The German Shorthaired Pointer was bred to be a very versatile dog, fulfilling the function of different types of gun dog. Besides being a good retriever and pointer, the GSP is also an excellent water dog; indeed, this breed has at least two important structural traits that allow him to follow and find game in almost any aquatic environment. The first is his dense, thick coat; the outer layer of his coat is short, reducing drag in the water and allowing the dog to dry off quickly. His coat is also water repellant. The second characteristic that the German Shorthaired Pointer shares with numerous other dogs that work in the water are his webbed feet.
While in humans webbed feet are not greeted with too much enthusiasm, a dog's webbed feet could come in quite handy depending on the type of work the dog is supposed to do. In the case of the German Shorthaired Pointer, the webbed feet help him navigate more efficiently through the water when he is called on to retrieve waterfowl, or other types of birds shot by the hunter, which are found in the water. As the dog paddles through the water, the webbing between his toes spreads out and has the function of supplying a greater surface area to push against the water. When the dog then brings his foot forward (getting ready for another paddle), he can close his toes together, thus folding the webbing and decreasing the amount of resistance, or friction, against the water. This makes the German Shorthaired Pointer an excellent swimmer who does not tire easily.
In addition to aiding him in the water, the webbed feet also help the German Shorthaired Pointer when he's on a bit more solid ground, muddy ground to be exact. You see, when you're walking on a mushy surface (and this goes for snow as well), if your weight is concentrated in one or a few points, you can bet you'll end up sinking. If, however, you're able to distribute your weight a bit more evenly over a larger surface area, you'll be able to avoid the whole sinking process and will have a bit more stability when walking or running over semi-solid surfaces. Since the German Shorthaired Pointer often has to traverse muddy areas to get into and out of bodies of water, it helps to have webbed feet to keep him stable. If he didn't have webbed feet, he could risk sinking into the mud while running at high speed and breaking a bone. If the break were serious enough, he could be prevented from ever hunting again. Because webbed feet act to distribute weight and avoid sinking, they act somewhat like snowshoes; indeed, many dogs that originated in cold, snowy areas also come equipped with webbed feet.