As I have written before, the HPR breeds from the continent have not split into show and working form in the same way that the specialized gun dogs from Britain and Ireland have.
However, there have been some splits. It is kind of inevitable. Dog shows are very expensive endeavors in terms of money and time. It is even more expensive to get a dog with both working titles and a show championship.
But in the HPR’s, the splits have been less dramatic– with one notable exception.
I hope that I can be forgiven for generally refusing to call German HPR’s pointers. Yes, they point, but they do many other things. They are not like the pointers you find on Southern plantations and quail preserves. They do point, but no pointer is expected to retrieve. And no pointer is supposed to be a good blood trail dog. And no pointer is encouraged to hunt furred animals, like coyotes and foxes.
Calling the German HPR’s pointers limits their talent base in our minds. Too many people think they are just an index dog.
To remedy this problem that the English name for these dogs has given us, I have decided to go by their German names. The short-hair is the Kurzhaar. The long-hair is the Langhaar. I still call the pudelpointer by its name, simply because that’s what its name is in German.
Then I called the wire-haired German HPR a “Drahthaar.” Well, that name has a problem. The dogs that are registered as Deustch Drahthaar are not exactly the same as the “German wire-haired pointer” that is registered with the AKC.
Superficially, the dogs look similar, but they are being bred to very different standards.
The dogs registered as Deustch Drahthaar have a registry and club called Verein Deutsch Drahthaar–Group North America. (Verein, BTW, means union.) Their club has a physical conformation standard, but it also has very strict behavioral conformation standards. The dogs have to go through what is called “performance testing” to evaluate their working abilities:
To insure the continued quest for improvement of performance, regulations were established which require that all VDD Drahthaar used for breeding must first meet certain field performance standards. This evaluation of performance is conducted at special field trails designed to demonstrate inherited qualities.
Now, I wish we actually had something like this for retrievers. There is a physical conformation standard, but the dogs must behave and perform like retrievers in order to be considered for breeding.
Wow. What a novel concept.
I’ve seen many German breed clubs that are like this one. Those Germans were onto something. The club for retrievers in Germany operates like this, but it is using the FCI standard for British retrievers, which means they may not be breeding for the most functional conformation.
This performance registry for Drahthaars is using a very different conformation standard. For example, the AKC standard doesn’t allow any black on the German wire-haired pointer’s coat, but the Drahthaars can come in black roan. (Kurzhaar from Germany can come in solid black).
But what I found interesting about the North American Deustch Drahthaar registry is that it says something like this on virtually every page:
Many breeders of the German Wirehaired Pointer (GWP) errantly refer to their breed as Drahthaar. In addition to significant differences in breed standard, the Wirehair has been bred without regulation or restriction since the late 1950’s, but especially without the performance testing that proves the ability of the Drahthaar. After years of unrestricted breeding and no versatile performance standards the German Wirehaired Pointer has evolved into a distinctly separate breed.
So I can’t call the wire-haired HPR registered with the AKC a Drahthaar.
But calling it a German wire-haired HPR requires too many syllables. It’s just like the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Every time I say that breed’s name to an uninitiated person, that person thinks I just made it up. Fewer words and syllables are useful when naming a dog breed, even if the English language has some deficiencies.
The strictness of the Deutsch Drahthaar community means that they can consistently produce good quality dogs. And that policy has worked in Germany and Austria, where the Drahthaar is the most common working gun dog.
And because this breed is very different from the German wire-hair, I think I need to make a correction to something that was said at Westminster this year. The announcer said that the German wire-hair was the most common gun dog in Germany. This is not the case.
It is the Deutsch Drahthaar.
Even saying the name gets my Teutonic blood flowing.
Now, this linguistic problem doesn’t exist with Large and Small Münsterländers, Pudelpointers, Stichelhaars (which are not Drahthaars!), or Langhaars. Only the Weimaraner and the German short-haired and wire-haired HPR’s have been recognized by the AKC. (And the Weimaraner is actually a big game hound that later was developed into an HPR.)
They have yet to start splitting up.
I’ve read in several places that the German HPR’s can’t be trusted with children.
I think this video dispels that myth fairly well:
I remember writing a short story about a Drahthaar when I was in the ninth grade.
However, I can’t remember the details of it.
All I remember is the title of the story was “Drahthaar,” and I made it take place in Moravia or Bohemia.
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