Closely related to the German Shorthair Pointer, the German Wirehaired Pointer has wiry hair and a sturdier build. His bristly coat protects him from brambles and thorny underbrush, and also resists weather and repels water—perfect for a sporting dog. The GWP was bred to be a versatile hunting dog with the qualities of a loving, devoted companion animal. He hunts and retrieves admirably and is well suited to a variety of hunting styles and terrain. This is a dog that needs a job—any job—or he will find his own. The loyal German Wirehaired Pointer loves spending as much time with his family—including children—as possible, and would be a wonderful fit for a household with an active lifestyle.
German Wirehaired Pointers are also known as Drahthaars, or go by the initials GWP.
German Wirehaired Pointers are distinguished by their wiry coats. In winter, their undercoat insulates against the cold, and then thins out in summer so they don't overheat. Their coat repels water and protects them against thick underbrush on the hunt. The coat color is a combination of liver (brown) and white, either liver and white spotted or liver roan. The head is liver, and may have a white blaze marking.
Average Height: 22-26 inches
Average Weight: 50-70 pounds
Breed Standard & History
GWPs are medium-sized dogs, agile and athletic with the endurance for long days in the field. They have strong, lean legs and their gate is smooth and swift. Their brown eyes have an alert expression and their faces are distinguished by longer hair on the muzzle that makes it look bearded.
Though called a pointer, GWPs were painstakingly developed in Germany in the 1800s as versatile hunting dogs adept at scenting, pointing, and retrieving on land or in the water. Breeds in the crossbreeding mix include the German Shorthair Pointer, Pudelpointer, Griffon, and the Polish Water Dog. The breed was officially recognized in Germany in 1870, and came to the US in 1920. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the German Wirehaired Pointer in 1959, and the dog is popular in America for his hunting prowess.
AKC Breed Category
German Wirehaired Pointers are smart, energetic, and eager-to-please dogs who need to stay busy so they don't resort to destructive behaviors when they are bored. GWPs may be aloof with strangers, but they are never surly. They are loyal and loving with their families, though they may choose a favorite person. Above all, they enjoy working side by side with their owners, whether hunting or training for dog sports.
Are German Wirehaired Pointers Good with Kids? GWPs have a lot of energy and should be supervised closely around young children so they don't knock them down accidentally. They are generally tolerant of kids in their own family, as long as they have grown up alongside them. Socializing German Wirehaired Pointers to be calm around children is important.
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are German Wirehaired Pointers Good with Other Pets? GWPs have a strong prey drive and don't cohabit peacefully with other animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, and hamsters. Socialization from an early age may help them accept cats and dogs as part of the family. The breed is known to be aggressive with strange dogs, especially of the same sex.
German Wirehaired Pointers are highly protective of themselves, their families, and their territory.
Are German Wirehaired Pointers Good Guard Dogs? GWPs make exceptional watchdogs. They are alert to any sounds and strangers approaching the house, and will bark to let their owners know if they sense a threat.
German Wirehaired Pointers are high-energy dogs who need a great deal of exercise.
- The German Wirehaired Pointer requires a lot of exercise.
- He is best for experienced dog owners with active lifestyles.
- He will develop destructive behaviors without ample opportunities to burn off energy and combat boredom.
- Housetraining the GWP may be challenging.
- He is standoffish with strangers.
- His strong prey drive makes him dangerous to small animals.
- He may be aggressive towards other dogs.
- The GWP requires extensive socialization.
German Wirehaired Pointers are prone to separation anxiety when left alone too long, so they should live indoors with you. They are boisterous and may knock things over in their exuberance, especially when they are puppies. Apartment living is difficult with a GWP, unless you can take him outside often.
The German Wirehaired Pointer's coat keeps him warm in the cold, dry in the rain, and comfortable in warm weather. He shouldn't live outside, however, because he is prone to separation anxiety. A bored GWP will go in search of adventure, and neighborhood cats can become prey if your pointer escapes the yard.
Walks are not enough exercise for a healthy German Wirehaired Pointer. This breed requires several hours of vigorous exercise every day. Ideally, this should involve a mix of activities, such as running, agility training, and field training.
The German Wirehaired Pointer is built to hunt from dawn until dusk, so the breed has the stamina for long training sessions or runs.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: German Wirehaired Pointers make excellent running partners. A healthy GWP can run for five miles or more.
- Hiking Miles: German Wirehaired Pointers will happily join you for a day-long hike. Keep your GWP leashed always, and teach him hiking manners so he doesn't chase every animal he spots.
This energetic breed requires approximately two-and-a-half to three cups of high-quality dry dog food each day given in two meals. Because activity levels can vary significantly between dogs depending on their age and health, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about the best amount of food for your GWP.
German Wirehaired Pointers are known to develop separation anxiety when they are left alone. With patient behavior training, your GWP can stay home alone for a few hours at a time, but will become bored if you leave him longer. Crate training can help minimize damage from destructive behaviors.
Health and Grooming
The distinct double coat of the German Wirehaired Pointer requires stripping twice a year. This usually involves removing dead hair with a stripping knife either at home or at the groomer's. Your GWP needs a bath only twice a year, or when he runs through or rolls in something smelly. Dirt easily brushes out of his coat. Comb his beard and mustache daily to remove food or dirt. Clean his ears with a dog-friendly cleanser once a week, and trim his toenails once a month to avoid cracking.
Common Health Issues
Though generally healthy, the German Wirehaired Pointer may be prone to some breed-specific health concerns, including:
- Canine hip and elbow dysplasia
- Gastric torsion
- Heart disease
You can minimize serious health concerns in a German Wirehaired Pointer by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
German Shorthaired Pointers are intelligent, but they are also independent-minded and may not pay attention during housetraining or basic obedience lessons. With plenty of patience and positive feedback, however, they will get there.
GSPs become better, more focused pupils when the lessons get more involved. These true athletes are excellent at agility training, dock diving, flyball, and most other dog sports.
Sporting Dog Training
German Shorthaired Pointers make excellent students for field trials, upland hunting, and waterfowl hunting.
Here are a few commonly asked questions about German Wirehaired Pointers.
No. While GWPs shed lightly, they do shed consistently year round. As a result they leave pet dander in your home, the most common cause of pet related allergies.
German Wirehaired Pointers are excellent waterfowl hunting dogs. They are versatile gundogs, however, and make adept upland hunting partners as well.
With their webbed feet and water-resistant coats, German Wirehaired pointers were made for the water. They are excellent swimmers and one of their favorite activities is jumping into the water to retrieve a hunting dog training dog toy or stick.