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.
206 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, DECEMBER 2022
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