GERMAN WIREHAIRED POINTER

A fun loving companion dog

The Following words can all be used when describing a German Wirehaired Pointer:

– Intelligent

– Demanding

– Strong Willed

– Devoted

– Loving

– Good with Kids

– Responsive

– Stubborn 

– Protective

– Aloof with Strangers

– Clownish

– Independent

– Determined

The German Wirehaired Pointer is a medium sized breed from the hunt, point and retrieve section of the Gundog group. As their name suggests, they are a German breed, created by hunters who wanted a versatile hunting dog capable of hunting fur and feather on land and over water, blood tracking wounded animals, working independently of its owner, killing vermin and at times feral cats.  This is their inbred genetic instincts so they will have the natural ability to hunt and kill domestic cats, rabbits and other household furry pets so a good degree of training will be required starting from the day you take your puppy home.

The GWP is a great family dog. The degree of the above traits depends a lot on the puppy’s breeding and upbringing. Firm, fair and consistency are very important in raising a Wirehair, especially when undertaking any form of training or education.  So work out the words/commands you and your family will use and make sure you all use the same command for the same reaction required.

Will A Wirehair Fit Into Your Lifestyle

The German Wirehaired Pointer is primarily a hunting dog and like most hunting dogs they enjoy a lot of exercise so you must be prepared to give the dog an active lifestyle.  However it is just as important that you give them mental stimulation rather than just lots of exercise as you will need to build up that necessary relationship with your dog at all times so they prefer to do things with you rather than go off self hunting.  

Exercise is good for the Wirehair and they need daily walks/running sessions but these ”walks” must be structured so that you are constantly building up that close relationship that this breed thrives on.  So please do not just walk for an hour with the wirehair just running around doing their own thing as this will build up their confidence to continue to do their own thing instead of working for you. Regular recalls to do a little heel work, a sit stay, a retrieve, any thing that makes them use their brain which in term will make them realise how much fun they can have by doing things with you.   Start young when they don’t have full confidence to just keep running and always treat the return to you – initially with high value treats eventually moving onto just a fuss.

A fenced yard/garden is an absolute must as they can be escape artists and can find ways out of enclosures especially if they are bored or you have the temptation of a cat next door.   Remember you can do lots of games in your own garden such as hide and seek with a toy, teach them a sit/stay out of sight which is a really good thing to have and can be safely taught in your garden.   All retrieving games and training can be done in the garden as they will not have as many distractions  

With regards to the exercising of puppies – “puppies” will have sufficient exercise in your house and garden and do not “initially” need to be taken on long walks.   It is far safer whilst your puppy is growing to drive to wherever you want them to run free and let them have free play exercise rather than walk them a great distance to that area and then expect them to play and walk back!   As an adult, a Wirehair will take as much exercise and walks as they can possibly get and as their growing has finished it will not do any long-term damage to limbs etc.

Obedience training is essential and enrolling in a local class is ideal for teaching basic manners and socialising with people and other dogs.  Better still if you can enroll into a gundog training class so you and your dog learns to work with whistle commands and instilling a reliable recall and a stop/stay.  If you intend to show your Wirehair, it still needs to be taught manners for everyday living, so obedience classes can be combined with ringcraft as different commands can be used.

Wirehairs are a very intelligent breed and are capable of being taught almost anything – good things as well as bad habits!   As they are an intelligent breed they need interaction with their family, not necessarily hours and hours of exercise, just involve them in activities to prevent them from becoming bored.   Without having something to stimulate them, they can easily become destructive and is some cases noisy in their attempt of “finding something to do”. As youngsters, Wires are fun-loving and constantly on the go, and with proper supervision (and from parents of good temperaments) can be raised with children, provided the children have also been taught how to behave around the dog. 

Wirehairs are not naturally guard dogs but are known to be protective of what is deemed to be theirs or belongs to their family.  They can be quite vocal if people come to the house or are found to be walking around and sometimes they can take a dislike to someone you may meet on a walk and instinctively puts themselves between you and that other person.   

How Much Training Will be Needed And What Kind?

Before choosing a Wirehair, it is necessary to ensure you have the time and patience to train a puppy as training them to be a happy, contented family companion begins from day one of taking your puppy home.  It is not recommended (nor will most reputable breeders let you have a puppy) if he will be left for hours alone or if you work full time away from home. The reason being is that any puppy will become bored very quickly and will find all sorts of mischief to occupy its time.  You will also find that house-training will take much longer if you are not at home and can watch for the warning signs. Having someone at home during these early weeks will also help with building up this partnership that you will need with your wirehair so they soon realise that the really good, fun times come when they are with you and not doing their own thing.   The downside of this is that as they really are very human/family oriented they don’t like being left alone so to prevent any degree of separation anxiety you have to include structure times of “home alone” so that they learn that you will be back. There are loads and loads of articles covering separation anxiety so please ask your breeder to help you prevent this becoming a problem when you take your puppy home. 

As wirehairs really enjoys human companionship a prospective owner must be prepared to devote a large amount of their time to the puppy during this growing up stage.  Hopefully your breeder will have given you some sort of plan as to what they would be doing by what age to help you keep on the right track of teaching your puppy all the skills he will need but not going to fast or slow to hinder that progress.   They are a “family dog” and thrive on being with humans – they do not make good kennel dogs even with other canine companions but at times this will be essential which is why preventing your dog from getting upset with separation anxiety will be a huge benefit to both your dog and your family.  It is also an important point for the whole family to be in agreement in owning a dog as much of the initial work of training and feeding will generally fall to the “one person” but remember to keep consistent and all use the same commands in the same tones or whistle commands  

They will mix with other dogs, large or small, and with children providing they come from basically sound temperament lines, have been reared or socialised with other dogs and you have been firm in their upbringing.  If at any time you feel that the Wirehair may be getting out of hand and getting bossy towards other dogs, then you will need to firmly remind him that you are the boss and not him! This generally happens at the time we call the “teenager” stage – when they are no longer an unsure puppy but are thinking they could quite easily elevate themselves to becoming the “Top Dog”.    Be ready for this stage and immediately regain the respect by insisting that commands are completed in a timely quick manner – any slowness where you can almost see them think “shall I do it or not” then make them do it without repeating extra commands. One command should always result in that action being done – never keep throwing commands and requests at them as that just teaches them that the first command really doesn’t count as there will be a second, third or even a fourth before any action is taken by yourself.

The main drawbacks for children, is that occasionally due to the natural Wirehair exuberance, they may accidentally knock them over.   If your child is used to dog then that normally wouldn’t matter but in the case of a child who is unsure about an 35kg dog bouncing around, wagging and laughing and not caring as to where they putting their feet etc this could quite easily make the child fearful.   So always think ahead and if your wirehair is having a mad 10 mins then just let them get on with it and move the children out of their way until the dog settles back down. The other “unpleasant” aspect of the wirehair being around children is their desire to have a drink of water and share their cold wet whiskers with anyone who cares to stand around and in the case of a child that is generally , and unfortunately most children find that once the Wirehair has had a drink of water, their cold, wet whiskers are at face level!

The Size And Coat Of The GWP

The GWP is a medium sized dog. Males should be from 24 – 26 inches at the shoulder and females are between 22 inches and 24 inches.

The coat of the GWP is a double coat – harsh and wiry on the outside and a softer, wooly undercoat. The outer coat, in an adult dog, should be approx. 1-½ inches in length.  They should also have a beard and bushy eyebrows – the length of these will very much depend on the actual quality and how closely fitting the body coat is. With those wirehairs with the correct double flat lying coat very often will get a moderate length of beard and eyebrows.  If the body coat is quite short in length and not that thick then you will probably get a goaty beard and maybe few eyebrows. Those adults with a full, overlong coat will probably have a very full and bushy beard with long flowing eyebrows.  An adult coat that is of the correct length will automatically lie close and will act as an insulator against both cold and wet weather and the shorter coat which is on the underside of the arms, thighs and tummy also helps protect the dog.

However as a puppy you will not get a full, wiry textured coat at 8 weeks as the coat keeps developing whilst the puppy is growing up.  Facial furnishings can be quite late in developing – do not expect to see all puppies with a hairy face at 8 wks but you must be able to see “some” whiskers as the start of the beard and the start of a ear fringe.   If the litter you see all have hairy faces and hairy, longer body coat then their adult coats will be heavy and what we call “an open coat” which is unlikely to be weather protective and will require stripping out at least once a year.   At the opposite end you may be looking at a puppy who looks like a GSP and on checking has a little growth of beard and ear fringe then the adult coat will take time to come through but it will definitely get thicker and more pronounced.   But be aware that the breed still produces the odd “slick” puppy which will end up with a coat akin to a GSP with no beard, eyebrows and a smooth coat. At 8 weeks this puppy will look completely like a GSP with no ear fringe, no tufts on the chin or the corner of the lips, clean edge around the feet and pasterns and no longer hairs on the chest.  So please ask the breeder for their advice on coats, look at the parents to see what their coats are like and if you really like the hairier look then please make sure you pick a hairy puppy. If you want one that is more correct with a close lying neat looking coat, but with a beard and eyebrow then you need a puppy whose coat is lying flat and has the start of a beard growing and an ear fringe.

Regular brushing of the coat will prevent a lot of shedding as they do shed a little. The basic grooming equipment contains a brush, comb and a tick remover.   The brush needs to be linked with the body coat you have got with your wirehair. If you have a heavy open coated dog then you will most likely need a either a “slicker” brush or a terrier pad.

The slicker brush has fine, V shaped, shortish metal pins which does not scratch the dogs skin when the hair is being brushed with the line of growth.  It is also the preferred tool to use on the beard especially when they have been out and may have collected some bits of twig and rubbish in their beards.   The circular terrier pad is a brush which you wear on your hand and has similar but shorter blunt metal pins but this brush is also generally used all over the dog including the beard, body and legs.

If the dogs coat is closer fitting then some people prefer to use a horse body brush which is a brush whose bristles are made out of a much softer material as with less coat on your dog the metal pins on the slicker and terrier pad can often scratch the skin on the closer coated dogs. 

It is recommended that you also have a fine close toothed comb similar to a flea comb.  This is only ever used on the body coat as it traps any dead coat, especially when the puppy coat is changing to an adult coat.  It also helps thin out the undercoat and “collects” any foreign body trapped in the undercoat such as grass seeds.

Bathing should only be done when the dog is really dirty.  If this becomes necessarily always use a dog shampoo and with a dog conditioner as this helps keep the coat in good condition.   Do not rub the coat with too much vigour but use a big towel to squeeze and pat the dog, which encourages the towel to absorb the excess water. 

During the summer months always undertake an inspection of your dog on arrival back from exercise to see if he has picked up any fleas or ticks.  Also check under the arms, inside the legs and the feet area to see if they have picked up any barbed grass seeds. If these go un-noticed, they soon start digging into the skin and could turn into an abscess.

Grooming

Grooming – If an owner is not prepared to spend at least a set period of time 2-3 times a week then the Wirehair isn’t really the breed for them!   Although they do not carry a heavy coat, it is a double coat, and as such it is quite common for grass seeds to become bedded into the undercoat. Plus that hairy beard gets into everything and then bits get stuck into the beard and forms a good old “knot” which then has to be either combed out or cut out.   Grooming starts when you take your puppy home for the first time. Even though there is only a little coat to brush it is essential that you start and make your puppy get used to being brushed. Start off by placing a towel or a car mat onto a table or the work surface and lift the puppy up off the ground and onto whatever you have chosen.   The mat or towel will help them from slipping and contain any of the hair you brush out. The puppy has to learn to stand still on there whilst you handle him all over, brush him and look in his ears, eyes and mouth. This will condition your puppy to become a well behaved dog who then accepts the grooming sessions required and if you then use a groomer to hand strip he will then be used to being put onto a table and brushed which will definitely make it easier for the groomer and more comfortable for your wirehair

Colours of the GWP

The colour for the GWP has no effect on the performance or temperament of the GWP. They are basically Liver and White, Black and White and Solid Liver.  The white part can be roaning, ticking or clear. Solid Black and tri-colour are not allowed and solid liver to black and white, or black and white to black and white are not recommended by the German breeders.

The colours of puppies, especially the “parti-colours” are not indicative of the adult colour as their coats will keep darkening upto adulthood.   Therefore the only thing a breeder can guarantee about colour is that the adult will be darker than the puppy you are collecting.

Should you decide that the Wirehair is the breed for you please remember to be firm and never let them get away with something at 8 wks old that you would not want it to do at 8 months old.   Training starts the minute you collect your puppy from it’s breeder and if you ever want any advice with regards to your Wirehair, then the breeder should be that first point of contact.

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Founder Members of the German Wirehaired Pointer Club (UK)

Kennel Club Member/Breeder of Dual Purpose GWPs

Hip Scored,Elbow Scored, DNA clear of vWD and echo-cardiogram heart tested clear/normal before breeding 

Sharon is a Championship Gundog Group, B Panel Field Trial and Working Test Judge

Sharon Pinkerton – sharon@bareve.com – 07860 292020

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