First and foremost a versatile working companion for the hunter on foot, the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is as much at home hunting upland game birds as a pointer, as he is swimming for a waterfowl retrieve. In the manner of the Continental breeds, the Griffon is well regarded for his ability to hunt a variety of game. In some states, Griffons are used to assist hunters by tracking wounded deer. Outside of the United States, they are often used as hunters of rabbit and hare. In the off season for birds, Griffs can be seen using their keen tracking skills assisting their owners to find lost people in search and rescue.
The majority of successful breeders are also hunters who understand the important role their dog plays as a hunting companion and conservation tool. Breeders have done an excellent job of retaining the inherent hunting instincts in their stock and regularly test, hunt with and title their dogs in field activities.
It often seems as though puppies are born with their noses to the ground, tracking and pointing their prey. Nothing can match the thrill of seeing a beautifully bred puppy locked hard on point when they see their first wing.
A Griffon has a completely different hunting style than his big-running cousins; the Pointer, German Wirehaired Pointer, German Shorthaired Pointer, or Setters, which have the speed and range to be hunting companions for the hunter on horseback. A Griffon is a closer working cooperative, European style of hunter, that adjusts his range to the terrain and cover. These specific tendencies dictate that the Griff is best tested in arenas where his skill, tractability, and style are appreciated.
The North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (“NAVHDA”) is the most popular venue for evaluating the inherent hunting instincts of the young Griff in the United States. NAVHDA conducts four tests in simulated hunting situations where a versatile hunting dog’s skills would be needed. Three judges score the dog on nose, search, tracking, pointing, water, desire, and cooperation. Record is made of coat, teeth, and if the dog is noted to be gun-shy, man-shy, or aggressive. These four tests consist of;
The NAVHDA tests are non-competitive. Dogs are scored as individuals against a standard. Each dog that meets the numerical requirements for a certain prize level will be awarded that prize. Prize I (the highest scoring level), Prize II, or Prize III are all passing scores.
The Griffon also excels in American Kennel Club (AKC) Hunt Tests and Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) Field Tests. In a Hunt Test, the Griffon’s desire to hunt, style of running, pace, range, pattern, control, pointing, and retrieve, are all evaluated as compared to a predetermined standard of performance. The AKC Hunt Tests and CKC Field Tests simulate upland hunting, without detailed evaluation of water work or tracking. This is not to be confused with AKC Field Trials, which are designed to evaluate a dog for a hunter on horseback.
The tests in both the American Kennel Club and Canadian Kennel Club are similar in each level:
Other field events open to the Griffon are conducted by North American Hunting Retriever Association (NAHRA) and North American Shoot to Retrieve Association (NSTRA). Field Trials (AKC, Canadian Kennel Club or American Field). These organizations hold competitive events open to all pointing breeds. NSTRA is a timed event for the competitive walking shooting dog. The Field Trials are divided into different levels of competition (stakes) and are competitive events most often designed for horseback handling. Field Trials are obviously not an appropriate event for the closer working, foot handled, Griffon.
Of course, the place that you will most often see the Griffon during hunting season is enthusiastically accompanying his human hunting partner in the search for game. Human and Canine, together preserving the ancient covenant of the hunt.