Breed Group: Toy
Temperament and Behavior
The Brussels Griffon is a spunky, spirited dog that has lots of personality and a terrier-like disposition. His modest exercise needs can be met with little effort as a result of his naturally high activity level both indoors and out. “Full of self-importance,” they are proud, sensitive, demanding, and spoil easily. With a strong tendency to be “yappy”, Griffons make excellent watchdogs; but their small size allows them no ability to perform as a guard dog. They are good with other pets that do not squeak and run. Griffons can be injured by rough play so do better with older, more mature children. Children must understand Griffons can be possessive of their food and toys.
Physical CharacteristicsA Griffon is a small fairly sturdy dog. There are two coat types: rough which is harsh and wiry, and smooth which is short and straight. Each has their own grooming needs. Smooth coated dogs, looking similar to a Pug, need minimal grooming with only occasional brushing needed to remove dead hair. Those with rough coats need combing several times a week to avoid matting. Coat colors can be red, a red-brown and black, black and tan, or solid black. They are about 10 inches high and weigh 6-12 pounds. They do slightly better in cool weather than warm but handle neither extreme well. Use a sweater when it is cold outside. Many do not like rain.
Trainer's NotesNeeding socialization and obedience training more than average, Griffons, with a terrier heritage, are sensitive and become defensive if handled harshly. A basic challenge is they have a mind of their own and can be obstinate so training must be consistent and firm to reinforce who is “alpha.” Use only positive training methods in short, fun sessions. Griffons are difficult to housebreak; consistent crate training works best to teach this skill. They can be taught to walk on a leash, but this will take some patience.
Brussels Griffon, brown color
HealthThe most common inherited health condition seen in the Brussels Griffon is Legg-Perthes, and Hip Dysplasia each of which affects about 1 in 3 dogs. Patellar Luxation and Elbow Dysplasia are of lesser concern with each affecting about 1 dog in 10. PRA, which causes blindness, and Distichiasis are issues in at least some lines. A typical dog lives to between 12 and 15 years of age.
PopularityThe Brussels Griffon ranks 60th in popularity among American Kennel Club breeds with about 1,800 registered each year. Puppy mortality rates tend to be high in the breed and with an average litter size of only 2-4 puppies, they are somewhat hard to find and often more costly than average.
Breed HistoryGriffons originated in Brussels, Belgium in the 1800s as a cross originating from ratting terriers, Affenpinschers, Pugs, and English Toy Spaniels. They were originally used to hunt vermin in stables but gradually became accepted as pets.
Additional InformationThe Brussels Griffon is similar to the Affenpinscher, which is one of the dogs used to create the breed. Demand for them increased as a result of their being featured in the 1997 movie As Good as It Gets. The National (US) Breed Club is the National Brussels Griffon Club.