The Introduction of a Pudelpointer: Gunner, a Versatile Hunting Dog

If you have followed much of my writing you might guess that I tend to overthink things. Particularly when it comes to gear, hunting, trucks, etc. When my wife and I first got married we decided to wait a few years on kids, but that we needed a dog. Our first dog was a beautiful German Shorthair we named Remi. She was a bundle of energy who through some unfortunate events never became much of a hunting dog. She left us much too soon, and as life moved on our children came along. Fast forward to a few years ago and the family’s desire for a dog kicked in. In the spring of 2017, Gunner joined the family! Below is the process we went through and why we picked Gunner. Hopefully you find it useful as you consider your next hunting companion.

The idea had always been there, and my research had never stopped, so when the time came I knew what breed I wanted. I had to do some explaining and artfully display puppy pictures, but in the end we went with a Pudelpointer. This article is not to convince you to buy a Pudelpointer, but rather to explain why we bought one, and why (for our family) a Versatile Hunting Dog was our best choice. This is no slam on other breeds or types of hunting dogs. This is purely our though process to purchasing a Pudelpointer and some of our joys and trials in the process. I also found the breed, its history, and the cast of characters that made today’s Pudelpointer, fascinating.

My son Jonah did a good job making the case as to why a Versatile Hunting Dog should be part of your research process if you are looking for a hunting dog. It is my opinion (and to be honest based on more research than experience) that the best hunting dogs come from dedicated breeders with intentional breeding programs. I have met some amazing mixed breeds, so please don’t be offended if your dog is not as described here. I just believe that if you are buying a dog to be used for a specific purpose the best approach is to buy one specifically, carefully, and scientifically bred for that purpose. If we disagree, can we please just agree to disagree? I am no expert, and this is purely my personal opinion. I provide information behind my thought pattern as we progress. Now, on to our journey! 🙂

Let’s start by explaining just what a Pudelpointer is. As a Pudelpointer owner it is probably the most frustrating aspect of ownership. Many people have no idea as to the history and tradition behind this dog; and assume it is one of the modern “poodle” variants. Many websites offer great insight to the origin of this unique dog. I will list a few toward the end, but summarize here. In the late 1800s a German, Baron Von Vedlitz, began the quest to breed a hunting dog that excelled at tracking, pointing, and retrieving. He started with 90 “pointers” and 7 “poodles,” or pudels in German (some sources say it took a mix of 11 pudels and 80 pointers to accomplish this feat). The original sire was an English Pointer named Tell, and the dam was Molly, a German hunting pudel.

Bing Crosby and Bodo hunt wild pheasant. Lake Ontario, Canada 1962.Dogs: Winterhelle’s Paloma; Winterhelle’s Olympia. ©

It took over 30 years before the distinctive characteristics that make up a Pudelpointer were achieved, and the work continues to this day. In 1956 Bobo Winterhelt introduced Pudelpointers to North America. His efforts led to the development of the Pudelpointer Club of North America. Who Bobo was, and his contribution to the breed is an interesting read. Please see my links at the end if this intrigues you.

So what exactly is a Pudelpointer, and what does one look like? The Pudelpointer is a medium sized dog that weighs between 45 – 70 pounds. They have a height range of 20 – 27 inches. The most common color is brown (or liver), but some breeders have bred black ones. Often times white markings and layers are found in the coat. For breeding purposes white markings on the chest and paws are allowed. Several variations of the coat exist; Wire, Smooth/Short, and Rough (bushy). The standard is for a harsh, wiry, dense coat that is pleasant to the touch. (I believe that Gunner is considered a medium, or Wire coated dog) All Pudelpointers should have a whiskered (bearded) muzzle and defined eyebrows. The tail is typically docked at two thirds of its original length. Gunner also has some gray coloring throughout his head, back, and tail. As we don’t plan to breed him, I’m not sure if this matters. I have seen other Pudelpointers with blonde highlights, but none as young as he is with gray.

The most comprehensive material I have read on the breeding of hunting dogs, and why it REALLY does matter is Bob Farris’s new book; Breeding & Training Versatile Hunting Dogs Paperback, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 2 edition (February 25, 2018). He is a wealth of knowledge and has extensive experience with Versatile Hunting Dogs, in particular the Pudelpointer. From what I can gather it is fair to say that Bobo and Bob are two of the most influential Pudelpointer owners in North American.

Pudelpointers are known for being of sound temperament and eager to please. They require a dedicated owner, willing to invest time in the training, to reach their full potential. They are known for being a relatively clean dog with minimal shedding. Gunner’s coat is easy to wipe clean, but does require a weekly brushing and seasonal stripping. When stressed he does emit a “doggy” smell, but when regularly exercised and cleaned we concur with the prior statements. He does go through stages where shedding is more noticeable.

Our original intent was to train Gunner for Alaskan Ptarmigans and waterfowl. However, life threw us a curve ball and in February of 2018 we had to make the hard decision to move our home to WA State. Gunner’s training has been far from perfect, and I really wish I could turn back time and have a redo. We are still working our way through holding a point and basic obedience, but Gunner can be hunted over! This spring we participated in the PNW NAVHDA spring testing and completed the Natural Ability (NA) Test. Gunner scored a Prize 1 112, a perfect score!

The next article in this series will focus on the resources used (of which there were / are many) and the processes we are using. Dog training is a skill and art of which I am FAR from an expert on. However, how I found help and how I utilize that help is worth sharing, especially if your level of expertise is similar to mine. : ) The conclusion of this series will be some gear lists and resources, as well as some references sources for future reading and analysis. Thanks for hanging with us on this journey! Happy Hunting, and be sure to take a kid with you!

Pudelpointer LINKS:

Pudelpointer History
A 16 Page article diving into the background and amazing life of Bobo Winterhelt

Pudelpointer Club of North American (PCNA)

North American Pudelpointers Breeders Alliance (NAPPA)

Project Upland – Pudelpointers

Notable Figures in Pudelpointer History:
Bob Farris – Cedarwood Gun Dogs
Bob Farris – Breeding Philosophy