The amount of coat that a Griffon carries can change seasonally, but there is not a
distinct seasonal shed or molt as there is with some breeds. Typically, the coat is
stripped either through the normal activity of hunting through dense cover, or through
manual removal of coat before the hair matures or is in "telogen".
the coat, feel for a stiffness to the outercoat, look at length which may vary from 1 inch
to 4 inches. Some Griffon breeders evaluate the harshness of the coat by blowing against
the direction of growth - if the hairs stay stiff, against the breath, the coat is harsh.
Varying degrees of harshness and density can be seen.
Undercoat can be inspected by parting the coat across the back, if the skin is easily
apparent, the coat density (hairs per square inch) is low. If you cannot easily see the
skin, the coat is dense. The undercoat should be apparent in this inspection, and will sit
just under the outercoat, consisting of fine, down-like insulating hairs. A good time to
inspect undercoat is when the dog has just come out of the water, this way one can see how
well the undercoat functions.
Head furnishings refers to the variation of longer coat on the face, and can be viewed at a glance, and are the result of a mutation of the RSPO2 Gene. Heritance of Furnishings is dominant but a dog displaying furnishings can still carry the gene for the non-furnished (satin) head coat. Do not forget that a Griffon who has
been used in the field will have a headcoat that has been stipped by bushes in the process
of protecting his head. When the head furnishings are repeatedly pulled out, the new hairs
often come in harsher and may not grow as quickly.
The Griffon's coat will change over the course of his life, becoming harsher. A mature
coat is most often seen by the time the Griffon is 3 to 5 years old. Appearance of the
adult harsh coat will be seen first in the croup area, harshness and stiffer hairs will
then seem to spread over the back, the last spot is usually the neck and chest area. A
female Griffon's coat will change in luster during a pregnancy, often dropping out after
weaning with the hormonal changes that come about.
Griffons who have the shorter, stiff coats lacking undercoat will often get a thicker
coat in the winter, but will never grow the characteristic protective head furnishings
that the Griffons with a typical coat will get. These short coated Griffons will often
come into an adult coat when they are about two years of age.
Purebred Griffon Coat Type
male puppy with an ideal dense harsh coat and furnishings
Mature Female Griffon with Short outercoat, minimal undercoat and almost
no head furnishings
puppy with dense medium harsh coat, this coat stayed dense and
became more harsh
male with harsh
protective head furnishings
Griffon puppy displaying normal looking puppy coat that
developed into variable coat at right
Variable Coat on 2 year old Bitch
Very Harsh, dense coat on tail, topline and sides,
dense but softer coat on legs and belly.
This coat may get harsh on legs and belly
as the dog gets older.
Puppy with plush coat that remained soft and developed into the
ringletted coat at the right
This is a full Blood Griffon that has an atypical coat, silky and hangs in ringlets.
On inspection, the coat is mainly
dense undercoat with few guard hairs
This pup had a couple of interesting
that may be tied to a coat like this...
for example no puppy teeth
until 11 weeks of age, and toenails that were
white until 12 weeks of age.
The Griffon is a relatively recent breed, with the patriarchs having a variety of coat
types. Even now there are inconsistancies in coat quality. It is likely that the same
genetics are at play for the Griffon coat as are evident in other wire-coated breeds such
as the German Wirehair Pointer, the Petit Basset Griffon Vandeen and the Wire-Haired
In all of these breeds, there is some speculation as to the genetic formulas for the
ideal wire-coat with undercoat and furnishings. Wire-coated breeds seem to all have the
occurances of short-coated, soft-coated and ideal coated puppies in litters even when the
parents have ideal wire-coats.
It is not clear whether the ideal wirecoat with undercoat and furnishings is a group of
recessives which all must match in order to not be masked by dominants for short or soft
coats; or whether the coat is an incomplete dominant, where the wirecoat may be expressed
as a WW or a Ww with an allele for length or lack of length for undercoat (say, L).
For example, IF the genetics for an ideal wirecoat are a dominant, the inconsistancies
would be as follows.
- If the adult Griffons, WW and WW are bred, the puppies will not show the allele which
alters the undercoat.
- If the adult Griffons Ww and Ww are bred, then the ww puppies may show the allele, with
the ww puppies expressing the allele L for length of undercoat
- On the other hand, if an allele for a shorter undercoat is carried (say l) when Ww and
Ww are bred the puppies that are ww will allow the allele to become apparent. If they have
an allele l which either causes a shorter coat (or perhaps it allows a different allele to
effect coat) accompanied by lack of undercoat, the ww puppies will express the shorter
coat and lack of undercoat.
It appears that the true genetic nature of the Wire-Coat is still unclear, and the
ideal coat may be a group of recessive genes that occur with each other. We are learning
more all the time. Perhaps in the future, breeders will be better able to understand the
variations of coat and open coats that can occur.
Many thanks to the Genetics Experts and Veterinarians who have consulted with
me, and to the Griffon Breeders and Owners who have shared this information which is vital
to a healthy future for our Griffons.
Breeding Better Dogs, Kyle Onstatt, Howell 1983, ISBN 0-87605-400-9
Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, Carlson, DVM & Giffin MD, Howell 1992,
Genetics of the Dog, Malcolm B. Willis, Howell 1989, ISBN 0-87605-551-X
Practical Genetics for Dog Breeders, Malcolm B. Willis, Howell 1992, ISBN
Your Dog, His Health and Happiness, Louis L. Vine, DVM, ARCO 1982 ISBN