A medium–sized, scruffy–looking hunting breed, the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is not a frequent visitor to most grooming shops. We have had the good fortune to groom a few over the years, and we hear the same comment from our customers; “No one knows how to groom this breed…” which is a shame because they are a fun dog to work on!
If one does happen to grace your table, here are some tips on how to make this breed look the way it should.
Of course, it all starts with a good bath. Some Griffons will have a slightly oily coat, so we start out with a degreasing shampoo, followed by a good, basic cleansing shampoo. A light conditioner to replace the sebum removed by washing is the next step. However, we often skip the conditioner in favor of using a finishing rinse, which leaves wiry coats with a lovely, crisp feel. Dry with the lay of the coat to achieve best results.
Wirehaired Pointing Griffons have a double coat, designed to protect them as they hunt in thick brush, and to keep them warm if they are retrieving in water. The undercoat is dense and soft, and the outer coat is straight with a wiry texture. In warm weather, the undercoat will shed out, then regrow when days grow shorter and weather cools.
After a light conditioning spray, go over the entire dog with a slicker brush, brushing the direction you wish the coat to lay. Once any tangles have been removed, comb the dog from nose to toes to make sure there are not any thick spots remaining.
Next use a deshedding tool on the jacket and tail. On the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, you will find this tool will make short work of removing the undercoat when it is shedding, which makes the harsh topcoat lay more smoothly. Alternately, you can card the coat, but that is far more time consuming. Removing the dead coat in this way will help support the proper regrowth of coat that is of correct texture and color.
The hair on the legs and furnishings can benefit from a little work with the deshedding tool as well. You may find it works well to use chunkers or thinners to lightly trim any excessively long hair so the legs appear to be uniform. Sometimes tufts of hair at the elbows will grow longer than the rest of the coat and these can benefit from a little tidying up.
Use chunkers or thinners to neaten up the underline on the chest and make the hair on the tail match the body coat. The tail should never have any sort of flag or plume. As you work, keep in mind that you are trying to achieve a scruffy look; this breed should never look tailored or overgroomed. Wirehaired Pointing Griffons should not be clipped unless it is specifically requested by the owner.
The nails should be as short as possible. Lightly round the feet and clip the hair between the paw pads. Trim up the sanitary areas as needed.
The head of this breed is what gives them their characteristic look. Full, slightly triangular brows and an abundant beard are important to achieve proper expression. Use the deshedding tool, followed by a stripping knife, stripping stone or your fingers, to lightly pluck long hair from the top of the head and the ears. The ears should have a light covering of short hair all over. If the cheeks grow long hair, they can be lightly plucked as well to accentuate the beard and keep the ears lying flat. You can lightly remove thick coat from under the beard into the neck, but this area is not trimmed or plucked closely. Remember, you want a natural–looking, slightly untidy end result. Avoid over–grooming at all costs.
Some grooming books say the brows should be triangular. Take this as a suggestion of shape. You do not want the harsh triangles seen on breeds such as Schnauzers and Scottish Terriers. The brows of the Griffons are there to protect their eyes when crashing through underbrush and should remain looking natural, not overly trimmed.
I use a mixture of light plucking and thinning shears to tidy the brows enough so that the dog can see and so its eyes can be seen, but do not leave an obviously trimmed line. Trim or pluck the outer edges shorter, leaving the hair of the inner brow longer. Pluck lightly between the eyes to allow the dog good visual clearance.
Brush and comb the beard well, plucking lightly to encourage good regrowth. If there are any long hairs under the nose and over the upper lip that get dragged into the dog’s mouth, they can be trimmed, maintaining as natural a look as possible.
This unusual breed presents a fun challenge to groomers; it is not often that we are encouraged to leave a pet looking scruffy. I find it is a nice change of pace. Every member of this breed that I have met has been blessed with a terrific temperament, making the grooming even more enjoyable. Best of all is the look of delight on the pet owner’s face when they see their freshly–tidied pet for the first time. ✂️