the field. Their instincts will guide them, and commands offer help when needed.
They can also be force fetched if necessary, and although they don’t genuinely appreciate the rough handling, they learn exceptionally fast and want to please.
In the end, GSP is ready to take on whatever you throw its way within reason.
Because of the highly-strung nature, training can be difficult initially, especially when the dog is still young and full of energy.
It definitely should be kept short because dogs can quickly lose interest if they have to wait or repeat stuff over and over without a change of pace.
German Shorthaired Pointers get bored fast and look for something else to do if they are no longer interested in what you try to teach them.
However, they pick things up quickly and retain the knowledge without too much repetition.
French Pointers are very similar to German Shorthairs in the training methods, but because they are slightly more sensitive, they don’t do well with force fetching.
Even a little bit of raised voice often has them cowering at your legs, thinking they did something really bad.
The best motivation for a French Pointer is a reward. They need steady and unfailing guidance, with strong leadership but not too strong a hand. They are calm and sensible dogs, so training is almost effortless.
Braque Francais have a slightly longer attention span than GSPs, and you can do longer training sessions. They work well if left mostly alone because any dog with good hunting DNA would be born “half-trained.”
Many French Pointer’s trainers swear that whatever the dog doesn’t know yet, he learns with experience in the field.
French Pointers may have a little trouble being gun trained, as they don’t like loud noises if they don’t know them. Gunshots should be introduced gradually. They are recommended to a first-time hunting dog owner.
German Shorthaired Pointers usually run just on the outside range of the shotgun, and some dogs, if not trained properly, venture even further. They have an intense prey drive and aren’t as easily taken off the bird.
GSPs hunt a wide range of game animals and birds. They are good at blood tracking and have a good cold nose.
They can adapt easily to different settings but can’t withstand cold too well without the help of a jacket, as their coat is not very dense.
They don’t like to sit in a hunting blind too much as they are too hyper and have too much energy. They prefer to roam around and actively search for game.
Braque Francais stay closer to the gun than the GSP when they hunt upland, usually 40 – 50 yards. Originally, they were trained to silently follow running birds and point them when they stop.
They were also expected to stand still during the shot and fetch the bird afterward.
The last trait is not usually pursued in certain settings, especially when the bird gets injured and tries to run away after being shot. It is good to have the dog on the move to fetch the bird before it gets lost.
French Pointers are also slower hunters than German Shorthairs. They have shorter legs, are lighter and closer to the ground, and can go in smaller spaces.
And although they don’t cover so much ground, they tend to miss fewer birds because of how thorough they are.
They are also good water retrievers as they take to water almost instantly and are born with retrieving instinct, which a lot of upland dogs don’t possess unless trained.
French Pointer also stays silent and calm in a blind, so if you want to mix some duck to your upland, this is a perfect dog.
Although resembling one another to a certain degree, German and French Pointers are two separate breeds. They both may have a common origin, but ultimately their character developed in different ways.
Because Braque Francais is not so commonly known outside of France as German Shorthairs are outside of Germany, they are often taken as miniature German Shorthaired Pointers.
The distinction is visible after a closer look at both breeds due to different characters and methods of hunting, although fans of each breed could spot the difference a bit sooner – the size and shape giving it away.
Regardless of whether they are similar or different, both breeds deserve the attention as incredibly versatile and capable hunting dogs.