German Wirehaired Pointer

Table of Contents

german wirehaired pointer portrait
Introducing the German Wirehaired Pointer, a dog breed that's always ready to steal the show with its distinctive whiskery face and exuberant personality! These versatile, energetic pups are adored by many for their exceptional hunting skills, unwavering loyalty, and spirited nature.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The German Wirehaired Pointer is a perfect match for active individuals or families who love spending time outdoors and can provide ample exercise opportunities. With their high energy levels and strong work drive, this breed thrives in a home where they can engage in vigorous activities like hiking, running, or agility training.

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEGerman Wirehaired Pointer
OTHER NAMESGWP, Deutsch Drahthaar, Deutscher Drahthaariger, Vorstehhund, Drahthaar
ORIGINGermany
BREED GROUPSporting Group
BREED SIZELarge
HEIGHT22-26 inches
WEIGHT45-75 lbs
LIFESPAN14-16 years
LIVING SPACELarge
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERLow
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSModerate
EXERCISE NEEDSVery High
TRAINABILITYHigh
BARKING TENDENCYModerate
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELModerate
POPULARITY RANK59th
a german wirehaired pointer standing in a park
Photo: Gabi Uhrova/Getty Images

Appearance

The German Wirehaired Pointer is a medium to large-sized dog breed that boasts a sturdy and well-proportioned body. Males typically stand between 24 to 26 inches tall, while females range from 22 to 24 inches in height. Their weight varies between 45 and 75 pounds, with males being slightly heavier than their female counterparts.

The body of this breed is robust and well-muscled, with a deep chest that extends down to the level of the elbows, allowing for plenty of lung capacity. The back is straight and firm, with a slight slope towards the tail, which is set high and customarily docked to approximately two-fifths of its original length. When the dog is in motion or alert, the tail is carried horizontally or slightly elevated.

The German Wirehaired Pointer’s legs are strong and straight, with muscular thighs and well-arched feet, allowing for agility and endurance in the field. Their movement is smooth and efficient, covering ground effortlessly with a graceful gait.

The head, which is characterized by a moderately long and broad skull, gives them an intelligent and noble expression. Their eyes are medium-sized, oval-shaped, and dark brown, exuding an alert and lively demeanor. The ears are set high on the head, hanging close to the cheeks, and are broad, rounded at the tips, and slightly longer than medium length.

The muzzle of the German Wirehaired Pointer is strong, with a straight nasal bone and a distinct whiskery appearance due to their unique facial furnishings. These whiskers, along with the bushy eyebrows, give the breed its distinctive look and serve as protection in the field against harsh elements and rough cover while hunting.

One of the most defining characteristics of this breed is its coat, which is weather-resistant and water-repellent, providing excellent protection in various conditions. The coat consists of a dense, wiry outer layer and a soft, insulating undercoat. The hair is about 1 to 2 inches long, with the facial furnishings and legs having slightly longer hair.

Typical coat colors include liver and white, solid liver, or liver roan, with or without patches or ticking.

Overall, the German Wirehaired Pointer is a well-built and athletic breed, boasting a unique and eye-catching appearance. Their distinctive whiskers, weather-resistant coat, and strong physique make them not only visually appealing but also highly functional and adaptable to diverse environments and activities.

german wirehaired pointer's face close up
Photo: PavelRodimov/Getty Images

Temperament

The German Wirehaired Pointer is a spirited and versatile breed, known for its friendly, intelligent, and energetic personality. Their temperament is often described as affectionate and loyal, making them wonderful companions for individuals and families alike.

With people, these dogs are typically outgoing and sociable, forming strong bonds with their human family members. They crave attention and enjoy being involved in daily activities, whether it’s lounging on the couch or accompanying you on errands. Their devotion to their family makes them excellent watchdogs, as they are naturally protective and will alert you to any perceived threats.

When it comes to children, the German Wirehaired Pointer is usually a fantastic playmate and gentle companion. Their playful nature and high energy levels make them well-suited for families with active kids who can engage in outdoor games and activities.

However, as with any dog breed, supervision is essential when interacting with young children to ensure both the child and the dog are safe and comfortable. Teaching children how to approach and interact with dogs properly is crucial for building a positive relationship between them.

In general, the German Wirehaired Pointer tends to be cautious around strangers. While they are not overly aggressive, their natural wariness means that they may take some time to warm up to new people.

Proper socialization from an early age is essential to help them become more comfortable and confident around unfamiliar faces. Introducing your dog to different people, environments, and situations can contribute to a well-rounded and adaptable temperament.

When it comes to other pets, the German Wirehaired Pointer’s strong prey drive can sometimes pose challenges, particularly with smaller animals like cats or rodents. However, if they are raised together and properly socialized, these dogs can coexist peacefully with other household pets.

It’s important to keep in mind that each dog is an individual, and their ability to get along with other animals may vary. Supervision and gradual introductions are key to successful integration with other pets.

Some unique personality perks of the German Wirehaired Pointer include their clownish antics and eagerness to please. They are known for being goofy and entertaining, often keeping their owners amused with their playful behavior. Their desire to please makes them highly trainable, as they thrive on positive reinforcement and enjoy learning new tricks or tasks.

Despite their many wonderful qualities, the German Wirehaired Pointer can be strong-willed and independent, which may present challenges for inexperienced dog owners. Consistent, patient, and positive training methods are essential to ensure a well-behaved and obedient companion. It’s crucial to establish yourself as a confident and fair leader to guide your dog and foster a harmonious relationship.

german wirehaired pointer sitting near a lake
Photo: JTeivans/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

The ideal environment for the German Wirehaired Pointer is one that caters to their energetic and adventurous nature. These dogs thrive in homes where they have plenty of space to run, play, and explore.

Physical Environment

A house with a large, securely fenced yard is highly desirable, as it provides ample room for them to expend their energy and indulge in their natural instincts. However, they can also adapt to living in an apartment or smaller home, provided that they receive sufficient daily exercise and mental stimulation.

Ideal Owner

In terms of pet parents, the German Wirehaired Pointer is best suited for those who lead an active lifestyle and enjoy engaging in outdoor activities.

This breed is an excellent choice for individuals or families who love hiking, jogging, or participating in canine sports such as agility, obedience, or field trials. Prospective owners should be prepared to dedicate time and effort towards regular exercise, training, and socialization to ensure a happy, well-rounded dog.

Other Pets

Regarding other pets, the German Wirehaired Pointer can coexist peacefully with fellow canines, especially if they are raised together and properly socialized. However, due to their strong prey drive, caution should be exercised when introducing them to smaller animals, such as cats or rodents.

In some cases, they may be able to live harmoniously with these pets, but supervision and gradual introductions are essential to manage potential issues.

Climate Adaptability

The German Wirehaired Pointer is a highly adaptable breed that can handle a variety of climates. Their dense, wiry coat offers protection from both cold and wet conditions, allowing them to comfortably participate in outdoor activities even in harsher weather. That said, it’s important to provide them with proper shelter and avoid exposing them to extreme temperatures for extended periods.

In hot climates, special precautions should be taken to ensure the well-being of your German Wirehaired Pointer. Provide access to shade, fresh water, and limit exercise during the hottest parts of the day to prevent overheating. Consider investing in a cooling mat or vest to help your dog stay comfortable during extreme heat.

german wirehaired pointer's face
Photo: JTeivans/Getty Images

Grooming

The German Wirehaired Pointer’s unique coat requires specific grooming techniques to keep it healthy and functional. While their grooming needs are moderate compared to some high-maintenance breeds, regular care is necessary to maintain their distinctive appearance and ensure their comfort.

Coat Care

One of the primary grooming tasks for this breed is brushing their wiry coat. A thorough brushing once or twice a week using a slicker brush and a metal comb is usually sufficient to remove loose hair and prevent matting.

Start by using the slicker brush to remove any tangles and dead hair, followed by a metal comb to ensure that the undercoat is well-groomed. Pay special attention to areas prone to matting, such as behind the ears, the armpits, and the groin.

German Wirehaired Pointers don’t require frequent baths, as their weather-resistant coat naturally repels dirt and debris. Bathing them too often can strip the natural oils from their coat, resulting in dry skin and a less effective protective barrier.

As a general rule, bathe your dog every two to three months or when they become particularly dirty or smelly. Use a gentle dog shampoo specifically designed for wirehaired breeds to maintain the integrity of their coat.

Hand-stripping is another essential grooming technique for the German Wirehaired Pointer. This process involves removing dead hair from the outer coat by hand or with a stripping tool, promoting new hair growth and maintaining the coat’s texture and color.

It is recommended to hand-strip your dog’s coat every four to six months, depending on the individual dog and the condition of their coat. If you’re unfamiliar with hand-stripping, seek guidance from a professional groomer or experienced breeder to learn the proper technique.

Dental Care

Dental care is a crucial aspect of your German Wirehaired Pointer’s overall grooming routine. Regular teeth brushing helps prevent plaque and tartar buildup, which can lead to gum disease and other health problems. Ideally, you should brush your dog’s teeth daily using a soft-bristled toothbrush and canine toothpaste. Alternatively, dental chews and toys can help supplement their dental hygiene routine.

Nail Trimming

Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed is essential for their comfort and mobility. Overgrown nails can cause pain and difficulty walking, and may even lead to joint issues over time.

As a rule of thumb, trim your German Wirehaired Pointer’s nails every three to four weeks using a guillotine-style or scissor-style nail clipper designed for dogs. If you’re unsure about trimming your dog’s nails, consult a professional groomer or veterinarian for guidance.

Ear Care

Additionally, check and clean your dog’s ears regularly to prevent infections and wax buildup. Use a gentle dog ear cleaner and cotton balls or pads to wipe the outer ear canal, taking care not to insert anything into the ear canal itself. Monitor for signs of irritation or infection, such as redness, swelling, or foul odor, and consult your veterinarian if any concerns arise.

german wirehaired pointer outdoors in nature
Photo: Photographer and Illustrator/Getty Images

Exercise

The German Wirehaired Pointer is an energetic and athletic breed that requires a significant amount of exercise to stay physically and mentally fit. As a working dog bred for hunting and tracking, this breed thrives on engaging in various forms of physical activity and mental stimulation.

Exercise Amount & Types

A daily exercise routine of at least one to two hours is essential to keep your German Wirehaired Pointer happy and healthy. Activities such as brisk walks, jogging, hiking, and swimming are excellent options for providing the necessary physical outlet for their energy. Combining different forms of exercise can help keep your dog engaged and prevent boredom.

In addition to regular walks or runs, incorporating off-leash play in a securely fenced area is highly beneficial for the German Wirehaired Pointer. This allows them to explore, sniff, and indulge in their natural instincts while enjoying the freedom to roam and expend energy. Playing fetch or frisbee is a great way to combine off-leash play with structured exercise.

Mental stimulation is equally important for this intelligent breed. Puzzle toys, scent work, or obedience training can provide the necessary mental challenges to keep their minds sharp and satisfied. Training sessions should be fun, positive, and engaging to maintain their interest and enthusiasm.

Dog Sports

German Wirehaired Pointers excel in dog sports such as agility, field trials, and tracking events. These activities not only provide an excellent source of physical exercise but also offer valuable mental stimulation and an opportunity to strengthen the bond between you and your dog.

Participating in such events can be a rewarding experience for both you and your canine companion, showcasing their natural abilities and competitive spirit.

Exercise Precautions

It is essential to remember that young German Wirehaired Pointers should not engage in high-impact or strenuous exercise until they have fully developed, typically around 18 months old. Overexercising during this growth period can lead to joint and bone issues later in life. Consult your veterinarian for guidance on appropriate exercise levels for your dog’s age and development.

german wirehaired pointer standing in a river
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Training

The German Wirehaired Pointer is an intelligent and eager-to-please breed, which makes them highly trainable. However, their strong-willed and independent nature can sometimes pose challenges during training sessions. With patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, you can achieve successful training outcomes with your German Wirehaired Pointer.

Begin training your German Wirehaired Pointer as early as possible, ideally during their puppy stage. Early socialization and exposure to various people, animals, environments, and situations will help shape a well-rounded and confident adult dog. Puppy obedience classes can be a valuable resource for both socialization and basic training.

Since this breed is highly intelligent, they may become bored with repetitive tasks or exercises. To maintain their interest and enthusiasm, incorporate variety into your training sessions by introducing new commands, tricks, or activities regularly. Keep training sessions short and engaging, as this will help ensure that your dog remains focused and motivated.

Positive reinforcement is the most effective method for training German Wirehaired Pointers. Rewarding good behavior with praise, treats, or play will encourage your dog to repeat the desired action. Avoid harsh or punitive techniques, as these may lead to fear or aggression and damage the bond between you and your dog.

Consistency is key when training this breed. Establish clear rules and boundaries, and ensure that all family members are on the same page regarding training methods and expectations. Inconsistency can lead to confusion and undermine your dog’s progress.

Patience and persistence are essential when training a German Wirehaired Pointer. They may be stubborn or independent at times, but with a consistent and positive approach, you can cultivate a strong, trusting relationship with your dog. Remember to always end training sessions on a positive note and celebrate your dog’s successes.

german wirehaired pointer sitting on green grass
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Diet & Nutrition 

A well-balanced diet is essential for maintaining the overall health and well-being of your German Wirehaired Pointer. When selecting the appropriate food for your dog, it’s important to consider factors such as their age, weight, activity level, and any specific dietary requirements they may have.

What to Feed & How Much

High-quality commercial dog foods that adhere to the guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) are recommended for the German Wirehaired Pointer. These foods contain the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to support your dog’s overall health.

You can choose from dry kibble, wet food, or a raw diet, depending on your dog’s preferences and your veterinarian’s recommendations.

The amount of food you feed your German Wirehaired Pointer will depend on their individual needs, which may vary based on their age, size, and activity level. As a general guideline, adult German Wirehaired Pointers typically require 2.5 to 3 cups of high-quality dry food per day, divided into two meals. Puppies will need smaller, more frequent meals to support their growth and development, while senior dogs may require adjustments to their diet to accommodate changes in metabolism and activity levels.

It’s essential to monitor your dog’s weight and adjust their food intake accordingly to prevent obesity, which can lead to various health issues. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian will help ensure that your dog maintains a healthy weight and receives the appropriate nutrition for their unique needs.

Treats

Treats can be a valuable tool for training and rewarding your German Wirehaired Pointer but should be given in moderation to avoid overfeeding. Opt for healthy, low-calorie treats, and be mindful not to exceed 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake with treats.

Water

Fresh water should always be readily available for your German Wirehaired Pointer. Ensure that they have access to clean water at all times, especially during periods of hot weather or after exercise, to prevent dehydration.

german wirehaired pointer running in the snow
Photo: Jari Hindstrom

Health

The German Wirehaired Pointer is a generally healthy and robust breed, with a life expectancy of 14 to 16 years. However, like all breeds, they can be predisposed to certain health issues.

Some common health issues associated with the German Wirehaired Pointer include:

Hip Dysplasia: This genetic condition occurs when the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to arthritis and pain. Regular check-ups and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage this condition.

Ear Infections: Due to their floppy ears, German Wirehaired Pointers are prone to ear infections. Regular ear cleaning and monitoring for signs of infection can help prevent complications.

Entropion: This is a genetic condition where the eyelid rolls inward, causing irritation and damage to the cornea. Surgical correction may be necessary in severe cases.

Von Willebrand Disease: This inherited blood clotting disorder can result in excessive bleeding during injuries or surgeries. Regular veterinary check-ups and blood tests can help monitor and manage this condition.

Bloat (Gastric Torsion): This life-threatening condition occurs when the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself. Feeding smaller, more frequent meals and avoiding strenuous exercise immediately after eating can help reduce the risk of bloat.

To keep your German Wirehaired Pointer healthy, it’s crucial to provide them with a balanced diet that meets their specific nutritional needs. High-quality dog food that adheres to the guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is recommended to ensure they receive the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for monitoring your dog’s overall health and addressing any potential concerns. Keep up-to-date with your dog’s vaccinations and parasite control to protect them from preventable diseases and infections.

Additionally, maintaining a consistent grooming routine, including dental care, nail trimming, and ear cleaning, can contribute to your dog’s well-being and prevent health issues related to poor hygiene.

german wirehaired pointer sitting in a park
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History

The German Wirehaired Pointer is a versatile hunting dog breed that originated in Germany during the late 19th century. The breed was developed to meet the demand for a sturdy, all-purpose hunting dog that could efficiently perform tasks such as pointing, retrieving, and tracking game on both land and water.

To create the German Wirehaired Pointer, breeders crossed several existing breeds with the goal of combining their best attributes. The Pudelpointer, a breed created by crossing the Poodle and the English Pointer, is considered one of the primary foundation breeds. The Pudelpointer contributed intelligence, trainability, and a waterproof coat to the German Wirehaired Pointer.

Other breeds believed to have been involved in the development of the German Wirehaired Pointer include the Griffon, Stichelhaar, and the German Shorthaired Pointer.

The breed’s distinctive wiry coat provides protection from harsh weather conditions, thorny bushes, and other obstacles encountered during hunting expeditions. This hardy, weather-resistant coat allowed the German Wirehaired Pointer to excel in various hunting environments and climates, making them highly sought after by hunters across Germany and Europe.

The first breed standard for the German Wirehaired Pointer was established in 1870, and the breed gained official recognition in Germany in 1879. By the early 20th century, the German Wirehaired Pointer had gained popularity throughout Europe and was introduced to North America by returning servicemen after World War I and World War II.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) first recognized the German Wirehaired Pointer in 1959, and the breed has since become a popular choice for hunters, sportsmen, and families alike in the United States.

In popular culture, the German Wirehaired Pointer has been featured in various forms of media, including books, movies, and television shows. The breed’s unique appearance, intelligence, and versatility make them a memorable and engaging subject in stories centered around hunting, adventure, or the bond between humans and their canine companions.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the German Wirehaired Pointer in the United States is the German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America (GWPCA). Founded in 1959, the club is dedicated to promoting and preserving the breed through education, responsible breeding, and involvement in various dog sports and activities.

The GWPCA website provides valuable resources and information for German Wirehaired Pointer enthusiasts, breeders, and owners. You can visit their webpage here.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed.

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

You can check the German Wirehaired Pointer’s breed standard set by the American Kennel Club (AKC) here.

german wirehaired pointer walking in the nature during sunset
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Acquiring

When considering acquiring a German Wirehaired Pointer, it’s essential to prepare for their exercise, training, and grooming needs. Research the breed thoroughly to ensure they are a good fit for your lifestyle.

Instead of purchasing a puppy, consider rescuing an adult dog that may be in need of a loving home. Rescuing a dog can be a rewarding experience, offering a second chance to a deserving canine companion.

Both the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America (GWPCA) can help you find reputable rescue organizations dedicated to finding homes for German Wirehaired Pointers.

These organizations often have dogs of various ages and backgrounds, ensuring you can find the perfect match for your family. By opting for rescue, you not only save a life but also support efforts to promote responsible pet ownership and breed preservation.

FAQs

What are the cons of owning a German Wirehaired Pointer?

Some potential challenges of owning a German Wirehaired Pointer include their high energy levels, need for regular exercise, and a strong prey drive. They may not be suitable for households with small pets or for those who cannot provide ample physical and mental stimulation.

Do German Wirehaired Pointers shed?

Yes, German Wirehaired Pointers do shed, although their shedding is typically less than that of many other breeds. Regular brushing can help minimize shedding and keep their wiry coat in good condition.

Do German Wirehaired Pointers bark a lot?

German Wirehaired Pointers may bark to alert their owners of potential threats or when they are bored and seeking attention. Providing adequate exercise, mental stimulation, and consistent training can help manage excessive barking.

Are German Wirehaired Pointers good with children?

Generally, German Wirehaired Pointers are good with children, especially when properly socialized from a young age. However, due to their size and energy, supervision is recommended during interactions with young children to prevent accidental injuries.

How much exercise does a German Wirehaired Pointer need?

German Wirehaired Pointers require at least an hour of vigorous exercise daily, such as running, hiking, or engaging in dog sports like agility or field trials. This breed thrives when given ample opportunities for physical activity and mental stimulation.

Are German Wirehaired Pointers hypoallergenic?

No, German Wirehaired Pointers are not considered hypoallergenic. Although they shed less than many other breeds, they still produce dander and allergens that can trigger allergies in sensitive individuals.

Can German Wirehaired Pointers live in apartments?

While it’s possible for a German Wirehaired Pointer to adapt to apartment living, they are better suited for homes with a securely fenced yard where they can safely run and play. Their high energy levels and exercise needs make them more challenging to accommodate in smaller living spaces.

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