Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a German Wirehaired Pointer
Average Cost to keep/care for a German Wirehaired Pointer
The German Wirehaired Pointer is a handsome dog with their wiry coat and attractive facial furnishings which includes a charming beard, bushy eyebrows and moustache which sets them apart from other pointer breeds. They are highly prized in their native Germany not only for their looks, but for their working abilities too. German Wirehaired Pointers only recently arrived on British shores, but slowly the breed is gaining popularity not only as working dogs, but as companions and family pets, thanks to their kind and loyal natures and charming looks.
The German Wirehaired Pointer first appeared on the scene during the 19th century when they were originally bred to hunt in more challenging environments, a task they excelled at and for which they soon became highly prized in their native Germany. The breed was developed using other native German breeds which included the Deutscher Stichelhaar, Deutscher Kurzhaar and the Pudelpointer, as well as a few griffon type dogs too.
There are records of the breed that date as far back as 1880 when hunters wanted to create a versatile, hardy dog capable of working in small groups or on their own. They needed a robust dog that would be able to withstand the elements and one that would be able to work on more challenging terrains which included in the higher mountainous regions of the land and over open plains.
The result of their endeavours was a dog that could do all of the above and one that boasted having a bristly coat that offered them a tremendous amount of protection against all weathers. By the late 1800's there were several types of pointers throughout Germany which led to separate clubs being established and so the GWP was established. The breed was introduced to the UK after their German Shorthair Pointer cousins and as such they are a relative newcomer to British shores. They are around an inch taller than the Shorthair Pointer, but they always appear to be a lot bigger and heavier thanks to their thicker, coarser coats.
Today, the GWP is just as highly prized for their hunting abilities in their native Germany as they were in the past although they are also very popular as companion dogs and family pets too thanks to their loyal and placid natures. They are popular with hunters in other parts of Europe which includes here in the UK. However, thanks to more being known about the breed, these handsome dogs are gaining popularity as companions and family pets too and more especially with people who live in rural locations and who lead active, outdoor lives.
Height at the withers: Males 60 - 67 cm, Females 56 - 62 cm
Average weight: Males 25 - 34 kg, Females 20 - 29 kg
The German Wirehaired Pointer is a handsome, well-balanced dog and one that's immediately recognisable thanks to their distinctive wiry coat and charming facial hair. They are large athletic dogs that are not that dissimilar to the Italian Spinone when it comes to looks which is why they are often confused with one another.
Their heads are nicely balanced in proportion to the rest of the body with dogs having slightly rounded and quite broad skulls. They have a moderate stop and their muzzles are the same length as their skulls. Noses can either be black or liver depending on the colour of a dog's coat. They have oval shaped eyes that are medium in size and a nice dark colour. Ears are medium in size and set high on a dog's head. The GWP has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones.
Their necks are a nice length and powerful with dogs having sloping, well-muscled shoulders and straight, lean, muscular front legs. The GWP has a nice compact, powerful looking body with deep chests and well sprung, deep ribs that extend well back. They have firm backs and nicely tucked up loins which adds to a dog's athletic appearance.
Their hindquarters are powerful, strong with dogs having wide, broad hips and a croup that falls away slightly towards the tail. Back legs are strong with well-muscled thighs and showing a good amount of bone. Feet are compact and close knit being a round to oval in shape and having nicely arched toes and strong nails. Tails are carried horizontally and sometimes a little higher when a dog is alert or excited.
When it comes to their coat, the German Wirehaired Pointer has a very dense, harsh outer coat and a much softer, thicker undercoat that provides dogs with a tremendous amount of protection against the elements. Their coats lie close with the hair on their heads and ears being shorter and thicker than it is on the rest of their body. They have bushy eyebrows and a nice full beard and moustache which adds to their endearing looks. The accepted breed colours include the following:
The German Wirehaired Pointer is an impressive looking dog, but one that is known to be a gentle, even tempered and affectionate character. They form strong bonds with their owners and families which sees them become extremely loyal and protective of them. They are intelligent, high energy dogs that love to work both on land and in water being strong swimmers thanks in part to their webbed feet. Because they are so tireless, a GWP needs to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. They are never happier than when they are doing something and therefore do well living with people who lead active, outdoor lives and who live in more rural areas of the country.
They tend to be a little wary and aloof around people they don't know, although rarely would a GWP show any sort of aggressive behaviour towards a stranger, preferring to keep their distance until they get to know someone. With this said, they are known to be very "people-oriented" and love nothing more than to be around them whenever they can.
It's really important for these dogs to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be confident, outgoing mature dogs. Their socialisation has to include introducing them to lots of new situations, noises, people, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated. It's also crucial for their training to start early too and it has to be consistent throughout a dog's life. A GWP is never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who they can look to for direction and guidance. If they don't know who is the alpha dog in a household, they may quickly take on the role of dominant dog which can make them harder to live with and handle.
Although, they love to be in a home environment and rarely like to be too far away from their families and owners, a GWP might occasionally decide to go off exploring on their own, especially if they pick up an interesting scent. As such care has to be taken as to where and when they are allowed to run free.
They are a good choice for first time owners thanks to the fact they are so kind natured and easy to train. However, anyone wishing to share a home with a GWP would need to be prepared to spend a lot of time with their canine companions giving them enough exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-balanced dogs.
Because the German Wirehaired Pointer is such an intelligent dog, in the right hands and environment they are easy to train and love nothing more than the one-to-one attention they are given during a training session. The key to successfully training a GWP is to start their education as early as possible and to keep their training sessions short and as interesting as possible so that a dog stays more focussed. If things get too repetitive, a GWP would soon get bored and start looking around for other more interesting things to focuss on.
They are known to be a little wilful at times which is why obedience training is a must for these smart, energetic dogs. However, because they are quite sensitive by nature, it's important not to use any sort of harsh correction or heavier handed training methods which would not bring out the best in these dogs and if anything it would do them a lot of harm. They do respond well to positive reinforcement which always brings out a GWP's natural talents.
German Wirehaired Pointers are known to be gentle when they are around children, but due to their larger size, care has to be taken when they are near toddlers and younger children in case they knock them over, albeit by accident. As such any interaction between children and a dog should always be supervised by an adult to make sure playtime goes not get too boisterous.
When dogs have been well socialised from a young enough age, they generally get on well with other dogs they meet. If they have grown up with a family cat in a household, they usually get on well together. However, a GWP would think nothing of chasing off any other cats they encounter because they would see them as fair game. Care has to be taken when they are around any smaller animals and pets because of their high prey drive as such any contact is best avoided.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a German Wirehaired Pointer is between 9 and 12 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like so many other breeds, the GWP is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active and good looking dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
As with any other breed, GWP's need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Although the GWP has a slightly longer coat than their shorthaired cousins, they are low maintenance on the grooming front. However, because they have moustaches and beards, it's important to clean a dog's mouth after they have eaten because food tends to get stuck in the longer hair. Not only can this become smelly if not regularly cleaned, but it can provide the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive in.
They shed throughout the year only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming is usually necessary to keep on top of things and to remove any dead or loose hair from a dog's coat. It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
The German Wirehaired Pointer is a high energy, intelligent dog and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. They need to be given a minimum of 2 hour's exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a GWP would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these high energy dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble.
With this said, GWP puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.
If you get a GWP puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be given a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Because GWP's are known to suffer from bloat, it is really important for them to be fed twice a day instead of giving a dog just one larger meal a day. It's also a good idea to invest in a stand for their feed bowls which makes it easier for these large dogs to eat comfortably without having to stretch their necks down to reach their food. Dogs should never be exercised just before or just after they have eaten either because this puts them more at risk of suffering from gastric torsion.
If you are looking to buy a German Wirehaired Pointer, you would need to pay anything from £550 to over £750 for a well-bred pedigree puppy and you may need to register your interest with breeders because very few puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old German Wirehaired Pointer in northern England would be £21.87 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £57.54 a month (quote as of July 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a GWP and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £1200 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a German Wirehaired Pointer would be between £70 to £120 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree or other puppy.
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