Korthals Griffon History

E.K. Korthals

Eduard Karel Korthals
[1851 - 1896]

The Korthals Griffon breed was 'finalized' in the second half of the 19th century by the famous Dutch animal breeder Eduard Karel Korthals, a son of a the very wealthy and connected Korthals family.  All the other varieties of pointing dogs known to us have a true pedigree breed line which goes back to almost fourteen decades previous to this, their ancestors have often been known for several centuries.  For the pointing griffon, the type and origin of this dog - in various forms has been around a very long time.  This rustic, more continental breed, has successfully resisted the passage of time.  It is today a splendid hunting dog, appreciated by the basic and advanced gundog / H.P.R. owner alike; someone who seeks a quality companion that is also a versatile hunting dog in all terrain's and on a variety of quarry.

shadow picture-line

Korthals' Goal

The goal of Korthals was to create an  'intermediate sized'  hunting/pointing dog, not too big; between our best British breeds, which in his opinion were too fast, and the European continental breeds of the time considered to be too slow.  The criteria being to hunt all types of game, on all terrain, in any weather.  Having died early from throat cancer, his lasting success is found in the dog we see today.  From a choice of available country griffon's, he bred and then selected a narrow kinship of bloodlines.  By this, E. K. Korthals 'created' a breed of dog able to work in open, fields, woods and the marshes.

After his death, breeding to his high standard continued to be maintained by aristocrat and Royal kennels in northern Europe.  World War One saw breeding at these establishments drastically reduced or curtailed.  Valiant efforts were made in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands to maintain the Korthals breeding ethos and protect the breed; stock was brought together between the wars for a renewed breeding arc only to be curtailed even harder by the advent of World War Two ... decimating Europe and especially these very nations.

Original Korthals griffon

'Little Picca'

A Korthals Griffon was the first of a  European Union  -  a diverse melting pot of individuality destined to come together … well before the Maastricht treaty.

Conceived in the Netherlands, raised & propagated, in the early days in Germany, of European stock taken from all directions: Holland, Belgium, Germany, Poland, France and Italy; even blood of the Spinone runs in its veins.  As, for a long time Korthals and Spinoni were considered as 'close cousins' in this area of dog breeding and frequently exchanged blood lines.  Then settling on the type of breed line and character each preferred.  Each variety took on its own independence and affirmed its practical requirements along with an original identity.

Group in Germany
Baron von Gingins German Estate - Group with young Korthals Griffons


His Breeding methodology

E. K. Korthals, through rigorous selection, succeeded in his bold task, which took him in all about thirty years; throughout this process he continually improved the nose and initiative qualities of the dogs which were then quickly recognised as universal models of the breed and this type of 'griffon' dog.  It is thanks to these bloodlines that the success of the breed is so great today.  The Korthals Griffon was mentioned in letters to the sporting nobility and aristocrats in Europe and to in France; the country where it's potential as a all-round field dog has always been recognised.  This is indicated by the numbers registered there through their kennel club - over twenty thousand dogs.  The breed standard is kept by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI).  This 'international standard' remains faithful to the precepts of Korthals, who always wished that his wiry haired hunting griffon remain a multinational breed of dog.  Showing the 'British' his refined, versatile, all weather hunters at 'Crufts' (it's eighth show, then held in London) with his dogs; February, 1892.

Original Korthals Griffons
'Field trails day ~ Belgian Korthals Griffon Club (April 1910)'

There has always been excellent breeding of the Korthals griffon in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany with virtually nothing in the United Kingdom - due in most part to game hunting being 'privately organised on private land' together with the fact that Britain had strict 'almost draconian' measures against the importation of animals into the country, protecting us (thankfully) from rabies and other animal related viruses and diseases; in 2012 these measures were relaxed and again further harmonised in 2014 to be more in-line with the rest of the E.U. (the U.K. being a full member. Matters may change after December 2020).  The breed currently is experiencing increased interest in Spain, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Finland and also in Eastern Europe as well as here in the U.K.  In the United States and Canada it has been established for several decades now, perhaps better known there as the wire haired pointing griffon.

Original Korthals griffon

We must be grateful that the main contributing factor to the success of this breed of dog is in the maintenance of its 'authenticity to the original breed standard' - it's genuine pedigree nurtured by various dedicated individuals, breeders, clubs and associations within Europe and North America; now perhaps threatened by 'second income & trophy breeders' along with the colour of coat anomaly found in many pedigree lines?  Many owners & breeders remain faithfully dedicated to the principles of Eduard Korthals and his 'final selection' and opposed to in-breeding or infusing/crossing the breed with other similar types of hunting dog.


Folode Waterloo