Sure, the German Wirehaired Pointer looks a little like your grandad thanks to their bushy eyebrows, wiry beard and whiskers, and old-soul eyes. But this is one active, energetic dog. Eager for every type of outdoor activity, intelligent German Wirehaired Pointers excel at every task they put their paw to. But their happy place is adventuring alongside you, whether you’re tramping, running, kayaking, swimming or more. The key to a healthy, happy Pointer is keeping their body and brain engaged, every single day. Did we mention ‘lie in’ or ‘day off’ isn’t in a Pointer’s vocabulary? Luckily, they’re so loving and affectionate, you won’t mind trading relaxing time for time with them.
German Wirehaired Pointers are closely related to German Shorthaired Pointers, although they tend to be taller and heavier. With their harsh wire coats that protect against the elements, these muscular, agile dogs are tireless when it comes to outdoor adventures.
If there was one word to sum up a German Wirehaired Pointer’s looks, it’d be: all-weather. That’s thanks to their somewhat harsh, wiry coat. This double, medium-length coat is water-repellant, allowing this active dog to have fun outside, whatever the weather. It also helps protect them from thorns and other sharp things in the forests and fields. A German Wirehaired Pointer’s coat is usually liver (reddish brown) and white with markings throughout.
As well as their distinctive coat, German Wirehaired Pointers have 2 other distinguishing features: their bushy eyebrows and their long wiry beard and whiskers. Although these again are a protective feature to keep their eyes and face safe, they give them an adorable elderly man look. This adorableness is helped by their furry, floppy ears that lie close to their head and their soulful brown eyes.
A little bit of rain (or wind, or hail - you get the picture) won’t slow a German Wirehaired Pointer down. These beautiful dogs have a real zest for outdoor life. Which isn’t surprising as they’re built to beat the bushes all day - they’re muscular and agile dogs that don’t tire easily (if at all, let’s be honest). Bred to be an all-terrain, all-weather hunter, German Wirehaired Pointers are equally at home at land or in water, tackling tall grass, deep woods and dense bush with ease.
German Wirehaired Pointers make the best adventuring companion. Whether you’re hiking, hunting, running or kayaking, they’ll be by your side. This isn’t a breed that’s going to be happy sleeping on the couch all day. But if you’re the adventurous, outdoorsy type, you’ve met your match in the German Wirehaired Pointer.
Because this is a dog that needs a job to do, it’s important you keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Outdoors, they’ll impress you with their hunting and tracking ability. Indoors, they’ll happily sort the laundry, play hide and seek with their favourite treats, or spend some time with puzzle toys. Without a job, they’re going to use their smarts to entertain themselves - and you’re probably not going to like what they come up with (Hint, it’ll probably be digging, chewing or barking).
Although they’re independent hunters by nature, German Wirehaired Pointers make loyal, loving and affectionate family pets. In fact, they crave human companionship and can develop undesirable behaviours if they’re often left by themselves. Super eager to please, they’re sweet and charming pups, especially once the day’s work is done. They can get on well with children, as long as they’re properly socialised and children respect their boundaries. Pointers will tolerate other dogs and cats, especially if they’re raised together. Other small animals (think rabbits and ducks) need not apply.
German Wirehaired Pointers have a really healthy lifespan (14-16 years) and they’re generally a robust breed. Preventative care, like regular vet checks and knowing health issues to keep an eye on, will help ensure you have a long happy life together.
Big-chested dogs like German Wirehaired Pointers are prone to bloat (also called Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) or gastric torsion). This rare but deadly condition causes a dog’s stomach to twist on itself and fill with gas, cutting off blood supply to the stomach. Symptoms of bloat include panting or rapid breathing, excessive drooling, retching or trying to vomit, restlessness, pacing and a sore or swollen abdomen. If you see any signs of bloat, it’s important you get your dog to the vet straightaway. Using a slow feeding bowl can help prevent bloat, as can not exercising your dog 30 minutes before and after eating.
Joint issues, like elbow and hip dysplasia, happen when the joints don’t develop and fit correctly, causing pain and mobility problems. Untreated, these can lead to arthritis. These conditions can be treated through weight management, physical therapy, medications and, in extreme cases, surgery. However, elbow and hip dysplasia are hereditary conditions which responsible breeders should screen for.
Von Willebrand disease is a bleeding disorder that prevents your dog’s blood from clotting properly. Most dogs with Von Willebrand disease won’t show any symptoms unless they experience spontaneous nose bleeds. Without properly clotting blood, a dog can bleed for a prolonged time or uncontrollably after injury or surgery. It can be treated with medication.
German Wirehaired Pointers can suffer from aortic stenosis. This heart condition causes the blood flow to be partially obstructed, putting strain on their heart as it needs to work extra hard to pump blood. It can be picked up as a heart murmur during a regular vet check. Depending on the severity, your pup might need no treatment or they might need life-long medication. Aortic stenosis is inherited, so breeders should screen for it.
Hypothyroidism is when your dog’s thyroid is underactive, causing their body to slow down. Symptoms include hair loss, a dull or thin coat, flaky skin, weight gain, lethargy and getting cold easily. It can be treated with hormone replacement medication.
Grooming a German Wirehaired Pointer is straightforward and as long as you give them a positive outlet for their energy every single day (no days off here), they’re straightforward to care for too!
As you’d expect with an all-weather coat, it doesn’t take much to keep it healthy. Give your German Wirehaired Pointer a weekly groom with a comb and soft slicker brush. This will help get rid of dirt and loose hair. Check their long floppy ears during your weekly grooming sessions too. Gently clean them of dirt and debris as needed to help ward off infection.
Like all dogs, German Wirehaired Pointers will benefit from daily teeth cleaning. Brushing their teeth every day can help prevent tartar and plaque building up, which can lead to decay and dental disease.
Keep their nails in check by regularly clipping or trimming them to help keep this active dog comfortable as they run around.
German Wirehaired Pointers will enjoy chowing down on top quality, commercial dog food that suits their life stage: puppy, adult or senior. Because they’re so active and have high energy needs, they might need more calories or protein than other dogs. You could think about food that’s specifically for working dogs.
Although they’re very active, treat calories can still add up so make sure you don’t overfeed them which can lead to obesity and put them at risk of a range of health problems.
Put on your trainers, you’re going to need them. A German Wirehaired Pointer needs at least 1 hour of vigorous exercise every day. Ideally, this is a mix of walks and playtime which is outside and with you. A hoon around the back garden by themselves isn’t enough to keep a German Wirehaired Pointer happy and healthy. Instead, these sporting dogs need to come on outdoor adventures with you, like long walks, runs and tramps. Oh, and they’ve got webbed feet so German Wirehaired Pointers make great swimmers - take them swimming too.
Whenever you’re out together, it’s important to keep a Pointer on a leash. Their prey drive is high and if they catch sight or smell of some interesting critter, they’ll be off before you know it. Only let them off leash in a fully fenced, secure area.
Although they will play in the back garden, it’s best that they play with you. German Wirehaired Pointers need a job to do. This means they need exercise for both body and mind. Try games of fetch, scent trails around the garden, and treats to hunt out. If you’re finding it exhausting trying to exhaust your pup, you could enrol them in dog activities, including obedience, tracking and agility classes. With their smarts and athletic abilities, they’ll be top of the class in no time.
German Wirehaired Pointers are known for their intelligence which makes training fun and easy. This is helped by their responsive natures - they’re true people pleasers. Early socialisation and training is important to help them embrace pet life, rather than working life.
With such an in-built desire to hunt, training can help keep their prey drive in check. You’re never going to completely train this out of your Wirehaired Pointer but training can help them become well-mannered and well-adjusted. (And less likely to track and chase every rabbit they smell whenever you’re out.)