The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon (called the Korthals Griffon in the UK, and the Griffon d'arrêt à poil dur Korthals in France and Quebec) is a breed of dog used in hunting as a gundog. It is sometimes considered to be Dutch in ancestry, due to the nationality of the breed founder, Eduard Karel Korthals. Others consider the Griffon to be a German breed because Korthals' kennel, Ipenwoud, was located in Biebesheim am Rhein, Germany. It was there for over twenty years that Korthals dedicated his life to the development and perfection of the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. The breed is still relatively rare in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom despite long recognition by their respective kennel clubs, as well as the FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale). The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is particularly adapted for hunting in thick undergrowth and around water, where its harsh coat is excellent protection.
Appearance The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is a medium-sized dog with a harsh, wiry coat. According to its AKC standard, the coat is preferably steel gray with brown markings. Other acceptable colors: chestnut brown, white and brown, roan, and white and orange. All brown, all white or white and orange are less desirable. A black coat disqualifies. Tan point coloration is substandard and indicates existence of the tan gene. The Griffon should have flat ears that lie close to the head, and eyes that are either yellow or brown. Its nose must be brown.
History The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon was developed by Eduard Karel Korthals beginning in 1873. Korthals' dream was to create the ideal versatile gun dog; one with extreme resiliency, vigor, and devotion to its master. The dog would also have to work close to its master, and be open to training. Korthals' breeding line began in 1874 with "Mouche", who would be used as its foundation bitch, as well as five other dogs described as "Griffons": Janus, Satan, Banco, Hector, and Junon. He interbred the dogs carefully until offspring were produced that resembled his dream pointing dog. Much speculation is given as to which other breeds contributed to Korthals' line. Some sources refer to other pointers from Germany and France, others point to continental Spaniels, while still others believe English and French waterdogs played a part in creating the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. In any event, the resulting offspring (Moustache I, Lina, and Querida) are referred to as the "Korthals Patriarchs" because they are the Griffon's direct ancestors. However, these dogs still looked very different from today's modern Griffon. The American Kennel Club's first registered Wirehaired Pointing Griffon was "Zolette", who was entered into the stud book in 1887. However, the Griffon was still relatively unknown, and she was registered as a "Russian Setter(Griffon)" for her presumed Russian heritage. It was not until 1916, twenty-nine years later, that the breed was officially recognized in the United States. In that same year, sixteen Griffons appeared in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, one of the most prestigious shows in the country. Since then, the breed has grown in popularity as not only a show dog but also a versatile gun dog, Korthals' original intention for the breed. For the most part, the breed still resembles his original intentions: a medium size, harsh coat, good degree of trainability, and resilient on the field and in the ring.
Health and temperament Wirehaired Pointing Griffons are known as intelligent, extremely eager to please, friendly dogs. A standing joke among Griffon owners is that a nice thing about a Griff is that you get to have a puppy for a long time - and a bad thing about a Griff is that you get to have a puppy for a long time. Certainly, many individual Griffons retain their puppy playfulness well into adulthood. They are also known for their slightly less excitable temperament when not in the field, which makes them a very comfortable dog to have living in your home. Most Griffons do not take well to living their lives in kennels. They are extremely people oriented and prefer to be somewhere in the vicinity of their owners. Due to breed organizations, kennels, and owners having a strong commitment to the health of the breed, breed programs are overwhelmingly very selective in breeding dogs that are OFA/Penn Hip, CERF, and temperament clear. As a result, instances of congenital diseases and conditions are relatively low, and most Griffons live long and healthy lives.
Shedding Contrary to some publications, the Griffon is not non-shedding. However, it does shed considerably less than many other breeds. All dogs shed, and it is the dog's dander and saliva that trigger most allergic reactions. Allergists do recognize that at times a particular allergy patient will be able to tolerate a particular dog, but they agree that "the luck of the few with their pets cannot be stretched to fit all allergic people and entire breeds of dogs." Allergists "think there really are differences in protein production between dogs that may help one patient and not another", meaning that some allergic people may not have allergic reactions to a specific dog.