Category Archives for "All about GWP"

DNA Testing

DNA Testing and the German Wirehaired Pointer

DNA Testing allows breeders to minimise the risk of producing disease affected puppies. As of March 2009, there is just one DNA test actually available for German Wirehaired Pointer specific conditions and that is for von Willebrands Disease. Breeders can access this through Laboklin Laboratory and the current price is £65.96.  Their contact details are:

Laboklin (UK) 61 Mouldsworth Avenue, Manchester, M20 1GG, Tel: 0161 282 3066.

We strongly encourage the dog owners to perform the DNA testing in order to avoid the possible problems in the future. The price may not be high when we consider that we have a possibility to identify early the potential problems of your dog.

Idiopathic Epilepsy Research

Sadly epilepsy is reported in the breed. However there is an extensive research project underway at the Animal Health Trust to develop a DNA test for this nasty condition.

There are three types of GWP that can valuably contribute to this research:

  • Any GWP that has been diagnosed as affected with idiopathic epilepsy
  • Their close relatives such as siblings, parents and grandparents, nieces and nephews etc.
  • Older GWPs – 8 years and over – who are NOT affected. They do not need to be related to affected dogs. This group acts as a control group.

The researchers require mouth swabs taken from the inside of the dog’s cheeks. You can get swab kits free of charge from the Animal Health Trust or by telephone on 01638 555 621. These kits are needed for the research and can greatly help your dog!

There is no fee required for this – it is currently a free service because it is part of a major study into epilepsy.  The swabs do not harm the dogs.

Once a test has been developed breeders will be able to ascertain whether or not their lines are clear of epilepsy. It may happen that the first test does not show anything, however, it there is even the smallest possibility for a problem, we will usually find something unusual at the initial test.

For many breeders the ‘promise’ of the DNA test has been dangling in front of them for too long without any real breakthrough so a degree of skepticism is forgivable.  However please think about this:

  • The LUPA project is funding research into canine disease to the tune of £50 Million
  • Computer modelling programmes are enabling the research scientists to locate the relevant sections of DNA faster than ever before
  • The speed with which the DNA tests are coming on stream is quickening
  • The Kennel Club has just set up with the AHT a Canine Genetics Centre with more resources than ever.

To find out more about how dogs are contributing to DNA Tests that will ultimately benefit us humans visit the LUPA website.

The more we can learn about the health status of today’s German Wirehaired Pointer population, the more we can guarantee the long-term future of the breed.

 

The German Wirehaired Pointer: A Falconer’s Dog

Falconry is a challenging field sport, in a wide variety of terrain. The quarry may be in the woodland or the open fields, moorland, or on water and marshland. Such is the variety of species, that a falconer, who does not specialise in one specific quarry, needs a very versatile dog to be the provider for either hawk or falcon. Guess what – one of the best dogs to support this activity is the German Wirehaired Pointer! Although this tradition has not been lasting for a long time, it is going to grow in the future and the demand for the GWPs will be huge!

In the UK, the GWP came into falconry prominence as just such a dog. In its native homeland in Germany it was truly a formidable all-rounder developed specifically to deal with the element of owning one dog capable of a wide variety of tasks in the field. Michael Woodford in his book ‘A Manual of Falconry’ published in 1960 shows a magnificent photo of a GWP lying down beside a goshawk on her perch. This is one of the defining moments for the wirehaired pointer, as it captured the imagination of those who wanted to move away from traditional pointers, setters and spaniels to a breed that could incorporate all their skills, plus there was not the need to be encumbered with a large kennel of specialist breeds to perform a singular task in the field.

After the Second World War GWPs had been imported into the UK in very small numbers and were a rarity. It was not until 1976 when 5 founder dogs were imported from Holland that the opportunity to own this breed was made available for those who wanted to see just what these gundogs were capable of.

With their tough wire coat, excellent pointing skills and a capacity to learn and develop their ability in the field to the highest level, they quickly became the dog of choice for the modern falconer. Unlike some other dogs, this breed is very easily trained for the falconry purposes and therefore it is always expected to achieve a success with this breed.

Falconry manuals and reference works rarely refer to how to train the dog as authors tend to concentrate solely on how to get the falcon or hawk prepared for the field. The truth of the matter is the dog is an essential ingredient to proficient hawking. It had become customary for the falconer to concentrate on flying the hawk whilst an assistant hunted the dogs either for the flush or for the point. Therefore you could indulge in having several brace of setters or pointers, or a compact team of spaniels.

The GWP is very quick to learn. They simply love to run around, and they enjoy in commands and directing them! Despite the fact that they also have strong retrieving instincts, there is no conflict in their minds when working with hawk or falcon. Much of the early work that they are taught is exactly the same as training the dog to the gun. They need to be able to sit, stay and be steady on command. As the become competent they will continue to put into practice this training in conjuction with the hawk or falcon. Once they learn the basics, the further progress is easy!

Their capacity to switch from dense woodland with bramble and briar undergrowth, to endurance running on moorland producing a perfect point for the falcon, makes them highly desirable and truly a great all-rounder.  They can be hunting and pointing for goshawks and Harris hawks, and switch their attention to partridge, grouse and duck for the falcon.

Young wirehairs need to be taught their lessons carefully as falconry dogs. This discipline branches away somewhat from shooting, as the dog will eventually be relied upon to do much of the field work away from the falconer and having located the quarry to be very steady on point, quite often for some time, whilst the hawk or falcon is brought into a commanding position, prior to the flush.

Knowledgeable breeding of GWPs for work in the field is paramount if the owner is to benefit from them as falconry dogs. The quality of selection in Germany is such that the very best dogs and bitches are used to produce the next generation’s working gundog. This pattern can also be seen in many good kennels in the UK today.

There is a tendency to believe that all wirehairs will make good dogs in the field whether for gun or hawk because that is what one expects from them. Unless they have been bred specifically as working dogs and both dam and sire can acquit themselves in the field, in shooting or falconry disciplines, then the likelihood is that you will be disappointed. As a safeguard, if you are going to invest time, effort and money into training a dog or bitch then make sure it was bred for that purpose.

 

Buying a GWP

German Wirehaired Pointers are not the breed for everyone – there is a breed for everyone and it is essential that you look at what you are able to offer a dog and what you want/expect from a dog before deciding on the breed. If you set out down the wrong road because you ‘like the look of a puppy’ you could ultimately be setting yourself up for a lot of work and heartache.

If you decide that the German Wirehaired Pointer is the way to go then your ‘puppy safari’ commences. This obviously starts with your homework. German Wires are by no means a popular commercial breed – with an average of around 300 a year being registered with the Kennel Club (although obviously more are born). It is fair to say that puppies are always available if the purchaser is prepared to travel and has no firm ideas of exactly what they want ie dog or bitch, liver or black etc. Endeavour to gain as  much information as possible about the breed, read books/journals, check the internet, visit shows and talk to the exhibitors, try to visit dogs in their home settings and if possible go along to a gundog working test or field trial.

Speak to a variety of people/breeders and decide who you feel comfortable purchasing a puppy from. A responsible breeder will be keen to find out about the sort of home you will be able to offer the puppy and will encourage ongoing contact between you. Still, have in mind that the slight differences in prices may be present, as the different breeder has a right to list the price according to its standards.

GWP puppies are to die for – they have ‘swoon appeal’ in bucket loads and ‘cute’ running through them like a stick of Blackpool rock – but don’t be fooled! They are going to develop into large, powerful and more-often-than-not challenging adults that will certainly need time and effort on your part to allow them to reach their full potential.

When selecting your puppy, ensure that you see the babies with their mother – it is not unusual that you cannot see the father, but if he is on the premises you should be able to see him also, plus any other members of the extended family. Whilst mum may be a little guarded or protective of her brood, with reassurance from her owner she should allow you to touch and interact with the puppies. However if she doesn’t allow you near, then her overall temperament may be suspect and it may be advisable to view other litters. Remember you do not have to buy a puppy from the first litter you see, if you are unsure about anything there will always be other litters to consider. Take time to make your selection – you will hopefully have to live with this family member for the next 12-15 years! Ask as many questions as you like – a few suggestions being:

Are both parents and puppies KC registered?

This is important if you want to find a real GWP puppy, as you do not want a mix of two breeds.

Is the person selling the puppies the breeder/owner of the bitch?

Is it possible to contact the stud dog owner to talk to them?

Have parents had any health checks?

Are the puppies wormed/vaccinated/chipped?

Check what endorsements (if any are in place)

If you go ahead with the purchase then a responsible caring breeder will always be on the end of the telephone if needed to offer advice and guidance once you have your new puppy home. The amount of information provided varies from breeder to breeder, however you s should certainly receive a comprehensive diet sheet, some food to carry over for a day or two, details of vaccinations and worming carried out and when the next ones are due and all paperwork pertaining to your puppy.  If the paperwork is not available then written assurance that they will follow. A receipt for monies paid should also be obtained.

Have your puppy checked by your own vet soon after purchase.  If any concerns are raised discuss these with the puppy’s breeder.  Breeders generally love to receive puppy/adult updates even if it is only in a Christmas card to know how little things are going. Breeding a puppy is a work that becomes a bit sentimental over the time and you simply like to get some feedback from the people who decided to take of your hairy little four-leg baby. Also, whilst the majority of breeders go out of their way to produce healthy, well natured dogs things may sometimes not pan out this way. So, more out of courtesy than anything else, any problems with your dog should be reported back as ultimately this knowledge may have an impact on future breeding plans from siblings.

If you are looking for a GWP puppy please refer to the GWPC breeder listings and also the GWPC Puppy Register. You can also get general puppy advice from any of the GWPC Committee.

You can also find details of litters registered with The Kennel Club on their website. Feel free to browse and ask whatever you want to know before you decide to buy a puppy!

Fun Facts About The German Wirehaired Pointers You Did Not Know

The German Wirehaired Pointers are the breed of dog that is one of the most favorite, especially in sporting competitions. It is a medium-large sized type of dog’s breed that originated from Germany in the middle of the 19th century. They are really energetic, fast, agile and simply love to hunt a pray as this is their natural habit! The GWPs are types of dogs that simply do not like living indoor, so they are best for houses and huge properties. In this article, we will give you some surprising facts you did not know about these little friends!

A high level of intelligence

Although look goofy since they run all the time and jump, these dogs are actually really smart. Their nature lays in curiosity, exploring and running, and therefore, they do not like to be static. They simply seek for the task or assignment, as they cannot rest idle and do nothing. The level of intelligence can be compared to the German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois or Doberman so if you consider getting one of those just to stay in your living room, forget about it. You must give them tasks and some kind of job – it can be as simple as getting the newspaper from the sidewalk to your doorway!

The coat is literally weather-resistant

Yes, they are weather-resistant! For this reason, the old Germans used this dog for the hunting and cutting through the dense forests of Bavaria during the cold and rainy seasons. The water-repellent skin protects them from water, snow and mud, keeping the cold way outside of their bodies. Also, the hair so dense that no bush can penetrate through it! These can swim efficiently without getting cold as the dense hair, and water-resistant skin simply rejects the particles of water and keep them outside.

The GWPs are well-versatile

Although used for sports competitions, these can be excellent dogs in almost any discipline. The hunt is their primary job since the beginning, but they can perform in searching and saving expeditions. Their strong sense for smell allows them to find hidden drugs, deep inside the oily tanks easily, or even smelling the people under the heavy snow and blizzard. While being the loving and caring companions, they can be trained for almost any task you could need, making them well-versatile!

Highly devoted to people

Yes, they do like people and their owners, especially who take good care of them! Since they were accustomed to people from their beginning, the GWPs like to be around children and take good care of them. Once they are raised in the family, they form a strong bond with them. Their devotion is seen in the play as well as cuddling with the owners whenever they have time for it. They simply like to spend time with people, especially if they get assigned something to do. That can be even a simple catch-and-bring activity, just to spend their unlimited amounts of energy!

 

Working Trials

Very few GWPs compete in Working Trials in the UK, however the ones that have competed have been very successful.  In fact the breed has 2 Working Trial Champions in the UK and many more GWPs how have earned Working Trial Certificates.

In Working Trials, it is the control and agility of the dogs that is being tested, the nosework exercises involve the scent of humans rather than the scent of game. In general a Working Trial dog dog must be trained to pick up any article that has human scent on it. This is done through a various exercises where we use the human scent on different things to make these dog learn to recognize the smell/trait.

Each dog has its own progression line where we can monitor its progress and see how far it came. The level of progression through Working Trials depends on the amount of success the dog has achieved. The primary aim is to obtain 70% of marks in each group of exercises  carried out followed by at least 80% of the marks available in the stake.  Certificates of Merit are awarded to dogs that achieve this mark at an Open Working Trial.  If the mark is achieved at a Championship Trial the dog may add the qualification to its registered name.

When speaking about the roles of a dog, you should know that there are some basic steps that is must pass. There are five levels and after the completion of each one, the dog progresses to the next one. There are a number of stakes that the dog is tested in and as each dog reaches the required standard in the stake it may move up to the next one. These stakes being:

Companion Dog

Utility Dog

Working Dog

Tracking Dog

Patrol Dog.

The ultimate level is the patrol dog and these dogs are used in the patrolling for various purposes!

Epilepsy Statement

Epilepsy in the German Wirehaired Pointer

Like all animals and dogs, the GWPs can experience the severe cases of epilepsy and thus these require a special treatment program. Of course, they are still highly functional dogs that can perform various actions and tasks, their health condition must be taken into consideration. Sadly cases of epilepsy are being reported in German Wirehaired Pointers. We as a committee are working very hard in trying to establish exactly how this is impacting on our breed.

Please remember that epilepsy is a complex condition. Not all dogs that experience seizures necessarily have epilepsy – its causes are varied and can include environmental factors. However in some cases of epilepsy there does appear to be a familial link. This does not mean literally that the puppies will inherit the illness, but there is a high-level risk associated with it.

In order to help our hairy friends, we must perform a small research and data collection. To address this awful condition we are:

Collecting data on reported cases of seizures and dogs with a diagnosis of epilepsy – please see the link to our health survey on the club website www.gwpclub.co.uk

Working closely with the epilepsy research project at the Animal Health Trust to establish an inheritance mode – but as yet we are someway off being able to confirm any such pattern.

Before we can confirm the known origins of the familial epilepsy in the breed we need verification from a genetics and/or epilepsy expert – we hope to be doing that very soon.

Note that this a serious condition and a dog that suffers from it must be recorded just for the records and the evidence.

 

Service Dogs

Since these dogs are very smart, it is natural to expect that they can be used for the certain actions and purposes, not only for hunting or falconry. GWPs are generally very biddable dogs and usually make excellent pets. However the natural instincts for hunting, superb nose and devotion to their handler enables GWPs to be trained to a variety of uses in the service of society. These services may vary, depending on the current needs of the society.

GWPs have been used in several main roles in this way; as Pet’s As Therapy (PAT) Dogs, hearing dogs for the deaf and as Police and Army Drug/Explosive Search Dogs. They have showed the outstanding results in Police and Army purposes, as their super-sensitive noses can detect even the small amounts of drugs, explosive or weapons. During the “recruitment” it is easy to spot what kind of action the dog is the best for. Therefore, we always stress out the importance on giving the dog freedom in searching and working.

Working Tests

What are they? Why do we need them? And how do we prepare for them?

Working Tests were designed to be able judge how you and your dogs training is getting on, and to compete in a friendly atmosphere, before moving on to competing in field trials. Each training session is designed specifically to test a certain ability of your dog so there are many tests that we perform.

To further test his ability on hunting, scent and steadiness to pointing and flushing game you need to enter Spring or Grouse Pointing Tests, then to get the full picture of how his working ability is really shaping enter a shoot training day, this will cover everything needed for field trials, walk-up days, or rough shooting.

At working Tests there are three classes Puppy 6-18 months old on the day of the test Novice Open and an unclassified class Graduate, this is a nice halfway step between coming out of Novice and into open.

The tests involve Hunting usually over barren ground, Retrieving which involves a seen retrieve a blind retrieve sometimes a double retrieve which we call a split retrieve involving a blind and a seen or both seen and a water retrieve, all these skills will be required whether you field trial or work your dog out shooting.

What ever breed of HPR you choose, there are two requirements of utmost importance, that the puppy is biddable and that you have a very good bonding. We say this because to work with these dogs you need to form a strong partnership built on trust, and because of the distance these dogs will be working away from you the need of strict obedience is vital.

There are plenty of good books to read and videos on training your HPR or you could join a training class most breed clubs run them. Do not hesitate to ask us if you need any advice on the book, training nad guidance, as we work with many owners online. Also, if you have a good book to recommend, feel free to share the material with us!

For getting ready to train your dog for Working Tests you will need a whistle, two or more dummies starting with a puppy weight and a couple of 1lb ones a long line can be useful when starting to train when he starts doing each exercise promptly that’s when to take the lead off, assuming that from day one of having your puppy you have used the whistle to call him for feeding then the long blast while just holding the food above but slightly in front off his head to make him sit which comes naturally if the angle is right, and have played with him fetching toys back to you while you are sat in front of his bed, this is the natural place he will run to you have started his training without him knowing, and are setting the foundation for real training.

You will now need to teach him to walk to heel [by your side] on and off the lead, sit and stay, fetch a seen retrieve and a blind retrieve [unseen] ,split retrieve that is two retrieves out in different places to be retrieved in the order the Judge asks it could be a seen and unseen, or two seen, and to learn to swim so that he can retrieve from the water or swim across the water to retrieve from the bank the other side of the water. These are some simple and basic commands that your dog should demonstrate!

You will need to teach him to hunt, I prefer to let the puppy run free and learn about the wind and explore exciting cover where game has been, then encourage him to cover the ground while always working in the direction of the wind, as experience comes you will see him change the pattern of working when the wind direction changes do not worry when he does this, but if you are worried that he is missing ground then call him to you and get him into that area that has been missed and work that according to wind direction.

These are the basics you will need whether you are competing in Field Trials Work Tests or on a walked up Shoot Day even as a Picker Up your dog still needs this form of training. As we said, need you any help with these, do not hesitate to contact us so we could help you! We will be glad to help you!

So get started and enjoy yourselves, it is one of the most enjoyable sports!