Episode 32: Drahthaars, Langhaars, Bretons, and Other International Breeds in America

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We’ve been talking about the role of “place” in the history and culture of hunting dog breeds, but not every breed fits neatly within geographical boundaries. There are several breeds in North America who have a foot in two worlds: the parent country (often Germany) as well as North America.

We explore breeds such as the Deutsch Drahthaar, Deutsch Langhaar, and Deutsch Kurzhaar which are known by their German language names in order to differentiate from the German Wirehaired Pointer, German Longhaired Pointer, and German Shorthaired Pointer. Even though the names directly translate, the use of the German name signifies a very specific system and methodology that exists behind the individual dog. Each of these breeds is managed by a U.S.-based chapter of the German parent club, rather than an AKC or NAVHDA-based breed club.

The German clubs, along with their U.S.-based chapters, tie together a dog’s performance, health, and conformation into a single system. Before a dog can be bred, it must successfully complete a series of tests and evaluations. The purpose of this system is to ensure that the dogs maintain their consistent form and function, generation after generation. This fits in with the German hunting culture which requires “certified” hunting dogs in the field—in other words, it’s based on qualification rather than competition.

So is a Drahthaar the same thing as a GWP? We settle on the answer of “it depends”—at least when it comes to an individual dog. One dog may be the offspring of two Drahthaars but if the parents weren’t tested and certified for breeding within the regulations, then the puppies can’t be considered Drahthaars…even if the genetics are the same. But if this continues for five, ten, or twenty generations, at which point do enough differences creep in that they could be considered different breeds altogether? So rather than studying any one individual dog, it’s more productive to look at the GWP vs. DD discussion at the larger population level. In that case, they are not the same thing, since the breeds are managed in entirely different manners.

Is a German-bred dog right for you? Again, it depends. Jennifer talks about what drew her to the Deutsch Langhaar club, ultimately causing her to jump in feet first. But as with anything else, it’s a matter of personal preference. If the idea of a standardized system with strict protocols resonates with you, then it could be a great fit. On the other hand, if you bristle at the idea of being governed by a strict system, then it likely won’t be a good fit for you. Craig talks about the importance of evaluating the culture around a breed before deciding if it’s the right breed for you.

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Hunting Dog Confidential is presented by Eukanuba Premium Performance Dog Food and supported by Syren USA and Kent Cartridge.

32 episodes