German Wirehaired Pointer
Why a German Wirehaired Pointer
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 all aspects of hunting, including tracking wounded game and be a devoted companion to its owner and property. They are not as tall as the Setterís, being approx 22-26 inches height, but they are more substantial in build. Although similar to the German Shorthaired Pointer, they are a totally separate breed with different breed features. Visually the obvious difference is their coat texture. The Wirehairís coat, should be just that "wire hair". It should feel hard and bristle to the touch, and when parted, should reveal a softer undercoat. The outer coat should be approx 2.5cm long, which, if you look at a ruler, is not as long as people imagine. If the outer coat is considerably longer than that, it will be very difficult to lie flat, and if the coat is not lying flat it will allow the wind to lift the outer coat, and a such it will not be weather resistant and allow both the wet and cold to affect the dog. A coat that is the correct length will automatically lie close and will act as an insulator against weather. The finishing touches to the Wirehairs distinctive coat, is their face furnishings. It is impossible to have a full beard (in excess of 3 inches) and bushy eyebrows (in excess of 1.5 inches) with a natural correct coat length. With a coat, of approx. 2.5 cm long, you will get a distinct beard but the eyebrows would be virtually non-existent. The normal coat type seen, in itís natural state, is slightly longer than the ideal length (unless it has been shortened by mechanical means) and as such you would get distinct beard and eyebrows.
Another breed feature, which differs from the Shorthair, is that the body length should be longer than shoulder height. Before the Kennel Club breed standards were streamlined, the standard stated that the breed should be "as long as they are high, as 10 is to 9". This statement is far easier to understand than the current, which says "slight longer compared to shoulder height". Using the "10 is to 9" statement, means that a dog measuring 24 inches at the shoulder, should be 26.6 inches long in the body.
Colour wise, the Wirehair can be various shades of liver & white, solid liver (can actually have white feet and white chest markings) or black & white. The white part can be either clear white or various depths of roaning and flecking. Solid black or tri-colour are not allowed in the breed. I have actually seen a tri-colour, a German bred bitch in Holland, and although I found her to be very attractive it is not an approved colour.
Temperaments can and still vary, with individual dogs varying from what is considered to be the norm. The breed is known for its aloofness with strangers and they are extremely devoted to their immediate family. They have tendencies to be very "one-person" dogs, but when raised in a home environment they do become devoted to the whole family although they will favour the one member of the household who spends the most enjoyable time with them such as walks and training. 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. They do not require 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 can be raised with children, provided the children have also been taught how to behave around the dog.
People should never loose sight of the fact that they are a German breed and in their home Country the breed is required to work for their existence, and when necessary follow hunting through to a conclusive end. Therefore it is essential to be firm throughout all the initial training, whether it is for working, showing, or just a pet/companion. Never ask for something to be done more than once, if the first command is not obeyed, then insist that it is. Enrolment in a basic obedience course is considered to be quite essential as they grow, quite quickly, to be a fair sized, active dog. There is nothing worse than a teenager Wirehair, averaging 60lbs, leaping around the house, because its owner thought it was funny when the puppy was only 8 weeks old and since then they havenĎt bothered to instil any manners or basic obedience.
The average Wirehair should not show any form of aggression to either people or dogs. Unfortunately there are some that do not mix with other dogs, and even worse have been seen to attempt to bite people. Therefore it is essential that you meet up with as many adult Wirehairs before you decide upon your puppy purchase. If you visit a kennel, then you should be able to see the mother, possibly the stud dog, and as many "relatives" you can see. It is unlikely you will actually see the mother with the puppies, but if you ask to see the mother in close proximity to where the puppies are being kept, you will get an idea as to her reaction when you are handling her puppies. As said previously, the breed is known for itís aloofness with strangers, but please do not be taken in by any form of warning or aggression as "just protecting her puppies". If you have any doubt about the overall temperament and suitability of the particular bitch/puppies/line, then please walk away and keep looking. I am always on the alert when dogs/bitches are shown to people, singularly and on a lead, because if you hadnít got anything to hide, then you could easily show them all running together.
Fortunately, due to its lack of popularity, the Wirehairs are not prone to a lot of health problems. Suffice to say that there have been some cases of high scores in HD, some eye problems such as entropian and epilepsy. I have also heard of isolated cases of cancer/tumours leading to early death, thyroid deficiency, OCD and vWD - but the actual incidents are quite small in number.
As a Pet/Companion
There is no reason why you cannot have a Wirehair as a pet/companion, providing you realise that they are a gundog who is quite capable of working and hunting. They do not make good kennel dogs as they enjoy being a constant companion, giving the impression of a permanent shadow. They enjoy being part of your life, albeit, walking, gardening, watching the TV.
They will mix with other dogs, large or small, providing they come from basically sound temperament lines and have been bought up with other dogs and that 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!
Likewise there are no problems with children, providing the same firm upbringing is observed and placed into practise. The main drawbacks for children, is that occasionally due to the natural Wirehair exuberance, they may accidentally knock them over, and unfortunately most children find that once the wire has had a drink of water, their cold, wet whiskers are at face level!
You may consider having a Wirehair to show, and comparing our breed to some of the other gundog breeds, the average entries at Championship shows being approx 65, our breed looks quite attractive with the chances of winning something being better. However the chances of being able to go straight out and buy a puppy to show are quite slim. There are not the number of litters born each year compared to the popular breeds, because correct homes are not always readily available. Therefore booking a show puppy in advance is almost inevitable. The simplest way is to go to a show and watch the judging and establish which individual line you prefer and make contact with that breeder. Having done that and made your provisional booking (if in fact they are planning a litter) itís a case of sitting back and waiting.
Once you get the opportunity to view the litter, the two main features to consider are the coat and body proportions (mentioned above). If you want practically a non-trim coat, you need to choose a puppy with very little coat. 8 week old puppies with the correct coat should have a few bristles around the mouth, no eyebrows, ear fringes and a wire feel to the body coat. If the puppies have full beards and eyebrows and a thick body coat, then the coat will be very profuse when adult and will require lots of hand-stripping. Obviously this would not be a problem if you required a Wirehair as a pet, but would be far from ideal if your plans are to show, followed on by breeding.
With regards to the proportions, it is essential to stand each puppy up to assess this. Look for the puppy whose proportions already relate to 10 is to 9, and discard puppies that are square in appearance as they will end up being too short in body length.
Once your puppy has reached 6 months old, he may be old enough to enter shows, but it is more likely that he will be very immature and still growing. Yet he will still need the experience and socialising that comes with shows. But try and avoid making your puppy tired and "stale", which could happen if you over show a young puppy.
Coat care for the show ring will depend on your dogís coat type. As said previously, a heavy coat will require hand-stripping to produce a neat finish. It is vitally important that electric clippers are not used to shorten the overall length of body coat. Although it has been done in the past, it is easily spotted by the experienced eye. I short, all is needed is to tidy up a Wirehair is to hand-strip the dead and long coat, leaving a natural finish.
You may want a Wirehair for rough shooting, hawking, deer stalking or competitive field work. there are more puppies bred from parents who participate in these activities that produced from show stock. These litters are usually produced during the Spring and Summer, thereby allowing the bitch to return to her duties during the following shooting season. Most people prefer to purchase puppies from established working lines. Yet the majority of responsible breeders are not allowing a definite split between working and show Wirehairs to happen. Breeders of show stock are generally aware of the breedís working capabilities and keep the working aspect well in the fore of their own line, likewise, the breeders of the working lines must also be aware that they should be breeding to a "breed standard" and that all efforts must be made to keep their lines typical of the breed. It can be done and there are numerous full Champions to prove this point.
If you have purchased a Wirehair as your first dog to work, you will find that they will not be the most straightforward of working dogs, but above all they have an abundance of intelligence and enthusiasm, You may find it difficult to find suitable training classes, as most classes are held for Spaniels or Retrievers, but there are more H.P.R. classes and trainers being established. By contacting the breeder of your Wirehair, he/she should be able to point you in the right direction.
If you have already trained a dog for work, albeit one of the more popular breeds, you should have no serious problems with the Wirehair, providing you are consistent and fair with your training.
Whatever you decide you want your Wirehair for, you will find that you have a very intelligent, strong willed dog with a slight stubborn streak, but above all a most dependable companion. They are not the easiest of dogs to own - personally I am pleased about that, because had they have been easier to live with, they would have joined the many new breeds in their population boons.
Finally please remember that the Wirehair did not choose you - you chose him. So please always do the best for him and he will always give you his best.