German Wirehaired Pointers

The German Wirehaired Pointer was created through judicious crossings of the Pointer, Foxhound and Standard Poodle. The result is a wire-coated dog capable of pointing and retrieving equally well on land and in water. With that coat to protect him, he sneers at rough terrain. A versatile, medium-size hunter, he’s capable of bringing home feathered and furred game. Needless to say, he’s an active, complex dog with special needs: i.e., an owner who can match his intelligence and activity level. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering bringing a GWP into your home.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

The first thing to know about the German Wirehaired Pointer is that he's, well, wired. These dogs are active, boisterous and demanding of your attention. He's a super field trial dog, with the stamina to accompany hunters on horseback for hours on end. If you're not a hunter, plan to channel his energy and brains into dog sports such as agility, flyball, rally and obedience. It's not impossible for him to participate in all of them concurrently. You're also likely to find him doing therapy dog work, search and rescue, skijoring (pulling a person on skis) or drug detection. And, of course, he's a great hiking, camping or jogging buddy.

German Wirehairs take well to training, like most sporting breeds, but they are creative and independent thinkers. If you don't stay one step ahead of them, they will put their own twist on whatever you're trying to teach. With this strong-willed breed, it's important to establish rules, be consistent and, above all, prevent the dog from getting bored. Use positive reinforcement techniques such as play, praise and food rewards.

When they're raised with children, German Wirehairs are great companions, but older dogs encountering children for the first time will need supervision during the transition. They may or may not get along with cats and other small pets. Puppies that are raised with cats often accept them as part of the family, but older GWPs who aren't familiar with them may simply view them as another type of prey. Keep them separated if you have any doubts at all.

Like most dogs, GWPs become bored when left to their own devices. They can become noisy or destructive if they don't have other dogs to keep them company and don't receive much attention from their people. But when they live with a family committed to giving them plenty of training, exercise and attention, they thrive.

The GWP's coat is easy to groom and sheds little throughout the year. It's water-repellent and dries quickly after a bath or other wetting. Avoid choosing a puppy with a long, soft, silky or woolly coat, which requires more grooming to prevent mats and tangles.

The GWP's greatest desire is to spend the day doing this with his people and then resting his head on someone's feet in the evening. He is a people-loving dog who needs to live in the house. It's an unhappy German Wirehair that is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.

Health Issues Common to German Wirehaired Pointers

All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

German Wirehaired Pointers are healthy in general, but some conditions can be a concern, especially if you aren't cautious about whom you buy from. They include hip dysplasia and eye problems such as entropion, ectropion and progressive retinal atrophy.

At a minimum ask the breeder to show evidence that both of a puppy's parents have hip and elbow scores of Excellent, Good or Fair from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or a PennHIP score that ranks in the top 25 percent of the breed, and certification from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation that the eyes are healthy.

The German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America participates in the Canine Health Information Center Program. For a GWP to achieve CHIC certification, he must have OFA or PennHIP certification for hips and elbows, an OFA thyroid test, annual eye clearances from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation, and a DNA test for von Willebrand's disease. Additional tests that are recommended but not required are OFA cardiac and patella (knee) certifications. Breeders must agree to have all test results published in the CHIC database.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Hip Dysplasia Low $1,500-$6,000
Follicular Dysplasia Medium $200-$500

6 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy German Wirehaired Pointer Puppy

Find a good breeder who will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. Start your search for a good breeder on the website of the German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America, and choose one who is committed to following the GWPCA's Code of Ethics.

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing. Look for your puppy elsewhere.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in German Wirehairs aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. In addition, GWPs can live 12 to 14 years, so an adult dog will still be a part of your family for a long time to come.

Puppy or adult, take your GWP to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for German Wirehaired Pointers

Pet insurance for German Wirehaired Pointers costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because German Wirehaired Pointers are much more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for many of the breed-specific conditions to which German Wirehaired Pointers are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your German Wirehaired Pointer is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.