The Brussels Griffon is affectionate, spirited, inquisitive, cheerful, comical and has some terrier-like traits. The Griffon has lots of personality and becomes strongly attached to its family. The breed wants to be taken everywhere and hates to be left alone. The Griffon is active and playful and does well with older children. Griffons are intelligent but can be stubborn and teaching may require patience and a sense of humour. If you are firm and consistent with the Griffon it is usually quite obedient but if you spoil this breed it can be very demanding. Griffons seem to like and get along well with other household pets and are fine with strangers but they will announce them with a bark. The Griffon can be difficult to housebreak. Griffons make good watch dogs and do fine with first time dog owners if the owners are firm about the household rules.
The Brussels Griffon or Belgian Griffon is a small toy dog with a square body and sturdy build. This Belgian toy dog breed has a large head with an undershot jaw and a very short muzzle. The tail is carried high and it is customarily docked where permitted but the semi-erect ears can be cropped or left uncropped. There are two varieties of the breed – the Rough coat and the Smooth coat. The Smooth-coated Griffon is called the Petit Brabacon and has a smooth, sleek and short coat. The Rough-coated Griffon has a harsh, dense and wiry outer coat with an undercoat that ranges from soft to harsh. The head is fringed with longer wiry hair around the eyes, nose, cheeks and chin. Colors for both varieties can be red, black and red, black and tan or pure black. Griffons stand about 8 to 12 inches tall at the withers and can weigh from 8 to 12 pounds. Brussels Griffons are members of the American Kennel Club (AKC) Toy Dog Group.
The Brussels Griffon is named for the city of Brussels, Belgium where it probably originated. Since this breed was developed in Belgium, is also known as the Belgian Griffon and the Smooth-coat is called the Petit Brabacon. In the early 19th century, coachmen kept small terriers similar to the Affenpinscher, as ratters in the stables. Later Pugs and English Toy Spaniels were crossed with these small Belgian Affenpinscher-type dogs. The Pug influence produced a Smooth-coated Griffon called the Brabacon and the English Toy Spaniel influence resulted in Rough-coated Griffons. The Griffons were introduced into England in the 1890’s and were recognized in the US by 1900. Today the Griffon is mainly acquired as a companion dog. The Griffon was ranked 60th in 2005 AKC registrations.
The Brussels Griffon does equally as well in an apartment or in a farm house. Griffons need moderate exercise and playing in the apartment or in the backyard is usually sufficient for their needs. However the Griffon loves to go everywhere with his family and will enjoy a walk or off leash run. Griffons don’t like to roam and will stay close to their family. Griffons do not like cold or wet weather and like most short-nosed breeds are subject to respiratory difficulties and heat stroke in very hot and humid conditions. The Smooth-coat needs very little grooming beyond a regular brushing while the Rough-coat needs to be hand stripped or plucked on a regular basis. If the dog isn’t being shown then some careful clipping will reduce the grooming requirements. Griffons are low-shedding dog breeds. Griffons can live from 11 to 14 years of age and are generally pretty healthy. There is some luxating patella, progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts in the bloodlines. Accidental eye lacerations can also be a problem. Potential buyers should ask for the sire and dams Orthopedic Foundation for Animals test results for luxating patella and the Canine Eye Registry Foundation test results for eye disorders before buying.