The Breed History
In the 1800s, demand was high for all-purpose hunting dogs. In Germany, the name "retrieving pointer", or "Deutsch-Drahthaar" was applied to all such general purpose wirehaired dogs. The name translates as German (Deutsch) Wire (draht) hair (haar). From this type of wirehaired dog, four subtypes were developed around 1870. In addition to the German Wirehaired pointer, these offshoots also included Pudelpointer, Stichelhaar and Griffon. Wirehaired pointers were general purpose dogs with Poodle, Pointer, and French Wirehaired Pointing Griffon traits. The first breed standard dates to the year 1902. The first German Wirehaired Pointer dogs were exported to America in the 1920s. Initial AKC breed registration occurred in 1959. The German Shorthaired pointer is not just a short haired version of this breed; their origins differ significantly. The Wirehaired Pointer has no direct hound descendents whereas the Shorthaired Pointer does.
Breeding for Function
Bred for both water, and land work, fur and feather, flushing, retrieving and pointing, and with the wire coat, the breed was particularly selected for the ability to work in rough close brush. Endurance and agility were selected for. These dogs have also been used in Shutzhund, tracking, obedience, agility, and for skijoring.
Height at Withers: female 22-24" (56-61cm), male 24-26" (61-66 cm).
Weight: 45-70 lb (20-32 kg).
Coat: Somewhat water repellent, the coat lies flat, with wiry, straight hairs about 1.5-2" (4-5 cm) long, Well developed brows, beard and moustache help to protect the face from underbrush. The dense undercoat is shed during warmer months. Liver and white spotted is the standard color for the breed, with liver roan, ticking and roan in liver and white dogs, or solid liver being other accepted colorations. The face, (though not necessarily muzzle) and ears are liver, sometimes with a white blaze.
Longevity: 12-14 years
Points of Conformation: The German Wirehaired pointer is medium sized, with sturdy constitution, the head is moderately long, eyes are brown, oval, and medium sized. Pendulous ears are moderate in size and rounded, hanging closely alongside the head. The nose is brown, the muzzle is square and the stop moderate. The slightly arched neck is moderately long and clean, the topline gradually descends towards the rear. The thorax is deep and ribs well sprung. Abdominal tuck up is obvious. The high set tail is carried above the topline when alert. The tail if docked is shortened to about 2/5 of the native length. Limbs are straight boned and they are slightly longer than tall. Dewclaws are generally removed. Round feet have webbed toes and possess heavy nails and pads, with well knuckled up toes. The gait is smooth, and long strided.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed characteristics include: Stable temperament, active, high exercise needs, low grooming needs, aloof with strangers, intelligent. They have a moderate shedding tendency, and love to please. They may become a one-man dog and are loyal to family. Good with children if they are socialized early, and the children are calm. Will ably defend home or self if threatened. These dogs need mental stimulation or they may become destructive. Early obedience training is important. Typically they have a low tendency to dig, keep leashed unless in a fenced enclosure. This type of dog is generally considered too active for apartment life.
Normal Physiologic Variations
In a survey in Great Brittian, 47.8% of German Wirehaired pointer litters were born via ceseran section.
Hip Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing degenerative joint disease and hip arthritis. Reported 7.1x odds ratio versus other breeds. OFA reports 9.1% affected.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. OFA reports 3.0% affected.
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. Too few German Wirehaired Pointers have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency
von Willebrand's disease (vWD): Type II vWD in the German Wirehaired Pointer is a serious, sometimes fatal, autosomal recessive bleeding disorder. Cryoprecipitate is more effective, with fewer side effects, than fresh frozen plasma in controlling bleeding episodes. A genetic test is available.
Hemophilia B (Factor IX Deficiency): Mild, X-linked recessive bleeding disorder documented in this breed. A genetic test is available.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. 18.6% positive for thyroid auto-antibodies based on testing at Michigan State University. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%). One of the ten highest breeds in frequency of the disorder.
Humeral Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD): Polygenically inherited cartilage defect of the humeral head. Causes shoulder joint pain and lameness in young growing dogs. Mild cases can resolve with rest, while more severe cases require surgery. There is a 2.24:1 male to female ratio. 75% of all cases are unilateral. Reported 38.8x odds ratio versus other breeds. Reported at a frequency of 1.36% in the German Wirehaired Pointer.
Cataracts: Cataracts occur in the breed. Onset 6-18 months of age. Unknown mode of inheritance. Too few German Wirehaired Pointers have been CERF eye examined to determine an accurate frequency in the breed. CERF does not recommend breeding any German Wirehaired Pointer with a cataract.
Atrioventricular (Heart) Block: German Wirehaired Pointers are found to be at increased risk of high-grade second- or third-degree atrioventricular block versus other breeds. Treatment is with a pacemaker.
Brachygnathism, Entropion, Osteochondritis Dessicans- Shoulder, Prognathism, and Retinal Dysplasia are reported.
Isolated Case Studies
Day Blindness: A 5 month old German Wirehaired Pointer presented with day blindness (achromatopsia), consistent with cone degeneration seen in German Shorthaired Pointers.
Diffuse Bronchiolo-alveolar Carcinoma: An eight-year-old female German Wirehaired Pointer was presented with signs of respiratory distress. Radiography indicated the presence of a diffuse interstitial lung disease. A primary lung cancer with an unusually diffuse distribution of miliary/micronodular lesions was found at postmortem examination. Histological diagnosis was bronchioloalveolar carcinoma.
Tests of Genotype: Direct test for Hemophilia B is available from Cornell Animal Health Diagnostic Center (607.253.3900). Direct test for vWD is available from VetGen. Direct test for black, red/orange and brown colors, and black or brown nose is available from HealthGene and VetGen.
Tests of Phenotype: CHIC Certification: Hip and elbow radiographs, thyroid profile including autoantibodies (minimum of 2 years, then annually until 4 years), CERF eye evaluation (annually if breeding), and gene test for vWD. Optional tests include cardiac evaluation (preferably by a cardiologist), and patella evaluation. (See CHIC website; www.caninehealthinfo.org).
- Breed name synonyms: Deutscher Drahthaariger Vorstehhund, Drahthaar, German Pointer (Wirehaired).
- Registries: AKC, UKC, CKC, KCGB (Kennel Club of Great Britain), ANKC (Australian National Kennel Club), NKC (National Kennel Club).
- AKC rank (year 2008): 72 (1,213 dogs registered)
- Internet resources: German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America: http://www.gwpca.com/
Verein Deutsch-Drahthaar Group Canada: www.vdd-canada.ca
German Wirehaired Pointer Club (UK): www.gwpclub.co.uk
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