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Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
History
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The origin of the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon came about shortly after Mendel published his experiments on genetic heredity, which inspired many Europeans to try their skills at breeding. It cannot be said for certain where the griffon originated in the time before "pure-bred" dogs arose. The Greek historian Xenophon made mention of the griffon as early as 500 B.C. From the 16th century there are further references to various regional strains of griffon-like dogs throughout Europe. Indeed, even today there are many different kinds of purebred griffons. We can however trace for certain the development of the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon.

Eduard K. Korthals, born in 1851, was the son of a wealthy Amsterdam ship outfitter. He was an avid hunter in the marshes and swamps of the polders of his Dutch homeland. As his passion for hunting grew, so did his quest for a dog that could not only hunt in the marshes but also other terrains. Korthals had been exposed to the effectiveness of selective breeding by his father who had already succeeded in developing a strain of cattle with unusual markings. As a young man Korthals began to assemble the dogs from which he was to establish a new, more versatile sporting breed than the single-purpose specialists or slow, continental dogs used at that time. The ideal dog would be robust, have a swift and efficient ground covering stride and the endurance for an all day hunt. It would possess the keen game-finding nose of the pointing breeds, and have the cooperative nature and willingness of the retrievers to recover upland game and waterfowl. In addition it was to be resistant to heat or cold and endowed with a harsh, water repellant coat.

In 1873, Korthals was hired by Prince Albrecht zu Solms-Braunfels to run his large kennel in Germany. There, Korthals continued his breeding program in earnest. He purchased dogs from the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and France. According to Korthals' detailed records, the dogs in his kennels were largely griffon type dogs along with Barbets, Boulets, pointers from France and Germany, spaniels and retrievers. Korthals bred extensively selecting only those dogs that contributed the desired attributes that he was seeking in a versatile hunting dog. In less than two decades, Korthals succeeded in fixing the new breed that he called the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. In 1886 he wrote the standard and just two years later formed the international Griffon Club. Korthals had a loyal following throughout Europe and especially France where the majority of the modern day development has taken place. Some European proponents of the new breed honored him after his untimely death by renaming the breed the Korthals Griffon.

It was not until many years later in his breeding program that Korthals realized the prepotent impact of eight dogs in particular that came to be known as the "patriarchs" of the breed. The first six were purchased while Korthals was in Holland: Mouche, Janus, Hector, Satan, Junon and Banco. The other two, Donna and Vesta were German dogs. Korthals was a man of wide acquaintance among the sporting fraternity of Europe, and invariably he was present at any major field activity connected with dogs, and later the bench shows, where he sought to popularize the strain of griffon he had developed.

In 1887, the first Griffon arrived in the United States from Europe and was registered by the American Kennel Club as "Zolette," a Russian Setter (Griffon). The sire, "Guerre" was a grandson of Donna, one of the eight patriarchs. And so started the American Griffon legacy. In August of 1916 the Griffon Club of America was formed. Unfortunately, the two World Wars interrupted club activity. In 1951 with renewed interest, the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Club of America was formed. During the 1980's this club decided to crossbreed the Cesky Fousek with the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. This resulted in the formation of a new club, the American Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Association, devoted to the purebred Griffon and recognized in 1991 by the AKC as the breed's official parent club.

The modern Wirehaired Pointing Griffon still possesses the qualities that Korthals envisioned over a century ago. It is a medium sized dog with a functional double coat and distinctive facial furnishings. A versatile gun dog with a high degree of trainability, the Griffon excels in hunting upland birds, waterfowl and furred game. It is a deliberate, thorough and tireless worker with a strong desire to please its master. This sporting dog needs plenty of exercise to keep it physically and mentally fit. The Griffon is a loyal, affectionate family companion and is easily adaptable to any task its master asks it to perform.





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