German Wirehaired Pointers (Deutsch Drahthaar) are a breed of hunting dog developed in the late 19th /early 20th century in Germany. They are derived from a combination of Griffon, Stichelhaar, Pudelpointer, & German Shorthaired Pointer. However, they should not be thought of as a variation of the Shorthaired Pointer, since generally they are heavier in build, have different body proportions and of course they have the distinctive wirehaired jacket. In the UK it is a member of the Gundog Group and one of the HPR breeds (Hunt, Point Retrieve). The Breed has been recognised by the Kennel Club since the 1970's, although it is still a relatively uncommon breed.
GWP's are agile, intelligent and most have a strong hunting drive, a natural pointing and retrieving instinct and this combined with a desire to please makes the GWP a very talented, determined and versatile hunting dog. However, these qualities mean that they are not a breed that would suit everyone and it is important that a prospective owner should take the time to learn about the breed before they commit to giving a GWP a home. Whilst they are loving, loyal and affectionate, they are a breed that requires a firm hand and they benefit from being mentally challenged and given plenty of free running exercise. In our opinion training is essential, whether this is in the form of basic obedience training or formal gundog training.
Bruce and Meg showing how easy it is to clear the fence
In the correct environment and with the right owners GWP's can and do make loving family pets and talented working companions whether in the Field or participating in obedience, agility or flyball.
Bruce dressed for cani-cross
Meg training Chunky Monkey
Health Issues Affecting the Breed
In the UK, we are fortunate that GWP’s do not seem prone to many health issues. Below are some of the conditions that have been known to affect the breed from time to time.
Von Willebrands Disease
Von Willebrand disease (vWD) is an inherited bleeding disorder. It affects the blood's ability to clot. If the blood doesn't clot it can result in heavy, hard-to-stop bleeding after an operation or injury. The bleeding can damage internal organs or even be life threatening.
Von Willebrand disease exists as a result of either a low level of a certain protein in the blood or because the protein doesn’t act in the way it should. This protein is called von Willebrand factor. Under normal circumstances when a blood vessel is damaged bleeding occurs at which time small blood cells called platelets assemble to plug the hole in the blood vessel and stop the bleeding. Von Willebrand factor bonds the platelets together to form a blood clot.
There are three major types of vWD. Generally GWP's are considered to suffer from type II vWD. It is possible to DNA test for this condition by means of a simple cheek swab (called a Buccal Swab) and therefore avoid producing affected puppies. Further details of this DNA test are available from Laboklin UK - see the link below:
It has recently been announced by the Kennel Club that following communications with the relevant Breed Clubs the Kennel Club has decided to establish new DNA Testing Schemes and vWD is listed in relation to the German Wirehaired Pointer and the recognised testing lab is Laboklin. Copies of all future test certificates issued by the testing laboratories will be sent directly to the Kennel Club, where the test result will be added to the dog’s details on the registration database. This will trigger the publication of the test result in the next available Breed Records Supplement and the result will also appear on any new registration certificate issued for the dog and on the registration certificates of any future progeny of the dog.
As from 1st January 2015 breeders are required to undertake the following protocols:
- All German Wirehaired Pointers used for breeding should be either proven hereditarily clear of vWD or have a vWD DNA test before they are used for breeding.
- Identified carriers may be used for breeding providing that they are only mated to a German Wirehaired Pointer that is either hereditarily clear or DNA tested clear of vWD. Carriers should not be mated to carriers and the Kennel Club will refuse to register any progeny resulting from such a mating.
- All of the offspring of a carrier mated to a clear must be clearly identified, DNA tested and registered as either tested clear or a carrier.
In medical terms Canine Epilepsy is an extremely complex subject which in day-to-day reality it is a condition which causes devastation wherever it strikes. Someone experiencing this awful condition will never forget it. It can affect all dogs – purebred and crossbreeds alike, although some breeds seem more prone to it than others and it can appear in even the most careful breeding programs.
Seizures in dogs can result from numerous problems such as head injuries, tumours, toxins, reactions to vaccinations and diseases which affect the central nervous system. These types of seizure are called Symptomatic or Secondary Epilepsy. Research suggests that epilepsy can also be genetic or inherited in which case it is called Idiopathic or Primary Epilepsy. Since there is currently no DNA test available the diagnosis of Idiopathic Epilepsy is made by a process of elimination from a complete physical and neurological examination which would hopefully rule out all other contributory factors.
Unfortunately, despite numerous studies into the condition being carried out all over the world and across a wide range of breeds the mode of inheritance of canine epilepsy has still not been identified and it is currently NOT possible to DNA test a dog to ascertain whether it is a carrier or not.
As such, it is up to individual breeders to take whatever steps possible to avoid producing litters which may be affected by this condition, such as not breeding from dogs and bitches that suffer from seizures and removing from future breeding programs dogs and bitches that produce the condition. Certainly where epilepsy has been produced a repeat mating of that dam and sire should be avoided.
Craniomandibular Osteopathy in the German Wirehaired Pointer/Deutsch Drahthaar
The GWPC Health Sub Group was made aware in June 2015 that this condition has been seen recently in DD’s across Germany and has since been informed of a litter in the UK in which one puppy has been diagnosed as affected. It is also know that a case has been recently identified in the US.
What is Craniomandibular Osteopathy (CMO)
Craniomandibular Osteopathy (CMO) is an inherited condition which most commonly affects West Highland White Terriers, Scottish Terriers and Cairn Terriers but has been seen in other breeds. It is a bone disease of growing dogs and affects the bones of the skull, usually affecting the mandible and/or tympanic bulla.
Age of onset and symptoms
It is most often seen between the ages of 4-7 months and may appear as a swelling of the jaws, with signs of discomfort whilst chewing. The jaw is bilaterally thickened and bones may become so large and tender that the mouth cannot be fully opened and this tenderness may be associated with intermittent fever. The tenderness and fever may recur every 2 to 4 weeks during the bony proliferation phase.
Diagnosis and treatment
Diagnosis is made by X ray and treatment is symptomatic and may involve the use of corticosteroids.
The good news is that the abnormal bone growth slows as the dog ages and usually stops by one year of age. At that point it often regresses. Unfortunately, although the condition itself does not appear to cause death, in some cases euthanasia has resulted due to severe swelling and pain making it impossible for the dog to eat.
The mode of inheritance of this condition in GWPs/DDs is currently not known. A DNA test is available for terriers but this test is not suitable for our breed. Research is taking place in Germany into CMO in GWPs/DDs in the hope that a DNA test might be developed. The research in Germany is being done by Professor Ottmar Distl of the Hannover Institute of Animal Breeding and Genetics. His email address is Ottmar.Distl@tiho-hannover.de
Research is also being done in Switzerland by Cord Droegemueller of the University of Bern and his email address is email@example.com
If you believe that a puppy you own or a litter you have bred may be affected by this condition the GWPC Health Sub Group would like to know. Any information you give will be treated in the STRICTEST CONFIDENCE. The GWPC Health Sub Group would also ask you to consider contacting the two Institutes and supplying them with an EDTA blood sample and full pedigree so that as a breed we may push for a DNA test to be developed.
CMO Deutsch Drahthaar Awareness and Info Facebook Group
Since the German Wirehaired Pointer Club were made aware of this condition in the UK and published information on the Club facebook health page (GWP Club UK Health Information Exchange) a new independent fb page has been created called CMO Deutsch Drahthaar Awareness and Info, for breeders and people with an interest in the condition within our breed to share information.
This condition results from an abnormal development of the hip joint which can be identified on x-ray.
The British Veterinary Association offers a scheme the purpose of which is to examine the radiographs of a dog’s hips for hip dysplasia. *All radiographs submitted to the BVA/KC Hip Dysplasia Scheme are assessed by means of scoring. The hip score is the sum of the points awarded for each of nine radiographic features of both hip joints. The lower the score the less the degree of hip dysplasia present. The minimum (best) score for each hip is zero and the maximum (worst) is 53, giving a range for the total of 0 to 106. The average score of the breed or the 'breed mean score', is calculated from all the scores recorded for a given breed and is shown alongside its range thereby giving a representation of the overall hip status of the breed.
* Taken from Hip Dysplasia in Dogs - A Guide For Dog Owners
The Breed Mean Score for GWP’s is 11 (as at 1 January 2006). A score below or around this figure is an acceptable score therefore.
However, it is important to note that genetics play only a part in the incidence of hip dysplasia and that environmental factors also contribute, such as trauma, injury, poor diet and inappropriate exercise.
Entropion is a condition in which the lower lid margins (and sometimes the upper lid also) on one or both of the eyes, roll inward resulting in the hair rubbing the surface of the eyeball. This causes squinting, reddened inflamed eye(s) and pain. Left untreated it can lead to infection and permanent damage to the cornea and in some cases ulcers and potential blindness.
It is thought that there may be an inherited trait to the condition.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
The following is copied from the German Wireahired Pointer Club website:
"GWPC Committee Health Statement
There has been much discussion on the subject of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) and the GWP on various web forums and social networking sites. This statement gives information on the current position of the GWP Club in relation to this issue.
What is DCM?
DCM is a common form of heart disease in dogs. It is the enlargement (dilation) of the heart chambers and a thinning of the heart muscle leading to a marked reduction in the ability of the heart to contract and therefore pump blood (Heart Failure). The disease is an acquired condition, that is to say the dog is not born with it, but it develops over time. Although typically physical symptoms show by middle age, it is not uncommon for cases to be diagnosed at much younger ages. The disease leads to premature death or long-term disability. Onset in middle age can be mistaken for natural ageing; however tiredness and exercise intolerance are potentially early signs of DCM. Although viral infections, immune disease and excessive alcohol consumption can all result in DCM in humans, there is no clear evidence that this happens in dogs. There is a genetic basis to the disease proven in many large and giant breeds (e.g. Doberman, Boxer, Great Dane to name but few). In these breeds the condition is thought to be caused by a dominant gene, meaning that it is passed down one line unlike a recessive gene, which requires carriers on both sides of a mating to create affected dogs (e.g. von Willebrands Disease).
What is the GWP Club Response?
In March 2011, it was brought to the attention of the GWP Committee that there have been cases of confirmed and suspected DCM involving a small number of GWPs, including younger dogs. The committee immediately requested that the GWPC Health Sub-Committee investigate this matter. This investigation is ongoing and it is likely that there will be firm guidance on the subject in the near future. There is no evidence as yet of this being a widespread condition in the GWP. The GWP Health Sub-Committee will advise in due course on what, if any, action should be taken by the Club and its members.
What does the GWP Club Committee Recommend?
Whilst the GWP Club Health Sub-Committee continue with gathering evidence and professional advice, the club recommends that anyone concerned about this condition should consult their veterinary surgeon, especially if they are planning a litter or to use their dog at stud. It is possible to test for this condition using the Echo-Doppler technique. Whilst the test is not definitive, it can give an early indication of abnormality, which would require a further test after 12 to 18 months to check for any further adverse changes in heart function. In most cases, you would need to be referred to a specialist veterinary cardiologist for these tests to be carried out. Several breeders have already begun this process of testing.
It would also be helpful for any GWP Owner having had experience of heart problems in their own dogs to share that information on a confidential basis with the GWP Health Sub-Committee, and with other breeders/stud dog owners who may plan to breed from the progeny of such dogs.
The key message from the GWP Committee at this time is for owners and breeders not to panic, nor to be complacent. Whilst there have been few confirmed cases, there have been enough in a breed of this size to prompt concern. We do encourage testing for two reasons. Firstly, the more test results that are known, the more we can assess the extent of the problem in the GWP and secondly, if detected in younger dogs, early treatment has been shown in other breeds to slow the progression into heart failure and symptomatic DCM. By taking positive action now, and working with health conscious and responsible breeders, we aim to eliminate any possibility of this condition becoming a significant problem in the future."
As responsible breeders that are passionate about our breed, we embrace any tests which are available for conditions which affect the GWP. As such, we will be testing any dogs or bitches that we own and intend to breed from for signs of this condition.
The following is a link to the Council Of Docked Breeds website which clearly explains the current legislation regarding the docking of working breeds including HPR’s such as the German Wirehaired Pointer - http://www.cdb.org/awa/index.htm. We fully support the docking of certain working breeds and in fact Penny helped write the letter which the German Wirehaired Pointer Club submitted to DEFRA in opposition of the then forthcoming ban.
The Breed Standard
Medium-sized hunting dog, with wire hair completely covering skin. Overall should be slightly longer in body, compared to shoulder height.
Powerful, strong, versatile hunting dog, excels in both field and water. Loyal, intelligent, sound temperament and alert.
Gentle, affectionate and even tempered. Alert, biddable and very loyal.
Head and Skull
Balanced in proportion to body. Skull sufficiently broad and slightly rounded. Moderate stop, skull and muzzle of equal length with no overhanging lips. Nose liver or black.
Medium-sized oval, hazel or darker, with eyelids closing properly, not protruding nor too deep-set.
Medium-sized in relation to head, set high, when brought forward should reach corner of lips.
Teeth and jaws strong, with perfect regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws, with full dentition.
Strong and of adequate length, skin tightly fitting.
Shoulders sloping and very muscular with top of shoulder blades not too close; upper arm bones between shoulder and elbow long. Elbows close to body, neither pointing outwards nor inwards. Forelegs straight and lean, sufficiently muscular and strong but not coarse-boned. Pasterns slightly sloping, almost straight but not quite.
Chest must appear deep rather than wide but not out of proportion to the rest of the body; ribs deep and well sprung, never barrel-shaped nor flat, back rib reaching well down to tucked-up loins. Chest measurement immediately behind elbows smaller than that of about a hand’s breadth behind elbows so that upper arm has freedom of movement. Firm back, not arched, with slightly falling back line.
Hips broad and wide, croup falling slightly towards tail. Thighs strong and well muscled. Stifles well bent. Hocks square with body, turning neither in nor out. Pasterns nearly upright. Bone strong but not coarse.
Compact, close-knit, round to oval-shaped, well padded, should turn neither in nor out. Toes well arched, heavily nailed.
Docked: Approximately two fifths of original length docked. Continuing the line of back, carried horizontally or slightly upward. Neither too thick nor too thin.
Undocked: Continuing the line of back, carried horizontally or slightly upward. Neither too thick nor too thin. Reaching to the hocks and carried straight or slightly sabre-fashion.
Smooth, covering plenty of ground with each stride, driving hind action, elbows turning neither in nor out. Definitely not a hackney action.
Outer coat thicker and harsh, no longer than 4 cms (11/2 ins) long with a dense undercoat, (undercoat more prevalent in winter than summer). It should not hide body shape but it should be long enough to give good protection. Coat should lie close to the body. Hair on head and ears thick and short, but not too soft. Bushy eyebrows, full but not overlong beard.
Liver and white, solid liver, black and white. Solid black and tricoloured highly undesirable.
Ideal height at shoulder: dogs: 60-67 cms (23½-26½ ins); bitches: 56-62 cms (22-24½ ins). Weight: dogs: 25-34 kgs (55-75 lbs); bitches: 20.5-29 kgs (45-64 lbs).
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.
Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
Last Updated By the Kennel Club in July 2001
The German Wirehaired Pointer Club Health Survey
The GWPC is attempting to assist GWP breeders and enthusiasts to explore and identify the health and welfare issues which are currently facing our breed.
They are asking for breeders and owners alike to complete and return to them a Health Questionnaire (and possibly supplements). This is aimed at all GWP enthusiasts past and present and includes GWP’s whether they have died from a specific ailment or of old age or dogs still living, with OR without an ailment. It should be likened to a census but any information supplied will be treated in the STRICTEST CONFIDENCE.
For further information see http://www.gwphealth.co.uk/survey.html
Recently Diana Brooks -Ward who is the co-ordinator for the Kennel Club has confirmed that the GWPC will now have access to their scientific group to discuss and evaluate the GWPC survey results. This is very good news since it will allow an academic scientific voice to speak on sensitive and complex issues such as Epilepsy.