Country of Origin: Belgium
Life Span: 12 – 15 years
Bred For: Hunting small vermin and companion dog
Coat: Rough, harsh, medium in length
Color: Red, belge, black & tan or black
The Brussels Griffon aka Belgian Griffon is named for the capital of Belgium, which is the city where the breed originated. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Griffon was bred a cross of rat terrier, pug, and toy spaniel to hunt rats in the stables and soon became companion dogs for livery drivers due to its sweet nature and alertness. In the later part of the 1800s, Belgian Queen Henriette thought highly of the Griffon breed and due to her interest, breeding clubs began in England and the US. After WWI and WWII, the breed nearly died out in its homeland. The Brussels Griffon was revived somewhat by English breeders. In 1910, the American Kennel Club recognized the Griffon. The breed’s popularity continues to grow in part because of a fondness in raising little dogs. To ensure purity of line, breeders require signed contracts obligating new owners to have their puppy spayed or neutered by a specific date.
The Griffon temperament is all heart and makes an excellent pet for older individuals. The Griffon can be quite a comical character. The lively animal thrives on regular contact with its human. The animals usually do not handle being left alone for long periods very well. Owners of the breed say that they never tire from seeing the range of expressions the tiny ball of fur can make from smug to endearing. The breed relies on consistency and a calm environment to be at its best. The Griffon is categorized in the toy and Terrier groups. Its small stature makes it suitable for living in smaller homes or apartments. Friendly and at times moody, this breed can be difficult to housebreak. Gentle yet consistent handling works best when training this high-strung and willful breed. The Brussels Griffon is a barker, which makes for a good watchdog.
Upkeep and Grooming
The Griffon comes in colors red, black, black and tan, or belge (a mixture of black and reddish brown) with no single color being more popular than the others are. It sheds very little, although this breed does require coat maintenance. Daily brushing prevents matting and keeps the coat shiny. Brussels Griffons have two separate kinds of coats. The most common is the rough coat, which requires frequent brushing to prevent matting. The smooth coated type is glossy and straight. The rough coat sheds less but requires hand stripping. For smooth coats, using a grooming mitt keeps shedding to a minimum. Neither coat is preferred over the other; however, the smooth coat allows the Griffon’s unique features to be seen well.
Griffons may suffer ailments due to their unique facial anatomy such as the following:
- Narrow nostrils, which can sometimes hinder breathing
- Expulsion of the eyeball
- Eyeball lacerations
- Difficult whelping