Brussels Griffon (Griffon Bruxellois) is considered a toy dog breed, because of their generally small size. They also have a flat face, with a prominent chin and of course their large wide-set eyes, which gives Brussels Griffon a very special, almost human expression!

Contents at a Glance

Brussels Griffon History

The Griffon Bruxellois breed would have existed from the 16th century in Belgium. The ancestors of this breed were stray dogs in Brussels and were utilized as rat catchers in the coaching stable where they were known as “Griffons d’ecurie”. It is said that the Flemish artist Jan Van Eyck has portrayed the picture of this breed in the 15th century. They accompanied the coachmen on their journeys as mascots. In Brussels, even today one can notice the stickers of Brussels Griffon in the taxi cabs. It is in the air that the current day Griffon has been bred through Yorkshire Terrier and the Irish Terrier in determining the temperament and behavior. The Pug is also identified as the contributor to one of the breeds of the Griffon family, namely the Petit Brabancon, a smooth coated Griffon. This breed was first introduced in Britain in the 19th century.

Griffon Bruxellois, Griffon Belge, and Petit Brabancon

There are three variations of the Brussels Griffon breed. They can be listed as Griffon Bruxellois, the Belgian Griffon also named as Griffon Belge and the Petit Brabancon. The Petit Brabancon, a smooth coated dog, is a breed of the Pug from Victoria and the Belgian dog and is named after the Belgian National Anthem. Also, when Charles Spaniel and ruby varieties were bred with the Belgian dog, a rough coated tanned Brabancon was developed. All the three breeds were developed from its ancestor known as the Smousje. Smousje is a small terrier-like dog with rough-coated skin, primarily used in the stables as a watchdog to eliminate rodents. The Griffon Bruxellois gained popularity in the late 1800s among the working societies and the noblemen in Belgium. In 1883, the first Griffon Brussels was registered in the Kennel Club Studbook, Livre des Origines Saint-Hubert. The popularity of this breed was further promoted when Queen Marie Henriette, a dog enthusiast, showed interest in the dog exhibition shows held in Belgium. Attracted by the nature of the dog, she started breeding the Griffons, thereby exposing the Griffons to international fame.

Brussels Griffon Used to Hunt Vermin

It was at the Brussels Exhibition of 1980 the Brussels Griffon came to exposure for the first time. However, Van Eyck, the Flemish painter, had depicted this breed resembling the early examples of Brussels Griffon. In the 17th century, Brussels was kept by cab drivers. It was first used for hunting vermin. Brussels Griffon is also known as Belgium Griffon and Griffon Bruxellois. Brussels Griffon is a toy dog. The modern Griffon breeds also contain the contribution of Yorkshire and Irish Terriers for breeding. However, the history of the three breeds of Griffons is not clear. You can find Griffons, but sporadically. The lovable and small Griffon Bruxellois is sensitive too. It has more affinity to humans than to any other living beings. However, all these are general clues and you should get into details of the Griffon Bruxellois that you would like to buy.

Dog 101 – Brussels Griffon Video

Brussels Griffon Saved from Extinction

Wartime is always a danger to any breed. First and Second World War were no exceptions. After the First World War, the recovering number of this breed declined significantly as no breeding was done to avoid the dogs being born with webbed toes. By the end of Second World War, Belgium was left with no native Griffons. The dedicated breeders of England were vigilant enough to save the Griffons from extinction. In 1910, the Griffon Brussels was recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Though this breed was not widely popular, it is gaining its place as a house dog in the recent times. One reason is that the popularity of toy dogs is on the increase. Moreover, its appearance in the movie “As good as it gets” has brought this breed to the limelight. Consequently, it was taken into the role for many other Hollywood movies like Sweet November, Gosford Park and so on.

Brussels Griffon = Intelligent

Brussels Griffon is intelligent. Their temperament resembles that of terriers. Griffon Bruxellois dogs are cheerful and they are good companions. Brussels Griffon is charming and affectionate to everyone. In general, they are lively and curious dogs who are good with other animals, surprisingly with cats too!

Brussels Griffon Health & Behaviour

There is a number of health problems associated with the Brussels Griffon breed. They include the luxating patella, seizures, Legg Perthes, cataracts and heart problems.

Do not feed Brussels Griffon table scraps. They may become insatiable and may develop an interest in picky eating. The downside is that it is not easy to housebreak these dogs. However, they are good watchdogs. Brussels Griffon learns tricks easily. The facial expression of these dogs has earned them the nickname ‘monkey face’. These dogs are sometimes treated as little human beings, but this can develop Small Dog syndrome in them, and this encourages them to believe that they are the owners of the house. Such Brussels Griffon may try to act as your boss. So, they may behave badly with mischievous children. For these reasons, Brussels Griffon’s need for mental and physical exercises in a sustained manner. However, these behaviors are not their nature, but they develop such behaviors if you treat them at par with you.

How to Groom a Brussels Griffon

The Brussels Griffon is a dog of sturdy build up. Its head is dome-shaped with an undershot jaw, a very short nose, and glittering eyes. Their head appears to be large when compared to its body. Brussels Griffon’s sulk is comparable to human expression. Some also compare it to a small Boxer. The Griffon Bruxellois comes in rough coat and soft coat as well, with red color. The Griffon Belge also is a rough coated dog, but with colors barring red. This variety of dogs appears in black and tan, black and blank and red mixed. The Petit Brabancon variety has a smooth coat and appears in red, black and tan, black or black and red mixed.

How to Groom a Brussels Griffon

How to Groom a Brussels Griffon

Soft Coated or Rough Coated?

The Brussels Griffon comes in rough coat and soft coat as well, with red color. The Griffon Belge also is a rough coated dog, but with colors barring red. This variety of dogs appears in black and tan, black and blank and red mixed. The Petit Brabancon variety has a smooth coat and appears in red, black and tan, black or black and red mixed. These varieties are bred among them. These details in one way help to decide on the grooming needs for these dogs…

Brussels Griffon Classifications

Broadly classifying, the Griffon comes under two types, namely, soft coated and rough coated. The grooming needs much depend on the type of hair the dogs have. If the dogs have dense hair, grooming is to be done on a routine basis. If they have short hair, the grooming efforts will be less. As far as Brussels Griffon dogs with the smooth coat are concerned, a brush and a comb are sufficient for grooming them. Anyway, you have to groom them routinely, so that they look smart after the groom. The difficulty is with the rough coat dogs only.

Groom Your Brussels Griffon Regularly

You have to work hard to make rough coat dogs look smart. You have to maintain the harsh coat of these dogs in a proper manner. You have to hand-strip the coat. This job is a continual one. If you are patient enough to do it or if you have no time to do it, you cannot make your rough coat dog looking smart. If you need an alternative to it, you can clip the coat and leave it, without doing hand stripping. Yet, this means that you are compromising on the look of the dog. Some dogs may appear smart even with a clipped coat, but their harsh coat is not available then, which may be required for them in the show ring. Also, the clipped coat looks very lighter, hiding out the natural colors. The rough coat of these dogs collects dust and dirt easily. It is therefore very essential for you to groom the rough coat dogs regularly.

Groom Your Brussels Griffon Regularly

Groom Your Brussels Griffon Regularly

Take your Griffon for a Walk

The Brussels Griffon doesn’t need a heavy exercise program. They can manage with mild exercises, unlike other breeds. You can take your Griffon for a short walk, which is enough. These dogs are, however, robust in nature and can walk along with you for greater distances without feeling tiredness. This implies that Griffon Bruxellois is a very healthy breed. The only caution you have to exercise is on the problems related to the patella of the dog, for which you may have to visit a veterinary doctor with your Brussels Griffon for regular check-ups.