German Wirehaired Pointer

Also called the German Rough-haired Pointer and known in Germany as the Drahthaar, or the Deutsch Stichelhaar Vorstehhund, this is an old breed that was developed specifically for hunting game birds. In dog circles it is often referred to simply as the GWP.


The tough, bristly coat of this large gun dog makes it a resilient, all-weather hunter. Like the other German pointer breeds, it is an all-purpose dog. A tall, tough, robust dog, it flushes and retrieves in addition to acting as a pointer. Compared with its nearest relatives, it is more rugged but less speedy.

Back in the 19th century, there were several varieties of large, rough-haired gun dogs in Germany, and little care was taken in keeping them distinct from one another and breeding true. Then, in the second half of that century, efforts were made to separate them and treat them as individual breeds. This form, with its rough, wiry coat, was not particularly popular and, at one stage, was facing extinction. But in 1865 a local breeder set out to save it and, by 1970, it was officially recognized.

Some authors claim that its ancestry, during its formative years, included the German Short-haired Pointer and the Airedale. Others insist that its foreign blood came, not from the Airedale, but from French Griffons. Like its Long-haired cousin, its coat colour must always be liver or liver-and-white. Its tail is traditionally docked.

For many years this German dog was virtually unknown in the rest of the world, but then, in the 20th century, it was exported to several other countries, including the United States, where it was officially recognized by the AKC in 1959.


In personality, this breed is said to be obedient but aloof, although sometimes capable of clowning. Its appealing, bearded, bushy face can, in turn, be impish, stern or noble. This is a dog that demands hard work. If left unoccupied, it soon becomes bored and can then become rather destructive.


The essence of the breed is its harsh double coat, which should be no more than 1 1/2 inches/4 cm in length. It is a medium sized hunting dog that is slightly longer in length than in height. In the United States, males should be 23-25 inches/58-64 cm and bitches 21-23 inches/53-58 cm. In the United Kingdom, males should be 24-26 inches/60-23 cm and bitches 22-24 inches/55-60 cm. The breed’s coloring is liver and white, solid liver or black and white (which is not permitted in the United States). Solid black and tricolor are both considered highly undesirable. The dog’s eyes should look almost human, with a smooth skull, eyebrows and a full or half beard that is not too long. The head is always either liver or black, in keeping with its coat color, and it may have a white blaze. The tail is customarily docked to two-fifths of its natural length to prevent injury while working.

Special Care and Training

As a hunting dog, it is essential that the German Wirehaired Pointer is taught basic obedience, and early socialization with dogs and humans is vital. The coat should need the minimum of work, just a little tidying up and possibly some hand-stripping.


The Wirehaired Pointer thrives on human companionship and attention, but it is not really a suitable apartment dog because it likes fresh air and plenty of exercise. It can be stubborn but responds well to training.

Gallery of German Wirehaired Pointer