German Wirehaired Pointers trace their origins back to the late 1800s. They originated in Germany, where breeders wanted to develop a rugged, versatile hunting dog that would work closely with either one person or a small party of people hunting on foot in varied terrain; from the mountainous regions of the Alps, to dense forests, to more open areas with farms and small towns. The breed the Germans desired had to have a coat that would protect the dogs when working in heavy cover or in cold water yet be easy to maintain. The goal was to develop a wire-coated, medium-sized dog that could search for, locate and point upland game; work both feather and fur with equal skill; retrieve waterfowl; be a close-working, easily trained gun dog; be able to track and locate wounded game; be fearless when hunting “sharp” game such as fox; be a devoted companion and pet; and be a watch dog for its owners’ family and property. In 1959, the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club and the German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America (GWPCA) was established.
Breed Standard The AKC breed standard describes GWPs
as wellmuscled, medium-sized dogs with their most
distinguishing characteristics being their weatherresistant
coat and facial furnishings. The standard calls for males to
be 24-26 inches tall and females to be smaller, but not
under 22 inches tall. The written standard describes what
an ideal dog of the breed should look like and is the guideline
by which responsible breeders judge their dogs.
GWPs In American Today Wirehairs today have many roles. They are excellent dogs for the everyday hunter who, much like the Germans of 100+ years ago, want a dog that can literally do it all. It is not uncommon for hunter and their Wirehairs to jump-hunt ducks in the morning, hunt quail, pheasant, or chukar in the afternoon, and wait in a blind for an evening flight of geese. Wirehairs serve as companions who’d rather sleep on their owners’ feet than anywhere else. They compete successfully in conformation shows, horseback field trials, AKC hunting tests, agility, obedience, and every type of performance event you can name. It is not uncommon to find the same dog participating in several of these events concurrently! They also serve individuals and communities in the form of therapy dogs, drug detection dogs, and much more.
Temperament and Training Along with the intelligence and
will the Wirehair possesses, the breed also has the capability
to be very creative and somewhat independent. They prefer
to work for who they like and will often create their own
rules of engagement. Wirehairs generally are high energy,
high drive, though not “hyper,” breed and the need for a “job”
is a must! Even if the job description includes only retrieving
newspapers and slippers, this breed needs to be given
The breed’s high prey drive may not make it the best choice for families with cats and other small animals. Some Wirehairs raised as puppies with cats do just fine, accepting the family cat as part of the pack. Even some adults make the transition form a non-cat to a cat-owning family. But it is not a given and most breeders caution against it.
Since this can be a strongwilled and independent breed, the GWPCA supports permanent identification in case the dog becomes lost or separated form its family.
Health Concerns for the GWP Generally,
GWP’s are healthy, long-lived dogs, with
many individuals reaching 14-16 years
of age. As with any large-breed dog, hip
dysplasia may be a concern. Buyers should
verify that the breeder of their new pup
has screened for this crippling joint disease
and that the dog’s family includes animals
that are certified by OFA (the Orthopedic
Foundation for Animals) or PennHip.
Additional genetic testing which reputable
breeders conduct should include OFA
thyroid, elbow dysplasia, cardiac clearances
and Von Willebrand’s Disease. For more
information on and of these diseases,
Many GWPCA members support health research through the AKC Canine Health Foundation – a nonprofit charitable organization whose mission is to help dog’s live longer, healthier lives. For more information, visit
Learn More The GWPCA is composed of approximately 500 German Wirehaired Pointer owners. We encourage new members and try to serve the needs of our members in a wide variety of areas. Please visit to find information about joining the club, member breeders, breed rescue and much more. The GWPCA licenses local clubs in most areas of the country; publishes a regular journal, the Wire~News, for its members, donates money to health research that impacts our breed; hosts the Nationals Events each year; and handles many more tasks in support of the breed. If you live in the Southeastern US you may also consider joining the Suncoast GWP Club. This club brings together GWP owners in this area of the country.