German Wirehaired Pointer

Peter Richards
Peter Richards (BVSc, MRCVS, University of Bristol)
Photo of adult German Wirehaired Pointer

The German Wirehaired Pointer is one of three breeds of German Pointer, the others being the German Shorthaired Pointer and the German Longhaired Pointer. They were originally developed in the 19th century as a versatile hunting dog who would accompany their owners to seek out birds and mammals. Their distinctive coat developed to help them cope with all kinds of weather they would experience whilst out in the field.

German Wirehaired Pointers are known for their boundless energy and love of an outdoor lifestyle. They will happily accompany their owners on outdoor excursions where they can roam off the lead. Making sure they get enough exercise is paramount to maintaining a happy and healthy Pointer. Once this is covered, they are gentle and affectionate companions. They form strong bond with their owners, especially children, who will find a friend always ready to play.

Although they require plenty of attention and exercise, their grooming needs are limited to brushing and some trimming of their beards. German Wirehaired Pointers are a healthy breed with an average life span of 12 to 14 years.

About & History

The German Wirehaired Pointer shares much of its history with its cousin German Pointer breeds. They arose as a unique group of dog which pointed to where game animals were before entering the brush to set them to flight. This pointing enabled to hunter to set his sights on a much narrower area and so resulted in more successful hunts.

During the 19th century, those rich enough to pursue leisurely pursuits, such as shooting, also had ample time to dedicate to breeding their dogs. They began to group together and form breeding clubs that dedicated themselves to accentuating certain characteristics in their animals that they deemed desirable. The three modern German Pointer breeds emerged from various breeding programs established by different clubs. Not only were native German dogs used in the programs, but the nobility scoured Europe looking for other breeds with traits they wanted to introduce into their own animals. It’s thought that the German Wirehaired Pointer is the result of several breeds cross together. There is some debate as to the exact lineage, but the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, the Pudelpointer and the German Shorthaired Pointer are all thought to have contributed to the German Wirehaired Pointer. By 1880, the German Wirehaired Pointer was recognised as a separate breed enabling it to participate in shows and trials.

They were bred to be medium to large-sized dogs who could locate upland game. They were expected to hunt birds and mammals with equal ability, as well as retrieve water fowl. In order to cope with challenging conditions, they would encounter during their work a wire coat was desirable. Their coat was low maintenance and its bristly nature protected them from inclement weather.

The modern German Wirehaired Pointer is maintained as a hunting dog although they have become popular as family pets, especially in rural areas.


German Wirehaired Pointer Large Photo

German Wirehaired Pointers are medium to large-sized dogs with an average height of 60 to 67cm and weight of 25 to 34kg. Females are smaller, attaining an adult height of 56 to 62cm and weight of between 20 and 29kg. They have a strong build with well-muscled limbs suitable for their active natures. Their faces are well-proportioned with a strong muzzle and low forehead. They are deep-chested dogs with a slight abdominal tuck, giving them an almost triangular body shape. Like other German Pointers, they have webbed feet for swimming.

The most distinguishing feature is the wiry coat. They have a dense undercoat, which provides protection from the cold. The overcoat is straight, flat and wirey giving protection against rain and snow. Their coat is not evenly distributed over the body, but tends to be denser over the shoulders and tail while the fur on their legs and skulls is shorter. In general, the coat should be kept to roughly 1 inch long. They have stronger hair on the eyebrows and are often trimmed to have beards and whiskers, giving the face an expressive and distinguished appearance.

The coat can come in a variety of colours, with the nose matching the coat’s colour:

  • Liver & White
  • Black & White
  • Solid Liver
  • Solid Black

Character & Temperament

German Wirehaired Pointers are known as hunting companions. They weren’t only bred for their hunting ability since an unfriendly and disloyal hunting dog never went far in their career. They are friendly to those they’ve met before but can be aloof around strangers until they become accustomed to them. They are happiest when spending time with their owners, accompanying them during their everyday work. In general, they are obedient dogs, but some are known to get their own ideas and develop a habit of roaming. You can avoid this by making sure that your lifestyle fits in with their loyal and energetic characters.

They have plenty of energy and are a playful breed. Whilst their affectionate characters and willingness to engage make them good pets for children, you should bear in mind that they are also big dogs. As always, interactions with small children should be monitored to avoid any accidents. They are gentle dogs with an even temper, but they can become protective of their family and their child playmates.


Photo of German Wirehaired Pointer puppy

German Wirehaired Pointers are intelligent dogs that thrive on spending time with an pleasing their owners. They are easy to train and will enjoy the attention that training brings to them. Training should start as early as possible with short, regular sessions that maintain the dog’s interest and focus. Their intelligence enables them to pick commands up quickly, but they can become bored if training sessions are too repetitive. Training should focus on positive reinforcement as heavy-handed training techniques will create resentment.

A good training regime should focus on socialisation and obedience. Socialisation is important to prepare a puppy for all the different situations they might encounter as an adult. It’s about introducing them to as many different situations, people, noises and animals as possible so they can learn how to respond appropriately. Obedience is also essential for German Wirehaired Pointers. They are known to be wilful, especially when they’ve caught an interesting scent. The ability to call your dog back to you even when they’re focussed on other things will serve you well!


German Wirehaired Pointers are a generally healthy breed that can live between 12 and 14 years. However, the breed is predisposed to some conditions, which owners should be aware of:

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a degenerative joint condition. It occurs when the components of the hip joint are misaligned. This misalignment causes excessive wear of the cartilage within the joint and will eventually lead to arthritis. The degree of misalignment will determine the severity of the disease.

Some individuals are only mildly affected by arthritis starting in middle-age whilst others experience pain from an early age. The disease is multi-factorial, but genetics are known to play a part. Screening programs of breeding adults are in place and breeders should be asked if they are participating.

Type 2 von Willebrands Disease (vWD)

vWD is an inherited condition that affects blood clotting. The cause is an insufficient amount of von Willebrand factor, a protein in blood essential for the clotting process. Without blood clotting, even minor wounds can result in excessive bleeding. There are three types of vWD with type 2, a more severe version, affecting the German Wirehaired Pointer.

The disease might initially be recognised by bleeding gums, blood in the faeces or urine or unexplained nose bleeds. vWD is diagnosed through blood tests and a DNA test is available. The gene that causes the disease is recessive, so unaffected carriers should not be used for breeding. A screening test is available for breeding animals.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Like other working breeds, the German Wirehaired Pointer has plenty of energy to expend. An adult will require a minimum of two hours per day with as much time off the lead as possible. A bored dog will quickly become difficult to handle and may be destructive.

As well as their walking requirements, ready access to a well-fenced outdoor area is recommended. Their exercise requirements exclude them from apartments and make them difficult to keep in an urban environment without dedicated owners.


German Wirehaired Pointers have a dense undercoat that sheds all year round. They should be brushed once a week to keep their shedding under control and maintain a healthy coat. When they moult in spring and autumn a daily brushing session would be best. Otherwise, they are low maintenance although some owners will prefer to trim their coats and beards to keep them looking as tidy as possible.

Famous German Wirehaired Pointers

Although they are renowned in the hunting world as effective working dogs, the German Wirehaired Pointer has yet to find fame elsewhere. However, for anyone researching the breed, you may be interested in taking a gander at photos taken by owners of the breed on Instagram.


There are not yet any recognised German Wirehaired Pointer cross-breeds.

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