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How Do I Pick?

Idaho Outback Griffons

Physical Attributes of M&Ms and Puppies:

I have seen many litters of Wirehaired Pointing Griffon puppies. Even with an experienced eye, walking into a room with 12 Griffon puppies is overwhelming. First off, they all look alike… well, not exactly, but overall they do. Hopefully, they have identifying collars. It’s like picking out a special M&M, so what should you do?

Keep in mind that you have chosen a purebred dog for its predictable physical and mental abilities and characteristics. Wirehaired Pointing Griffons have been bred to produce consistent type and personality. Compared to other breeds, the breeding pool of Griffons is relatively tight. Breeders have diligently protected the breed, using dogs that embody the desired characteristics and avoiding breeding subpar Griffons.

So, relax. When picking a Griffon puppy, you are likely choosing based on a nuance or feeling you have about a certain puppy. A breeder, aiming for an outstanding specimen in every category, may keep two or even three prospects from a litter due to their conformity at eight weeks of age. As a breeder, I consider various factors such as bite, conformation, drive, attention span, energy, natural instincts, temperament, coat length, and spots. However, I don’t worry too much about coat length and spots.

After breeding for 20 years from our gene pools, I am more convinced than ever that you will receive a super athlete that loves their people and kids, is up for any adventure, and would happily chase down a skunk if given the chance. The good news is that I am extremely selective about my breeding stock. I keep only the best and am willing to place a pup that doesn’t meet every criteria. This means you will receive a puppy from the best dogs I could breed or buy.

However, my goals may differ from yours. So, let’s discuss a few things you can observe in a 6-8 week old Griffon.

Physical Size
Most puppies are of similar size to their parents, but there may be some pups that fall outside the average and are either larger or smaller. If you desire a larger or smaller adult dog, take note of the puppies outside the average sizes and consider the size of the parents.

Coat Length
Griffons grow their coats for up to 3 years. Sometimes, as puppies, they may have skimpy, patchy hair, but this is normal for Griffons. They will develop an excellent coat by their third season. While the breed standard suggests the outer coat should be between 1 to 3 inches, there is a significant difference between the two extremes.

Jethro Reed

Max is an example of a “Fluff” all grown up, with a 3-inch outer coat! Some puppies have pretty little white curls, which I call “fluffies” and tight coats. These are technical terms.

Jethro Reed is an example of a “Fluffy” puppy. These puppies grow up to be beautiful adults with a ton of coat, up to 3 inches long. Longer coats require more maintenance.

Outback’s Liberty Bell, also known as Justice, has a medium 2-inch outer coat. Medium coats are relatively easy to maintain, without anything too excessive. All Griffons still have facial furnishings. BarleyAndrew is an example of a medium-coated puppy.

Outback’s Liberty Bell

I have found that I can guess the ultimate coat length of the pups pretty accurately, so you can rely on me for guidance. Some breeders claim they can’t tell, but I certainly can.

Tight Coated Puppy Example
Bonsai Tight 1” outer Adult coat

Bonsai has a tight 1-inch outer adult coat. Tight coats are the simplest and are suitable for families with allergies. They are rough and tough, doing well in both snow and desert. Baby Griffons may resemble German Shorthairs in coat length initially, but their coat will develop over time. Patience is key.

Griffons generally love snow and water, perhaps more than heat. Regardless of coat length, all Griffons will require pulling the undercoat with a comb.

Proper Bite
A proper bite is essential. Obvious overbite or underbite can usually be noted in a 7-week old puppy. While it is more typical for Griffons to have a perfect scissor bite, there is always a chance of this sort of problem. However, it doesn’t pose a problem in a normal adult Griffon.

Base Narrow
Base Narrow, which is the thinning of the bottom jaw, is a common issue in Griffon puppies and other long-jawed dogs such as Collies, Poodles, Doodles, Weimaraners, and Vizslas. It can impact either one or both sides of the lower jaw. Please refer to the Health section of my website for more details on Base Narrow. Although it is not covered in my health guarantee, I typically remove the offending baby tooth or teeth before your puppy leaves and usually send them home with their first ball for Ball therapy, which has been highly successful.

Eye Color
Baby Griffon eyes are typically gray-blue, but they will eventually turn brown or gold according to AKC standards. In the next two photos you can see an example of a bit “too early to tell” and “Gold Eyes”

A bit too early to tell
Gold Eyes

Coat color
The base color is typically noted early on. Harris Hamilton has a brown base color, which appears slightly more pecan-colored than the brown pups. Lots of dark body spots will result in a darker overall dog, as seen in Outback’s Towser Augustus.

BROWN – Harris Hamilton
Outback’s Towser Augustus

Random small to medium spots are usually barely visible outside of head or tail color. Don’t make the mistake of selecting your pup based on the spot pattern, as it will meld into the roan coat unless the spot takes up a significant portion of the body.

Personality of Your Griffon:

I have been around many Griffons, and none have the same personality. Yet, when I read my Facebook page filled with owners talking about their “Griffs,” I notice many similarities. The breed is famous for their companionable, joyful nature, and their close working habits.

Personalities in a pack can range from dominant to moderate to passive. Establishing hierarchy is crucial for a peaceful pack. Some dogs are natural leaders, while others are natural followers. Puppies have no idea where they fit into this complicated world, so they mock fight, wrestle, and bite. One minute, one is on top, and the next minute, another takes the lead. Sometimes, the pups’ quarreling can be mistaken for aggression by clients when they come to pick them up. However, it is simply a part of them figuring out their place in the pack. The mother dog rarely pays attention to their squabbles. The mother, father, and other pack members reinforce their status in life and quickly correct a pup with a snap and a fierce growl if they cross a line while eating or playing too roughly. Take note that you are the new leader. If your pup bites you, correct swiftly and forgive quickly.

Your breeder should have insight into which puppies lean towards specific temperaments. In a crowd of puppies, I notice the outliers—the pups with tons of drive and the easygoing, laid-back pups. While most puppies fall in the middle range, it’s worth noting that there are often wallflowers in the group. The wallflower may be the mild one that everyone overlooks, but once you bring them out of the group, they blossom nicely. I have seen it time and again.

The Puppy Draft Pick

Bring your puppy home and watch them develop. If your breeder is worth their salt, they will have some insights. However, if they keep the puppies locked in a kennel and only feed them twice a day, they will have no clue.

The Puppy Draft Pick:

I affectionately refer to the process as the “Puppy Draft Pick.” I understand that everyone is excited about selecting their puppy, so I want to explain how the process works. It may seem complicated, but I value every match.

I create the puppy pick order right after the birth of the litter. I contact each member of the Golden List in order of their original email date, regardless of when the deposit was received. Past buyers receive priority, followed by those who have waited over a year for their puppy. Each person has the option to choose their pick spot or roll their name for a future litter.

Once people have committed to a puppy, I schedule a two-hour window for each client to make their pick. Some clients may not be able to be present at the farm or prefer courier delivery. In such cases, they will still get to pick in order, and we will arrange an online pick time for them.

I have a strict schedule for pick-up time due to coordinating multiple families picking up their puppies on the same weekend when the puppies are around 49 days old. However, I do provide flexibility for clients flying in, allowing ample time for their flights before committing them to a two-hour window.

All puppies will be vet-checked and vaccinated before leaving. Your job as a client is to enjoy the puppy pictures, make notes, and ask questions. However, it’s important not to stress too much because there isn’t a “best” puppy. I will assist in matching your physical and temperamental goals to the best of my ability, but remember that the puppies are only 7 weeks old. Personality traits begin to show at around 4 weeks, and by 6 weeks, I can provide more insights.

Wyatt Owen

During the last week, feel free to share your favorites based on your criteria. Create a draft or lottery pick list if it helps. If you have a later pick, try not to overwhelm yourself with details until you know which puppies have already been chosen.

The thing I remind everyone, is if these were black Lab pups, you couldn’t tell them apart at first.  Because these pups have spots and dots that will soon fade into a cloud of steel there is a sense one may be more desirable due to that heart shaped dot.   

I promise you everyone will be thrilled with their puppy whether you are 1st or 10th pick. They 100% always are delighted. 

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