Built tough for land and water, the German Wirehaired Pointer defines versatility
This series of Project Upland hunting dog breed profiles focuses on the hunting characteristics that set one breed apart from another. It’s important to understand that within a breed, individual dogs may vary in temperament, conformation, instincts and abilities. This particular article focuses on the German Wirehaired Pointer.
Original purpose of the German Wirehaired Pointer
Most notable in the development of the German wirehaired pointer is the early breeders’ focus on versatility in performance and coat. This is unlike some pointing breeds who were initially developed for just one type of hunting or terrain. Wirehair breeders first used stichelhaars and pudelpointers, only to add in griffons and shorthairs later. They were selecting attributes that would create a dog adept at serving waterfowlers and on-foot upland hunters. At the same time, they sought a low-maintenance coat that could withstand thick brush and cold water.
Hunting style and temperament of the German Wirehaired Pointer
Impressively rugged, the German wirehair is skilled in the acquisition and delivery of game and works at a medium pace and medium range. They perform equally well in their upland search and point, tracking, and retrieving on land or water. While their points might lack the elegance of German shorthairs or English pointers, they nevertheless present a powerful solidity. The only downside to the German wirehaired pointer is that the dense water-resistant, brush-resistant coat limits their tolerance for hot weather.
German wirehaired pointers can be intense yet display an extraordinary amount of cooperation. They are highly responsive to training. They are rarely “soft” dogs, meaning novice trainers can make mistakes and the dogs will easily recover and relearn. Most wirehairs love people and make excellent, protective family members. If they have not been raised with cats or young children, however, exercise caution when introducing an adult wirehair into such a family.
Traits important to hunters
Medium: males run 24-26” in height, females 22-24”.
Harsh and double-layered (longer outer hair, tight inner), some wirehairs have fuller coats and more wiry coverage. Others are tighter and smoother all over. The length of eyebrow, muzzle and beard hair varies.
Early point and natural water drive. German wirehairs are biddable students that take to training at a young age.
Besides hip dysplasia which is of concern in most large breeds, the only red flag here is von Willebrand’s disease, an inherited bleeding disorder. You can test prospective parents, however.
Finding a good breeder
The difference between a German wirehaired pointer and a Deutsch Drahthaar often confuses people. The Verein Deutsch Drahthaar is the breed’s parent club in Germany. Dogs bred under the VDD breeding regulations are called “Deutsch Drahthaars” to differentiate them from those bred outside the VDD under other registries such as the NAVHDA or AKC. It is noted by the VDD that in 1950’s many Deutsch Drahthaars were bred outside the German standards and evolved into a distinctively separate breed. NAVHDA databases, and the German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America has a comprehensive listing of German wirehaired breeders.
Nancy Anisfield is an outdoor writer and hunting dog photographer, creative director for the Ugly Dog Hunting Company, member of the Pheasants Forever / Quail Forever Board of Directors, and co-owner of the Track2Wing Project which grants Action trackchairs to individuals with mobility challenges who want to train and hunt with bird dogs. She and her husband live in Hinesburg, Vermont, where their lives are governed by her two German shorthaired pointers and his two German wirehaired pointers.