POINTER GERMAN WIREHAIRED
Let’s Talk Breed Education!
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Official Standard for the German Wirehaired Pointer General Appearance: The German Wirehaired Pointer is a well muscled, medium sized dog of distinctive appearance. Balanced in size and sturdily built, the breed’s most distinguishing characteristics are its weather resistant, wire-like coat and its facial furnishings. Typically Pointer in character and style, the German Wirehaired Pointer is an intelligent, energetic and determined hunter. Size, Proportion, Substance: The height of males should be from 24 to 26 inches at the withers. Bitches are smaller but not under 22 inches. To insure the working quality of the breed is maintained, dogs that are either over or under the specified height must be severely penalized. The body is a little longer than it is high, as ten is to nine. The German Wirehaired Pointer is a versatile hunter built for agility and endurance in the field. Correct size and balance are essential to high performance. Head: The head is moderately long. Eyes are brown, medium in size, oval in contour, bright and clear and overhung with medium length eyebrows. Yellow eyes are not desirable. The ears are rounded but not too broad and hang close to the head. The skull broad and the occipital bone not too prominent. The stop is medium. The muzzle is fairly long with nasal bone straight, broad and parallel to the top of the skull. The nose is dark brown with nostrils wide open. A spotted or flesh colored nose is to be penalized. The lips are a trifle pendulous but close to the jaw and bearded. The jaws are strong with a full complement of evenly set and properly intermeshing teeth. The incisors meet in a true scissors bite . Neck, Topline, Body: The neck is of medium length, slightly arched and devoid of dewlap. The entire back line showing a perceptible slope down from withers to croup. The skin throughout is notably tight to the body. The chest is deep and capacious with ribs well sprung. The tuck-up apparent. The back is short, straight and strong. Loins are taut and slender. Hips are broad with the croup nicely rounded. The tail is set high, carried at or above the horizontal when the dog is alert. The tail is docked to approximately two-fifths of its original length. Forequarters: The shoulders are well laid back. The forelegs are straight with elbows close. Leg bones are flat rather than round, and strong, but not so heavy or coarse as to militate against the dog’s natural agility. Dewclaws are generally removed. Round in outline the feet are webbed, high arched with toes close, pads thick and hard, and nails strong and quite heavy. Hindquarters: The angles of the hindquarters balances that of the forequarters. A straight line drawn vertically from the buttock (ischium) to the ground should land just in front of the rear foot. The thighs are strong and muscular. The hind legs are parallel when viewed from the rear. The hocks (metatarsus) are short, straight and parallel turning neither in nor out. Dewclaws are generally removed. Feet as in forequarters. Coat: The functional wiry coat is the breed’s most distinctive feature. A dog must have a correct coat to be of correct type. The coat is weather resistant and, to some extent, water-repellent. The undercoat is dense enough in winter to insulate against the cold but is so thin in summer as to be almost invisible. The distinctive outer coat is straight, harsh, wiry and flat lying, and is from one to two inches in length. The outer coat is long enough to protect against the punishment of rough cover, but not so long as to hide the outline of the dog. On the lower legs the coat is shorter and between the toes it is of softer texture. On the skull the coat is naturally short and close fitting. Over the shoulders and around the tail it is very dense and heavy. The tail is nicely coated, particularly on the underside, but devoid of feather. Eyebrows are of strong, straight hair. Beard
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and whiskers are medium length. The hairs in the liver patches of a liver and white dog may be shorter than the white hairs. A short smooth coat, a soft woolly coat, or an excessively long coat is to be severely penalized. While maintaining a harsh, wiry texture, the puppy coat may be shorter than that of an adult coat. Coats may be neatly groomed to present a dog natural in appearance. Extreme and excessive grooming to present a dog artificial in appearance should be severely penalized. Color: The coat is liver and white, usually either liver and white spotted, liver roan, liver and white spotted with ticking and roaning or solid liver. The head is liver, sometimes with a white blaze. The ears are liver. Any black in the coat is to be severely penalized. Gait: The dog should be evaluated at a moderate gait. Seen from the side, the movement is free and smooth with good reach in the forequarters and good driving power in the hindquarters. The dog carries a firm back and exhibits a long, ground-covering stride. When moving in a straight line the legs swing forward in a free and easy manner and show no tendency to cross or interfere. There should be no signs of elbowing out. The rear legs follow on a line with the forelegs. As speed increases, the legs will converge toward a center line of travel. Temperament: Of sound, reliable temperament, the German Wirehaired Pointer is at times aloof but not unfriendly toward strangers; a loyal and affectionate companion who is eager to please and enthusiastic to learn.
Approved October 10, 2006 Effective January 1, 2007
JUDGING CONFORMATION FOR FIELD ABILITY
The German Wirehaired Pointer BY JODI QUESNELL W hen judging GWPs in the show ring, it is unreasonable to ask a judge to determine the field abilities of a dog—that is what Field Trial and Hunt Test judges are for. But, we do ask our Conformation judges to determine which dog is most suited to field work—based on the Breed Standard, our blueprint for the ideal hunting dog. With this in mind, judges need to visualize how each dog might perform in the field, and award placements based on which dogs would be the best to take on an all-day hunting trip in tough brush. A dog that doesn’t move soundly, who has inefficient movement, who “pitter-pats,” would prob- ably not be able to hunt hard all day. That dog will tire out a lot quicker than the dog that has an easy, effortless gait with plenty of reach and drive. A sound-moving, well-built dog must be a top priority for any serious hunter who plans to hunt all day, and possibly a number of days in a row.
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JUDGING CONFORMATION FOR FIELD ABILITY: THE GERMAN WIREHAIRED POINTER
A dog that isn’t balanced (equal angles—front and rear) will have inefficient movement and will tire out more quickly than a dog that is balanced, regardless of the amount of angle the dog has. Now, what about the all-important coat that breeders are con- stantly preaching about? Picture the dog with beautiful, long fur- nishings running through the sagebrush, thick brambles, or field of cockleburs. The hunter who owns that dog will spend the evening pulling, brushing, and cussing his dog’s coat. Or maybe there’s snow on the ground and it’s cold—the long furnishings will collect snowballs, possibly even between the toes, causing the dog to go lame. And when the dog with the soft coat goes into the freezing lake for a retrieve, the cold water will instantly hit his skin, making him very cold and very likely to stop working. The dog with the soft coat will also suffer more cuts and scratches, because tough brambles will cut right through his coat and to his skin. What about the dog that’s standing in your ring with the short- er, but wiry, coat and minimal furnishings? When he runs through the field of cockleburs, the burrs won’t stick to his coat, and the one or two persistent burrs that stick to him will most likely get pulled out by the dog himself while he’s riding in his crate at the end of the day. The hunter with this dog will be able to enjoy the evening relaxing with his dog. What if the shorter-coated dog has to do a water retrieve? Well, his wiry, dense coat will repel the water, similar to a Labrador Retriever (or a duck.) He will shake off the cold water when he gets to the shore and will be happy to continue hunting. And if he’s running through the snow, you can be sure he won’t be col- lecting “snowballs” in his coat! And his dense coat will act as a shield against the tough brush, so he won’t be all cut-up at the end of the day. And, let’s talk temperaments a while. Our ideal hunting dog will have a bold, confident personality so that he can work inde- pendently, at a distance from the hunter. A needy, insecure dog will stay too close to the hunter to be of any use in the field at all. And what about that dog that jumps out of his skin when he hears a loud noise outside the ring? He’s most likely sound-sensitive, which
“A dog that isn’t balanced (equal angles—front and rear) will have inefficient movement and will tire out more quickly than a dog that is balanced, regardless of the amount of angle the dog has.”
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JUDGING CONFORMATION FOR FIELD ABILITY: THE GERMAN WIREHAIRED POINTER
set too low or too high (Terrier Tail—yuck!). We want our dogs to look good when on point. GWPs should have good feet—after all, when running all day, the feet are shock absorbers, and good, thick pads will serve a dog well when he runs through a cactus patch. Splayed feet will eventu- ally lead to a dog that completely breaks down, and cat feet will not be efficient shock-absorbers. Size is important—too small, and he can’t handle a goose, and too big, and he’ll tend to “break down” quicker. And a dog that is too “course,” with heavy bone, will not be very agile in the field. A dog that is too fine-boned will not be the “brush buster” that hunters need, either. A strong, solid jaw is needed for a GWP, which is expected to retrieve as part of his job description. The rectangular jaw is the perfect shape to carry a large bird, such as a pheasant or a duck. The jaw is balanced by the rectangular-shaped skull. The strong neck and good shoulders are also necessary for a dog that is expect- ed to do multiple retrieves. Correct ear-set and dark-brown eyes give the dog a pleasing expression, but aren’t as critical to a hunter. And coat color is a “personal preference,” with different people believing that certain colors are more visible in the field, depending on the conditions. I think that I can see my solid livers in the field the best, unless they’re in the rimrocks looking for chukar. Others prefer the vis- ibility of white coats, unless they’re hunting in the snow. And, of course, there is the infinite combination of liver and white hairs that creates our liver roan, liver-spotted, and liver-ticked dogs. For a serious hunter (and judge), color should be of minimal concern. So, the next time you’re looking at a class of GWPs in the show ring, picture those dogs working in the field, and consid- er how each virtue and fault will affect the dogs’ performance in the field. Then select the dog that should make the best hunting companion. And, if you’re a hunter looking for your next hunting buddy— whether you’re looking for a puppy or an adult dog—you should consider the dog’s conformation and how it will affect performance in the field.
will render him completely useless when the hunter fires his shot- gun. A dog that shows aggression towards other dogs will mean that the hunter will never be able to hunt with his buddies who also have hunting dogs—after all, nobody wants to hunt with a guy whose dog is continually interfering with the other guys’ dogs. What if the dog doesn’t like other people? Imagine that your dog has disappeared over the ridge, where your buddy is hunt- ing. You ask your buddy to get the dog for you, and the dog runs away from him, and in the opposite direction as you. Now you’ve got to spend your time hunting for your dog, instead of hunting with your dog for birds! Not to mention, who wants a hunting buddy that none of your friends can touch? That’s not a dog to be proud of. Also, remember that hunting season is no more than four months out of the year—the GWP will be a member of the family when not hunting, so he better have a temperament you can live with! For a hunter, those are the “biggies”—temperament, coat, movement, and overall soundness. Another thing a hunter will look at is tailset. GWPs will not be quite as beautiful as a Setter or Pointer when it’s pointing, but we certainly don’t want a tail that is
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jodi Quesnell and her husband, Tom, got their first German Wirehaired Pointer in 1999. That dog became the breed’s first Best in Show Dual Champion, BIS BISS DC AFC Jetset’s Ragtop Day at Scotia CD JH CGC. Breeding under the kennel name Idawire GWPs, Tom competes in AKC Pointing Breed Field Trials and Jodi competes in Conformation. Their current dog is NFC/ DC/AFC Ghostwind Idawire Now I’ve Dunnit. “Dunnit” won the 2022 GWPCA National Field Championship, and two days later was BOBOH and AOM at the GWPCA Regional Specialty. Jodi has edited the GWPCA Wirenews and GWP Yearbooks, and has served on the GWPCA Board of Directors. She currently serves on the GWPCA Judges Education Committee.
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JUDGING THE GERMAN WIREHAIRED POINTER
By Judy Cheshire
he German Wirehaired Pointer is first and fore- most a versatile hunting dog. It was developed by a pragmatic people to find game, point it
ity for muscling? As you put your hands on the dog to evaluate him, remember that this dog should be sound, both physically and mentally, and functional. “Function” is the key to all aspects of the standard. For example, if you have a dog with a light eye and one with a soft, open coat, keep in mind that the dog can see with an undesir- able colored eye, but cannot be protected in dense, harsh cover or in cold water with a bad coat. Approach the dog from the
front so that it can see you and confidently put your hands on him. Wirehairs usually have a strong sense of self and their per- sonal space. Not a breed you should stare at or “coo” at! From the side, the head should give a rectangular appearance, the impression of two rectangles with parallel planes and relatively equal length. Facial furnishing (beard and eyebrows) should be present, in order to be protective, but not over-
and retrieve it on both land and in water and to blood track wounded game as well. Its quarry was varied and ranged from upland birds and waterfowl to rabbit, fox and roe deer. Th e terrain that these dogs hunted was diverse and besides versatility, adaptability was a key goal in its develop- ment. In this breed, a good percentage of the dogs that you’ll see are in some way utilized in the field. Th erefore, prioritiz- ing by function is the most positive way that you can judge. Th e essence of the breed is a rough coated, athletically built, versatile hunting dog—practical, low maintenance, e ffi cient. Many judges don’t see significant numbers of German Wirehaired Pointers. Th is, in itself, makes it a di ffi cult breed for some to evaluate. Additionally, it’s often misrepresented as a German Short- haired Pointer with a rough coat and furnishingss—it is, rather, a breed onto itself and not, nor was it ever, a “variety”. Our standard, just like many other breed standards, doesn’t always present a crystal clear picture of its intent and interpreta- tion can be di ffi cult. Th ere are also no disqualifications in our standard. Th at doesn’t mean that “anything goes” or that no matter how much an individual dog deviates from the standard, it should be awarded championship points. When a class of German Wirehaired Pointers enters the ring, get a first impres- sion of the dog that you’re judging. Th e silhouette of the dog should be immedi- ately identifiable as a GWP. Is the outline pleasing, is the dog balanced, is there sub- stance without coarseness? Do you get the impression of athleticism and good capac-
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done. Eyebrows should appear natural and are never scissored—GWPs should not be trimmed to look like terriers or Giant Schnauzers. Don’t necessarily penalize a dog for sparse facial furnishings as very often excellently coated dogs do not have abundant furnishings. Remember that the coat on the dog’s skull should be naturally short and close fitting. Th e ears are round- ed at the tips, not too broad and hang close to the head and should be set just above the level of the eye. Th e correct bite is scissors and complete dentition is preferred. When examining a dog’s mouth, there’s no need to count teeth, but large gaps should be noted. Th e jaws are strong and should be su ffi ciently deep to carry game. Th e eyes are brown and slightly oval in shape. A dark eye is very pleasing and adds to the correct expression of the dog. Although we have dogs with lighter eyes in the breed, we are rarely seeing the yellow “bird of prey” eyes that were more com- mon years ago. A young dog may have a lighter eye with a darker ring around the iris. Th ey will darken over time, sometimes taking up to three years to achieve their adult color. Eye rims should be close fitting to keep out irritating seeds, grasses and other irritating debris. Th e nose is brown, never black or flesh colored. Th e neck is slightly arched and should have enough length and strength for the dog to retrieve and easily carry a good- sized pheasant or goose. Proportionately, the body from the sternum to ischium is slightly longer than from withers to ground. Th e forechest is defined, with the brisket extending to the elbow, enabling good heart and lung capacity. Although the chest is developed, it shouldn’t be so wide as to interfere in any way with the action of the forelegs. Th e back is short and strong with a perceptible slope from withers to croup. Perceptible means that you should be able to recognize that there is a slope, it doesn’t mean exaggerated. Ribs are well sprung and the underline extends well back to form a gradual tuck- up, which is apparent. Th e croup is gen- tly rounded, showing no tendency to fall away sharply and the tail is a continuation of the spinal column and should be car- ried at or above the horizontal when the
“THE FEET OF A GWP ARE WEBBED and slightly oval in outline, with toes well arched and close.”
dog is moving and alert. Th e entire out- line of the dog should flow smoothly. Although the standard calls for the tail to be docked to approximately two-fifths of its original length, this is often a per- sonal preference and the docked length is obviously man-made. Th e length of a docked tail is not a reason to ever fault an otherwise good dog. Th e feet of a GWP are webbed and slightly oval in outline, with toes well arched and close. A tight foot with good depth of pad protects the dog from stones, sand spurs, burrs, thorns and other sundry hazards on the ground while hunting. Shoulders should be well laid back with hindquarter angulation balancing that of the front. Good angula- tion facilitates a smooth, ground-covering stride and balance of those angles enable correct foot timing and promotes endur- ance in a dog that is working. Th e gait is harmonious, e ff ortless and purposeful and the topline should remain firm when the dog is moving. Th e standard mentions that the “leg bones are flat, rather than round”, in reality, the bone is oval, not flat. Th e natural functional double coat is the hallmark of the breed. Th e standard states that “a dog must have correct coat to be of correct type”. Th e coat is weather
resistant and to some extent, water-repel- lent. Th e outer coat is straight, harsh, wiry and flat lying. It is long enough to protect the dog against the punishment of rough cover, but not so long as to hide the out- line of the dog. Th e coat on the skull and ears is naturally short and close fitting, however the ears may have wisps of longer hair or a “fringe”. Th e undercoat is softer and shorter and may be dense enough in winter to insulate against the cold but may be quite thin in summer—but, undercoat should always be present to some degree.
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Leg furnishings should not be excessive and should have some wiry texture. Th e hair in the liver body patches may be shorter than the rest of the outer coat. Th e correct puppy coat may be shorter than that of an adult coat but will show some signs of the coarse texture. Th e coat on this breed was originally intended to be “wash and wear”, designed by a pragmatic people who would not be bothered with a high maintenance coat. However, there are many inconsistencies in coat type and tex- ture. It is not uncommon to see a smooth coat. Obviously this is incorrect. A shorter, harsh coat with wiry texture and evidence of guard hairs is perfectly acceptable. Soft, wooly or cottony coats are not protective and should be penalized. Th ey merely tend to attract dirt, burrs and seeds and are det- rimental in the water. Coats should not be clippered or scissored—there should be no need for it. Bad coats can be trimmed and made to appear quite acceptable, but a judge can only evaluate what is presented to him. Excessive grooming to present a dog artificial in appearance is truly not desirable in this breed. Th e color of the dog is liver and white and may have roaning, ticking or patches; or it may also be solid liver, sometimes with a white blaze on its chest or with some amount of white on its feet. In relation to our standard, “liver” can vary in shade from chocolate to dark seal brown, and can
appear to be almost black in certain light- ing. A liver and white or solid liver dog will always have a brown nose, as is required in the standard. Although the standard says that “any black in the coat is to be severely penalized”, I have never seen a liver or liver and white dog with any black in its coat and I don’t believe that it is genetically pos- sible. If the dog has a brown nose, you can be assured that it is liver and white without any black in its coat. A black and white dog will have a black nose and is not accom- modated in our standard, although it is acceptable in some other countries. Th e head and ears are also required to be liver, but a blaze on the head is perfectly accept- able, providing that the color around both eyes is liver. Th e beard of a dog may be dis- colored due to sun or saliva and should not be faulted. Judges should always be aware of the color of a dog and keep in mind that the standard calls for a liver and white dog. Temperament is sound and reliable. A GWP may be aloof to strangers and ini- tially cautious. Th is caution should not be misinterpreted as shyness. Temperament should always be sound and aggression toward people should never be tolerated. Breeders of German Wirehaired Point- ers have made every e ff ort to keep bench and field dogs “one breed”. Considering the total number of GWPs registered, we have a very large number of Dual Champi- ons and dual titled dogs. Th ere have been
several Dual Champion Best in Show dogs and it is not unusual for a Dual Cham- pion to win the GWPCA National Field Championship. Wirehairs have become contenders in the show ring and at field trials. Judges can help us in our endeavor by keeping the working qualities of the breed in mind when evaluating our dogs. Above all, please don’t fault judge. Stan- dards often point out faults and areas to be penalized without bothering to emphasize the importance of positive characteristics. Consider the dog as a total package and remember that our goal is to continue to produce dogs that can do what they were originally intended to do—hunt long, hard and intelligently. BIO Judy has had German Wirehaired Pointers since 1976, breeding and/or own- ing multiple BIS dogs and group winners under the “Heywire” prefix, as well as obedience dogs to the UD level and field dogs with both the Master Hunter and Field Champion titles. She is approved by AKC to judge several breeds, including GWPs, and also has judged AKC Hunting Tests and Field Trials. Judy is currently Chair of the GWPCA Judges Education Committee and the Show Events Advisory Committee and has served the parent club in the past as President, Secretary and “AKC Gazette” columnist.
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Field to Show
BY BERNEE BRAWN
G erman Wirehaired Pointer (GWP) enthusiasts love to complain about “dog shows” and how this sport is ruining the breed. I am a firm believer that it’s not “dog shows” that ruin a breed, but rather, it’s the peo- ple involved who do so. Let’s be honest, winning is fun. In this country, competition is the highlight of our lives, whether it is in sport, business, or our personal lives. It’s just not good enough for us to be good—we have to be the best! In order to be the best, the greatest, the winningest, there are often things that get overlooked or ignored. In the world of dog shows today, winning Best of Breed is only a stepping stone to the almighty Group. After all, winning Best in Show is what dog shows have become “about.” Racking up Group points, and gathering BISs, has become more important than being the Best GWP. I think this is unfortunate and not good for our breed—or any breed for that matter. Now, don’t get me wrong, a Best in Show is a wonderful achievement, and anyone receiving one should be very proud of their dog. Trust me, I would be! But should it be the most important thing in our shows today? In the world of flashy show dogs, the GWP has always been the stepchild. This is not a flashy breed. It does not have a beautiful flowing coat, it doesn’t have silky, shiny hair, and it’s not what you would call a “cute” breed. Now, of course, those of us who love the breed think they are the best thing in the world. But flashy? Cute? Nah! The GWP was never a breed sought out by those who only wanted to own a “show dog.” But that trend appears to be changing. The German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America (GWPCA) has always put a lot of emphasis on the “Dual Champion” (DC), and since its inception, the Champion/Master Hunter. This is a breed that can compete in both the show ring and in Field Trials or Hunt Tests, and does well enough at both to finish its FC (Field Champion)/MH (Master Hunter) and its CH (Champion) titles. This is a difficult goal to achieve and it takes a dedicated owner to accomplish. Unfortunately, many think that bringing a Field Champion to the show ring and expecting to compete is impossible. It certainly should not be. While the vast majority of GWPs will never set foot in a show ring, there certainly are more of them that could— and should. For some reason, field people think that as soon as a dog has a CH in front of its name, it makes the dog useless for the field. They also believe that unless their dog is flowing with coat, has extreme angles front and back, and drools for bait, they don’t have a chance. The other side of that coin are the “show only” folks who love to make statements like, “It’s not bad... for a field dog.”
There is only one Breed Standard for the GWP and it makes no distinction between “field” dogs and “show” dogs. While the Stan- dard describes the ideal GWP, we all know that there are quite a few “types” that fit the bill. Too many believe that all field dogs are leggy, rangy, and short-coated—not so. Too many believe that all show dogs are stocky, thick-bodied, and long-coated—not so. There are good and not so good in both venues, and it’s our job to produce and promote the best. The GWPCA has an ongoing education program that attempts to educate judges to the nuances of our breed. One of the things that is stressed in the seminars is that this is a working dog, a dog expected to hunt fur and feather, climb chukar hills, plow through the swamp, and negotiate the forest. In order to do these things, a GWP must be mentally and physically sound. It must be tough enough to fight furry critters and retrieve them to its owner, but also tender-mouthed enough to bring a quail to hand in one piece. Its coat was designed to be as no-nonsense as the breed itself, pro- tective and utilitarian. No feathers and flowing coat on this breed. It can’t all be up to judges, however. Breeders and exhibitors must strive to bring into the ring dogs that fit the Standard. The dog with the coat that must be continually stripped to “appear” short and harsh is not correct, and we are only hurting ourselves when we promote these dogs. Judges can only judge what is brought to them, and if that is all they see... well, who can we blame? On the other hand, we certainly rely on our judges to keep the whole dog in their mind when they are judging, and we ask that they judge the breed for the breed, not for what the breed can go on to achieve in the Group ring. We also ask our judges to remember what this breed was put on this earth to do—and to judge them with this as the utmost priority. If you are considering bringing your working dog to the show ring, there are a few things to do beforehand. First, if you are not familiar with the Breed Standard, find someone who is and have them evaluate your dog. Be open-minded and listen to their com- ments. Remember, no dog is perfect and every one of them has a flaw here and there. If you think your dog has enough positive things to merit it becoming a champion, go for it. While our breed should be mostly a natural-coated breed, all GWPs will benefit from a good grooming before walking into the show ring. This does not mean it needs to be stripped and fluffed up (this is totally improper for the breed), but a good bath, thor- ough brushing, and overall neatening won’t hurt. All wire-coated breeds need to have that dead hair removed at times, so make sure you give your dog a good going-over.
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STEPPING FROM FIELD TO SHOW
“A GWP should have a brave and upstanding temperament, and while he may not appreciate a judge going over him, he must prove his stability by allowing it.”
The dog should be in good physical condition. He should be fit and in shape. All GWPs that walk into the ring should be in good working condition. A fat, sloppy dog does not fit our Standard. Remember, this is a breed that should appear ath- letic, ready to go, and be able to go all day long. A dog that looks like it has been half-starved is not in good condition either. Ribs and hip bones should be covered, but not hidden under a layer of fat. Dogs that are being actively campaigned may be heavily muscled in the shoulder and thigh areas, and these areas may appear or feel lumpy. A good judge will use their hands and eyes to decide if this muscling is appropriate and proper, or hiding poor structure underneath. While a dog that self-stacks and moves at the end of the lead is impressive, it really has nothing to with the quality of the dog. Teach your dog to stand still; especially while a judge is examining it. Some dogs may need some exposure to being examined so that they feel comfortable with having a stranger in such close proximity. Wires are jealous of “their space” and many don’t like people (or dogs) in their faces. A GWP should have a brave and upstanding temperament, and while he may not appreciate a judge going over him, he must prove his stabil- ity by allowing it. Any GWP that refuses to be examined or that shows aggression or fear in the ring should be excused. Teach your dog to gait calmly and boldly on a lead. Your dog needs to move both away from and back to a judge in a straight line so that its movement can be evaluated. A GWP should have free, clean, and ground-covering movement. A properly built GWP should have a tight body, free from rolling and shuffling.
A dog that does not (whether by poor training or by improper structure) or cannot reach with its front, and drive with its rear, is not covering the most ground with little effort. Your dog will also be asked to move around the ring so that the judge can evaluate his side movement. A dog that is calm and sure of itself will certainly look and move better than one that is straining and fighting the entire way around the ring. Remember, the judge needs to see how the dog is using itself. If they cannot see the legs and feet, they cannot judge the dog. When the ribbons are handed out, win or lose, remember to be a good sport. You may not agree with the judge’s decisions, but once they are made it’s over. As breeders and exhibitors, we have a choice to enter or not enter our dogs. It’s our responsibility to know which judges truly understand our breed, and which judges simply view them as a “filler” breed. Just as in the field, there are judges who put more emphasis on certain characteristics; there are judges who are more knowledgeable than others. And then there are judges who really should not be judging dogs. It’s up to us to know which is which. Our breed has a pretty darn good record of producing Dual Champions (considering how few are registered each year) and for this we should be very proud. We have not gone the route of the Setters and Spaniels (show vs. field), and every GWP should be a “field dog.” It’s what the breed is! Our goal as breeders, exhibi- tors, and judges should be to make sure that this trend continues; that the German Wirehaired Pointer continues to be one breed, mentally and physically fit to do whatever task is asked of it. www.GWPCA.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bernee Brawn has been involved with German Wirehaired Pointers since 1980. Her “Justa” GWPs have excelled in Performance, Companion, and Conformation events. She has bred and owned multiple Dual Champions, National Field Champions, National Specialty Winners, and BIS dogs. Bernee has done the majority of training of her field dogs, and is an AKC judge of both Field Trials and Hunt Tests. She strongly believes in purpose-bred dogs and has worked to keep the German Wirehaired Pointer a dual purpose dog. A longtime member of the GWPCA, she most recently chaired the Standards Committee. After a lifetime in the Bucks County, Pennsylvania, area, she now resides on Pine Island in Southwest Florida with her two Border Terriers.
208 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, DECEMBER 2022
The Meaning of Sound GWP Temperament BY BERNEE BRAWN
“T emperament: Of sound, reliable temperament, the Ger- man Wirehaired Pointer is at times aloof but not unfriendly toward strangers; a loyal and affectionate companion who is eager to please and enthusiastic to learn.” To understand the temperament that is desired of the German Wire- haired Pointer, it is important to understand the historical background and use of the breed. They were developed to find game for their owners, both feather and fur, large and small, before and after the shot. Most are still used for these purposes today. This may include game birds, ducks, rabbits, feral pigs, deer, fox, and coyotes—all needing very different approaches and levels of nerve or braveness. Historically, the dog needed to have strong nerve, yet be biddable and responsive, able to gently retrieve a shot partridge, bay and hold a wild boar or dispatch vermin. The dog needed to have an “off switch” to be able to quietly and calmly accompany the hunter in a duck blind, yet be able to track and bay loudly when furred game was found. After the hunt, they were expected to be a part of the family and protect hearth and home. That’s a lot of hats for one dog to wear, but a German Wirehaired Pointer with proper temperament can wear them all. The standard tells us the dog may be “aloof” with strangers, and this is usually true. “Aloof” can mean cool, detached, standoffish, haughty, and/or reserved, but does not include shy, nasty, frightened or aggressive. No Wire- hair should ever present as shy or frightened, as that temperament would never be useful in its work or as a family companion. Aggression toward people or other dogs is never acceptable, but don’t confuse confidence with aggression. No Wirehair should go looking for a fight, but if challenged, a confident dog will usually not back down. Rather, it will stand its ground. A sound-minded, confident Wirehair will accept being petted. How- ever, don’t expect them to fawn over you until they have accepted you as a friend. They have a strong sense of self and of their personal space, and many don’t appreciate that space being invaded by those whom they don’t know or respect. When approaching an adult Wirehair, it is best to be upfront about it. Don’t “baby talk” to the dog, and don’t stare or be hesitant. As an owner or handler, I always appreciate those who speak to me first before putting their hands on the dog, as my acceptance of you tells my dog that all is well. Puppies can be silly things and they can test the patience of the best handlers with their antics. In the conformation ring, there may be times when the best that a judge can do is provide a good ring experience and not demand a polished performance. Now, to the flip side: Although we do want the breed to be brave with strong nerve, we also know that most German Wirehairs are clowns with their families. They have a wicked sense of humor and will go out of their way to be naughty—to get a rise out of you. They can be downright silly. To own one, you must have a sense of humor, but also a firm set of rules. They are, generally, good with children and are naturally protective of the kids in their families.
The breed is loyal and devoted to their owners and, with the right training and patience, can become very willing and cooperative partners in whatever you choose to do with them. Obedience, Agility, Tracking, Nose Work and, of course, Hunting—all things to do with a Wirehair. The breed excels at almost any sport that involves physical activity, but can rebel if trainers use a heavy hand or insist on regimental training methods. If you think that a German Wirehaired Pointer is the breed for you, we always suggest meeting as many as pos- sible from various breeders. They certainly are not the breed for everyone or every family, especially if you do not enjoy an active, outdoor lifestyle. To find a breeder near you, we suggest that you check out the Breeders Page on the German Wirehaired Pointer Club America’s website, www.gwpca.com .
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bernee Brawn has been involved with German Wirehaired Pointers since 1980. Her “Justa” GWPs have excelled in performance, companion, and conformation events. She has bred and owned multiple Dual Champions, National Field Champions, National Specialty Winners, and BIS dogs. Bernee has done the majority of training of her field dogs, and is an AKC judge of both field trials and hunting tests. She strongly believes in purpose-bred dogs and has worked to keep the German Wirehaired Pointer a dual purpose dog. A longtime member of the GWPCA, she most recently chaired the Standards Committee. After a lifetime in the Bucks County, Pennsylvania, area, she now resides on Pine Island in Southwest Florida with her two Border Terriers.
274 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, SPRING EDITION
BY LAURA REEVES GWPCA MEMBER AKC BREEDER OF MERIT AKC JUDGE GERMAN WIREHAIRED POINTER COAT
I t’s important to note that the German Wirehaired Pointer (GWP) is a breed whose coat IS its definition. Just as, for example, a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier with a harsh or off-color coat would not be acceptable, neither should we, as breeders, exhibitors or judges of German WIREHAIRED Pointers, accept and/or promote coats that are far from ideal. In the meantime, let’s talk about what a GWP coat IS and what a GWP coat IS NOT. To start with, the ideal coat, the correct coat, the coat that we are all trying to produce consistently, is a harsh, dense, flat-lying coat with hair that is from one to two inches long on the body. The individual hairs are strong, straight and hard—“crisp.” The entire body coat is dense. In other words, there are a lot of strong, straight, hard hairs. This coat does not attract burrs, is practically impervious to briars and brambles, is largely waterproof, and keeps the dogs warm in the winter and cool in the sum- mer while always protecting them from damage when working in the field. The furnishings of this ideal coat are made from the same strong, straight, hard hair. The head coat is much shorter, with the appearance that the top of the head and ears are clean and nearly smooth. The beard and eyebrows, the leg hair, and the underline hair should ALL consist of this same quality of hair. The ONLY places that our standard calls for soft hair is the undercoat and between the toes. It is possible that some judges have never seen this type of coat, particu- larly if they don’t judge a significant number of these dogs or if they are new to the breed. When it shows up in their ring, they may fault it simply because it doesn’t look like the other dogs in competition The GWP standard is very explicit: “ A dog must have a correct coat to be of correct type. ” The difficulty seems to be in understanding what is correct coat.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Laura is an AKC Breeder of Merit
and a retired member of the Professional Handlers
Association. Laura is a second- generation breeder of German Wirehaired Pointers, under the Scotia Kennel banner. Scotia dogs have earned well over 100 titles; in the show ring, field, and performance events. Her dedication to breeding dual purpose dogs reflects a stated goal of preserving the all-weather, rugged, sound- minded gundog the breed’s founders envisioned. Laura has served the GWPCA as AKC Gazette columnist, Judges Education Committee Member and Chair, Vice President, President, National Events Coordinator, and Wire~News Editor. Her background as a newspaper reporter, marketing rep, and researcher/writer for audio driving tours has served her well in her side projects. Her current adventures as host of PureDogTalk and The Good Dog Pod podcasts lend her particular combination of skills to outstanding breeder education channels.
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, SPRING EDITION | 275
UNDERSTANDING THE GERMAN WIREHAIRED POINTER COAT
With this in mind, let’s look at what is NOT correct. First, a long, soft, open or wooly coat is incorrect. Unfortunately, by the time a judge sees these dogs in the ring, most of them have been body stripped, trimmed, thinned, sculpted, and sprayed into what appears to be an acceptable package. Any GWP breeder or handler worth his or her salt can take a dog and make it “look right.” The first two places to check for a correct coat are the beard and the legs. This hair is very diffi- cult to manufacture. If the beard and legs are long and soft, it’s a good bet that the coat has been over- groomed, according to the standard: “ Extreme and excessive grooming to present a dog artificial in appear- ance should be severely penalized. ” In other words, if the coat doesn’t—naturally—look like what the judge sees, the dog is being presented with an artificial appearance. Another indicator of a coat that is excessively groomed is when you see the crinkly “Terrier Jack- et” type of back coat. The GWP does NOT have a coat like an Airedale, Lakeland, Welsh, Wire Fox, Scottie, Westie or any other Terrier. It should NOT be groomed in a manner that imitates the Terrier breeds. The GWP standard calls for eyebrows to be of strong, straight hair, and the beard and whiskers to be of medium length. An incorrect coat will look and feel like a German Shorthaired Pointer. There will be no eyebrows and, at best, a few hairs at the corner of the mouth. The truly incorrect “slick” coat will almost never be shown in the conformation ring. With all of this said, it’s time to consider judging priorities. Correct coat is a requirement for correct type. An incorrect coat is a FUNCTION FAULT: Soft, rolling toplines; splayed feet; restricted move- ment; shallow, concave chests; mismatched angles— all of these, and many more, are “function faults.” They apply to the breed’s primary function, which is to serve as a utilitarian, multi-purpose hunting dog. Light eye color, head shape (other than the length and depth of muzzle [required] for retrieving game) and other “aesthetic” faults in no way affect the dog’s hunting ability. A judge may have a ring full of dogs, yet none with the ideal coat. (Or the best coats may be on the worst physical specimens.) Please prioritize by func- tion. Good running gear is functional. Correct coat is functional AND necessary for correct type. Wirehairs are tough, rugged dogs created by a no-nonsense people to perform difficult work. This is what they were 150 years ago, and it is what they are and should be today. Trying to remake our breed into “pretty” dogs only caters to the “generic show dog” mentality that has been so roundly and sound- ly repudiated by far greater minds in the dog fancy than mine. There is distinct beauty in a sound Wire- hair with a correct coat that is groomed naturally. There is strength, agility, and nobility of purpose in the dog that defines the breed.
Correct coat is a requirement for correct type.
276 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, SPRING EDITION
GERMAN WIREHAIRED POINTERS: A Study
JOY BREWSTER I live in Newtown, CT and I have and run a commercial kennel. Outside of dogs, I do some civic work and play golf when I can. I was born into a dog breed- ing family—literally. As for showing, I finished my first home bred champion at 7 years old. I retired from more than 35 years as a professional dog handler to judge in 2002. STEVEN HERMAN kayak regularly, run, play tennis, cycle and practice yoga. I love a variety of music and entertainment, so my wife and I attend concerts, plays and see films, whenever we can. We like to travel, too. I’ve been involved in the dog world for thirty-six years. I have showed the entire time and been judg- ing twenty-two of those. LAURA MYLES I live 30 miles northeast of Seattle. I judge pointing dog field trials and hunt tests. I grew up in a dog show family with Ger- man Shorthairs. I’ve been judging in field events since the ear- ly 80s; I’ve been judging conformation for more than 20 years. SHARON PINKERTON I live in Wesley Chapel, Florida. I am retired from the practice of law, but still carry a small case load. I mediate dog-related cases and, also, manage mat- ters for those in court when necessary. I advise corporations in their business and assist individuals with family, crimi- nal and civil matters. On the play side, I
I live on Bethel Island (yes, we have a bridge). I am an avid golfer, and am on the Oakley, California committee for Relay for Life, a 24-hour event supporting Ameri- can Cancer Society. (I am a survivor, so have been blessed with the ability to give back!) How long have I been in the dog world? Well, I just turned 62, so pretty close to 60 years involvement! I handled professionally for close to 30 years, and have been judging for 10 years. 1. Describe the breed in three words. JB: Loyal, intelligent and cunning. SH: Wiry, hunter and versatile. LM: Unique appearance, intelligence and working ability.
SP: Charismatic, independent and stubborn. GS: Multi-functional, rugged and balanced.
2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? JB: Soundness, balance, head and expression as well as proper coat. SH: Must have traits include being well muscled; medium sized; balanced; wire-like coat; free and smooth movement with good reach and drive; and, sound temperament. LM: Sound mind, proper coat and drive to work. SP: Temperament, coat and length of body. Temperament includes any issues towards dogs as well as people—it is just not acceptable in my mind. Coat is always a difficult thing to get as with using some of the German lines you tend to get a much closer coat than the ideal. Length of body: the breed shouldn’t be a GSP with a wire coat; we need to keep that length of body. GS: 1) Wirey and/or harsh coat for protection, 2) well muscled and of medium sized and 3) a strong topline. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? JB: Trimming, furnishings and bone. SH: Some exaggerated traits include the hind legs being more than moderately angulated and this can, sometimes, cause the topline to have more than a perceptible slope. LM: Lack of balance, clean movement coming/going and manufactured coats. SP: I think we are losing the length and depth of ribs, which comes with using the shorter bodied dogs/bitches. All too often I’m seeing dogs that have a very steep under- line that clearly show that the rib cage is shorter than
I live in North Lincs in England, close to the River Humber. Showing, training and owning a boarding kennels doesn’t leave much time outside of dogs to do much else, but I enjoy equestrian sports and going to watch live music and theatre. I was very fortunate that my family had show dogs,
but I owned my first show dog in 1967 and been showing dogs ever since. My first judging appointment was in the mid 1980s.
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ideal and the back ribs lack length and that will be very difficult to reverse. GS: Not really! This can be an elegant, yet quite durable breed, and when viewed, presents a picture of rugged endurance! I personally prefer them to be groomed and presented well for the show ring, as I do any “show dog”. I do not feel they are being over-groomed, to the contrary, I believe the owners and/or handlers should take the time to hand strip the coats, in keeping with the wirey coat required of this breed! 4. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? JB: New judges must understand the difference between a natural versus a “manufactured” coat, as well as accept- able colors. SH: New judges often misunderstand how important the wire coat is and forgive what should be severely penal- ized. This goes for extreme and excessive grooming, also. The coat does not have to be long to have texture and be protective. The judges should consider controlling the speed at which this breed is moved. It should be evalu- ated at a moderate gait. Care should be taken that a dog is not penalized for being aloof. LM: Aloof doesn’t mean shy. To be correct breed type is a package deal made up of proper coat and conformation. SP: I still think there is a huge issue with front angulation and the actual assessment of it in the ring. Upright shoul- ders and upright short upper arms are wrong, although they do give extra height at the withers giving almost a generic show dog shape—height at the forehand, sloping topline and lots of angles behind. Without the correct length and layback of the upper arm it can also give the impression of having no fore chest or lacking depth of chest whereas if that upper arm was more correct it would place the foreleg in the correct position and more likely fix the fore chest and lack of depth issues. Also, as far as length of body, this is an important feature for the breed so it must be recognized and judges be made aware that the length comes from the ribs and not the loin, which also ties in the general lack of rib length and depth I’ve mentioned above. GS: This is not a German Shorthaired Pointer with wire coat! 5. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? JB: The GWP was developed as a personal hunter, family companion and guardian of the property. They are very intuitive about people and loyal to their family. They are very smart and conniving and can be comical at times. This is not a breed for everyone, as they tend to be strong willed. They enjoy challenges, games and sharing time with their humans. SH: I would like to share that breeders are making an effort to avoid a split between show and field by testing their dogs to maintain versatility. That means judges should keep what they have been taught about the original func- tion of the breed in the forefront of their minds when
judging. Prioritize selections accordingly. Look for an athletic dog. Look for strengths that insure a dog will not break down or tire when working. Assist those exhibitors who strive to maintain versatile dogs. LM: Their intelligence and ability to learn combined with sense of humor really makes the breed. SP: Just be mindful that the breed is fully capable of doing the whole thing, being a hunting gun dog capable of finding game, retrieving tenderly, tracking wounded game and yet that same dog can go into the ring and win at the highest level. Show fashion dictates presentation in the show ring, but as breeders we must keep the dual purpose aspect the breed is well known for and place our puppies into homes that recognize that natural instinct and can actual nurture and cope with the natural working aspect. GS: Again, this is not a GSP! The coat has to be wirey and hand striped—not soft and fuzzy. This breed has no place for neither shyness nor aggression. It should not move choppy or stilted, but rather with good reach and drive, well muscled and never exaggerated. 6. And, for a bit of humor: What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? JB: While I was a still a handler, I along with many of us attended shows in the MA-RI area after the New England Circuit of yesteryear. It was on a Sunday and we were all pretty tired and it was a hot day. Most people had already left the show to go home and those of us remaining for Group judging were looking for a “pick-me-up”. Well I organized a group of about 7 ladies of the “ole-guard” status and sat them at the end of the ring and gave them pieces of paper with large black numbers on them from 1 to 4. As the men in the group ring were doing their down and backs, these ladies held up numbers rating their posteriors. This was absolutely hysterical and everyone enjoyed a good laugh as some of the men were really put- ting on a show. SH: The late George Heitzman could keep one laughing in and out of the ring. One incident that involved me occurred when he asked that I complete a triangle and I, promptly, went down and back to the corner of the ring. When I returned, he asked, “What drafting school did you attend?” LM: I was doing obedience with a GWP that watched me do the entire heeling pattern by myself, much to the spectators’ enjoyment. SP: My funniest moment? That would be trying to show an experienced Champion dog that has gone on point at a bird that was sitting in the tree right next to our ring. GS: Oh, this could take a while! I think it would be when we helped dye a GSP pink for James Moran to exhibit to Emil Klinkhardt in the group ring! Emil, with his typical grace and good humor, simply took the entire group around together, and pointed to James to leave the ring before he examined the first dog. (Ch. Brittania Von Sibelstein... the real GSP in that group, went on to Group 1, that day!)
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