The most popular hunting dog in Germany goes virtually unrecognized in North America. To some, he’s a German Shorthaired Pointer having a bad hair day. To others, he’s the most incredibly versatile dog on earth.
More interesting things about the German Wirehaired Pointer
- The German Wirehaired Pointer (GWP) may be confused with the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon or the Spinone Italiani, but the German Wirehaired Pointer is more square-proportioned, slender, and lighter boned than either.
- The German Wirehaired Pointer is the result of a purposeful breeding program to create a versatile hunting breed. Starting in the late 1800s, German breeders made crosses between Pudelpointers, German Shorthaired Pointers, Griffons, and other breeds in an effort to create a dog who could locate and point upland birds, track wounded mammals, confront tough vermin, and retrieve from land or water, with a tough, easy-to-care-for coat that could withstand brambles. Plus, it needed to be a companion and watchdog.
- The breed they created was called the Drahthaar (pronounced DROT-har, not DROTH-ar), which means “wire coat.” That is still the breed’s name in its native Germany. It was a huge success and is currently the most popular hunting breed there.
- The AKC recognized the breed as the German Wirehaired Pointer in 1959, when it became a member of the AKC Sporting group. Its official AKC name is Pointer (German Wirehaired).
- Since then, the breed has split into two main types, which some say are so different they should be considered different breeds. The AKC version, the German Wirehaired Pointer, has been bred to focus on hunting on birds and on doing a variety of “tamer” activities like conformation showing, agility, obedience, and just being a companion. The German version, the Deutsch Drahthaar (DD), has focused on hunting the great variety of game it was originally bred to hunt; they must prove themselves on rigorous hunting and tracking and conformation trials before their club allows them to be bred. Each has a different parent club in North America, with sometimes opposing ideas.
- AKC GWPs should only be white and liver. The DD can also have white and black.
- The German Wirehaired Pointer is the 69th most popular AKC breed, up from 74th five years ago.
- The GWP has competed in the Westminster dog show since 1960. One GWP has won the Sporting group there, in 2013.
- A German Wirehaired Pointer named Oakley (officially Grand Champion MT View’s Ripsnorter Silver Charm) was the top winning AKC show dog of all breeds in 2012. He won more than 100 Best in Show awards in his career.
- GWPs (including one show champion) have performed with the Ringling Bros. Circus.
- German Wirehaired Pointers starred in the Disney movies The Biscuit Eater and Bristle Face.
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About the author: Caroline Coile is the author of 34 dog books, including the top-selling Barron’s Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. She has written for various publications and is currently a columnist for AKC Family Dog. She shares her home with three naughty Salukis and one Jack Russell Terrier.