The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, affectionately known as Griffon or Griff for short, is a lovable but relatively rare dog that’s a bit more on the rarer side when it comes to popularity. There’s still ongoing debate about where the breed comes from.
But what we do know for sure is that he is one of the best gundogs in the doggy kingdom, and he’s also a comical family pet. Although he is striking with his looks (especially those eyebrows and beard), he is not suited to every family.
Griffons need a really active human pack looking for a four-legged friend to join them on their active adventures. He also has a few other quirks that you need to know about before welcoming one of these guys into your home. So, let’s find out if you and the Griffon are a suited pairing.
The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is a relatively new breed despite his distinguished country gentleman appearance. In the 19th century, the sportsmen of mainland Europe were big into creating gundogs to aid them in their hunting adventures. But they sought a versatile gundog who would be great on the land and equally capable in the water.
A Dutchman named Eduard Korthals was the son of a well-to-do banker. And this guy is responsible for the creation of the Griff. After several sensible breeding attempts, he finally found the canine template for this clever canine creation. It is suspected that Korthals used the Otterhound and various Setters, Spaniels, and Pointers in the mix.
Korthals moved around Europe for work, namely Germany, France, and the Netherlands. But France is said to be the place where the Griffon breed was finalized. So, the question on many canine historians and partisan’s lips is, is this guy a French or Dutch breed? No one can say for sure, so we’ll sit on the fence and go with a European breed.
The Griff could point on land like Pointer breeds but retrieve in the water like many Retrievers. He also had webbed feet that made him a particularly strong swimmer. Because of his versatility, he quickly became popular and was a firm favorite with hunters across Europe. He was also quick to be shown in European dog shows.
It is not known when the first Griff came over to America. But the first Griffon to be recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) was in 1887. The Griffon consistently finds himself between the 60th and 70th most popular dog in America, out of 197 breeds. One of the most famous Griffons of all time was Prince Rainer III of Monaco’s pet, Odin. When Prince Rainer passed away, Odin followed his late master’s casket in the funeral procession. Sweet and loyal to the end!
The most obvious thing about the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon’s temperament is that he is a sporting dog with oodles of energy. This makes him an intense dog character, but one who is tons of fun for the whole family. He is often described as a ‘supreme gun dog’ too, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you can’t do much better than this guy.
Despite being a serious hunting dog, he has a fantastic sense of humor. He’ll happily entertain his family with his quirky canine comedian and outgoing side, and they have a bit of a dopey side too. He is a very intelligent pup, and he’ll quickly learn any new tricks you want to teach him. Many owners say that their sense of humor is what keeps them coming back to the breed.
Their close link with humans translates into the family home, and they’ll form a close bond with their favorite humans. It’ll be especially close with his master if they go out hunting together. They thrive in the company of their humans, and they don’t always appreciate being left at home alone. Making this pup happier with a sat-at-home family rather than one that works all day long.
Their love of humans makes them really affectionate too. If they have used up all of their steam, they’ll happily settle down for the evening cuddled up on the sofa. They are family-friendly dogs, and they make great canine siblings for children of any age. And they also like the company of other dogs, and they are amazing to see when they hunt alongside another dog.
They make great watchdogs, too, because they bark a lot. But their love of humans and sometimes sensitive nature means that they do not make great guard dogs. They also have a friendly and sociable nature with outsiders once they have stopped barking at them. Although some Griffon owners say that they can be nervous around strangers. But this has a lot to do with training.
Size & Appearance
Griffons are a medium to large-sized dog breed. Males usually weigh between 50 and 70 pounds, and they measure between 22 to 24 inches, from paw to shoulder. Females are typically smaller and weigh between 35 and 50 pounds, and they measure between 20 to 22 inches. They are well-balanced and proportioned dogs in their stature.
Griffs have an overall scruffy appearance thanks to their shaggy coat, bushy eyebrows, and impressive doggy beard. They have a square-shaped head with strong powerful-looking sporting limbs. Griffons also have large and friendly eyes that give an always-alert impression. They move in a graceful catlike way when in full flight.
If you are looking to show your Griff in the show ring, they’ll need to conform to the breed standard. Some allowances will be made, but not always. For those just looking for a pet pooch, they don’t have to be perfectly in line with the standard. Their appearance has next to no bearing on their awesome personality in the home.
Coat & Colors
The Griffon’s coat is their most distinguishing feature. They are a double-coated breed with an overall ragged appearance. Their outer coat is straight and wiry, but never curly or wooly. The length of their hair is medium in length. This wiry texture protects them from the elements and holds onto the shedding hair we’ll talk through next. Their undercoat is fine but thick.
Their bushy eyebrows and beard are an extension of their undercoat, making them soft and styleable! The hair around their face and legs is softer than the hair on their body, which is much coarser. If you want to show your Griff in the show ring, only the hair around their ears, top of the head, cheeks, and feet are allowed to be stripped. Everything else should be kept natural.
Although many sources online state that the Griffon is a hypoallergenic breed, this is not true. They are not registered with the AKC (America’s leading canine registry) as a hypoallergenic breed. Instead, they are low shedders, and the falling undercoat gets stuck within the scruffy coat. This can make them easier on people with slight dog allergies, but you shouldn’t count on it.
The most desirable Griff coat color is steel gray with brown or chestnut markings. Other coat colors include roan, white, orange. Some Griffs will sport an all brown, white, black, or a white and orange coat. These colors are either less desirable or disqualifiable in the show ring. It’s also possible for them to have spots throughout their coat. But again, it does not affect their personality or make them any less Griff in our eyes.
The Griffon is a high-energy dog who needs at least one hour of intense exercise a day. But they could easily go for several hours if you have the time. Remember, these are sporting gun dogs, not lapdogs. They have an intense exercise need, and only active families will suit this pup. So please make sure that you can guarantee him this come rain or shine.
Otherwise, you’ll quickly find an unhappy canine on your hands. They’ll become destructive, loud, and unruly, and it will lead to an unhappy household for sure. But those looking for an active and playful pooch will find a bestie in this breed. Their exercise routine needs to be fun, challenging and varied throughout the week. Forest or country walks are the best kind, according to the Griff.
But their exercise needs don’t just stop there. They also need plenty of mental stimulation in the home throughout the day. This guy will need access to a whole bucket of dog toys and chews. Toys that he can chase and interact with his family are ideal for yard fun. And chew toys are great for solo playtime, getting rid of anxious or frustrated energy, and dental health.
The Griffon has a high prey drive. They might not come back when called if they are chasing a squirrel! Thankfully, they are relatively obedient and more likely to return to their owners than other sporting dogs with high prey drives. For this reason, you need to really work on their recall or exercise them in a secured field. Always keep your pooch on a leash around roads or other dangerous distractions.
As you have probably gathered already, the Griffon is a super adaptable pooch who could live in any type of family home. They would prefer larger homes with access to an outdoor yard. But they could live in an apartment just as long as they are exercised well and get plenty of pee breaks. The only big ask that he has is that his family can keep him company for most of the day.
If they are lucky enough to have access to a rear yard, it must be secured. Not only will these guys chase everything that comes into their yard, but they’ll also chase them out of it. They’ll find themselves in the next neighborhood before you’ve realized they’ve gone. And they can jump pretty high, too, so be sure to invest in high fences and gates!
The Griffon is a friendly dog with a well-balanced nature, meaning that he can live with children of any age. But like you would with any dog breed, be sure how to teach your children how to act around dogs and be respectful of their space. They also do well in multi-pet households and would appreciate the company of another canine.
Training a Griffon is a relatively simple task because he is super intelligent, eager to please, and obedient. But this doesn’t mean you can skip training! He still needs to be shown the way of the world to turn into a polite and pleasant adult. This makes him suitable for first-time dog owners who are looking for an active but trainable dog.
Dogs need rules, and the Griff is no exception. Establishing the rules from day one will make the training a much smoother process. The best dog training method to use with the Griffon is the positive reinforcement training method. Your pup will most likely be motivated by toys to chase, praise from you, and the occasional yummy treat.
One of the most important aspects of doggy training is socialization. Working with a good-quality breeder will ensure that this training is put into place within a few weeks. And it’ll be your job to continue the work once you bring your pooch home. Mix them with as many other dogs, animals, humans, and new experiences as you possibly can. Not forgetting their grooming regime!
Another training recommendation for the Griff is recall training. Without this training, his high prey drive will overrule your commands for sure. To let your pooch off-leash, you need to be sure that he will return to you for his and others’ safety. But some Griffs will never get the hang of it no matter how hard you try. For these guys, a long training leash will allow them some freedom to burn off their energy.
Griffons are relatively healthy dogs with an expected lifespan of 12 to 15 years. But like all dog breeds, he is prone to his fair share of health concerns. Many of which are genetically passed on. Which is another reason to work with a reputable breeder who screens for these particular health problems. Regular health checks, top-quality nutrition, and daily exercise are some of the best and easiest ways to keep your dog healthy.
Below we have listed the leading health concerns found in the Griffon breed. Some Griffons might suffer from none, some, or all of these, and some will suffer from other concerns altogether. But it’s a great place to start your research into the health of this canine. So, let’s take a look at the main two conditions to be aware of. In addition to these two conditions, some breeders will also screen for cardiac and thyroid concerns.
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
Hip and elbow dysplasia are among the most common skeletal problems in the canine kingdom, and most dog breeds need to be screened for it. Both dysplasia concerns can be inherited from parents with poor hips and elbows. Or it can occur when the skeleton grows too rapidly as a pup. If you notice that your Griff is experiencing mobility problems, appears to be in pain, or struggling to sit, stand, and climb, it could be the start of joint dysplasia.
Eye conditions are also common in many dog breeds. The most common eye concern in the Griffon bloodline is progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). This is a degenerative disease of the retina. And over time, it can result in complete vision loss. If your pup becomes sensitive to light, starts to bump into things, or rubs his eyes more than usual, it’s time to get his vision checked out.
Griffons usually consume between 2 and 2 ½ cups of food every day. These should be split into at least two different meal sittings. Their daily food allowance is dependent on many factors, including their age, weight, and activity levels. To avoid overfeeding your pooch, always follow the feeding guidelines found on the packaging.
It’s important to feed your Griff an age-appropriate kibble that meets their life stage nutritional needs. This is particularly important during puppyhood as they need specific nutrients to help them grow. It can also reduce the chances of hip and elbow dysplasia by steadying their growth. It’s also key to feed them high-quality food to ensure that they stay as healthy and as nourished as possible.
If you are employing your Griff as a gun dog and working long hours, you should consider a performance kibble. They have higher levels of optimized protein and fats to ensure they are fueled for their sport, and their muscles have the power to repair themselves.
The grooming of a Griffon is relatively simple. Their harsh, wiry coat should be combed through once to twice a week to remove any dead hair and debris caught up in it. You might not think that they shed much, but you’ll soon see how much hair gets caught up in their coat when you groom them. Their coat is prone to matting because of its wispy nature. If you notice any tangles, try to work it out with your fingers first, and use a detangling spray too.
Griffs should only be bathed once every three months or so. If you bathe them too often, you’ll damage their natural coat oils which takes care of their coat. Plus, their wiry texture will disappear, and it’ll become soft and very un-Griff-like. If your Griff becomes dirty on their adventures, wash it off without shampoo or use doggy wet wipes to remove the dirt and smells. Dry shampoo can also help to remove doggy odors too.
You should brush your Griffon’s teeth two to three times a week to prevent periodontal diseases and keep his breath fresh. Their ears need to be kept as dry as possible during bath time or swimming. When they leave the water, be sure to dry around their ears to soak up any excess water they haven’t shaken off. Check their ears once a week for signs of infection or bad odors, and clean the ear (do not insert anything into the ear canal) with a doggy ear cleaning solution.
Breeders & Puppy Costs
The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is a relatively rare dog breed in America. This means that you might need to travel to find a good-quality breeder you feel comfortable working with, depending on where you live. You need to thoroughly research any breeder you work with, but a great place to start your search is with the AKC’s Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breeder page.
Responsible breeders will only breed the healthiest dogs by screening for health checks. In turn, this means they are likely to produce the healthiest pups possible. When meeting a breeder, always ask for hip and elbow scores, as well as the results of the ophthalmologist exams. You must meet the pups in person, at their home with at least one parent. The breeders will be knowledgeable and keen to ask you why you think you’ll make a great fit for their Griff pups.
The average starting price for a Griffon puppy is around $1,000. If you find pups being sold for less than this price, you need to question if they are really a reputable or responsible breeder. Puppy mills and low-quality breeders price their pups lower than decent breeders. And they often produce ill and unsocialized litters, so you need to avoid them at all costs.
There are also ongoing costs to looking after a Griffon pup, which could be for 15 years or more! Before welcoming a dog into your life, it’s super important to budget for them. Buying all the supplies they need as a pup can be costly. Thankfully, as a medium dog breed that is relatively healthy, they probably won’t be the most expensive dog to care for.
Rescues & Shelters
If you are more interested in rescuing a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon from a shelter, there are a few options. Adopting rather than shopping is not the best option for everyone, but it is an incredible thing to do! Just remember that the Griff is a relatively rare dog breed, so there might not be one ready to adopt straight away. But remember, good things come to those who wait!
Head out to your local rescue shelters and speak to the staff about any resident Griffs. If there isn’t one there, they might know of one in the nearby shelters. Alternatively, the American Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Association has an information page about rescuing Griffs that come up for adoption. Their website is full of other useful Griff-related info.
As Family Pets
- The Griffon is a medium to a large-sized dog that is very adaptable.
- They need between 60 and 120 minutes of daily exercise.
- They are very loving and affectionate dogs and are quick to form close bonds.
- Griffons are barky dogs, making them great watchdogs.
- They are also very friendly and will warm to strangers quickly.
- Wirehaired Griffons are eager to please and intelligent
- This makes them trainable and obedient pets.
- They can live with children of all ages, and they can live with other animals too.
- Griffons prefer to be with their humans for most of the day.
- Unfortunately, they will start to feel lonely after a few hours.
- They have a comical and dopey sense of humor off the field, and they are tons of fun.
- Griffons make awesome gun dogs, and they love to jump into the water.
- They don’t shed as much as other dogs.
- This makes them suited to those who aren’t the biggest fan of lots of dog hair.
The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is a relatively rare but special dog breed. You’ll certainly attract the attention of strangers when walking down the street with him. They look unique with their stylish facial hair and scruffy coat. They also have endearing personalities that make them lovable in the family home and fantastic fun to work with on the field. These guys are described as supreme gun dogs because they are exactly that!
But as you have learned, they also aren’t the best breed for every family. They are hardworking, energetic, and intense dogs to care for. And not every family has the time or patience to live with them. If you can offer them a loving home and provide for all their needs, you are sure to find a bestie in this beautiful pup.