The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon was developed in the Netherlands in the latter part of the 19th century, due largely to the experimental efforts of Eduard Korthals near Haarlem, Holland. The son of a wealth banker and cattle-rancher, Korthals decided to develop a new sporting breed that excelled in working with a walking hunter, being equally adept at tracking, pointing and retrieving in all types of climates and terrain, including water. In 1874, young Korthals bought a 7-year old brown and gray “griffon” bitch named Mouche, who excelled at hunting in both forest and field. Over the next three years, Korthals acquired five more hunting dogs: Janus (who had a wooly coat), Junon (a female who had a short coat) and Hector, Satan and Banco (who each had a wooly coat). Through various crosses between and among these six dogs and their offspring, Korthals created the foundation of a breed that became known for being a slow, deliberate worker with a keen nose and the ability to both point and retrieve with equal skill.
Ultimately, Korthals moved from Holland to Germany, where he continued his focused breeding efforts. He acquired fresh stock, with different coats, types and talents, to improve the coat, love of water, intelligence and disposition of his dogs. Many authorities believe that spaniels, setters, pointers and Otterhounds were all used in the ancestral mix of the “Korthals patriarchs,” as his dogs soon became known. The Griffon Hound and German Shorthair Pointer are also thought to have contributed to Korthals’ breed, which he finally named the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. In less than two decades, Korthals created an all-around gun dog that could trail, point and retrieve in all weather and over any terrain. He helped write an official standard for the breed, and in 1890 he was recognized by the German emperor for his breeding successes. Later, Korthals traveled widely as part of his job working for a French nobleman, the Duke of Penthievre, promoting his dogs whenever and wherever he found a willing ear. While this contributed to the claim that the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is a French breed, there really can be no dispute that it is actually Dutch in origin.
Korthals attended and competed with his Wirehaired Pointing Griffons at field events and benched shows in England, Germany and elsewhere in Europe, attracting considerable attention. The first recorded class specifically for the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon was held in 1888 at the Barn Elms dog show in England. The breed came to America in the 1800s and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1887, as a member of the Sporting Group. The American Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Association was accepted by the AKC as the parent club of the breed in 1991. The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon debuted at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in Madison Square Garden in 1916.
The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is even-tempered, highly trainable and tremendously eager to please. He makes a trusted family dog while retaining all of his hunting instincts, although he has not become as popular as many other hunting breeds in this country, sometimes said to be too slow and unstylish. However, the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is one of the best close-working Continental breeds, excelling at work in small fields and close quarters.
The average life span of the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is 10 to 12 years. Breed health concerns may include hip dysplasia. This is a particularly hardy breed.