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The Griffon Coat

Idaho Outback Griffons

The Griffon Coat

The distinguishing characteristic of the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breed is its coat. It’s rough, unkempt, and simultaneously stately, with striking brown or chestnut head and body patching that contrasts with the famous steel-gray body. Griffons come in various colors, such as steel-gray and brown, chestnut brown, roan, whitish-brown, and whitish-orange. Single-colored Griffons are considered less desirable, and black coats are a major disqualifier (akc.org).

Jethro Reed

The coat itself is double-layered, comprising a harsh outer coat that is straight and wiry, so crisp that it’s been likened to being able to grate cheese on it. Underneath is a fluffy undercoat, approximately a centimeter thick. This coat design makes them ideal for outdoor activities where it’s relatively easy to remove burrs and brambles from their wire coat. The undercoat provides insulation from both heat and cold, shedding water away from the dog’s body.

However, the double coat’s unique feature isn’t limited to its structure. Unlike most dogs that shed their hair everywhere, the Griffon’s coat tends to stay locked, even when shed from the body and twisted into the fluffy undercoat. Approximately once a month, or as needed, the coat should be combed with a steel-toothed comb, following the grain of the coat and purposefully pulling it from the skin out to remove dead hair. This helps prevent dog hair from being scattered everywhere, providing a tidier living environment. More details on grooming will be discussed later, along with information about hypoallergenic dogs.

Is Your Griffon Hypoallergenic?

Pepper Tight Coat Griffon

Speaking of hypoallergenic dogs, it’s important to clarify that when someone claims to have a hypoallergenic dog, they may not fully understand the concept. All dogs produce dander and saliva, and these are typically the allergenic components. People who are allergic to dogs are usually reacting to dog dander or dog saliva. When they come into contact with airborne hair or hair on surfaces like seat coverings and beds, they are exposed to dander and saliva that is attached to the expelled hair. Therefore, even if you have a dog that doesn’t shed much, like a poodle or a Yorkie, there is still no guarantee of being completely free from allergenic components. It’s important to be cautious of claims about hypoallergenic dogs.

So Your Allergic, Can I Handle a Griffon?

If you’re allergic and considering a Griffon, there are strategies to help manage your allergies. Some unconventional rules for interacting with your dog can make it possible to have a dog in your life. These rules apply to any dog but can be particularly helpful if you choose a non-shedding dog or one with a double coat like a Griffon.

First, when you physically interact with your Griffon, wear gloves or wash your hands after petting them. Avoid touching your face and eyes, and don’t allow licking. These rules can be applied to any dog through training. Other household members should also wash up after handling the dog before making physical contact with you or sitting or lying where you will be doing the same.

You can set boundaries or restricted areas in your home. Teach your Griffon which rooms are off-limits, such as the living room, computer room, and bedrooms. This keeps the dog’s hair away from places where you spend more time. In extreme cases of allergies, consider providing your Griffon with suitable outdoor housing for all seasons, ensuring they have proper shelter. While most Griffons are house dogs and adapt well to indoor living, outdoor accommodation can be an option if it helps you have a dog in your life.

Routine baths, while not as necessary for non-allergic owners, can be helpful for managing allergies. Regular baths remove loosened dander and saliva. Choose a dog shampoo that doesn’t dry out the skin, as this can lead to more dander. There are also products designed to wipe down the dog, picking up external dander between baths, or you can achieve the same effect with a wet wipe. Ensure that a non-allergic person performs the wipe-down.

The Tale of the Allergic Kids

A very sweet family, interested in getting a Griffon puppy from my Golden List, had three children ranging in age from 11 to 5. The oldest and youngest child were known to be allergic to dogs, but the oldest child was a natural-born animal lover and desperately wanted a dog. The dad was an outdoorsman and an upland bird hunter. They contacted me and planned an extensive visit to our farm. They visited one fine Saturday afternoon and stayed for a couple of hours, engaging in activities like throwing balls, walking the dogs, feeding them, and interacting with them. Everything seemed to go well.

So, they returned on puppy pick-out/pick-up day. Since it was colder, we moved indoors and brought in about six very active puppies for them to choose from. The girls were on the floor, excitedly allowing the puppies to crawl all over them, chewing on their fingers and pawing at their faces. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for issues to arise. It appeared that the girls were particularly sensitive to dog saliva, an aspect they hadn’t fully experienced during their initial visit with our adult dogs. Their faces became puffy, and their eyes turned red.

Unfortunately, there was no happy ending in this case. I share this story not to discourage you, but quite the opposite. I want you to be well-informed before deciding to bring a puppy into your home, especially if you have allergies. My own grown son struggled with animal allergies, but we adapted and followed strict rules. He now has a Viszla of his own, and they coexist without any allergy issues. However, they still adhere to certain rules, such as no licking, sharing beds or couches, and regular baths. They enjoy hunting and training together.

It was a heartbreaking situation because the family had been expecting to take a puppy home after spending time here. After what felt like an eternity, I took the dad aside. He inquired about trying out the puppy, and I explained that it might be possible if they dedicated the puppy to outdoor living with proper shelter and strictly adhered to the rules to minimize contact. However, I also expressed my opinion that it would be emotionally challenging for the family to return the puppy once they had grown attached. My suggestion was a less optimistic one. I reiterated the challenges posed by dander and saliva, and against my usual practice, I refunded their Golden List Deposit.

Grooming

The following information pertains to everyday grooming rather than show style. While the show presentation retains a rugged appearance, not many people have their dogs professionally stripped and groomed. The tools I regularly use for grooming include:

  • A steel-toothed comb
  • A Safari Matt cutter
  • Toe nail trimmers
  • A pair of hair cutting scissors
  • A Mars Coat King thinning tool


Steel Toothed Comb

I avoid using clippers because they are more suited for breeds like poodles and schnauzers. If you were to shave a Griffon, the outer wire coat wouldn’t grow back immediately; instead, the fuzzy, soft undercoat would come in first, giving the dog a peculiar appearance, somewhat like a Rusty Brillo Pad. The outer hair would eventually grow back as part of the natural shedding cycle.

Safari Matt cutter

For “pulling” the coat, you can find videos online demonstrating the process for a Griffon show coat, which can help you learn the techniques. In essence, you run the steel comb through the coat, pulling dead hair from the skin in the direction of the coat’s grain. If the coat is matted, I use the matt cutter or the Mars Coat King to break through the tangles, which is less painful for the dog. Take your time, as many Griffons enjoy being groomed.

The Scissors are for cleaning up the Griffons catlike feet, so clean up all that crazy fluff both top and bottom. Also cut off the fly away around the ears, just follow the ear leather exactly , again taking your time. Hand pull the crazy wild fuzzies off the top of the skull and on the ear itself. They will look their regal self. YouTube will give you some ideas.

Mars-Coat-King

The coat is one of the breed’s distinguishing features—a double coat with a medium-length, straight, and wiry outer layer, never curly or woolly. The outer coat provides protection in rough terrain, while the undercoat offers insulation and water resistance. The mustache and eyebrows on the head are extensions of the undercoat, giving the Griffon its characteristic untidy appearance. The coat on the ears is short and soft, mixed with longer, harsh hair from the body. The legs have denser, shorter, and less coarse hair, and there should be no plume on the tail. The breed should be exhibited with a full body coat, not stripped short in pattern. Trimming and stripping are only allowed around the ears, top of the head, cheeks, and feet. Preferred colors are steel gray with brown markings, chestnut brown, roan, whitish-brown, and whitish-orange, while a uniformly brown coat, all white coat, or white and orange are less desirable. A black coat is a disqualifier (akc.org).

These wirehaired Griffons are built to withstand rough outdoor environments, with their wiry coats providing excellent protection. However, they aren’t just practical; their coats also give them a rugged and distinct appearance.

Coat and Coloration

Bandit bad hair day….

The Griffon boasts a double coat, with the outer layer being medium-length, relatively straight, and wiry. Often described as “rough” in texture, this layer was intentionally bred to shield the Griffon from injuries in rugged terrains. Completing the double coat is a water-resistant undercoat composed of fine and thick fur, providing protection against water and cold.

The Wirehaired Griffon is known for its “untidy appearance” due to its abundance of hair, thick mustache, and long eyebrows. They come in various colors, including steel-gray and brown, chestnut brown, roan, whitish-brown, and whitish-orange. Single-colored Griffons are considered less desirable, and black coats are a disqualifier (akc.org).

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