AKC Dog Breeds: Brussels Griffon

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Toy Group
Height: 7-8 inches   Weight: 6-12  pounds  Color: red, black, black & tan

The Brussels Griffon is a breed most memorable for its unique and distinguishing look. The trio of wide set eyes, flat face and prominent chin coupled with their cheerful terrier disposition has won the dog a small but dedicated following. Its expression is commonly said to characterize that of an elf or monkey. Reaching back into their 17th century beginnings in Belgium, the small Brussels Griffon was bred to rid stables of vermin, just as many small breeds were back in the day. However, their diminutive stature and endearing character made them suitable for accompanying coach drivers on their routes from time to time. Soon, their reputation as a companion animal grew between the working class and nobility until they were presented in a dog show sometime in the late 1800's. Their popularity grew further from there as a number of breeders also took interest in the dog, boosting its numbers. However, during World War I and II, the breed dwindled to near extinction. With virtually no Griffons left in Belgium, breeders in other parts of Europe helped to bring numbers back up, although barely. Interest in the Brussels Griffon peaks form time to time with occasional appearances on movies or TV.

General Appearance

A toy dog, intelligent, alert, sturdy, with a thickset, short body, a smart carriage and set-up, attracting attention by an almost human expression. The Griffon is a sturdy toy dog of square proportions with a domed head, undershot jaw, very short nose and lustrous eyes. The head is large in comparison to the body. To some viewers he resembles a miniature Boxer. There are two distinct types of coat: rough or smooth. Except for coat, there is no difference between the two. The rough coat is wiry and dense, the harder and more wiry the better. On no account should the dog look or feel woolly, and there should be no silky hair anywhere. The coat should not be so long as to give a shaggy appearance, but should be distinctly different all over from the smooth coat. The head should be covered with wiry hair, slightly longer around the eyes, nose, cheeks, and chin, thus forming a fringe. The rough coat is hand-stripped and should never appear unkempt. Body coat of sufficient length to determine texture. Ears are generally cropped and the tail is docked and carried high, though cropping the ears is optional.

Alert and intelligent, the Brussels Griffon is a delightful toy dog that is ideal for a companion dog. Spirited and curious, this is a dog that can be very comical and entertaining when he wants to be, but will also be happy to snuggle up on the lap of his owner. These dogs are independent and can have something of a manipulative streak if not properly trained and managed, but he is also sensitive, intelligent, and fun to be around. The Brussels Griffon does get on with children, but is better around older children who are more considerate, as boisterous younger children could put him in danger due to his small size. When it comes to strangers the Brussels Griffon may be friendly or nervous depending on his personality. He tends to get along with other pets, although he may be way of and even aggressive with strange dogs if he feels challenged by them. The Brussels Griffon is a lively and obedient dog, but doesn't like to be teased. These dogs are better suited to those with some experience of dog ownership. The Brussels Griffon can also have a jealous streak, and when it comes to his toys and food he can be very possessive. Training the Brussels Griffon should be okay providing you have confidence and use the right training methods, but this breed is difficult to housebreak.


Shedding very little, this breed does need a lot of maintenance on the coat. The Griffon comes in either a rough coat or smooth coat, each requiring its own amount of upkeep. The rough coat is one that sheds less than the smooth coat but a rough coat also requires hand stripping. Clipping is sorely advised against when it comes to a rough coat. Hand stripping is the act of removing blown, or dead grown out hair, by grasping hairs between the forefinger and thumb and gently removing in the direction of the hair growth. The hair comes out easily without any stress to the animal. The result is a smoother, more even coat. It is not a difficult task, although for the untrained individual, it can span over a day to complete

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
The life expectancy of the Brussels Griffon is around 12-15 years. There are a number of illnesses and health problems that are associated with the breed, and this includes luxating patella, Legg Perthes, seizures, heart problems, and cataracts.

Activity Level

A lively and hyperactive breed, they still do not require much activity. The Brussels Griffon gets most of his exercise in the home. This dog does enjoy short walks and will do just fine without a yard.


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Brussels Griffon profile on dog encyclopedia
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