German Wirehaired Pointer
Are you someone who loves breathing in the fresh air, going on camping trips, and connecting with mother nature? Then you'd get along swimmingly with the German wirehaired pointer, a lovable, high-energy dog who's ready for any outdoor adventure.
German wirehaired pointers (or GWPs for short) are easy to train, love to please their humans, and make great family dogs. Known for their distinctive wiry coat that protects them from prickly bushes and other hazards, this medium-sized breed also has a furry face complete with a full beard and mustache, giving them an intelligent, alert expression. Traditionally bred to be a hunting dog, they're naturally inclined to spend hours outside without tiring, so they're happiest when they join their humans on hikes in the mountains or a run around the park.
Even though they're known for being full of energy, as long as you give your GWP ample attention, training, and mental stimulation, he'll let you in on his unlimited supply of love in return.
GWPs are best known for their namesake: A coarse, wiry coat. Their fur is commonly spotted with patchy patterns of liver and white, though you can find black German wirehaired pointers as well. This distinctive coat is very useful to these outdoorsmen; according to the German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America, their coat is "weather-resistant," meaning water usually just slicks right off of them. Their dense coat also protects from rough vegetation as they move around in the wilderness. And although their wiry coat can make them look a bit scraggly at times, the good news is it's easy to care for.
Adult German wirehaired pointers weigh anywhere between 50–70 pounds, with females reaching around 22 inches in height and males standing at 24-26 inches tall. They share a lot of the same physical characteristics as two other breeds: the German shorthaired pointer and wirehaired pointing griffons.
GWPs are bigger and stockier than their shorthaired pointer counterparts, and—of course—have their signature wiry coat. However, the best way to tell the two breeds apart is by their facial features. GWPs have shaggy eyebrows, a mustache, and a beard, which gives them a very refined, intelligent expression. German shorthaired pointers, as their name suggests, have short fur on their face and body.
German wirehaired pointers and wirehaired pointing griffons are a bit trickier to tell apart. They both have similar colorations and wiry coats, but griffons are more rugged. Griffons have thicker coats and, instead of the mustache and beard, have longer fur all over their face. If you see a GWP that looks like he badly needs a haircut, he's most likely not a GWP at all, but a griffon.
If you bring a German wirehaired pointer into your family, get ready for a life of loyal companionship: They crave human attention and will often follow you around like a second shadow.
Just like border collies, German wirehaired pointers are extremely active and require lots of time outside. A member of the sporting group, GWPs were bred to be hunting dogs, so it's natural for them to want to run around in nature for hours at a time. If you live in the 'burbs or city and can't make it out to a nature trail regularly, take them out on long, daily walks so they can get a good workout.
Because of how smart and energetic they are, training is most effective when you give them a job to do. "I think that you can spend 5–10 minutes a couple times a day teaching your GWP something, (such as) obedience or fetch," Dixon says. No matter what command or trick you're teaching them, use positive reinforcement training with your German wirehaired pointer, as you would with any dog. They respond well to training with treats as well. And because GWPs have such a strong love for their families, all they want is to make you happy, so training is often headache-free.
Their love for their people makes German wirehaired pointers fit into most families and get along well with children. However, his playfulness might be a bit overwhelming for small children, so make sure to supervise and make sure he doesn't accidentally knock down your toddler while trying to play. Because they were bred to hunt, GWPs have high prey drives and strong instincts to chase after cats and other small pets, so keep them on a leash during walks. As with all dogs, it's important to socialize your German wirehaired pointer puppy so he learns to have good manners around new people, animals, and situations.
A German wirehaired pointer would almost always rather be outside, and his body was made for it! His distinctive wiry coat is long enough to protect them against thorny bushes and thunderstorms, and his water-repellent coat and webbed toes make him an excellent swimmer. A house with lots of outdoor access will make your GWP a happy camper.
Having a large, fenced-in yard for him to run around in is ideal, but a nearby dog park would also serve him well. He might not make a good apartment dog because of his nonstop energy, and because he gets so attached to his humans it's best not to leave him alone for too long—otherwise he might develop separation anxiety.
"The German wirehaired pointer is a great dog, but not a dog for everyone," Dixon says. "If a highly active, fun dog that loves to run and hunt sounds like something you would enjoy, [they] might be the right breed for you."
Anyone who is a self-proclaimed nature lover would be a fitting German wirehaired pointer owner, as they make the perfect companions for long hikes, daily strolls around the neighborhood, or even a camping trip with the fam. It's important to note that first-time dog owners might not be the best fit for a GWP because of how much attention this energetic personality requires.
His undercoat adapts to the season, becoming dense enough in the winter to protect against the cold and thin enough in the summer for warm weather. This makes them adaptable to almost any climate, but you should never leave a dog alone outside for long. A general rule: If you're uncomfortable in the weather, so are they.
"Ours love the winter—they roll in the snow and even the older ones play like puppies in a fresh coating," Dixon says. "During the summer months, we try to walk early before it gets hot, or we take a group of them to the pond and do water work. Swimming is a great way to exercise in the summer months and the GWP loves the water!"
Although German wirehaired pointers require a lot of attention in the outdoor play department, they're extremely low maintenance when it comes to grooming. German wirehaired pointers shed lightly year-round and only need their coat brushed or combed weekly to remove any dirt or debris that's trapped in their fur. Make sure to pay special attention to the area around their mouth, as food tends to get stuck in their whiskers. If your dog has a longer-than-average coat, you might need to strip their coat two or three times a year to remove any dead hair by the root.
You might assume that with all the time they spend outside, German wirehaired pointers would need lots of baths. But because their coat is weather-resistant, mud and dirt can be brushed right out once it dries. You'll only need to bathe them a few times a year, max—or if they get into something super stinky while out exploring.
With a breed as intelligent and independent as the German wirehaired pointer, training is most effective when they're given a job to do. "If you don't give them something to do, they will find something to do, and you won't like it!" Dixon says. "They will dig, bark, chew—and sometimes all at the same time!" Dixon says an owner should be someone who has plenty of time to invest in training. Because GWPs are huge people-pleasers, obedience training with positive reinforcement is the best way to help your puppy grow into a well-mannered dog.
The German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America suggests that during training your dog's "job" could be as simple as retrieving the newspaper or your slippers—and they love getting that much-deserved praise from their humans when they complete the job correctly. Early socialization is also essential for them to feel comfortable around people and animals outside of their family.
The German wirehaired pointer is a generally healthy breed with an average lifespan of 14–16 years. But, as with all dog breeds, they can be susceptible to certain health issues, such as hip dysplasia and eye infections. The German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America recommends that breeders evaluate a puppy's hips, elbows, heart, and eyes. Your pup should also be tested for autoimmune thyroiditis and Von Willebrand's disease, an inherited bleeding disorder that a vet can diagnose through a DNA test.
Because many of the German wirehaired pointer's potential health problems are genetic, make sure your breeder presents health clearances from both of your puppy's parents. If you adopt a German wirehaired pointer, make sure to ask the rescue organization for any available health history.
Take a guess as to where the German wirehaired pointer is from. The dogs were developed in the late 1800s, when German breeders wanted a breed that could perform many tasks on various kinds of terrains for an all-around ideal hunting dog.
In the 1920s, German wirehaired pointers were imported to North America, and it became an officially recognized breed by the American Kennel Club in 1959. Today, German wirehaired pointers remain one of the most popular dog breeds in Germany, where they're known as the Deutsch-Drahthaar.
- Even though the German wirehaired pointer and the German shorthaired pointer look quite similar, each breed was developed separately, and breeders used completely different crosses of breeds.
- Their wiry coat allows water to slick right off of it, so if your dog decides to jump in a lake or pond during a walk, they will be dry by the time you get home!
- The 1972 Disney film The Biscuit Eater features a German wirehaired pointer named Moreover, a trouble-making dog who turns into a prize-winning bird pointer.