Meet the German Wirehaired Pointer
Published by the German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America
Welcome to a Wonderful, Wired World!
German Wirehaired Pointers trace their origins back to the late 1800s. They originated in Germany, where breeders wanted to develop a rugged, versatile hunting dog that would work closely with either one person or a small party of people hunting on foot in varied terrain; from the mountainous regions of the Alps, to dense forests, to more open areas with farms and small towns. The breed the Germans desired had to have a coat that would protect the dogs when working in heavy cover or in cold water, yet be easy to maintain. The goal was to develop a wire-coated, medium-sized dog that could search for, locate and point upland game; work both feather and fur with equal skill; retrieve water fowl; be a close-working, easily trained gun dog; be able to track and locate wounded game; be fearless when hunting sharp game such as fox; be a devoted companion and pet; and, be a watchdog for its owners’ family and property. In 1959, the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club and the German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America (GWPCA) was established.
The AKC breed standard describes GWPs as well-muscled, medium-sized dogs with their most distinguishing characteristics being their weather-resistant coat and facial furnishings. The standard calls for males to be 24-26 inches tall and females to be smaller, but not under 22 inches tall. The written standard describes what an ideal dog of the breed should look like and is the guideline by which responsible breeders judge their dogs.
GWPs in America Today
Wirehairs today have many roles. They are excellent dogs for the everyday hunter who, much like the Germans of 100+ years ago, want a dog that can literally do it all. It is not uncommon for hunters and their Wirehairs to jumphunt ducks in the morning, hunt quail, pheasant or chukar in the afternoon, and wait in a blind for an evening flight of geese. Wirehairs serve as companions who’d rather sleep on their owners’ feet than anywhere else. They compete successfully in conformation shows, horseback field trials, AKC hunting tests, agility, obedience, and every type of performance event you can name. It is not uncommon to find the same dog participating in several of these events concurrently! They also serve individuals and communities in the form of therapy dogs, drug detection dogs, and much more.
Temperament and Training
Along with the intelligence and will the Wirehair possesses, the breed also has the capability to be very creative and somewhat independent. They prefer to work for who they like and will very often create their own rules of engagement.vWirehairs generally are a high energy, high drive, though not “hyper,” breed and the need for a “job” is a must! Even if the job description includes only retrieving newspapers and slippers, this breed needs to be given meaningful work. GWPs are extremely devoted dogs. In fact, they crave human companionship, doing best in a home where they are permitted a very warm, close relationship with “their people.” They are a breed that typically does not make a good kennel dog, nor a dog that lives all its life in a backyard with little human contact. When raised in a home with one owner, they become very definite oneperson dogs. When raised in a home with several people, including children, they adopt the whole family, although some dogs may attach more strongly to one member of the household.
Young GWPs are typically funloving and playful, and with proper supervision for both children and animal, GWPs and kids do very well together. On the other hand, an adult GWP that has not been raised with children may need strict supervision if sent to a home with young children. And, as with any dog, very young children should be taught to properly handle a puppy, as well as to understand the difference between playing with a dog and hurting it. The breed’s high prey drive may not make it the best choice for families with cats and other small animals. Some Wirehairs raised as puppies with cats do just fine, accepting the family cat as part of the pack. Even some adults make the transition from a non-cat to a cat-owning family. But it is not a given and most breeders will caution against it. Since this can be a strong-willed and independent breed, the GWPCA supports permanent identification in case the dog becomes lost or separated from its family. AKC offers a lifetime “Lost & Found” option with AKC registration. The GWPCA Rescue offers low-cost microchipping and registration of the microchip with AKC Companion Animal Recovery program at each year’s National Events.
Health Concerns for the GWP
Generally, GWPs are healthy, long-lived dogs, with many individuals reaching 14-16 years of age. As with any large-breed dog, hip dysplasia may be a concern. Buyers should verify that the breeder of their new pup has screened for this crippling joint disease and that the dog’s family includes animals that are certified by OFA (the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) or PennHip. Additional genetic testing which reputable breeders conduct may include OFA thyroid, elbow dysplasia, cardiac clearances and Von Willebrand’s Disease. For more information on any of these diseases, visit www.offa.org.
Many GWPCA members support health research through the AKC Canine Health Foundation - a nonpofit charitable organization whose mission is to help dogs live longer, healthier lives. Supporting the CHF helps ensure a healthy future for all dogs. For more information about ongoing health research, visit www.akcchf.org.
Breeding Your Dog
The GWPCA vigorously encourages the spay and neuter of all non-breeding quality animals. Dogs that are spayed or neutered may compete in all AKC events except conformation. We strongly recommend that those interested in becoming breeders find and work with a mentor. We have mentors based throughout the country who will be willing to help teach you about the breed. Health testing is a very important part of breeding decisions. The GWPCA Code of Ethics states, “Only those dogs free of recognized genetic defects shall be used in a breeding program. Breeders will be selective with respect to the physical and mental soundness, health, temperament and natural hunting ability of the dog or bitch.”
The GWPCA is composed of approximately 500 German Wirehaired Pointer owners. We encourage new members and try to serve the needs of our members in a wide variety of areas. Please visit www.GWPCA.com to find information about joining our club, member breeders, breed rescue and much more. The GWPCA licenses local clubs in most areas of the country; publishes a regular journal, the WireNews, for its members; donates money to health research that impacts our breed; hosts the National Events each year; and handles many more tasks in support of the breed.
German Wirehaired Pointers in the Field
GWP's trace their origins back about 120 years. They originated in Germany, where breeders wanted to develop a rugged, versatile hunting dog that would work closely with either one person or a small party of persons hunting on foot in varied terrain; from the mountainous regions of the Alps, to dense forests, to more open areas with farms and small towns. The breed the Germans desired had to have a coat that would protect the dogs when working in heavy cover or in cold water, yet be easy to maintain. The goal was to develop a wire-coated, medium sized dog that could:
German Wirehaired Pointers in the Show Ring
by Judy Cheshire
Showing your GWP in conformation classes at AKC dog shows can be both a rewarding and educational experience. Dogs are evaluated against the breed standard and rewarded for their excellence as breeding stock, according to the judge's opinion. In order for a dog to be eligible for a dog show, it must be at least 6 months of age and cannot be spay or neutered (except in the case of stud dog/brood bitch or Veteran classes at a specialty). Most dogs being shown are trying to earn points towards their championships. A dog must earn 15 points, including two majors, under at least three different judges to become a champion. Dogs can earn from 1 to 5 points at each show. A win of 3, 4 or 5 points is called a major. Points are based on the number of dogs in competition
There are six regular classes in which dogs seeking points may compete: Puppy (dogs 6 months of age but not over 12 months), 12-18 months (dogs 12-18 months of age), Novice (dogs who have not won 3 first prizes in Novice or a first prize in any of the other classes, except Puppy and who do not have points), Bred-by-Exhibitor (dogs that are breeder/owner/handled), American bred (any dog bred in the USA) and Open (open to all). All the winners of first place in each of the classes compete in a 'Winners' class for the best of the winning dogs. The best dog in the Winners class receives the points. Competition at this level in not intersex, so it is repeated for dogs and bitches and points may be awarded in each sex. The Winners Dog and Winners Bitch may then compete with the dogs that are already champions for Best of Breed.
In order to compete in dog shows, you should know the breed standard, know how your dog compares to that standard and become familiar with what the judge will expect from you and your dog in the ring. You can start by reading the standard and asking your breeder to evaluate your dog. Talk to other breeders, owners and handlers, both with Wirehairs and other breeds of dogs. A dog show, particularly a German Wirehaired Pointer specialty show, is a great place to find these resources. Learn about your dog's virtues and faults. Does he seem to meet the standard? Remember that no dog is perfect. Once you've decided that you want to try showing, prepare your dog and yourself for the ring. The judge will need to examine the dog, touch him from head to tail and look into his mouth to check his teeth. The dog must learn to tolerate this and stand still. You will also have to gait your dog so that the judge can evaluate his movement both coming at him, going away and from the side. Be an observer at a dog show and see how this is done. Take your dog to handling classes and matches (practice shows) until you both feel confident that you know what to do.
After you've done these basic things, enter a dog show, take a deep breath and show your dog! But remember it's a sport and it should be fun. It's about sharing an experience with your dog and learning more about the breed. It's not only about winning.
German Wirehaired Pointers in Companion Events
by Gayle Bock
The GWP is a very "versatile" breed. Bred to hunt, this breed also has many other hidden talents. I personally do not hunt with my wire but I am involved in obedience and agility and have done quite well. I have been showing in obedience for over 20 years and have been teaching for over 15.
Five years ago I changed breeds to the GWP. I started out in conformation, while also training for obedience and agility. These are 3 very different sports but the intelligence and will of the wire have made it possible to title in 3 different kennel clubs, AKC conformation, AKC, CKC & UKC obedience and AKC & UKC agility. We have also started NADAC agility.
Along with the intelligence and will the wirehair possesses, the breed also has the capability to become very creative and somewhat independent at times making it hard to be a "team" player. Their need to be inquisitive and explore can sometimes get in the way of training. They generally are a high energy breed and the need for running in the great outdoors is a must! This breed will not be happy to be on the couch all day. But given the challenges of the wirehair, I feel this breed can tackle many a sport if given the proper training. They are a very hard working, strong moving dog.
German Wirehaired Pointers as a Companion
GWP's are extremely devoted dogs. When raised in a home with one owner, they become very definite one-person dogs. When raised in a home with several people, including children, they become devoted to the whole family, although some dogs may attach more strongly to one member of the household.
Young GWP's are typically fun loving and playful and with proper supervision for both children and animal, GWP's and kids do very well together. On the other hand, an adult GWP that has not been raised with children may need strict supervision if sold into a home with young children.
And, as with any dog, very young children should be taught to properly handle a puppy, as well as to understand the difference between playing with a dog and hurting it.
GWP's make superb companion dogs and pets. In fact, they crave human companionship, doing best in a home where they are permitted a very warm, close relationship with 'their people'. They are one Sporting Breed that does not make a good kennel dog, nor a dog that lives all its life in a backyard with little contact with humans.