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Brussels Griffon

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Fun, feisty and generally boasting enormous egos, Brussels Griffons offer personality in spades. These quirky little dogs love to be the centre of attention and will try to dominate other dogs. They are not for the fainthearted but will reward owners with affection and loyalty.

Which breed group is the Brussels Griffon in?

Breed group: Toy

Brussels Griffon breed history

This memorable little dog is the descendant of several small breeds including the affenpinscher, pug, and English toy spaniel. Developed in Belgium, the Brussels Griffon (Griiffon Bruzellois) is a terrier-like dog which hunted and killed vermin in stables. It was an efficient ratter but later became popular as a house pet and companion of both the nobility and workers. A standard was created for the breed in 1883 which included both smooth and rough-coated types. The dogs were exported to the UK in the late 19th century and to America in 1899.

The number of Griffons in their native Belgium declined dramatically after the two World Wars. The Griffon could have disappeared altogether but breeders in the UK and elsewhere were able to save it. Griffons rose in popularity in the 1950s and again in the 1990s after a starring role in the movie As Good as it Gets.

Brussels Griffon breed characteristics

A small but sturdy dog, the Griffon boasts a human-like face and has been likened to an Ewok! These dogs have domed heads, short noses and an underbite. They may have smooth or wiry coats which are red, black and tan or black and red in colour.

Griffons are treasured for their big hearts and affectionate natures. They love a cuddle and relish human company but do tend to bond with one person in particular. They have a well-developed sense of their own importance and can be very sensitive. Griffons like to play but may not get on well with children as they must be the centre of attention. They have no sense of their own diminutive size and can try to exert their dominance over much larger dogs.

  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Height: up to 28cm
  • Weight: up to 5kg
  • Sturdy
  • Human-like face
  • Domed heads
  • Short noses
  • Underbite
  • Smooth or wiry coat
  • Red, black and tan or black and red
  • Playful
  • Affectionate
  • Self-important
  • Sensitive
  • Strong prey drive

Health issues with Brussels Griffon

The Brussels Griffon is a healthy dog which is only prone to a small number of conditions as follows:

  • Syringomyelia (SM)
  • Eye lacerations
  • Cataracts
  • Lens Luxations
  • Glaucoma

What is the Brussels Griffon bred for?

Originally a ratter for stables, the Griffon later became a companion dog, family pet and show dog.

What sort of owners does the Brussels Griffon suit?

These feisty little chaps love to be the centre of attention and so can see children as rivals for the affection of their owners. In addition, they don’t tend to appreciate the constant petting that they may receive when kids are around. For these reasons, Griffons are best suited to households which feature only adults and teenagers. They are enthusiastic diggers and possess impressive spring and so require a very secure garden. Griffons can be hard to house train and may prove to be stubborn. They don’t need a great deal of exercise but are likely to be quite lively around the house and will bark. The perfect owner for a Brussels Griffon would be someone who is around all day, who can be firm during training and who is happy for their dog to rule the roost!


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