Wirehaired Pointing Griffon History

Originally the term Griffon was used to describe a dog with a certain look.  It generally referred to all rough-haired dogs throughout Europe.  Even today you see the term used in the breed names of certain dogs, like the Petite Bassett Griffon Vendeen.  But it was also used to refer to dogs that became other breeds such as the Spinone Italiano and Cesky Fousek. Eduard Karel Korthals (1851-1896), a “Dutchman”, is credited with the development of the modern Wirehaired Pointing Griffon.  Now the term modern is relative, as Korthals began his breeding program in the 1870’s.  So the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon as we know it is a relatively new breed but it comes from ancient rootstock.

History and origins

Edward korthals

Edward Karel Korthals is considered to be the father of the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon.  Throughout most of the world this breed of dog is known as the Korthals Griffon.  The Griffon is truly a European breed as Korthals did a lot of the development of this breed in several different European countries.  Korthals was a Dutchman, but he also worked on the breed in France and Germany.  Even though it was developed in several countries, Korthals vision for the breed was based upon his native country.  What he wanted was a hardy, all-terrain close-working hunting dog that would work efficiently and happily in the polders.  The polders are the marshy, low–lying reclaimed land which makes up much of the Netherlands. 

 

Now I will take this quote right out of the AWPGA Judges Education Program.  “It is heartening to note that very little, if anything, has changed in the purebred WPG since the following was written by Dr. E.B. Ilyus, the first secretary of the Griffon Club of America, in 1917. “The chief characteristics in which the griffon excels, and is superior over setters and pointers, are his ready adaptability to all species of game, all climates, and all varieties of terrain, his exquisite nose, wonderful vitality and endurance, and the pronounced instinct which makes him the easiest of all dogs to train on game.  As a retriever he has, in my opinion, no superior, and being very intelligent and affectionate, he makes an ideal man’s companion.”

 

Korthals used every opportunity to discuss and demonstrate the virtues of his dogs.  And in 1877 he was given the opportunity to use a large kennel facility owned by Prince Albrecht of Solms-Braunfels.  With some help from his father, he was able to move his entire kennel to this new facility in Biebesheim am Rhein, Germany.  Through the next 20  years he was able to dedicate himself to the development of the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon.  An example of how successful he had been in promoting and spreading his new dogs, a terrible disease swept through his kennel in 1882.  This disease killed 16 of his promising young dogs.  But because of his efforts in promoting this new/old breed, Korthals was able to restock his kennel.  Of note was the assistance that came from France.  Several other breeders helped him to continue in the development of the breed by providing him with new stock.  And to this end he continued to work until his untimely death at the age of 44 in 1896.

 

Fortunately, others carried on the development and breeding of this wonderful dog.  And that is why we are able to enjoy their personalities and abilities to this day.

These are some pictures of polders as they are today.  The major thing to notice is the abundance of water, the variations in vegetation and crops and the relatively small areas in which to hunt.  This area led to the development of the Griffon as a close , adaptable, water loving hunting companion.

The griffon in america

The first Griffon registered in the U.S. was Zolette.  She was registered as a Russian Setter.  Zolette was a daughter of a Donna grandson.  Donna was a dog owned by Korthals that he bought in 1879.

The Griffon Club of America was founded in 1916.  By 1929 they were being registered by the American Field Dog Studbook.  During World War II all interest was lost and the club was disbanded.

In 1991 the AKC recognized the American Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Association as the parent club for the breed.

Text Box: Bear Hug
Wirehaired Pointing Griffons