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A griffon breed, the Wirehaired Pointer was developed in 19th Century Germany as a hunting animal. Such was the breed's talent in the field that it quickly became a highly prized gundog.
The GWP is an interesting mix of German native breeds including the Deutscher Stichelhaar, Deutscher Kurzhaar and the Pudelpointer, as well as the griffon types.
The breed can be traced back to 1880 and was created by hunters who wanted to develop a versatile, hardy dog to accompany them on hunting trips and work as happily with one person as with small groups. The dog also had to work on foot in varied landscapes and terrain including the mountainous Alps, thick forests and open plains and farmland.
The resulting animal had to be able to cope well with the extremes of weather and therefore have a coat that would provide ample cover and warmth, as well as protection from wind and rain. This multi-purpose fur also had to be easy to maintain and this was achieved by mixing existing German Pointers with other breeds such as those mentioned above, to achieve the perfect hunter with the perfect coat.
Average height to withers: 23.5"-26.5" (dogs) 22"-24.5" (bitches)
Average weight: 27-32 kg
A sturdy, well-muscled dog, the GWP is well-balanced and is immediately recognisable thanks to its distinctive wiry coat and comical facial hair. The tail is usually docked to about two-fifths its length and in places where docking is strictly controlled the tail must be long enough to reach the hocks. Sometimes mixed-up with the well-loved Italian Spinone, like all Pointers the GWP has webbed feet.
The eccentric, wiry fur is perhaps this dog's most recognisable attribute. It is wind and water repellent with an interesting undercoat that should be thick enough to provide plenty of insulation in winter, but be virtually invisible in summer. The guard hairs should be of sufficient length to shield the dog against the harsh environment of the hunting field, but not disguise the shape of the breed. The extremities such as legs and tail display fur that is shorter and softer, and on the skull the coat is very short indeed.
The breed's wonderfully expressive face is helped by straight, dense eyebrows and a medium-length moustache and beard, and any deviations from the standard wire coat will be heavily penalised by judges, although liver patches on the liver and white examples are permitted to have shorter hairs than those on the white spots. Colourways include liver, liver and white ticked, black, black and white ticked and tri-coloured.
The GWP should display freedom and grace at run with power pushed through the forequarters by impulsion created by the rear quarters.
Energetic, clever and tenacious, the GWP is incredibly willing to learn, fiercely loyal and tireless. They are never happier than when working - preferably with their owner - and work best with a consistent handler. The GWP can tend to be wary of strangers, but they are very friendly once you gain their trust so it's essential that any GWP is socialised when it's young.
The German Wirehaired Pointer is most contented when it's with its family and is very much a 'people' dog. Despite this tendency to be a 'homebird', they can display a very wilful streak and can sometimes roam.
As such an energetic breed, the German Wirehaired Pointer can become difficult to manage if he isn't given enough exercise and could become bored and destructive. This is a dog that needs a job and is a truly excellent hunter, showing prowess on the scent of any game over any kind of ground. This talented hunter has a brilliant nose and can perform all essential hunting tasks equally well both on dry land and in the water.
Bold, lively yet remarkably even-tempered, this dog excels in the field, but is perfect for family life and loves children.
Much like other pedigree breeds, the German Wirehaired does suffer with a number of hereditary conditions that potential owners should be aware of before entering into a purchase.
Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that causes recurring dislocations and lameness. Before buying a puppy both parents should be seen and the breeder should be able to inform you if dysplasia is present in the line. Heart disease is also present in the breed.
Perhaps one of the most notable conditions observed in the GWP is von Willebrand's Disease - a coagulation problem that also affects humans and is also seen in Doberman Pinschers and to a lesser extent, pigs, horses, cows and cats.
Symptoms of this condition include easy bruising, bleeding gums, nosebleeds and other forms of bleeding tendency. If any unusual symptoms are noticed, a blood test will confirm the diagnosis. There is very little in the form of treatment that can be offered for von Willebrand's Disease, although owners of a diagnosed dog will probably have to limit any activities that may pose a risk of injury.
Their voracious appetite for exercise means this is not a breed for everyone, so it's essential that anyone considering a German Wirehaired Pointer would be wise to do their homework before committing to a purchase that will affect the next 10 or 12 years of their lives.
Physical and mental stimulation are the number one priority for this breed and should be the number one priority for any owner too. Long daily walks or allowing him to run along as you cycle or jog, is a must as these activities will prevent him from going 'stir crazy' from spending too much time indoors. These dogs also love to swim so owners should consider trips to the beach or other areas where their dog may be able to swim in relative safety.
Because of their wilful nature obedience training is a must. This will not only help to remind them who's in charge, but also keep their minds occupied.