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Deutscher Wachtelhund

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021

The Deutscher Wachtelhund is a medium to large dog classed as a gundog from Germany and the modern version was bred in the late 19th century. It is a versatile dog popular with hunters and gamekeepers and is known for being very obsessive and persistent when on a trail. It also is a friendly dog full of personality so makes a good companion too. Other names include the German Spaniel, German Quail Dog and Deutscher Wachtel and its life span is 12 to 14 years.

The Deutscher Wachtelhund at a Glance
Name Deutscher Wachtelhund
Other names German Spaniel, German quail dog, Deutscher Wachtel
Nicknames Wachtelhund, Wachtel
Origin Germany
Average size Medium to large
Average weight 44 to 66 pounds
Average height 17 to 22 inches
Life span 12 to 14 years
Coat type Thick, long, wavy
Hypoallergenic No
Color Brown, orange, red blond, and white
Popularity Not yet a fully registered member of the AKC
Intelligence Very good to excellent
Tolerance to heat Good can handle most climates but nothing too hot or extreme
Tolerance to cold Very good to excellent – happy to go into freezing cold waters
Shedding Average and seasonal – some hair around the home at all times and then heavier during seasonal times
Drooling Average – some drool but not a huge slobbery dog
Obesity Moderate – just measure its food and make sure it is well exercised
Grooming/brushing Average to frequent – brush tow to three times a week
Barking Occasional to frequent – teaching it to stop on command is a good idea
Exercise needs Quite active – needs active owners
Trainability Moderately easy for those with experience
Friendliness Very good
Good first dog Moderate – not a dog for new owners
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Very good with socialization
Good with other dogs Very good to excellent with socialization
Good with other pets Moderate to good – needs socialization and supervision
Good with strangers Moderate to good with socialization
Good apartment dog Low – best in a home with a yard
Handles alone time well Low to moderate – does not like being alone for long periods
Health issues Fairly healthy but a few issues include ear infections, skin problems, allergies and splayed feet
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health care and for pet insurance
Food expenses $270 a year for a good quality dry dog food and treats
Miscellaneous expenses $665 a year for basic training, grooming, toys, license and miscellaneous items
Average annual expenses $1420 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $750
Rescue organizations None breed specific check local shelters
Biting Statistics None reported

The Deutscher Wachtelhund’s Beginnings

The Deutscher Wachtelhund is a German breed developed in the late 19th century and is related to the Drentse Patrijshond and the Small Munsterlander which were descended from a dog from the 1400s known as the quail dog. In Germany it is classed as a versatile forest dog, it was developed to be able to hunt game that is sparse and hard to find in difficult terrain and weather conditions including mountains, snow and ice. It works by flushing out the prey and sometimes will point to it but will also go in for the kill rather than holding it, it will retrieve and recover and can track blood trails. It can hunt small and large game on the ground as well as birds and will scent the air high when the prey is further away and then the nose goes down as they track closer. It was also bred so that it can be called off a trail back to its human master is needed, which is not like hounds who when on a trail will not come back when called. It is not a pack hunter.

Before the 1600s in Germany all game was owned by the nobles and royalty and they kept kennels and paid handlers. Then the revolution in Germany led to German commoners being able to hunt but not able to keep all the specialist types of dogs there had been until then for hunting. That was when more versatile hunting dogs became more popular and eventually led to the breeding of the Deutscher Wachtelhund. In the 1880s some hunters wanted to re-create a breed from the 1700s, the Stober. Using remnant of that breed they were crossed with several other hunting spaniels which led eventually around 1890 to the Deutscher Wachtelhund. The person specifically credited with its breeding is Frederick Roberth.

When the German Kennel Club told each pedigree dog club to write standards and create performance tests, the VDW was established in 1903 for this dog. By 1908 it had tests established to determine its hunting performance and there are several layers of them. In 1910 it started to implement the standards it had drawn up.

New Lease on Life

Today this breed is not that well known outside of Germany and apart from amongst hunters and foresters is not widely known even in Germany itself! It went to the US in the 1960s and 1970s and from the descendents of those dogs are used in Canada. It gained recognition from the UKC in 1996 and it is estimated that there are about 100 in North America, called German Spaniels. It does not have full recognition from the AKC. In Europe if breeders want to breed the Deutscher Wachtelhund they have to ask the German Wachtelhund Club for permission first and have to go through certain checks.

The Dog You See Today

This dog is a medium to large breed weighing 44 to 66 pounds and standing 17 to 22 inches tall. It is muscular and well built with a body length that is twice its height. When compared to the Springer Spaniel, the Wachtelhund is a little larger. It is a muscular and arched neck that blends well into its shoulders that are sloping. It has straight and strong front legs and powerful back legs. Its feet face forwards and the legs have some feathering. The loin arches slightly and it has has a deep and muscular chest. Its toes are arched and the pads on the feet are thick and round. Between the toes there is thick hair. The tail can be docked where that is still allowed, and has feathering. Its double coat is thick, wavy and long and common colors are browns and sometimes with white markings. On its head the coat is shorter and fine.

The Deutscher Wachtelhund has a slightly flattened skull and its head is in proportion to the rest of its body. The length of the muzzle is about the same length as its skull but the muzzle is more narrow. It has strong jaws and wide nostrils. Its eyes are set well apart and are oval shaped, medium sized and are hazel or brown in color. The ears are fine, covered in long and silky hair that can be a little wavy or straight. This makes them look larger than they are. They are wide and flat, hanging down and falling close to its head. Some are set high and some hang lower like a spaniels.

The Inner Deutscher Wachtelhund


The Deutscher Wachtelhund is a smart dog and in the right hands is obedient, loyal and friendly. It has a very strong desire to hunt though, which is why the Germans only breed the dog for hunters and sports people, not for those only wanting a companion. While it can be a good companion on top of being a hunter, it would not thrive as well as just a companion even with active people. It is affectionate with its owners though and while aggressive and intense when hunting is more relaxed and social at home.

It can be an affectionate and loving companion, full of personality and hard working. It is alert and will bark to let you know if something is wrong or someone is approaching or trying to get in. It is quick and bright and brave too. It may act to defend you but is not really a guard dog. It should be included in family events and activities, it likes people around and does not like to be left alone for long periods of time. It is polite around strangers but may be a little wary until it get to know you, but once it has accepted you it is back to being very friendly.

Living with a Deutscher Wachtelhund

What will training look like?

It is important to be a calm and confident owner and trained so that it know you are the boss and does not doubt your status as pack leader. Be consistent and stick to the rules, but wile being firm you can be patient and positive. Offer it treats to motivate, encourage it and reward it. Avoid scolding it or using physical correction. With this approach training should be fairly easy as it tends to be eager to please. Along with early obedience training you also need to make sure the Deutscher Wachtelhund is socialized early too. Socialization means letting it get used to meeting different people, animals, dealing with different locations and situations and sounds so that it knows how to react. Well socialized dogs are a lot happier, more confident and more trustworthy.

How active is the Deutscher Wachtelhund?

The Wachtelhund needs contact with you and its family so does best being kept in the home. It can live in a kennel as long as you spend a lot of time with it. It is best in a rural or semi rural setting rather than living in the city. It needs lots of exercise so if its not out hunting every day you need to make sure it gets a couple of good long walks, keep the exercise rigorous and give it some play time with you too. Again if it has not had a hunt, give it some off leash run time somewhere safe. As it does like to chase small animals keep it leashed when walking in semi rural settings. Somewhere like the woods it can be let off leash, these dogs when well raised will come back now and then to do a check in. It likes water so swimming is fun for it and it can handle really cold water with no problem. Make sure it also gets plenty of mental stimulation as well as physical exercise.

Caring for the Deutscher Wachtelhund

Grooming needs

The Deutscher Wachtelhund will need regular brushing to keep its coat healthy, twice a week usually and then three or more times a week seasonally, using a metal comb and pin brush. Use a detangler spray if there are some areas that are especially tangled. With feathering and going out hunting often there can be debris and matts to deal with. It sheds an average amount and then more heavily when it is seasonal shedding time so expect hair around the home. Give it a bath as needed suing a dog shampoo only. If you can just give it a wipe down in between full baths that is better for its ksin.

The hair in between its toes will need to be kept trimmed and you should check the ears for infection signs once a week, like a bad odor, redness, irritation and such. Clean them by wiping the parts you can reach either using a damp cloth or cotton balls with dog ear cleaning solution. Do not use cotton buds to insert into the ears, it can damage their hearing and cause a lot of pain. Its nails should be clipped when they get too long. Some dogs with a lot of activity can wear the nails down naturally but if this is not the case use dog nail clippers to keep them trimmed. Avoid going too far down the nail though as there are blood vessels and nerves in them. When you cut too far down and hit the quick of the nail you can cause pain and a fair amount of bleeding. Brush its teeth two to three times a week for good oral hygiene. Also since it is out a lot check its eyes after a hunt and flush them if needed to take care of debris or seeds that might have gotten into them.

Feeding Time

The Deutscher Wachtelhund will eat about 2¼ to 3½ cups of a good quality dry dog food a day that should be divided into at least 2 meals to avoid problems with bloat. Things that can affect how much it eats are its level of activity, rate of metabolism, age, health and build. Make sure it also has access to water that is freshened when possible.

How is the Deutscher Wachtelhund with children and other animals?

This is a good dog with children with good socialization and especially when raised with them. It is playful with them and affectionate but may need supervision around small children as its play may knock over toddlers accidentally. It can also get along okay with other dogs but care needs to be taken around other non-canine pets. It should not be left alone with pets like rabbits or birds as they will be seen as prey to chase. Socialization can help in some cases, and being raised with say cats can help too, but there are still no guarantees.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

This dog has a life span of 12 to 14 years and is generally healthy though there can be issues with splayed feet, crooked legs, allergies, ear infections and skin problems. Hip dysplasia should not be an issue with this dog as there are quite strict rules about breeding dogs that have it.

Biting Statistics

In reports that cover dogs attacking people and causing bodily harm in North America over the last 35 years there is no mention of the Deutscher Wachtelhund. It is not an aggressive dog unless it is on a hunt. There are not a huge number of dogs though in North America so it is less likely to come up in stats like this. While all dogs have the potential to be taunted or dragged into something, or to even just have an off day which can lead to unfortunate events, there are things you can do to limit the possibility though not eradicate it. Make sure you train and socialize your dog, that it gets lots of activity if it needs it and that it get mental stimulation too. Also make sure it gets the level of attention it needs.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Deutscher Wachtelhund puppy will cost about $750 from a decent and trustworthy breeder. This is likely to be a pet quality dog, if you want a dog that is to show or perform in trials then expect to pay more from a top breeder. There is no reason to turn to less savory means to source a puppy though, avoid things like backyard breeders, puppy mills and pet stores. Another option open to people who do not have to have a pure bred is to check out local shelters and rescues. While some purebreds may be there is is more likely you will find unwanted mixed dogs, and most are likely to be teenage or adult aged. Adoption costs $50 to $400.

When you have settled on the dog you are bringing home there are initial costs to consider. There will be items to get for the dog and a proper health check to do when you bring it home. Items will include things like a crate, carrier, collar and leash, bowls and such. This will come to about $230. Then there will be shots needed, deworming, a physical, blood tests, micro chipping, spaying or neutering and these will cost another $290 or so.

Yearly costs will have an impact on your finances so should also be understood before you commit. Health care like flea and tick prevention, shots, pet insurance and check ups will come to about $485 a year. Basic training, grooming, miscellaneous items, license and toys are another $665 or so. A good quality dry dog food and dog treats will be about $270 a year. This gives an annual cost starting figure of $1420.


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The Deutscher Wachtelhund is a great all round hunting dog that is hard working, determined, skilled and persistent. It is not the best dog to keep just as a companion, it should be kept for both purposes and in fact in Germany breeders will only sell to professional hunters and foresters or those who are going to have it enter sporting and hunting events so it gets enough activity and can do what it loves to do. It is loyal and affectionate still, can be a good family companion along with hunting partner but needs to be kept busy.

Featured Image Credit: Ernest Pavlin, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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