The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon: A Guide for Owners
Throughout the world, there exists only a handful of dog breeds that can be consistently described as friendly, highly intelligent, and devoted to their owners. One of these dogs is the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. Although originally bred for the purpose of retrieving and pointing in the 1800s, this dog is now favored for its remarkable companionship qualities and suitability for families with children. This work examines the Griffon and provides an in-depth analysis of the animal’s behavioral patterns, temperament, and traits. This includes a general discussion of the Griffon’s health concerns, grooming and training requirements, as well as the dog’s basic nutritional needs. It is the author’s hope that a better understanding (and appreciation) of this remarkable breed will accompany readers following their completion of this work.
"Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day."— John Grogan
- Common Name: Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
- Binomial Name: Canis Lupus Familiaris
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Carnivora
- Family: Canidae
- Genus: Canis
- Species: Canis Lupus
- Subspecies: Canis Lupus Familiaris
- Other Name(s): Korthals Griffon; Pointing Wirehaired Griffon; Griffon D’Arret a Poil Dur
History of the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
- Life Span: 12 to 14 years
- Group: Sporting
- Area of Origin: France
- Date of Origin: 1800s
- Original Function: Retrieving; Pointing
- Family: Hunting Dog; Gundog; Pointer
The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is a relatively new breed in the realm of dogs, as it was first developed during the late 1800s. Development of the Griffon is typically attributed to a Dutchman by the name of E.K. Korthals who lived in France. Seeking a gundog that was capable of both pointing and retrieving small game, it is commonly believed that Korthals crossed a series of Otterhounds, Spaniels, Setters, and Pointers to achieve his overall goal. The end result was three Wirehaired Pointing Griffons known affectionately as Moustache I, Lina, and Querida.
By 1887, Korthals’ new breed began to gain tremendous popularity in Europe after participating in numerous shows and exhibitions. Later that year, the first Wirehaired Pointing Griffon was officially registered in the United States after the dog’s capabilities as a gundog proved to be exceptional.
In the present day, the Griffon’s primary role as a gundog has evolved substantially. Today, the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is prized for its companionship qualities and suitability for families with children as the dog is both highly affectionate and adaptable to a variety of roles in the home. Nevertheless, for hunters seeking a hunting companion, the Griffon is still highly-suitable for a gundog role as few dogs exhibit their superior pointing and retrieving skills.
Appearance and Characteristics of the Griffon
- Weight: 50 to 60 pounds (male and female)
- Height: 22 to 24 inches (male); 20 to 22 inches (female)
Griffons are a medium-sized breed with square-shaped heads, muscular limbs, and medium-sized chests. Often described as “graceful” in their appearance, the Griffon possesses moderately sprung ribs, a gentle sloping back, and well-developed loin.
The Griffon’s head should be proportionate to the dog’s overall size, and takes on a square-like appearance. Skulls are often medium-width, and are proportionate to the Griffon’s muzzle length. This breed also has a slightly rounded top to the skull that is highlighted by a series of medium-sized ears that lie flat (and close) to the dog’s head. Completing the Griffon’s face is a pair of large and well-rounded eyes that vary between yellow and brown shades.
As with many hunting breeds, the Griffon’s shoulders are both long and well-muscled with good angulation. Forelegs are generally straight when viewed from the front, with slightly sloping pasterns. Completing the front legs are a pair of rounded paws that contain a series of webbed toes (for retrieving in water-based environments). Pads are also quite thick to protect the dog from harsh terrain. Although dewclaws are present with this breed, experts typically recommend that they should be removed in order to prevent potential injuries to your pet (or others).
The hindquarters follow many of the same characteristics of the forequarters. The thighs are generally described as long and well-developed, with an angulation that is “in balance with the front” (akc.org). Back legs are also quite vertical in appearance, with the hocks “turning neither in nor out” (akc.org). Completing the rear legs is a pair of rounded and webbed feet that are accentuated by thick padding for extra protection against the elements.
Tails on the Griffon should be docked approximately two-thirds to one-half their overall length. Generally speaking, this breed often carries its tail straight or raised (slightly). Extreme curvature is considered a major fault and should be examined by a veterinarian.
Coat and Coloration
The Griffon possesses a double coat with the outer layer being a medium-length, relatively straight, and wiry. Often described as “rough” in its overall texture, this layer was purposely designed by breeders to protect the Griffon from injuries in rougher environments. Completing the double coat is a water-resistant undercoat comprised of fine (and thick) fur for protection against water and the cold.
The Wirehaired Griffon is renowned for its “untidy appearance” due to its abundance of hair, thick mustache and long eyebrows. They also come in a variety of colors, including: steel-gray and brown, chestnut brown, roan, whitish-brown, and whitish-orange. Single-colored Griffons are considered less-desirable, with black coats being a major disqualifier (akc.org).
Are Wirehaired Pointing Griffons Right for Your Home?
- Energy Level: 4/5
- Exercise Needs: 4/5
- Playfulness: 4/5
- Affection Towards Owners: 4/5
- Friendliness Towards Other Animals: 3/5
- Training Difficulty: 2/5
- Grooming Level: 3/5
Note: Scale of 1 to 5 (1=Lowest, 5=Highest)
The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is a highly energetic breed renowned for their devotion and loyalty to owners. Often described as amiable and sometimes comical by experts, the Griffon is generally quite friendly towards others (including other animals) and is always eager to please their owner. Although this breed is considered only moderately affectionate and playful, they often make great family pets due to their protective instincts and relative ease of training. Due to the Griffon’s original purpose as a hunting breed, however, prospective owners should exercise great care when introducing new pets and animals to their Griffon. Failure to do so can result in harmful situations.
Are Wirehaired Pointing Griffons Good With Children?
Yes! The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is a remarkably loving and gentle breed that does well with children of all ages. Due to their high-energy levels and playful (but also rambunctious) behavior, however, this breed is usually not recommended for homes with smaller children (toddler age) as roughhousing could lead to possible injuries. Nevertheless, the Griffon is extremely affectionate with kids, and often thrives in their presence due to a child’s natural tendency to provide them with attention, exercise, and love. As with all dogs though, parents should always supervise their child when around their Griffon to prevent mishandling and rowdy behaviors that can lead to injury.
How Smart is the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon?
The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is an incredibly smart and intelligent breed renowned for their alertness, adaptability, and responsiveness to training. Although the Griffon doesn’t make the top 10 list of smartest dog breeds, experts are quick to point out that this breed is capable of learning a wide array of tricks and commands in their lifetime (Owlcation.com). This is due, in part, to their ancestral ties to the Otterhound, as well as the dog’s Spaniel and Setter characteristics. The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is also eager to learn, and responds well to reward-based training that includes treats and praise from their owner.
Grooming and Training Needs
As a longer-haired breed, the Griffon requires both weekly and seasonal brushings to prevent matting and excessive shedding. Due to their hair’s tendency to grow quickly, experts generally recommend that owners trim their Griffon’s fur around the feet and ears. Additionally, some coats will also require hand-stripping from time to time in order to encourage new hair growth.
Regular ear cleanings should also be followed to prevent the onset of ear infections. As with all breeds that possess droopy ears, ear canal hair and dirt are more likely to settle within the Griffon’s ears; thus, increasing the risk of infection or sores. Regular cleaning, therefore, is a must. Owners should also commit substantial time to trimming their Griffon’s nails (to prevent injury to their dog’s paws), as well as teeth brushing to prevent the development of gum disease, gingivitis, and tooth decay.
Training and Exercise Needs
As with many hunting dogs, the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon possesses a great deal of energy. As a result, potential owners should note that this breed requires daily exercise to live a satisfying life. Experts generally recommend at least 20-minutes of exercise (daily). This includes games (such as fetch), running, and off-leash activities.
In regard to training, it is crucial to understand that the Griffon is an exceptionally smart and intelligent breed that requires mental stimulation on a daily basis (alongside physical exercise). As a result, owners should incorporate learning activities into their daily exercise routines that focus on new commands and tricks. As a highly alert and sensitive breed, prospective owners should also exhibit self-control over their emotions when training the Griffon. Yelling and excessive discipline towards your Griffon will only result in a negative response, as this breed is prone to nervousness and timid behavior when pushed too hard. Early socialization and obedience training should also be followed by owners when possible. Socialization helps the Griffon become acquainted with new people, animals, and situations that will go a long way in promoting positive behaviors (and relationships). Likewise, obedience training will help to eliminate your dog’s independent spirit and natural proclivity towards stubborn behavior.
Failure to meet these basic physical and mental needs will result in bad behaviors (such as excess barking, digging, and hyperactivity). Therefore, this breed is generally not recommended for individuals that are extremely busy or incapable of spending time (daily) with their Griffon.
As with most breeds, high-quality dog food should always be the number one priority for your pet. These meals can be prepared by a manufacturer, or at home following the guidance and supervision of your dog’s veterinarian. Food should always be inspected for quality ingredients to ensure appropriate nutritional guidelines are being followed with your pet.
It is also important to note that human-based foods (such as table scraps) are generally not appropriate for your dog’s well-being. Human foods often contain toxins and objects (such as small bones) that can be extremely harmful to your Griffon (or any dog) when consumed. The following list details 10 foods you should always avoid giving to your dog:
How Much Food Should a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Eat Per Day?
As with all dog breeds, feeding requirements vary significantly with every pet and depend greatly on your dog’s weight, energy level, and age. For this reason, owners should work actively with their veterinarian to establish a feeding cycle that fits their dog’s specific needs. Generally speaking, an adult Wirehaired Pointing Griffon usually requires 2 to 2.5 cups of dry dog food on a daily basis (divided into two separate meals). More active dogs will require additional food to replenish lost calories, whereas less-active (or obese) pets will require slightly less.
Maintaining proper hydration is also extremely important for the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. Nearly 70-percent of a dog’s body is comprised of water. Therefore, owners should pay active attention to their dog’s water needs throughout the day as their requirements can change in response to both outside temperatures and their daily activity levels. As with most breeds, standard water requirements are usually determined by your dog’s weight. For every seven pounds of weight, a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon should consume approximately 6 ounces of water per day. For example, a 56-pound dog would require 40 ounces of water in a day’s time (minimum). Again, these are only minimal standards for this breed. Less-active Griffons will require less water, whereas active dogs will require more water to remain hydrated. Environmental factors (such as heat) will also warrant additional water intake.
What Type of Home is Good for a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon?
The decision to adopt a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is a major life decision that should not be taken lightly. As discussed above, potential owners should note that the Griffon is a highly-energetic breed that requires daily exercise. Due to their high-degree of intelligence, mental stimulation is also crucial for this breed and should be provided through daily training. As such, owners who are incapable of providing regular attention to their Griffon’s needs are not recommended for this breed. Likewise, extremely busy owners that are away from home on a regular basis should investigate other pet options and choices.
In addition to these basic needs, owners should also note that the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is generally not suitable for urban-based environments. This is especially true for small apartments, as the dog requires large amounts of space to run and play. And while owners can certainly provide these exercise requirements in the city (i.e. through daily walks and trips to the local city parks), the Griffon is usually best-suited for life in the country.
Is the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Good with Other Pets?
Yes and no. Generally speaking, the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon does well with other dogs in the household. Smaller animals such as cats, gerbils, and guinea pigs, however, are not recommended as companions to the Griffon. This is due, in part, to the dog’s early role as a gundog. To a Griffon, smaller animals resemble prey that needs to be caught. As such, unpleasant (and often dangerous) situations can arise when this breed is in the presence of smaller pets.
Experts agree that early socialization is crucial for the development of positive relationships between your Wirehaired Pointing Griffon and other animals in the home. Through training, it is possible to establish a positive working relationship between this breed and smaller pets. However, if this route is taken by owners, constant monitoring of the Griffon should always be followed when other animals are present. Failure to do so could result in serious harm or injury to your pets.
Is the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon a Good Guard Dog?
Yes and no. The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon makes for an excellent watchdog, and will actively alert their owner to disturbances (such as weird noises or the presence of strangers) through barking. In spite of this keen awareness of their surroundings, however, it is generally accepted that the Griffon makes for a poor guard dog. While they certainly have the intelligence, strength, and size to ward off potential intruders to your home, the Griffon’s sweet personality prevents this breed from being a suitable guard dog. And while the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon will certainly protect their owners (especially young children) during times of danger, owners seeking a dog for protection will be better-served by a breed such as the Rottweiler, Doberman Pinscher, or German Shepherd.
Recommended Medical Tests and Evaluations for the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon:
- Hib and Elbow Evaluation
- Eye Exam
Although generally described as a very healthy breed, the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon should be evaluated for both elbow and hip dysplasia due to their active lifestyles. Otitis externa, entropion, and ectropion are also minor concerns for this breed. For these reasons, owners should work closely with a qualified veterinarian to establish dietary plans and health screenings for the well-being of their dog. With proper care and nutrition, owners can generally expect their Wirehaired Griffon to live 12 to 14 years, with some breeds living several years beyond this.
Pros and Cons of the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
- Extremely intelligent breed that enjoys learning new tricks and commands.
- Affectionate towards family members.
- Relatively low-maintenance breed, requiring only minimal grooming.
- Great hunting companion due to their skills as a pointer and retriever.
- Energetic and playful breed that does well with children.
- Not suitable for small homes (such as apartments, condos, and townhomes).
- Highly energetic breed that requires daily exercise.
- Requires a great deal of attention from their owner.
- Tendency to jump.
- Possesses a high-prey drive that can result in harmful relationships with smaller animals.
- Can develop timid behavior if not socialized early.
World's Greatest Dog?
In conclusion, the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is a remarkable dog breed due to its affectionate qualities, as well as its sense of devotion and loyalty towards owners. Highly intelligent, playful, and energetic, the Griffon makes for a wonderful addition to nearly any home. And while this breed can certainly be stubborn (to a fault), few dogs possess the companionship and loyalty offered by the Griffon towards their owners. For these reasons, the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon will likely remain a favorite of dog lovers for the foreseeable future.
Articles / Books:
- American Kennel Club. The New Complete Dog Book 22nd Edition. Mount Joy, Pennsylvania: Fox Chapel Publishing, 2017.
- Coile, Caroline. The Dog Breed Bible: Descriptions and Photos of Every Breed Recognized by the AKC. Hauppauge, New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 2007.
- Dennis-Bryan, Kim. The Complete Dog Breed Book. New York, New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2014.
- Larkin, Peter and Mike Stockman. The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Dogs, Dog Breeds, & Dog Care. London, England: Hermes House, 2006.
- Mehus-Roe, Kristin. Dog Bible: The Definitive Source for All Things Dog. Irvine, California: I-5 Press, 2009.
- O’Neill, Amanda. What Dog? A Guide to Help New Owners Select the Right Breed for their Lifestyle. Hauppauge, New York: Interpret Publishing Ltd., 2006.
- Schuler, Elizabeth Meriwether. Simon and Schuster’s Guide to Dogs. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster, Incorporated, 1980.
- Slawson, Larry. “The Top 10 Smartest Dog Breeds.” (PetHelpful). 2019.
- Slawson, Larry. “The 10 Best Dogs for Children.” (PetHelpful). 2019.
Images / Photographs:
Ptak, Carol. "Wirehaired Pointing Griffon." Accessed 18 July 2020. Wikimedia Commons.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Larry Slawson