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The Griffon in the U.S.A. 

The history of the Korthals Griffon in this country dates back to the registration of Zoletta in 1887 by the American Kennel Club as a Russian Setter.  In 19th century England, the Griffon was known as the Russian Setter or the Russian Retriever.  The English seemed to have always considered bearded and furry dogs as products of the Siberian regions.  Even though there were, in fact, Pointing Griffons in all areas of Europe. 

Mr. M.R. Schneider of Long Island – along with other early historians; Mr. Louis A. Thebaud of New jersey, and Dr. E.B. Ilyus of Pennsylvania, were among the first to import the breed.  The popularity of the breed expanded rapidly with favorable publicity about their ruggedness and hunting ability.  In August of 1916 the first Griffon club, The Griffon Club of America, was formed and an American breed standard adopted.  That same year, there were 16 Griffons exhibited at the Westminster Kennel Club show in New York. 

With the onset of WWII, all activity stopped for the Griffon.  The fledgling club of the GCA fell out of existence and very little breeding activity took place. 

However, at the end of the war, Brigadier General Thomas Deforth Rogers brought a renewed interest with the importation of his dog Cisa von der Hohenlinde.  A new club was formed named the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Club of America.  Again devoted sportsmen came to appreciate the astute, meticulous hunting characteristics of this breed.  His reputation as an easily controlled hunting dog for upland birds as well as water fowl, again gained him respect with the walking hunters.  A detailed article by Walter A. Dyer in The New Country Life magazine brought to light the up and coming importance of this new breed to the United States. 

The bright future was short lived.  With the advent of the fast running competition AKC field trials in the 1940’s (in which larger running dogs excelled), breeding of the slower paced Griffon leveled out.  The Korthals Griffon continued to remain in the hands of devoted hunters who appreciated the walking gun dog.  Their numbers have remained about the same for the last 50 years with approximately 75 – 150 puppies being produced annually. 

The breed is registered through the American Kennel Club or American field organizations.  “European Style” field testing of hunting instincts has been the standard for selection of breeding stock.  These field tests are offered by the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA) which includes both field and water testing.  In the last few years, an interest has been shown in AKC Hunting Tests as well, with Griffons achieving titles at Junior, Senior, and Master levels.  Only events designed for the walking hunter are recommended for this breed. 

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