Hypoallergenic Low Shedding Hunting Breeds

soft-bristle-dog-brush

The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is considered to be hypoallergenic – rare for a bird hunting dog breed. A rough double coat of hair not only protects the dog from abrasions in the field, but naturally prevents excessive shedding. Relative to many other sporting dog breeds the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is a low shedding dog.

 

What makes Griffs hypoallergenic?

Hypoallergenic dogs like the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon are low shedding and therefore spread far less dander (dead skin cells) around your house than heavy shedding breeds. The proteins found in saliva and dander is what triggers our immune systems to go into overdrive producing symptoms like itchy watery eyes and sneezing.

It is important to compare shedding and being hypoallergenic on a relative basis. No dog is 100% hypoallergenic since all dogs shed at least seasonally. I would describe my Griff as a light shedder with a low maintenance coat.

 

How Much Do Wirehaired Pointing Griffons Shed?

Wirehaired Pointing Griffons shed very little relative to other hunting breeds like the Golden Retriever or Labrador Retriever. The level of shedding is influenced by external factors like climate, season, grooming, diet and level of activity in the field.

Dogs can never be 100% hypoallergenic since every dog sheds at least seasonally – but allergy sufferers will find the WPG is a great alternative to other heavy shedding breeds. If you have ever owned or been around a Golden Retriever or Labrador Retriever, you will be pleasantly surprised by the decrease in shedding.

 

Double Coated Hair vs Fur

The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon has a naturally rugged and unkempt appearance. It’s double coat consists of a harsh wiry topcoat and a soft insulating undercoat. Its steel gray wiry hair has numerous brown markings, with the head also being chocolate brown. Unlike many other sporting dog breeds Griffs have hair instead of fur.

  • Hair – One hair exits each hair follicle opening
  • Fur – Multiple hairs emerge from the same hair follicle opening

The double coat of hair offers protection from the cold and abrasions in the field. This protection comes at a cost as the WPG is a burr and thorn magnet, requiring intensive grooming after the hunt – especially on the head, chest and underside.

 

Minimize Shedding in the Home

Owners are somewhat split on grooming habits. Some hunters say their dogs shouldn’t be stripped ever while others say it should be done 1-2 times per year. I fall into the camp of stripping the dogs hair as rarely as possible. The coat is designed to have a rugged coarse look and feel.

The dogs coat doesn’t consist of fur like the majority of dogs. It is made up of hair that was designed to be stripped away by natural causes. On a given 1-2 hours long hunt the WPG encounters thick undergrowth, brush and brambles where nature maintains the coat by natural forces.

Long hair around the mouth, nose, ears and eyes is essential to protecting the dog from its natural tasks in the field. Use extreme caution when cutting hair. I deviated from this a little as my griff constantly had hair overgrowth around her eyes, which seemed to affect her sight. We regularly remove about  1/2″ of hair directly in her line of sight – the only hair we ever cut.

This is the brush we use for our Griff. Its soft bristles only remove loose hair, but also makes her chocolate hair around her head look well kept. The other thing we liked about this brush is the bristles don’t irritate the skin on her underbelly or around her ears. 

 

Using Clippers for Summer Heat

Griffs should never be heavily stripped or shaved for summer months. Their beautiful coat takes years to develop and may never return to its original form once the dog is shaved.

My dog developed a bare spot on her side from weeks of heavy itching due to a brief skin condition. The hair took almost 6 months to grow back, not fully filling in until the 9 month mark.

Busting out the clippers to give your griff some relief from the summer heat could result in permanent damage. Heavy stripping or clipping should be used for emergency purposes only. Using clippers on a wire coat will make the hair that grows back in thin, curly and wooly.

 

Will wire hair coats make the house messy?

One of the first things you will notice about Griffons is the mess made after visiting the water bowl. The coarse whiskers on their chins soak up water leaving the surrounding area wet. Sometimes it seems as if they get more water on the floor than in their mouths.

Griffs will naturally go in tighter spaces than most other bird hunting dogs. This includes areas with heavy thorn and bristle coverage so you can expect most of that foliage to be recycled back into your house. In plain english, your WPG will be covered with burrs after a long hunt and in desperate need of “by hand” grooming.

The extra hair also means that water mud and chunks of ice will be carried back into the house after being outside. Wire haired coats need extra attention after a long hunting session. After returning from a hunt I took our Griffon to a professional grooming center where walk in tubs could be rented for between $10-$15 for a 30 minutes session.

 

When does a Griffon get its adult coat?

The first 6-months of your WPGs will be with its soft “puppy coat”. This coat is less coarse then its adult coat and is especially prone to matting. Extra maintenance and attention are needed during this period. You may even try a spray on conditioner to help resolve this issue.

At about 6-7 months ,my WPG started transitioning into her adult adult coat which is much more coarse and rugged. Her color started to change as well. Her chocolate brown markings began to turn more silver and were much less defined.

By 18-months old my Griff had her full adult coat. Her brown markings almost completely disappeared as the wiry gray hair filled in. Stages of coat are determined by genetics and the type of climate they live in.

YearType of CoatShedding
<6 MonthsPuppy CoatLow
6-18 MonthsTransitioningMedium
>18 MonthsAdult CoatLow

 

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