Brussels Griffon Dog: History, Temperament, Care, Training & more

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Brussels Griffon Dog Breed Information
Also known as Griffon Belge and Belgian Griffon

Brussels Griffon
Level of Energy   
Exercise Needs     
Level of Affection   
Climate Tolerance      
Good With Children    
Tolerance of Animals    
Suitable as Watch Dog   

Brussels Griffon Dog – Just The Facts

  • AKC Popularity:  84
  • AKC Breed Group: Toy
  • Size of Male:  8-10 lbs., 9-11 in.
  • Size of Female:  8-10 lbs., 9-11 in.
  • Color:  Red, Black, Tan and Black, Belge
  • Average Lifespan:  12-15 years
  • Breed Origin:  Belgium
  • Purpose:  Family Companion, Watch Dog

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General Description

The Brussels Griffon is a charmer in a myriad of ways. Its facial expression is almost human, you might say, and the way the breed carries itself with confidence and self-importance is not to be missed. The breed comes in smooth-haired and rough-haired varieties.

Origin and History

Some 19th-century folk songs allude to the Brussels Griffon as the “bearded dog.” In fact, the appearance of the pooch is that of the Petit Brabancon, the Griffon Belge and the Griffon Bruxellois combined. Historians will tell you that this dog breed resulted from an interbreeding of the standard Griffon, the Belgian streetdog and the Affenpinscher.

While the dogs functioned as vermin hunters in Belgium, many anecdotal tales suggest that this dog breed also attracted thieves. The dogs were so comical that everyone wanted one for a pet! They became a favorite of the affluent citizens by the turn of the 20th century but were nearly decimated by World War I. Jack Nicholson’s 1997 film As Good as it Gets sparked a renewed interest and following of this rare breed.

Brussels Griffon Temperament

The dog’s got personality. You name it, the Griffon has a slice of it – spunk, mischief, sensitivity, audacity and affection. It doesn’t want to share its owner (you), its toys or its food. For a toy dog, it can be a tad hyperactive. It yaps, climbs and digs. The breed cannot tolerate squeezing and physical teasing, however.

Care, Grooming, Diet & Exercise

Living Environment – A yard isn’t necessary for this miniature-sized pooch. Though they are full of energy, these little dogs can excercise adequately indoors. The breed requires human companionship and is fully meant to be an indoor pet. Since the Griffon is intolerant to both hot and cold climates, you should be around most of the time to monitor the room temperature.

Grooming – There’s no escaping from the pampering rituals associated with most toy breeds. Your Brussels Griffon requires brushing every other day and frequent ear cleaning. The rough-haired variety often demands more attention than the smooth-haired type. Trimming or shaping is usually scheduled every quarter. Do not neglect to wipe the doggie beard after feedings. If you fail to do this, that part is bound to cake.

Diet & Exercise – Eating can be a finicky matter. Unlike many dogs, the Griffon doesn’t automatically devour anything you serve. Make sure that when you experiment with different food preparation styles, you don’t compromise the completeness of the doggie diet. Protein, fibers, fat and carbs must all be present in a single meal.

When it comes to exercise, a brief walk daily will suffice. You can even meet the dog’s minimal exercise requirements with a brief indoor game or two. It doesn’t take much to keep this little dog in good shape.

Health – Except for low climate tolerance, there are surprisingly few major health issues for this delicate toy dog. Luxating patella and Legg Perthes are occasionally seen. There may be some hereditary cases of cataracts, which is why you must have your pet take eye exams.

Brussels Griffon Trainability

Their independent streak and short attention span call for an array of brief and fun training sessions. The key is to hold the Brussels Griffon’s interest. Succeed in this and you’ll find the dog can be quite obedient. The matter is entirely different with housebreaking though. The pooches are notoriously headstrong. Respect training is encouraged, but not mandatory.