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Brussels Griffon
Characteristics, History, and Health

Brussels Griffon

The Brussels Griffon is a breed that originated in Belgium in the 19th century. Its lineage is believed to include the Affenpinscher, the Pug, and the English Toy Spaniel. The breed was originally used to hunt and kill vermin in stables, thus earning their keep. As they became known, their charming personalities quickly made them popular as companion dogs. In the late 19th and early 20th century, these dogs gained recognition and popularity, even reaching royal status when they were owned by Queen Marie Henriette of Belgium. They were first shown at the Brussels Exhibition of 1880 and thereafter were exported to England and the United States, where they were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1910.

Main Info
Alternate Names
Griff, Griffon Bruxellois, Belgium Griffon, Petit Brabançon, Griffon Belge, Brabançon Griffon
Life Expectancy
12-15 years
Average Male Height
7-10 inches
Average Female Height
7-10 inches
Average Male Weight
8-10 pounds
Average Female Weight
8-10 pounds
Coat Length
Coat Type
Double, Smooth, Wiry
Coat Colors
Belge, Black, Black & Tan, Blue, Brown, Red, Tan, Wheaten
Coat Pattern

Genetic Predispositions and Health

The Brussels Griffon may suffer from atopic dermatitis, cataracts, Chiari-like malformation, cleft palate, corneal dystrophy, cryptorchidism, distichiasis, ectopic ureters, elbow and hip dysplasia, epilepsy, hypothyroidism, Legg–Calvé–Perthes disease, optic nerve colobomas, patellar luxation, persistent hyaloid artery, persistent pupillary membranes, polydontia (retained primary teeth), progressive retinal atrophy, progressive retinal atrophy (PAP1), syringomyelia, ulcerative keratitis, and vitreous degeneration. Genetic testing for hereditary conditions can assist veterinarians with diagnosis and proactive care, as well as help breeders identify affected and carrier dogs.

Personality and Behavior

Brussels Griffons are known for their spunky, self-important demeanor and their high degree of intelligence. Despite their small size, they are quite sturdy and are noted for their almost human-like expressions.

They are typically good with other dogs and pets, and they can be great companions for children, but their small size makes them somewhat fragile, so play must always be supervised. They can be somewhat suspicious of strangers, which can make them good watchdogs.

Like many small breeds, Brussels Griffons can be difficult to housebreak. Early and consistent training can help mitigate this. They respond well to positive reinforcement and reward-based training.

Brussels Griffons tend to be quite active and will require regular exercise. They're also known for their tendency to climb and can often be found in high places.

Fun Facts

According to the AKC, the black muzzle and whiskers of the Brussels Griffon earned them the nickname 'bearded dogs' in old folk songs.

A Brussels Griffon named Jill was featured alongside Jack Nicholson in the 1997 hit movie, "As Good As It Gets".

The Brussels Griffon isn't just a single breed, but it actually consists of three variations: the Brussels Griffon (Griffon Bruxellois), the Belgian Griffon (Griffon Belge), and the Petit Brabançon. While they all share similar body structure and size, their main differences lie in their coat and color. The Brussels Griffon has a rough red coat, the Belgian Griffon can have a rough coat in a variety of colors, and the Petit Brabançon sports a smooth coat in several colors.