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Eva-Maria Kramer, Animal Photography
An excellent gun dog and great companion with a sense of humor, the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon can point and retrieve on land or in the water. He can be a bit aloof with strangers, but he's always outgoing and boisterous with his owner and devoted to his family. He loves agility, search and rescue, and runs.
The American Kennel Club first registered a Griffon in 1887. At the time, the dog was called a Russian Setter.
Bright, yellow-brown eyes look out from beneath bushy eyebrows as the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon surveys the field. A slow and methodical hunter who checks in with his handler regularly, he’s capable of pointing and retrieving both on land and in water. With a wiry double coat to protect him, he’s a versatile, medium-size hunter who is capable of bringing home feathered and furred game. He is an active, complex dog in need of an owner capable of matching his intelligence and activity level and recognizing his sensitive and soft nature when it comes to training.
Wirehaired Pointing Griffons are active and boisterous and love attention, though they may be a little standoffish with strangers. Some have a watchdog attitude while others are more laid back.
The breed takes well to training and enjoys learning. Use positive reinforcement techniques for best results and give your WPG plenty of praise and encouragement.
The dogs can be great companions for kids who are at least 6 years old, and they tend to get along well with other dogs. Puppies that are raised with cats often accept them as part of the family, but older WPGs who aren’t familiar with felines may simply view them as another type of prey. Keep them separated if you have any doubts at all.
Like most dogs, WPGs become bored when left to their own devices. They can become noisy or destructive if they don’t have other dogs to keep them company or don’t receive attention from their owners. But they thrive when they live with a family committed to giving them plenty of training, exercise, and attention.
The WPG’s greatest desire is to spend the day doing things with his family and relax with them in the evening. He is a people-loving dog who needs to live in the house.
The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is one of the many versatile sporting dogs created in the 19th century. The man who dreamed him up, E. K. Korthals, was inspired by Gregor Mendel’s experiments on heredity, which had recently been published, and set out to produce a dog with a keen sense of smell who could point and retrieve, hunt any game, and work on land or from water. The result was a dog who has been nicknamed “supreme gundog.”
The breeds Korthals used were Griffons (a type of European hunting dog), Small Munsterlanders, Braque Francais, and various setters and pointers. When he was satisfied that he had dogs that bred true, they became the foundation of his new breed. Wirehaired Pointing Griffons were first imported to the United States in 1887. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed the same year. The WPG ranks 93rd in AKC registrations, taking a big leap from 108th.
If the Griff were a vehicle, he’d be a Land Rover. He can plow over or through any type of terrain without a pause. He has a strong drive to hunt combined with an equally strong love of people. Expect him to want to be near you all the time. A Griff whose interaction with people is limited will never reach his full potential as a companion or hunting dog. But when he is loved, trained, and kept busy, though, there are few better family dogs. The Griff who is brought up with them is careful and gentle with young children and a tireless pal for everyone else in the family.
The Griff shows a less welcoming face to strangers. He isn't usually aggressive, but it takes him a while to warm up to outsiders. He is not only an excellent watchdog, alerting you to anything out of the ordinary or someone's approach, but he is also protective of his family and property.
As a hunting dog, the Griff is a natural. He requires little formal training to do his work. Griffs are a walking hunter’s dog and work closely with their handler, methodically seeking out prey and retrieving it wherever it lands. His motto could be “slow but steady gets the job done.”
He’s a great family dog or companion for people who have the time and motivation to channel his energy and intelligence into dog sports such as agility, flyball, rally, and obedience. It’s not impossible for him to participate in all of them concurrently. You’re also likely to find him doing therapy dog visits or search and rescue. And, of course, he’s can be a great hiking, camping, or jogging buddy. The bottom line: A Griff needs anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours of exercise per day (joint health and overall health permitting). A large, safe area where he can do lots of running can help satisfy his need for activity, but otherwise you’ll need to spend a lot of time walking, jogging, bicycling, or playing fetch with him to get his ya-yas out. Ideally, strenuous running should be postponed until his bones and joints are developed. It's always a good idea to check with your vet before starting an exercise program with your pet.
The Griff is a highly intelligent dog who enjoys learning. You might think he has a tough temperament like that of the German Wirehaired Pointer, but he’s more of a softie and responds best to praise and encouragement. Because he likes to stick close to his people, hand signals and voice commands are all that are needed to direct him or keep him in line.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at 8 weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Never wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed. These experiences as a young dog will help him grow into a sensible, calm adult dog.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from an Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Steer clear of any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems her dogs have experienced and the incidence with which those problems occur in her lines.
Conditions that have been seen in the breed include hip dysplasia and genetic eye problems. The breeder should be able to document that both of a pup’s parents have hip evaluations of fair, good, or excellent from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and eye clearances from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation. Learn more from the American Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Club (AWPGC).
The AWPGC participates in the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC), a health database. Before individual WPGs can be issued a CHIC number, breeders must submit hip evaluations from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and eye test results from the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF). University of Pennsylvania (PennHip) and Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) certification of hips is also accepted.
Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database. A dog need not receive good or even passing scores on the evaluations to obtain a CHIC number, so CHIC registration alone is not proof of soundness or absence of disease, but all test results are posted on the CHIC website and can be accessed by anyone who wants to check the health of a puppy’s parents. If the breeder tells you she doesn’t need to do those tests because she’s never had problems in her lines, her dogs have been vet checked, or any of the other excuses irresponsible breeders have for skimping on the genetic testing of their dogs, walk away immediately.
Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy develops one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in most cases the dogs can still live a good life. If you’re getting a puppy, ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and what they died of.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
Grooming the WPG isn’t difficult. His coat sheds a little throughout the year. It’s water-repellent and dries quickly after a bath or other wetting. Brush it weekly to remove dirt. You’ll also need to pluck out dead hairs, called “stripping” or “rolling” the coat. It’s easy to learn to roll the coat, and it’s not painful for the dog.
The Griff doesn’t need frequent baths; in fact, they’re probably counterproductive. It is a good idea, though, to rinse him thoroughly with fresh water to remove chemicals, bacteria, or salt any time he has been in a chlorinated pool, an algae-filled pond or lake, or the ocean.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every week or two. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath. Keep the ears clean and dry to help ward off infections, especially if the dog goes swimming.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a good breeder is a great way find the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right dog and will, without question, have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. She is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances, and what the dogs are like to live with, and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems. And remember that breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical.
Look for more information about the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon and start your search for a good breeder at the website of the American Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Association or the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Club of America. Choose a breeder who has agreed to abide by the WPGCA’s code of ethics, which prohibits the sale of puppies to or through pet stores and calls for the breeder to obtain hip clearances on dogs before breeding them.
Avoid breeders who seem interested only in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected.Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Quickie online purchases are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of a WPG puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and conformation (show) and, ideally, field titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
And before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult WPG might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult WPG may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive, and demanding than a puppy.
With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a WPG in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the WPGs available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a WPG. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Most people who love Wirehaired Pointing Griffons love all Wirehaired Pointing Griffons. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Club of America can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other WPG rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a WPG home for a trial to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a pup. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors, and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter, or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, a breeder purchase or a rescue, take your WPG to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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