Breed GroupToy
Life Span12-15 years
Height7-10 inches
Weight8-10 pounds
OriginBelgium
Best ForFamilies with older children

Brussels Griffon Overview

Dog Breed:
Brussels Griffon
Breed Group:
Toy
Characteristics:
Loyal, alert, sociable, playful, and energetic.
Height:
7-10 inches
Weight:
8-10 pounds
Life Span:
12-15 years
Coat Colors:
Red, black-and-reddish-brown, black and tan, and black.
Area of Origin:
Belgium
Best For:
Families with older children/Someone at home most of the day/An owner looking for a constant companion.

Brussels Griffon Characteristics

Friendliness
Intelligence
Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Brussels Griffon

  • A small but sturdy breed

  • Great companion dogs

  • Athletic and keen to learn

Nicknamed ‘Monkey face’ for their cute little faces, the Brussels Griffon is a small, sturdy dog. Bred initially in Belgium as rat catchers, these cheerful and affectionate little dogs make great companions, though do be aware that given a chance, they like to be around you all the time. This may be a downside for some potential owners who may prefer a breed that shows a little more independence.

Despite their small size and cuddly looks, their hunting background is never too far away, and this is a breed who enjoys the chance for a good run. Many Griffs are competing successfully in dog sports such as agility, clearly showing that they can be more than just a lapdog.

Brussels Griffon Breed History

  • Originally kept as ratters

  • Favorite breed of Queen of Belgium, Henrietta Maria

  • First registered in the US in 1910

brussels-griffon-history

Dogs similar to the Brussels Griffon were seen throughout Europe right back to 1434, when a small dog similar to the Griffon can be seen in paintings by the famous artist, Van Eyck.

The modern-day Griff sees their story commence in the 19th century.  That’s when small dogs similar to terriers were kept by coachmen in the city of Brussels, the capital of Belgium. Their job was to be a ratter, responsible for reducing rodent numbers in the stables.

The coachmen then began to cross the dogs with various other breeds to develop their working ability. Though there are no records of the breeds which were crossed, it’s though that Pugs, Yorkshire Terriers, and the English Toy Terrier all had a part in the development of the Griffon.

Come the 1870s, the Queen of Belgium, Henrietta Maria, became enamored with the Griffon and with this royal seal of approval, the Griff soared in popularity. With further breeding, the Griff became more refined with a smaller body and its trademark humanlike face.

The growing European popularity lead to interest in other parts of the world, and in 1910 the American Kennel Club registered the first Brussels Griffon. They have remained a relatively rare breed, despite growth in ownership in the 1950s, and again in the late 1990s, when a Griffon appeared in the movie, As Good as It Gets alongside Jack Nicholson.

Brussels Griffon Size & Weight

  • 7-10 inches in height

  • Around 8-10 pounds in weight

  • Extra care needed around small dogs especially with young children

brussels-griffon-size

Although the breed standard published by the American Kennel Club doesn’t specify an ideal height for the breed, most Griffons come in the range of 7- 10 inches. They do, though, state that they should weigh between 8 to 10 pounds and shouldn’t be over 12 pounds.

Care is needed around the home with a smaller dog in residence, especially if there are also young children or larger dogs in the family.

Brussels Griffon Personality & Temperament

  • A dog who likes to stay close to their owner

  • Can become anxious when left alone

  • Food choice for a family dog for older children

brussels-griffon-personality

Fans of the breed often refer to the Griffon as being a ‘Velcro’ dog—as this little breed always wants to be as close to their owner as they possibly can, all the time. They are well known for being entirely devoted to their family and adore as much attention as they can get. This can also mean that they find being alone difficult, which can result in anxiety when you leave them at home by themselves.

With those personality traits, it can mean that the Griffon can be a demanding dog to own, however, training and setting boundaries can ensure that they are polite members of the family.

This is an intelligent breed; they were developed to work on their own initiative and to hunt without being told to or being supervised. Today’s Griffon retains that independence in deciding what they want to do when which can be interpreted as being stubborn. However, with the right techniques, these little guys are very trainable and enjoy the challenge of learning something new.

The Griffon can be a good choice as a family dog, though, as, with all small dogs, care needs to be taken when younger children are running around. They can also get on well with other family pets, though again, care is required if other dogs are much larger, an innocent game of rough and tumble could cause injuries.

This is a breed that can live in an apartment as long as they have several opportunities to go outside every day.

Brussels Griffon Health & Grooming

  • Some hereditary medical conditions

  • Care needed in warm weather due to breathing problems

  • Two coat types, smooth and rough

brussels-griffon-grooming

Griffons are generally healthy dogs, though, there are some medical conditions that responsible breeders will screen their dogs for. These include:

  • Heart problems: Heart failure is a leading cause of death in older Griffons. This is generally caused by the weakening of a valve in the heart, which becomes deformed and no longer closes tightly. When this happens, blood leaks back around the valve and places strain on the heart. This is what’s meant when a heart murmur is diagnosed.
  • Patella luxation: A common problem in small dogs, it’s caused when the three parts of the knee cap fail to line up correctly. This then causes the dog to become lame.
  • Eye Problems: Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an inherited disease that is more common in Brussels Griffons than many other breeds. While it’s not painful, it’s not curable. Symptoms include night blindness and dilated pupils.

Care needs to be taken in hot weather as Brussels Griffons can experience problems being able to breath due to the flat structure of their face.

The Griffon has two different types of coat, smooth and rough. With the smooth-coated Griffon, a weekly brush is all that’s needed increasing to daily when in shedding season. The rough-coated dogs shed very little hair and are usually clipped all over, apart from their distinctive beard.

Brussels Griffon Training

  • Intelligent and trainable

  • Use reward-based methods of quick and fun learning

  • Can still have a desire to go hunting

brussels-griffon-training

Griffs have a high degree of intelligence and bond strongly with their owners, which can make them easy to train. They do, though, also have quite an independent nature, which means that they will learn most effectively when training is fun and thought of like a game. Added to this, they can also be quite sensitive, and so they don’t respond well to harsh corrections or training methods.

Some Griffs do still have a strong desire to hunt, and for those dogs, care is needed when exercising in unfenced areas. Training a reliable recall so that your Griffon comes back as soon as they’re called will give you peace of mind and keep your dog safe.

Brussels Griffon Exercise Requirements

  • Intelligent and trainable

  • Use reward-based methods of quick and fun learning

  • Can still have a desire to go hunting

brussels-griffon-exercise

Aim for at least thirty minutes of exercise every day to keep your Griffon fit and healthy. This is a playful breed, and they love the chance to play with their family. Retrieving games, hunting for hidden treats and learning new tricks are all great ways of stimulating the Griffon’s mind while also providing exercise.

There are Griffons successfully competing in performance sports such as agility, showing just how smart and athletic these little dogs can be.

Brussels Griffon Diet & Feeding

  • For the specific needs of your dog, have a chat with your vet

  • Select food based on your dog's age, size, and exercise level.

  • Avoid your dog becoming overweight by weighing out food at each meal.

brussels-griffon-diet

For the specific needs of your dog, we recommend chatting to your vet. Puppies usually stay on a specially formulated puppy food until they’re around 6 months old. This ensures that they receive all the nutrients that their growing bodies need.

Then at around 6 months, they move across to adult food. This needs to be selected based on your dog’s age, size, and activity level.

Small dogs can be prone to quickly becoming overweight. You can avoid this becoming a problem by feeding a diet specially designed for small dogs and weighing out their food at each meal.

Brussels Griffon Rescue Groups

There will sadly be times when a Griffon Brussels needs a new home. If you’re interested in offering a rescue dog a place in your family, we recommend speaking to a breed rescue organization for more help and advice –

American Brussels Griffon Rescue Alliance – https://www.abgra.org/

National Brussels Griffon Rescue – www.brusselsgriffonrescue.org

For more information on the breed, take a look at the website for the American Brussels Griffon Association – https://abga.club/.

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