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History of the Korthals Griffon

The Korthals Griffon as a breed was initially developed by Dutchman Eduard Karel Korthals (1851-1896).


Rough-haired gundogs existed nearly everywhere in 19th-century Europe. There was no specific, breed type definition of rough-haired gun dogs. The hunters working with these dogs split them into two types: those that were useful and those that were not! In France, these rough-haired gun dogs were called Griffon or Barbet, in Germany “Stichelhaarige Vorstehhunden” - rough-haired pointing dogs, and in The Netherlands “Smousbaarden” or “Ruigbaarden” - dogs with a rough beard.


Korthals in a relatively short time bred a stable type of Griffon by very carefully selecting pointing dogs from France, Belgium and Germany. He wished to produce a medium sized versatile, hunting dog which could be used on all terrains, on all game and in all climatic conditions. At the time he was selecting for “type” he did not, of course, have access to pedigrees, in depth knowledge of Mendelian inheritance, genetics or as we know it today “The Gene Pool”.


At the invitation of Price Albrecht zu Solms-Braunfels, Korthals was invited to take over the training of the Prince’s Pointers. Korthals moved to the prince’s kennels in Germany taking five young Griffons and a Griffon Boulet bitch with him.


In 1879 he left Germany and settled in Silesia at the Prince’s Hunting Estate where, in the end, he owned 14 Griffons. Nine of these became the cornerstones of his Korthals Griffon Kennel “Lepenwoud”.


Moving back to Germany to Biebesheim, here Korthals would devote more of his time to breeding his ideal Griffon. In doing so his “Lepenwoud” kennel became famous throughout Western Europe. He started his first Stud Book in 1872.


Korthals bred about 600 pups, but from his selection only 62 were registered in his stud book. Eight animals, chosen by Korthals, are known as the ancestors of today’s Korthals-Griffon: four dogs -“Janus”, described as a Barbet, “Hector”, “Satan” and “Banco”, and four bitches, “Vesta”, “Donna”, “Mouche” and “Junon” all differed considerably in appearance being different in size, colour and coats. None of these eight dogs was bred by Korthals; they were bought from local hunters in his travel  and searches for suitable breeding stock. 

Eduard Karel Korthals untimely death at the age of 45, led to the continuing development of the breed by his friends in Germany, Holland, France and Belgium, here Korthals Griffons remain an ever popular breed for the hunter. Used as a bird dog on pheasant, grouse, woodcock and snipe and they are also used on boar as well as tracking other large, wounded game such as deer.


There is evidence in the form of the “1892 Crufts Schedule” that “Griffons” were shown here in the UK, and also four years earlier at Barn Elms in 1888.


At present very few Korthals Griffons are shown in the UK and therefore the breed remains on the Imported Register until their numbers increase in the show ring. “The Korthals Griffon Club of Great Britain” encourage their members to enter their Griffons in “Imported Register Classes”, so that the breed might move from its present status as soon as possible.


In 2001/2002 the first four Korthals Griffons were reintroduced into the UK, since then the numbers have slowly risen and at the present time number around 600.

The majority of UK Korthals Griffons are used in the field, where they excel at the work they were bred for - a most efficient hunt, point and retrieve breed, they make an excellent “rough shooting” dog.

Maturing mentally and physically around the age of four, but staying a puppy for life, they are not the breed for an owner who has neither time nor patience. They cannot be rushed.

Korthals Griffons require firm, but gentle handling. They will not tolerate heavy handedness in any form, and will indeed "switch off" and refuse to work if this method of training is at all attempted.

They are, by nature, sensitive, gentle and fun loving, thriving on both mental and physical challenges. The reward for patience is a wonderful intelligent, working dog and loving companion.

Their hunting instinct is undiluted and very strong, and it must be channelled and harnessed in the right direction at a very early age, otherwise trouble is often not very far away, be it in the shape of hare, rabbit or deer.

Both the "stop" whistle and "recall" whistle are of course, as in other working dogs, imperative to this Breed.  They are not a Breed for the quick fixer.

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