German Wirehaired Pointers (Deutsch Drahthaar) are a breed of hunting dog developed in the late 19th /early 20th century in Germany. They are derived from a combination of Griffon, Stichelhaar, Pudelpointer, & German Shorthaired Pointer. However, they should not be thought of as a variation of the Shorthaired Pointer, since generally they are heavier in build, have different body proportions and of course they have the distinctive wirehaired jacket. In the UK it is a member of the Gundog Group and one of the HPR breeds (Hunt, Point Retrieve). The Breed has been recognised by the Kennel Club since the 1970's, although it is still a relatively uncommon breed.
GWP's are agile, intelligent and most have a strong hunting drive and a natural pointing and retrieving instinct, this combined with a desire to please makes the GWP a very talented, determined and versatile hunting dog. However, these qualities mean that they are not a breed that would suit everyone and it is important that a prospective owner should take the time to learn about the breed before they commit to giving a GWP a home. They are far more than a cute face with appealing eyebrows and beard and the cute pictures that you may see of them on social media often belie this.
Whilst they are loving, loyal and affectionate and often comical, they are a breed that requires a firm hand, lots of socialisation, plenty of exercise and structured training.
They rarely like to be left alone for any length of time and can be destructive in such circumstances.
Bruce and Meg showing how easy it is to clear the fence
In the correct environment and with the right owners GWP's can and do make loving family pets and talented working companions whether in the Field or participating in obedience, agility or flyball.
Health Issues Affecting the Breed
In the UK, we are fortunate that GWP’s do not seem prone to many health issues. Below are some of the conditions that have been known to affect the breed from time to time.
Von Willebrands Disease
Von Willebrand disease (vWD) is an inherited bleeding disorder. It affects the blood's ability to clot. If the blood doesn't clot it can result in heavy, hard-to-stop bleeding after an operation or injury. The bleeding can damage internal organs or even be life threatening.
Von Willebrand disease exists as a result of either a low level of a certain protein in the blood or because the protein doesn’t act in the way it should. This protein is called von Willebrand factor. Under normal circumstances when a blood vessel is damaged bleeding occurs at which time small blood cells called platelets assemble to plug the hole in the blood vessel and stop the bleeding. Von Willebrand factor bonds the platelets together to form a blood clot.
It has recently been announced by the Kennel Club that following communications with the relevant Breed Clubs the Kennel Club has decided to establish new DNA Testing Schemes and vWD is listed in relation to the German Wirehaired Pointer and the recognised testing lab is Laboklin. Copies of all future test certificates issued by the testing laboratories will be sent directly to the Kennel Club, where the test result will be added to the dog’s details on the registration database. This will trigger the publication of the test result in the next available Breed Records Supplement and the result will also appear on any new registration certificate issued for the dog and on the registration certificates of any future progeny of the dog.
In medical terms Canine Epilepsy is an extremely complex subject which in day-to-day reality it is a condition which causes devastation wherever it strikes. Someone experiencing this awful condition will never forget it. It can affect all dogs – purebred and crossbreeds alike, although some breeds seem more prone to it than others and it can appear in even the most careful breeding programs.
Seizures in dogs can result from numerous problems such as head injuries, tumours, toxins, reactions to vaccinations and diseases which affect the central nervous system. These types of seizure are called Symptomatic or Secondary Epilepsy. Research suggests that epilepsy can also be genetic or inherited in which case it is called Idiopathic or Primary Epilepsy. Since there is currently no DNA test available the diagnosis of Idiopathic Epilepsy is made by a process of elimination from a complete physical and neurological examination which would hopefully rule out all other contributory factors.
Unfortunately, despite numerous studies into the condition being carried out all over the world and across a wide range of breeds the mode of inheritance of canine epilepsy has still not been identified and it is currently NOT possible to DNA test a dog to ascertain whether it is a carrier or not.
As such, it is up to individual breeders to take whatever steps possible to avoid producing litters which may be affected by this condition, such as not breeding from dogs and bitches that suffer from seizures and removing from future breeding programs dogs and bitches that produce the condition. Certainly where epilepsy has been produced a repeat mating of that dam and sire should be avoided.
Craniomandibular Osteopathy in the German Wirehaired Pointer/Deutsch Drahthaar
The GWPC Health Sub Group was made aware in June 2015 that this condition had been seen in several DD’s across Germany and has since been informed of a litter in the UK in which one puppy was diagnosed as affected. It is also know that a case has been identified in the US.
Craniomandibular Osteopathy (CMO) is an inherited condition which most commonly affects West Highland White Terriers, Scottish Terriers and Cairn Terriers but has been seen in other breeds. It is a bone disease of growing dogs and affects the bones of the skull, usually affecting the mandible and/or tympanic bulla.
This condition results from an abnormal development of the hip joint which can be identified on x-ray.
The British Veterinary Association offers a scheme the purpose of which is to examine the radiographs of a dog’s hips for hip dysplasia. *All radiographs submitted to the BVA/KC Hip Dysplasia Scheme are assessed by means of scoring. The hip score is the sum of the points awarded for each of nine radiographic features of both hip joints. The lower the score the less the degree of hip dysplasia present. The minimum (best) score for each hip is zero and the maximum (worst) is 53, giving a range for the total of 0 to 106. The average score of the breed or the 'breed mean score', is calculated from all the scores recorded for a given breed and is shown alongside its range thereby giving a representation of the overall hip status of the breed.
* Taken from Hip Dysplasia in Dogs - A Guide For Dog Owners
The Breed Mean Score for GWP’s is 11 (as at 1 January 2006). A score below or around this figure is an acceptable score therefore.
However, it is important to note that genetics play only a part in the incidence of hip dysplasia and that environmental factors also contribute, such as trauma, injury, poor diet and inappropriate exercise.
Entropion is a condition in which the lower lid margins (and sometimes the upper lid also) on one or both of the eyes, roll inward resulting in the hair rubbing the surface of the eyeball. This causes squinting, reddened inflamed eye(s) and pain. Left untreated it can lead to infection and permanent damage to the cornea and in some cases ulcers and potential blindness.
It is thought that there may be an inherited trait to the condition.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
DCM is a common form of heart disease in dogs. It is the enlargement (dilation) of the heart chambers and a thinning of the heart muscle leading to a marked reduction in the ability of the heart to contract and therefore pump blood (Heart Failure). The disease is an acquired condition, that is to say the dog is not born with it, but it develops over time. Although typically physical symptoms show by middle age, it is not uncommon for cases to be diagnosed at much younger ages. The disease leads to premature death or long-term disability. Onset in middle age can be mistaken for natural ageing; however tiredness and exercise intolerance are potentially early signs of DCM. Although viral infections and immune disease can all result in DCM in humans, there is no clear evidence that this happens in dogs. There is a genetic basis to the disease proven in many large and giant breeds (e.g. Doberman, Boxer, Great Dane to name but few). In these breeds the condition is thought to be caused by a dominant gene, meaning that it is passed down one line unlike a recessive gene, which requires carriers on both sides of a mating to create affected dogs (e.g. von Willebrands Disease).
It is possible to test for this condition using the Echo-Doppler technique. Whilst the test is not definitive, it can give an early indication of abnormality, which would require a further test after 12 to 18 months to check for any further adverse changes in heart function. In most cases, you would need to be referred to a specialist veterinary cardiologist for these tests to be carried out. Several breeders have already begun this process of testing.
The following is a link to the Council Of Docked Breeds website which clearly explains the current legislation regarding the docking of working breeds including HPR’s such as the German Wirehaired Pointer - http://www.cdb.org/awa/index.htm. We fully support the docking of certain working breeds and in fact Penny helped write the letter which the German Wirehaired Pointer Club submitted to DEFRA in opposition of the then forthcoming ban.
The Breed Standard
Medium-sized hunting dog, with wire hair completely covering skin. Overall should be slightly longer in body, compared to shoulder height.
Head and Skull
Docked: Approximately two fifths of original length docked. Continuing the line of back, carried horizontally or slightly upward. Neither too thick nor too thin.
Last Updated By the Kennel Club in July 2001