1917 WPG Article | Breed Standard with Explanation | Herrenhausen Titled Dogs | Griffon OFA Numbers | Pedigree Search

The Wire-haired Pointing Griffon     

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      Still, it is a comparatively new dog so far as American fanciers and sportsmen are concerned.  An occasional specimen of the breed was to be seen here as long ago as 1900, and perhaps before that.  Mr. M.R. Schneider of Massapequa, Long Island, was one of the first to import a pointing griffon.  But the real history of the breed in this country dates back only about ten years, when Mr. Louis A. Thebaud of Morristown, N.J., went to France on a shooting trip and became greatly impressed with the character and usefulness of the breed.  He imported several in 1907, and others since then.  Dr. E.B. Ilyus of Lancaster, Pa., and other Americans took up the breed, forming a small but enthusiastic group who had the wisdom to import only the best, so that our American specimens are excellent types. 

        Friends of the breed have increased rapidly during late years, including both fanciers and sportsmen, so that now we have enough dogs in this country to insure a perpetuation of the strain regardless of war conditions abroad.  Sixteen griffons were exhibited in the last New York show. 

        The breed has been fortunate in its friends here.  They have exhibited at the larger shows pretty consistently, and so have given it advertising that it would not otherwise have had.  "Furthermore," to quote a recent note in "Field and Fancy, " the wire-haired pointing griffon has now commenced to attract attention to his powers in the field, and is being taken up in ever increasing numbers by field trial folk.  It would not be surprising to find that wire-haired pointing griffons will soon make a name for themselves at all the field trials, whereas, at the present time, they must rely on the reputation of the wonderful gun work done by such dogs as Marquis de Merlimont, who is also a noted bench show winner." 

        In August, 1916 after a successful entry at the Rhode Island Kennel Club's show, the Griffon Club of America was formed, with Mr. Thebaud as president and Dr. Ilyus, as secretary treasurer, and an American Standard was adopted. 

        "Prior to 1910," writes Dr. Ilyus, "several individual specimens were brought to this country, but the credit of introducing these dogs to American sportsmen belongs to Mr. Thebaud who, through observation and experience in France, was convinced that they were especially adapted to our game and country.  From the great dogs imported by him have sprung the now well known pointing griffons in America.  In 1914, I imported my first griffon and since then I have imported a number of the best type of field and bench winning griffons in Europe.  The Griffon Club of America has officially called the attention of intending purchasers and breeders to the great importance of informing themselves as to blood lines and type, as there are many dogs masquerading and being sold as griffons that have no claim to the name." 

        Among the top-notch griffons that have already achieved distinction in this country, on the bench, in the field, and at stud, may be mentioned Mr. Thebaud's Homére and Marquis de Merlimont, Ch Flambeau Panig, imported for him by Dr. Ilyus, and Kob de Merlimont and Fileuse de Merlimont, owned by Mr. Thebaud and handled by Mr. W. N. Gilbert Clark.  Mamzelle de Moulignon and Miche de Moulignon, both European winners, were imported and are now owned by Dr. Ilyus; the ancestors of the latter were all European champions.  Bolero von Gimbsheim, imported and owned by Dr. Illyus has been winning consistently at American shows during the past two years and is a perfect Korthals type.  He is also a versatile field dog and one of the most perfectly trained griffons in the United States.  Two American champions, Crappau and Kob's Fritzie, are owned by Messrs. Ralph Hornblower and H. Hollon Crowell.  These are but a few of the notable griffons now before the American public.  The winners at the last New York show, open classes only, were as follows:  first dogs, Mr. Thebaud's Marquis de Merlimont; second dogs, Mr. Thebaud's Flambeau Panig; first bitches, Miss Alice Clark's Kob's Louisette de Greylock; second bitches, Mr. Crowell's Ch. Kob's Fritzie. 

        I have a weakness for rough-coated dogs for the intelligent, competent looking faces of the Irish wolfhound and the Airedale and Irish terriers.  That first griffon that I saw in the New York show struck me as having that kind of face.  He is a real dog, not a fancier's fad, and one which I am convinced cannot fail to make his way in the hearts of American dog lovers.  It is a rugged and prolific breed, a bold, strong dog of decided character, notable for his faithfulness, his devotion to his master, his intelligence and great sagacity, his endurance, and his all-round utility. 

        In the matter of utility, the wire-haired pointing griffon is an all-round sporting dog.  His versatility is remarkable.  He may be trained to hunt all kinds of game, big and small in water, marsh, upland, and forest.  He is a dog as well suited to rough work as the Airedale.  His hard outer coat and dense undercoat form a protection against briers and dampness and make him a splendid water dog.  He can endure extremes of temperature without loss of vigor.  He is gifted with bird sense, endurance in the field, and a keen scent.  He has an exquisite nose for finding scattered birds.  He is a natural pointer and retriever and is easily trained to obey and to work systematically. 

        The griffon, in short, possesses a good combination of pointer, setter, and spaniel characteristics.  He is perhaps too new with us to compare him fairly with the pointer and the setter under American conditions, but it is not too much to say that he cannot be beaten for all-round work, under all conditions, at all seasons of the year.  He lacks something of the snap, dash, and style of the pointer and setter, but he is remarkably sure;  he seldom makes mistakes.  He is at present perhaps too deliberate and too lacking in spectacular style to measure up to modern field trial standards, but his friends believe that he can be brought up to the highest pitch of perfection by proper breeding and training. 

        The American Standard for the breed calls for a medium sized dog, symmetrical and well built. Head, long and heavy, wire-haired, but hair not too long;  there should be a good mustache and eyebrows.  Skull, not too wide.  Muzzle, long and square; nasal bone, convex; stop not too abrupt. Eyes, large, not hidden by the eyebrows, very intelligent in expression, brown or dark yellow in color.  Nose, always brown and large.  Ears, of medium size and not hound-like, close to the head, set on not too low; the short hair on the ears is mixed with a few longer ones.  Neck, rather long, without dewlap.  Shoulders, rather long, well sloping.  Chest, deep but not too broad.  Back, strong, well developed at the loins.  Ribs, slightly arched.  Loins, well developed.  Forelegs, straight, muscular, well placed, wire-haired.  Hind legs, wire-haired; thighs long and well developed; stifles well bent, not straight.  Feet, round and strong; toes well closed. Stern, carried straight or just above the level of the back, wire-haired, without feather; a fourth or a third of the tail is generally docked. 

        As has been stated, the griffon's coat is one of its most salient characteristics.  The outer coat is wiry, crisp, and harsh, like fine iron wire, never curly or woolly; the undercoat is dense and soft.  The characteristic color is steel gray, with brown patches often mixed with gray hairs;  also white-gray with brown or yellow patches.  Dogs stand from 21 1/2 to 23 1/2 inches at the shoulder, bitches from 20 to 21 1/2 inches. The average weight is about fifty-six pounds. 

        The puppies when born are snow-white with liver colored blotches, changing later to the steel gray or roan. 

        Owing to the comparative rarity of the breed in America, and the expense at which they have been imported, values are high.  Stud dogs are considered worth from $1,000 to $1,500, and promising puppies of winning parents bring from $225 to $250 apiece, and even more for exceptionally good ones. 

        Those who have so far taken up the breed in this country are extremely enthusiastic, and to a man they predict a brilliant future for it here when it shall have had time to make its worth known. 

        Mr. Crowell writes:  "I shot over a griffon all last fall and can say personally that I cannot imagine a bird dog which could give a man any more downright good hunting than the little griffon I used.  I do not hereby claim that she is the finest bred dog in the country, and do not wish to enter into any controversy as to her merits as against those of the pointer or setter; but I do know that she has a  good nose, found her game, pointed it, and retrieved it, with about as little talking to and as few directions as any dog that I have ever seen." 

        Dr. Ilyus says:  "The chief characteristics in which the griffon excels, and is superior to our 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." 

        Every dog has his day, and the day of the Korthals griffon in  America is surely coming.  Personally, I doubt very much whether he can ever displace the pointer and the setter; they are too well established with us for that -- they occupy a warm place in the hearts of too many appreciative sportsmen. But he will make his own place in his own way, and unless all  portents fail, and history fails to repeat itself, it will most assuredly be a place of honor in the hearts of men. 

        It may be some time before you have an opportunity to see one at work in the field, but the next time that you attend one of the big bench shows, take a good look at the griffon, gaze into those brown eyes of his, rub your hand over his rough, hard head, and see if you do not agree with me that this is a real dog, a dog destined by nature to be a friend of man, whether that man fares forth with a gun or sits by the open fire with pipe and book, and likes to have a shaggy form on the hearth rug beside him. 

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