So it’s taken me a while to muster up the gall and quite frankly to find the time to do a write up about my very first experience with Wirehaired Pointing Griffons as a dog breed. I’m writing this in the hopes that it will help other griff owners or folks who are looking for a griff puppy. Please read this post in its entirety so that you can fully understand everything that we have gone through in the past 12 months with our griff.
As most folks know, I had been wanting a pointer/versatile hunting dog for a while. Brantley turned 6 last January, and I decided that we needed to add another hunter to the group. I had heard about Wirehaired Pointing Griffons (griffs / WPGs) from a friend in SC, and when I had looked into the breed, they seemed like a good fit. Griffs have a wiry coat that doesn’t shed with proper grooming, and they hunt much slower than a shorthair or English pointer. Once I decided on a griff, I began looking for breeders.
To be honest, I didn’t look very hard. I came across Chapel View WPGs, Larry Fiske, and Alex DeFleron via Facebook. Chapel View had a TON of likes and the stud dog that they use (owned by Suzanne Piel) Bootlegger seemed to be a nice, winning stud. I contacted them, and AMAZINGLY was able to reserve a spot in their winter 2017 litter. I paid my $500 deposit in August, and waited for the pups to be born.
I received word on December 4 that the litter of pups had been born, and waited a few more weeks for Larry and Alex to choose a pup for me. They let me know at some point in mid to late January which puppy they had picked for me (I wanted a show/hunt quality female), and I sent them an additional $500. Finally, February rolled around, and I met them in Birmingham (on their way south) to pick up Willa and pay the remaining $500. I was absolutely SMITTEN with her, she was probably the cutest puppy I had ever seen. I loved her, and she immediately fit in with our family.
A few weeks went by, and neither myself nor any of the other puppy owners had received their AKC registration packets. I thought this was odd, but really didn’t pay much mind to it since I was in love with Willa.
I had asked a question on a Hunting WPG group, regarding what health tests needed to be done on a griff to make them ‘breeding ready’ (ie. tests for genetic diseases, etc.), and received a response from a woman saying that my dog should be tested for hip dysplaysia. In a private message, I asked her why my dog specifically, and she said that she knew I had a Bootlegger x Thistle puppy from Chapel View, and that Thistle was known to be dysplastic. I was shocked. I went to the OFA database and looked up the registration # I had for Thistle, and there were no results. My heart sunk.
I began conversing with this woman, who also owns a puppy who is a littermate to Willa. She told me that the reason we didn’t have our AKC registration yet is that the pups would likely have to be DNA tested because Thistle (their dam) was exposed to an un-health tested, un-registered stud while she was in season, and there was a chance that Bootlegger didn’t sire our litter. I did not know ANY of this information prior to talking to this woman. I contacted Larry, who denied the information and continued to tell me to call him if I had questions.
I remained civil with Larry for the most part, because I needed Willa’s AKC registration to go through so that I could register her UKC and NAVHDA. With DNA testing, Willa didn’t get registered with AKC until August of 2018, when she was almost 9 months old.
After I heard about Willa’s mom having hip dysplaysia, I made an appointment to have her hips checked out and evaluated via the PennHIP method, since she was too young for OFAs (24 months). The results from her PennHIP test showed that one hip had a laxity ranking of 0.38 (right hip) and 0.7 (left hip), putting her at moderate to high risk for osteo-arthritis and dysplaysia. These results were when she was 5 months old. I have since sent off her PennHIP x-rays to OFA for OFA prelim results, since Larry Fiske (CVWPG) won’t accept PennHIP results.
In this post I have also included a copy of our original contract, which I signed back in August when I sent the deposit. I am also adding photos of the ‘updated, final’ contracts, which I received from Larry after Willa turned 1, so you can see that the text is completely different. There are important parts of the original contract that have been removed.
Specifically, the new contract removed the portion where it says the sire is ‘free and clear of all genetic eye diseases,’ (it has been found that these lines carry entropion), and the information about the dam, Thistle, has been changed. The new contract says that Thistle was in fact evaluated by OFA, however if that were the case, her results would still be posted online, and they are not.
I can not tell you whether or not to buy a dog from Chapel View, but I can tell you that my experience has been one of upset and heartbreak. I bought Willa with the intention of putting her through her paces in hunt tests and trials, and then breeding her, however that will not happen now as I know she has bad hips. I worry for her quality of life down the road. Her littermate already has had to have surgery on one hip. I can only hope that Willa does not become uncomfortable or immobile at a young age. For now, she is fine, and I absolutely adore her. She is an incredible huntress and she impresses me every time we are in the field. I would say definitely look into the griff breed, but do your research and find a reputable breeder, preferably through the AWPGA.