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Authored By Dave Pepe, September 2000
In Germany, the Deutscher Wachtelhund is classified as a versatile forest dog bred for finding sparse game over harsh conditions such as mountains, ice and snow. They are basically flushers and will sometimes flash point, but are noted for going in for the kill. They make excellent bird dogs, but will also work fur game. They hunt with a high nose, scenting air scents as a pointer when game is far away, and will put their nose to the ground to follow foot scent, as a hound when game is close. Unlike hounds they can be called off a trail and will return to their master. They naturally hunt in an arc pattern before the hunter bringing the game back before the hunter. They excel at water work, retrieving, and trailing game; they are aggressive in the hunt, but they are also a loyal and great family dog, and friendly with people. They do best living in the home.
Deutscher Wachtelhunds originated in Germany where they are still owned and sold almost exclusively to foresters and professional hunters. The average German citizen does not even know the Wachtelhund exists. The Germans classify the Deutscher Wachtelhund as a Stoberhund, hund meaning — dog. In English stober translates to — to rummage about (if you think about it most dogs started hunting in this manner.) The Germans classify all other flushers as Spaniels and separate from the Stober dog category.
The Stober dog goes back hundreds of years in German history and was used to create the Deutscher Wachtelhund and various other pointer breeds coming out of Germany. Prior to the German revolution in the 1600s, Royalty and Lords owned all the game and could afford kennels and dog handlers. They developed from hounds and Stobers other specialists, pointers, flushers, and hounds; much like we have done today with most hunting breeds. After the revolution the German commoner could hunt, but could not afford to maintain a kennel of specialist dogs. So the Germans developed versatile hunting dogs. Today the Deutscher Wachtelhund is called a versatile forest dog and is the only dog remaining in the Stober category.
At the turn of the century, the German Kennel Club directed each pedigree dog club to establish standards and performance tests as appropriate, and issue breed specific pedigrees. In 1903, the Verein for Deutsche Wachtelhund (VDW) or German Wachtelhund Club was established. By 1908, the VDW had established performance hunt measurement tests and was conducting performance hunt test throughout Germany for the Deutscher Wachtelhund. In 1910, the VDW implemented its breed standard by selecting eleven Deutscher Wachtelhunds, four males and seven females. Basically, one Deutscher Wachtelhund was selected from each region of Germany, with two coming from the Hannover region. All of today’s registered Wachtelhunds were line bred from these eleven Deutscher Wachtelhunds. The smallest was a female at 35 cm and the largest was a male at 53 cm. The initial breed standard established at 35 cm to 50 cm. During the years of 1972 to 1975, 1000 Wachtelhunds were measured establishing new standards. Males were 50 cm, plus or minus 2 cm; females where 48 cm, plus or minus 2 cm. More recently the standards were revised to 45 to 52 cm for females and 48 to 54 cm for males.
Even though some of the German pointers still give tongue at times, Deutscher Wachtelhunds were bred exclusively to give tongue when trailing game, for employment in deep forest and will do so on feathered game, as a running pheasant, and on fur game. Like all German hunting dogs, the Deutscher Wachtelhund was bred to do many hunting tasks such as; finding game; retrieving and recovering game; blood trailing wounded deer, red stag (elk), and boar. In Germany, they are used for hunting feathered game, including waterfowl, and all fur and cloven hoof game from hare, fox, and wild boar. They are not pack hunters, but one-on-one hunters and will hold a wounded boar at bay, if necessary.
In Germany, buyers must enter their Deutscher Wachtelhunds in a juvenile hunt test before they are 18 months old. They also have three other levels of hunting tests applicable to the Deutscher Wachtelhund and then the German versatile hunt test. The juvenile hunt test focuses on trailing and giving tongue, steadiness and willingness to work in water and on land. Juvenile Deutscher Wachtelhunds are measured in ten categories on a scale of one through ten and must obtain a minimum score of five in each category to be entered in the German Wachtelhund Association breeding book, only those Wachtelhunds entered into the breeding book are allowed to be bred.
In Europe, breeders wanting to breed Deutscher Wachtelhunds must first request permission from the German Wachtelhund Club (VDW) and must provide x-rays of the sire and dams hips with a veterinarian’s certification that they are free of hip dysplasia to breed their Deutscher Wachtelhunds. The VDW only resisters pups from dogs who have passed the juvenile hunt test and are free of hip dysplasia. These are pure hunting dogs tested for breeding the best hunting dogs. Other than pointing game, they will perform any North American hunting task.
Since there are not enough Deutscher Wachtelhunds in North America to conduct hunt measurement tests as in Germany, it is essential that only actively hunted Deutscher Wachtelhunds should be bred to insure they do not loose their hunting abilities.