NGWP rescue
9 min readDec 23, 2021


Westminster Kennel Club

National German Wirehair Rescue, official rescue of the German Wirehair Pointer Club of America, is proud to be one of three recipients of the 2022 National Breed Club Westminster Gives Back Award for $5000

The Black and White of It

A Look at the Issue of Black and White GWPs and Its Impact on the Breed

— Diane Turner, President, NGWPR

Black and White Puppy

History of Black and White Wires

Somewhere between 60 and 80 years ago the first black and white Wire appeared in Europe. And no doubt from the moment that black and white puppy took his first steps, there were those fanciers who were enthralled by his color and those who distained the fact that he did not exhibit the traditional liver and white coat that hunters treasured for its camouflage capacity.

Breed color is an emotional subject with those on each side passionate about their beliefs. So volatile is the color controversy that friendships and business relationships have disintegrated in the wake of disagreements regarding black and white dogs.

Liver and White

Since 1959 when the American Kennel Club (AKC) accepted Drahthaars and declared the German Wirehaired Pointer a recognized breed, liver and white has been the preferred color. In fact, the standard presented by those fanciers who worked for AKC recognition of the GWP had been guided by the Danish standard which did not allow black and whites even though Germany, the country of the breed’s origin, did.

Liver and White , Ticked and Spotted

2005 Vote Offers Opportunity for Change

Throughout the years since the breed’s recognition, the black and white controversy has surged and waned. In 2005 a standard review committee was formed by the German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America (GWPCA,) the parent club of the breed, and its members were presented with the opportunity to change the standard and drop the penalty for black. Though the vote to acknowledge the black and white color was close, in the end it was clear that more members voted to maintain the standard’s penalty for black.

Although the standard penalizes black and white dogs in the show ring, these dogs are allowed to compete in all performance events and field trials.

In the years following the 2005 vote, there have been a growing number of black and white dogs whelped in the US and occasionally one has appeared in the show ring. The prejudice against the black color and the determination to honor the standard as it is written has been so strong that it takes a diligent owner with a determined personality to show a black and white. Only a handful of black and white Wires have finished a championship, and each time a black and white is shown there is a flurry of excitement equaled by a flurry of controversy and criticism of judges.

It was in February of 2013 at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Show which was held at Madison Square Garden in New York City, where a black and white received a Select Dog award. Though at ringside there were whoops and cheers of support, the text messages and tweets that followed informing fanciers of the award swept the Wire world in a flood of controversy.

Liver Roan Spotted

Another Vote in 2016

Once again it seemed as if GWP owners and breeders across the nation were to face a growing unrest regarding the black and white issue and there were fears that the issue would destroy breed unity. This spurred the leadership of the GWPCA once again to form a committee to research the color issue and to put it to a vote.

Liver roan

During the months prior to the vote there was much campaigning on both sides of the black and white issue. Those who wished the penalty for blacks dropped shared the idea that the larger gene pool the blacks presented would have a positive effect on the breed and those who opposed expressed concern that allowing blacks to gain championships would give license to unreputable breeders to breed black to black and that would eventually diminish the liver genes.

Ballots went out in the autumn on 2016 and once again GWPCA members had the opportunity to offer their opinions. The GWPCA by-laws require 5/8 of the membership to agree on any change in the breed standard. The vote was close, but the proposal failed because some members did not vote and the required 5/8 agreement of the membership was not met. So the standard remains the same.

Those breeders and fanciers opposing the change may have been correct in their evaluation as today there are numerous sites on the internet advertising solid black Wires. The original and early breeders of Wires in Germany knew that with the different colors — i.e. orange, lemon, tri-colored and solid black came certain health problems, faults and temperament issues.

Solid Liver

Some GWPs have such dark liver that it can be difficult to distinguish liver from black. Liver dogs always have liver or brown noses and pigment. Black dogs will have black noses and pigment. It is genetically impossible to have a liver dog with a black nose or a black dog with a liver nose.

Black Roan

The Truth about Black and White

However, in spite of the lack of change to the breed standard, there are breeders who do use black and white Wires responsibly in their breeding programs. It is the lack of education and responsibility of some unaffiliated breeders that cause concern to each and every reputable breeder and fancier.

Black and white Wires can be every bit as capable, talented and structurally sound as their liver and white sisters and brothers. If you have fallen in love with a black and white Wire do not be discouraged. There is a world of activities and events that you can participate in. And if you choose to breed your dog — do it responsibly — if you are not an experienced breeder then work closely with a responsible reputable breeder who can guide you.

A Look at the Genetics of the Black and White

Dr. Shelia Schmutz of Skawaskawan University, one of the leading genetics experts working with canine coat color, suggests that the genetics of the black and white and liver and white are straightforward and follow simple dominant/recessive laws. The laws, according to Schmutz, can be learned and followed easily.

Coat color is controlled by different genes. Black is a B gene and is found as BB or Bb and is dominant to liver which is bb, the recessive. Currently, geneticists indicate that the solid color is controlled by the S gene and seen as the dominant SS or Ss compared to the roaning or spotting gene, which is indicated by the recessive ss.

For a table of colors based on genetic combinations, go to

Though black is “dominant” it does not necessarily mean that it is “common” — the two should not be confused. Schmutz stated that a breed’s preference for a recessive trait like liver coloring can keep that trait predominant. There is evidence for this across many domestic species where recessive colors are common. Even in other breeds that also accept dominant colors without restriction, we find recessive colors are the most common. Examples include orange in the Brittany and liver in the Springer and in the English Pointer.

Within our GWPs the recessive roaning or spotting patterns are recessive to the dominant solid-liver color and yet roan and spotted dogs are most common. That is due to the preference of the GWP breeders.

Schmutz states that the color black is not associated with any known color anomalies, therefore it does no harm.

But in order to avoid obtaining solid black dogs, the first rule of thumb is DO NOT BREED A SOLID BLACK DOG. The second rule is DO NOT BREED A BLACK AND WHITE DOG TO A SOLID LIVER. INSTEAD ALWAYS BREED A BLACK AND WHITE TO A LIVER AND WHITE.

To learn more about coat color and pattern in the GWP please visit Dr. Schmutz’ website.

Westminster Kennel Club Logo

National German Wirehair Rescue, official rescue of the German Wirehair Pointer Club of America, is proud to be one of three recipients of the 2022 National Breed Club Westminster Gives Back Award for $5000

Prestigious grant awarded to NGWPR

According to the Westminster Kennel Club (WKC) website:

“Unfortunately, not all dogs spend their whole lives with one loving family. But through Westminster’s support to Breed Rescue activities help many dogs get a second chance at happiness with a new family. National Breed Club volunteers from across the country work to rescue dogs in need with funds from breeders, owners and exhibitors involved in dog sports. Westminster is proud to support these volunteers and the tireless work they do to help dogs who need proper veterinary care, rehabilitation and often times training before they are available to a new family.

  • Westminster’s first show in 1877 was so popular — with 20,000 daily visitors — the club extended the show for an extra day so that all proceeds from that day could be donated to the ASPCA to establish a home for stray and disabled dogs. Thus, a long relationship with a New York City institution for the humane treatment of animals was forged.
  • Westminster’s charitable giving has included organizations that provide Disaster Relief for companion animals in the wake of natural disasters, including the AKC Companion Animal Recovery, AKC Humane Fund, AKC Reunite, ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States.
  • Beginning in 2018, the club began donating annually to three AKC-recognized National Breed Clubs to support their dog breed rescue activities. These annual Westminster Gives Back Award donations assists clubs in offsetting rescue expenses such as transportation, veterinary care, feeding, boarding, grooming, and training.

Westminster teams with its sponsor Purina, in support of Purina’s charities: Rally to Rescue, Pets for People, and One Hope Alliance, to help shelter dogs and breed rescue across the country. Over the years, Westminster has helped to raise millions of dollars for rescue programs and shelters to help dogs in need as well as donations to breed-specific organizations such as Greyhound Rescue.

The 2022 National Breed Club recipients are the Airedale Terrier Club of America, Doberman Pinscher Club of America, and the German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America.”

We are proud and grateful to be chosen as one of the recipients of this grant and look forward to helping more dogs find their forever homes.

All of us at NGWPR wish you a joyous holiday season and look forward to your continuing support for GWPs in need in 2021

Christmas Card by Lottie Long Legs, who donates proceeds every year to the NGWP Rescue

About Us

National GWP Rescue is a nationwide rescue program whose volunteers work tirelessly to provide funding, foster homes, medical care and training for GWPs found in shelters, animal control facilities and to those GWPs whose current owners are unable to provide a suitable situation.

Working hand- in-hand with governmental and local shelters, NGWPR provides a safe and responsible home for GWP’s in need. Placed with an experienced GWPCA member, fostered GWPs that have been neglected, untrained or have medical issues quickly blossom as they are readied for their “forever” homes.

Prior to releasing our rescued GWPs for adoption, volunteers provide obedience, manners, and house training. We hold to the philosophy that a mannerly dog has a better chance of fitting into a new household.

NGWPR believes that Wires were designed to hunt and unlike some other rescue programs, we are happy to place dogs with field experience or bird instinct with potential owners who enjoy hunting behind a Wire. However, NGWPR insists that any rescue dog first be a house dog and companion, then a weekend hunting partner.

Please go to our website to learn more.

Click here to donate to NGWPR

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NGWP rescue

We believe that the more we educate people the more likely we are to accomplish our mission of matching homeless GWPs with loving owners.