When dog breeders breed a dog, they may have either form or function in mind; in many cases, they have both. Form relates to the outward appearance of the dog and includes how prettyŁ or handsome he is, while function is all about how well a dog is built to perform a specific, or general for that matter, task. Some breeders heavily stress form, though these breeders are usually thinking of their dogs being used mainly in conformation events, while the majority of breeders first get the function part of a dog down and then move on to the dog's appearance. In the history of the German Shorthaired Pointer, there have been numerous debates regarding the form and function of the dog, which have also included its coat. Ultimately, the importance of function was recognized and the dog became the versatile hunter we know today, with its coat contributing to its versatility and adaptability.
The GSP has a coat that is short and flat and that comes in a variety of colors, both solid and ticked. The head is usually solid, while the body often demonstrates the ticked, or speckled, pattern; at times, the speckles are accompanied by large areas of one solid color. For most kennel clubs, the only colors allowed in the conformation ring are solid liver and a combination of liver and white. Though GSP coats may have orange, tan, lemon, red, roan, or black patches, or may even be solids of these colors, they are not acceptable in the show ring. As an aside, it is interesting to note that roan dogs have a higher tendency of becoming deaf than other dogs. In any case, GSPs of any color may be admitted to participate in any other event besides conformation. While adherence to standards of form places limits on the coat of the GSP, consideration of function only stresses the structure of the coat and ignores its color.
Under the harsh-textured coat made of stiff guard hairs, the GSP should have an undercoat that is dense and protects the dog from both the cold weather and the harmful rays of the sun. The stiff guard hairs have the function of making the coat water proof. Though their coat is short, its dense, closely-knit nature allows quite a good amount of protection in rugged winters. Indeed, breeders interested in function understood that coat length or color wasn't necessarily important; rather, texture and density are what allow a dog the versatility to work in many kinds of environments, something that was very important to GSP breeders. Many animals who live in bitterly cold areas do not necessarily have long coats, but they do have thick coats. Furthermore, since the GSP was needed to be a good water dog, his coat had to allow him ease of maneuverability in the water; a short coat means less drag and easier swimming. Since the GSP was often asked to continue hunting after leaving the water, he also needed a coat that was able to dry quickly and not weigh him down or cause him to get ill.