What are the origins of GWPs?
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:
- 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.
Are they mixed with Airdales?
No. GWP's have no Terrier ancestors, despite their appearance. GWP's trace their origins back about 120 years to Germany, where breeders wanted to develop a rugged, versatile hunting dog that would work closely with one or more hunters on foot in varied terrain. The Germans desired a dog with a coat that would protect it when working in heavy cover or cold water, yet be easy to groom.
The primary ancestor of the GWP was a breed called the Pudelpointer. The Pudelpointer, itself, was developed by crossing the German Pudel and the English Pointer.
By selectively crossing the Pudelpointer to a variety of continental hunting including the Griffon, Stichelhaar, Polish water dogs, early German Shorthairs, etc. the breed we know today as the German Wirehaired Pointer evolved.
Today, the German Wirehaired is the most popular dog in its homeland. Because of its ruggedness and unique, close-fitting, harsh, protective coat, the breed is well able to withstand hunting in cold climates, and is, therefore, also popular in the Scandanavian countries. In fact, the majority of GWP's in the US come from primarily Danish foundation stock.
Aren't they the same as German Shorthairs, only with longer hair?
No. While both breeds originated at about the same time and there has been some cross breeding between the two, each developed from distinctly different root stock. The GSP is actually a slightly older breed. It was derived in part from crossing English Foxhounds and old German hunting hounds with English and Continental pointers.
On the other hand, the GWP has no direct hound ancestors. Its ancestors include Pudels and Pudelpointers, neither of which were used in development of the German Shorthaired.
These distinctly different roots make todays GSP and GWP different not only in temperament, personality, but if you look past the coat, you can see the difference in the head and body type as well.
I've heard of a breed called Deutsch Drahthaar. Is this the same breed?
Yes. In German the word "Deutsch" translates to mean "German", the word "Draht" translates to mean "Wire" and the word "Haar" translates to mean "hair". German Wirehaired is a literal translation of Deutsch Drahthaar into English.
In Europe the Deutsch Drathaar is not considered a "pointer". Rather it is one of several breeds of Continental versatile gun dogs. This reflects the variety of tasks the GWP may be asked to perform such as blood track, retrieve out of water and hunt varmint. Other Continental Versatile Gun Dogs that are recognized by the AKC include the German Shorthaired, Brittany, Vizsla, and Weimaraner.
When the Deutsch Drahthaar was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1959, its name was changed to the English translation and the word 'pointer' was added for purposes of classification within the US Sporting Group. However, today the GWPCA continues to stress the importance of the "versatile" aspect of the breed.
Do they shed much? Are their coats easy to care for?
The GWP retains several characteristics of its Pudel ancestors: high degree of intelligence, trainability, biddability, and excellent water retrieving ability. And, delightfully, a coat that sheds only lightly year-round. GWP's do not shed drastically or "blow" their coat twice a year like many breeds. All dogs do shed, however, GWP's shed at a rate that is not normally very noticeable.
A GWP with a correct coat requires only a minimum of grooming to remain neat and presentable. A correct coat is harsh; lies flat, tight and close to the skin; and is about 1 to 2 inches long on the body. A correct coat is also water repellent, permitting the dog to dry quickly after a bath or a swim. Most conscientious breeders will not sell as 'show quality' any dog that has a long, soft, silky or wooly coat. Most such dogs go to hunting homes or pet homes. However, this type of incorrect coat requires considerably more care to keep neat.
Are their heads natural, or groomed like that?
A GWP with a correct coat has a naturally short coat on the skull. The ears and cheeks often have some whispy fringe that is typically removed for the show ring. The eyebrows, whiskers and beards are naturally longer.
So, yes, the head on a dog with a correct coat IS natural. It is not groomed like that. And a GWP that has too short a coat possessing no facial furnishings so that it resembles a GSP, is just as incorrect as one with too long a coat.
Are they good with kids? Do they make good pets?
GWPs 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.
Do they make good watchdogs?
As stated above, the typical GWP craves human companionship. The breed is also primarily a hunting dog. For these reasons, they are not recommended as candidates for formal guard dog training and work.
However, in the process of selectively breeding for the types of characteristics desired in the Drahthaar, the Germans also selected for 'sharpness'. The GWP is what is known as a 'sharp' breed. While there is no easy definition for that definition, in practice, it means a dog that is fearless when hunting quick, 'sharp' animals such as fox and weasel. GWP's were expected to locate and kill such game. In fact, until as late as the end of the 1940's, GWP's could not be bred in Germany unless they passed a 'sharpness' test.
It is important to note that "Sharpness" does not mean "vicious." An adult GWP may become aggressive toward other dogs and reserved or "aloof" with strangers, but they should not be aggressive toward people.
Perhaps the closed comparison to the GWP temperament is the typical Terrier terperament. These dogs are highly possessive. They are smart, proud, 'stand-up' dogs. If challenged by another dog, or seriously mistreated by humans, or when their home and family are in danger, a typical GWP is quite capable of fighting or biting.
What are their temperaments like?
The GWP is a complex breed. Intelligence, strong desire to please, sharpness are all qualities that make up the typical GWP. Many, GWP's have have a clown-like side to their personalities. They can be active, busy dogs that amuse themselves with various games. However, they are not 'hyper' dogs. In general, there are few more loving or interesting breeds.
It is their intelligence, however, that can become the GWP's downfall. Without interaction with their family, GWP's can become easily bored. Without mental stimulis, they can become destructive and noisy in their attempt to "find something to do." Because of their desire to please, the GWP does not require nor respond well to harsh or heavy-handed training. Most truly do not like to be 'on the outs' with their people, and can be corrected with a sharp 'NO!' A GWP that is treated harshly or roughly may completely turn off, becoming fearful, sulky and/or remote, or may become a biter.
On the other hand, when permitted to develop a close relationship with one or more people, and when trained with respect for his intelligence and desire to please the GWP is a willing and able partner who will continue to amaze you with his quickness to learn and his desire to perform.
Do they make good house dogs?
Yes. As mentioned, GWP's thrive on human companionship. However, they grow up to be large active dogs that, without manners and basic obedience, can become unwelcome in a household situation. It is important to take the time to train them properly so they can become the loving companion they want so badly to be.
The typical GWP is not destructive, even as a young puppy. But, as mentioned, they are active and easily bored. So it is not recommended that young, untrained GWP's be given the run of the house when no one but the dog is home. Use a crate!
Are they fence jumpers?
No. The typical GWP may be a fence-jumper, and do not commonly dig under fences (although a bored dog may dig holes in your yard). However, most will find and exploit holes in walls or fences, particularly if there is an offending squirrel on the other side! Once a GWP learns it can escape from its yard, it may continue to do so until all escape routes have been corrected. As with many breeds, the safest place to keep a GWP when unattended is inside the home crated or loose if trustworthy.
What are some of the things I can do with a dog like that?
First, and most important, enjoy one of the closest and most interesting relationships with a dog that you are ever likely to experience. Then ask yourself what you enjoy doing. It's pretty likely your GWP can participate.
Aside from its unique coat, one of the most distinguishing geatures of the GWP is its versatility and its adaptability. Waterfowl retriever...Pointer of upland game birds...Blood tracker of wounded deer...Hunter and Retriever of fox, hare, rabbit and similar small furred game; this breed is all of this and more.
GWP's have performed with the Ringling Bros. circus (one was a show champion), and have acted in movies. The star of Walt Disney's movies The Biscuit Eater and Bristleface were both GWP's. As with most 'stars', there were even several fellow GWP's who acted as stand-ins!
This is a breed that enjoys plenty of exercise. Even GWP owners who prefer not to participate in any particular organized dog activity find that their dog makes an excellent companion on camping and fishing trips (your dog will want to retrieve your bait and your fish!). They even make fine jogging companions