The Do-Everything Dog

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Published on: Sep. 2, 2002

Last revision: Nov. 12, 2010

tan/gold coat. Jeff Griffin, in his fine book "The Hunting Dogs Of America" (unfortunately out of print), says that the Weimaraner and Vizsla evolved as noblemens' dogs, though the Vizsla probably predates the Weimaraner, perhaps to the 1300s. He also theorizes the Weimaraner started as a big game dog and evolved to a bird pointing dog. The Vizsla always was a bird dog.

The first Vizslas in the United States were a pair sent from Rome to a fellow in Kansas City in 1950. He thought they were Weimaraners. By 1960, the breed was prevalent enough to be recognized by the American Kennel Club.

The Vizsla is a medium-sized dog that works fairly close and has strong pointing and retrieving instincts. It is a sweet-tempered, sensitive dog that is good with children and makes a good family pet.

German Wirehaired Pointer

Also called the Drahthaar. It's not, as you might think, a curly-haired version of the Shorthair. It is an amalgam of several other breeds: Griffon, Pudelpointer, Shorthair and Stichelhaar (which in turn is a combination of the Pudelpointer, Pointer, Foxhound and Polish Water Dog).

The Wirehair came to the United States in 1920. It never has achieved the popularity it deserves, probably because it doesn't look like a familiar hunting dog. It hunts fairly close, has an undercoat and tolerates cold weather and water almost as well as a retriever.

German Long Haired Pointer (not pictured)

There are few in the United States, but many in Europe, especially Germany. It was first imported to the U.S. in the 1950s. This thick-coated dog is calm and a close- to medium-range worker.

It possibly has Gordon setter in its background and looks much like a brown Irish setter. It almost certainly descends from the land spaniels of medieval times and shares common ancestors with the Muensterlaenders.

Braque d'Auvergne (not pictured)

Possibly the oldest pointer, dating as a recognized breed to the late 1700s. The Braque is a big dog, weighing as much as 70 pounds. It looks like a German Shorthair with the heavy head of a hound.

It definitely is a minor player on the United States bird hunting scene. There were estimated to be less than a dozen in the country in the late 1980s.

Methodical and close-working, Braques are affectionate and largely self-training. They have strong natural pointing and retrieving instincts.

Munsterlander Pointer (Small)

The biggest differences between the two are size and color. The Small is always brown and white, and the Large is black and white. The Small is 20-22 inches high; the Large, 24-26.

Munsterlanders are German dogs from Munster. They descended from the early pointing spaniels. By the mid-1800s, they were well established, but they weren't recognized as a breed until 1912. The first Munsterlander probably reached the United States in 1951.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

The Griffon looks enough like a German Wirehaired Pointer that they can be confused, but they're distinctly different dogs.Wirehaired Griffons date to 1874 when a Dutchman, Edouard Karel Korthals, began breeding Griffons for their wiry coats and their hunting qualities.

Griffons, an old breed, claim hunting spaniels, otter hounds and pointers in their background. Korthals' genetic invention proved somewhat smaller and more methodical in the field than its close relative the German Wirehair.

The two breeds share many attributes, including a love of water, cold weather tolerance, good noses and ability to endure heavy brush. Griffons are intelligent and make good family pets.

Two Montana breeders introduced the Wirehaired Griffon to the United States in 1920.

Spinone

This is an Italian wirehaired breed. It's origins are disputable. Some claim it predates the birth of Christ, but it more likely originated in the 1500s.

Some say the spinone is an ancestor of several of the wirehaired breeds. French dog fanciers say it evolved from French pointing breeds. It's a big dog (up to 80 pounds). It works fairly close and methodically, is a natural retriever and can endure heavy brush. It is an ideal pheasant and grouse dog because it is extremely cautious when on game (both birds are prone to walk or run from a point).

Pudelpointer

You could guess this is a cross between a poodle and a pointer. It's another German dog with a poodle's dense, protective coat and the pointer's bird abilities. Pudelpointers work hard and fast in the field and are intelligent, good retrievers, both on land and in water.

Pudelpointer breeders still are experimenting with the breed, and some are crossing with other breeds to get desirable characteristics. The original cross of poodle/pointer dates to the late 1800s.

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