Intelligent, adorable, and packed with personality, the Brussels Griffon is a beloved toy breed renowned by many enthusiasts as simply one of a kind. This human-like dog, who weighs no more than 15 pounds, is perhaps not as well known as some other terrier breeds in the United States, but that is certainly not to say he isn’t a star.
So, what is it about the Brussels Griffon that turned the heads of royalty and Hollywood filmmakers alike?
That’s what we’re here to find out. Join us today as we learn more about the Brussels Griffon. Keep reading.
What Is A Brussels Griffon?
The Brussels Griffon is a small terrier type dog who comes in two coat types and weighs no more than 15 pounds.
The Brussels Griffon is a terrier breed with a unique look and build. Though small, he is incredibly dignified and comes with an air of self-importance. This mustached fellow is also a tiny comedian, famous for his wit and charm and beloved by anyone looking for a little lap dog who is trainable, loving and silly to boot.
A terrier breed at heart, the Brussels Griffon is believed to be a combination of several toy breeds bred through generations to ensure perfection. While there are very little records to prove a Brussels Griffon’s ancestry, many historians believe the dog has a bit of Pug, Yorkshire Terrier, and possibly even English Toy Spaniel in his blood, amongst other breeds.
Today, the Brussels Griffon dog ranks in at number 98 out of 196 on the American Kennel Club’s list of America’s most popular dog breeds and finds himself most at home on the laps of relaxed adults, seniors, or singles looking for a spritely little companion.
Where Does The Brussels Griffon Come From?
The Griff originally hails from Belgium where he was bred as a rat dog.
As his name suggests, the Brussels Griffon breed was born in Brussels, Belgium in the early 1800’s. Originally a rat dog for stables, the Brussels Griffon was built to be scrappy, fearless, and tough.
It wasn’t long, however, before the Brussels Griffon caught the eye of noble men and women, and especially Queen Henrietta Maria during the 1870’s. The queen quickly fell in love with the small terrier’s human-like eyes, sensitive nature and comedic disposition.
Soon after, the Brussels Griffon, or Griff as he is sometimes called, exploded in popularity around Europe. It was around this time that the breed was also refined. His face was made to be flatter, his body more stout, and he was eventually bred to come with two different coat types.
The Griff didn’t find his way to America until the early 1900’s, where in 1910 he was registered by the American Kennel Club. Unfortunately, both World War l and World War ll nearly saw the Griff extinct, however due to keen devotion from enthusiasts both in the US and across Europe, the breed was able to survive.
Brussels Griffon Temperament And Personality Traits
Brussels Griffon dogs are loving, curious and intelligent.
You would never guess the Brussels Griffon was bred to be a rat dog by looking at him. His unique, flat face and human-like eyes give off the impression he is an angsty old man while his chipper gait and confident nature alludes to a self-importance only pups adopted by royalty can express.
Alas, the Brussels Griffon is both refined and comedic. This is an emboldened breed who knows what he wants and has a unique way of communicating it.
The Griff is highly intelligent and eager to please. His sensitive nature makes him an excellent student and he is quick to learn with positive reinforcement training.
That said, he can also be somewhat shy with strangers and, while he can get along nicely with gentle children, he is better suited as a companion dog for adults or singles. A lap dog at heart, the Brussels Griffon becomes very attached to his family, often behaving as a small shadow and following his favorite human from one room to another.
For these reasons, the alert, curious, and sweet-natured Griff is not ideal for those who are away from home often. If left alone for too long, the Brussels Griffon can become distraught, depressed, anxious and even destructive.
What Does The Brussels Griffon Look Like?
The brussels griffon can be a number of colors and comes in two coat types.
The unique look of the Brussels Griffon only compliments his unique and adoring personality, leading many to fall in love with this pup at first sight. Though small, there is something quite “big” about him.
In fact, his eyes are often described as “human-like”. There is no surprise there, as Queen Henrietta’s royal court did busy themselves with perfecting the breed to make him look more human.
Let’s take a closer look at his overall size, weight and appearance.
Brussels Griffon Height: 7 – 10 Inches
Brussels Griffon Weight: 5 -15 Lbs
Brussels Griffon Coat Color: Black and tan, blue, black, brown, belge, and red
Coat Type: Both rough and smooth. The smooth coated Griff sheds while the rough coated griff does not.
Brussels Griffon Appearance Overview:
The Griff is proportionally built with long legs and a compact body, though his flat face does give the appearance that his head is smaller than it should be. Nevertheless, his big, round eyes and mustached muzzle are too charming to resist.
How Do You Groom a Brussels Griffon?
Brussels Griffon dogs require routine grooming to ensure their coats are kept healthy.
As you saw above, the Brussels Griffon is available in two coat types. These types include both rough and smooth. Depending on the type of coat your Griff has, grooming can vary. Let’s take a look.
Rough Brussels Griffon
The rough-coated Griff is considered hypoallergenic, meaning he does not shed or produce as much allergy-inducing dander as his smooth-coated counterpart. Some assume that grooming a rough coated Griff is generally less time consuming for this reason, but this is not the case.
Rough coated dogs can require more tedious grooming as keeping their coats healthy and mat-free can be more difficult.
That said, experts recommend you brush your rough-coated Brussels Griffon at least one to two times a week depending on the length of his hair.
Smooth Brussels Griffon
Smooth-coated Brussels Griffon dogs are shredders and may not be ideal for those who suffer from allergies. The smooth coated Griff will shed seasonally, losing most hair during shedding season in spring and fall.
During shedding season, your smooth coated Griff may need to be brushed and groomed once a day. On off seasons, you can brush him once or twice a week.
Both the smooth and rough Brussels Griffon dogs require baths every 6 to 8 weeks with a quality dog shampoo and conditioner. They should also have their ears checked and cleaned regularly to keep them free of build up like debris and moisture. Doing this will also help reduce chances of ear infection in the breed.
Like all dogs, the Griff will need his nails trimmed to keep them from becoming too long, which can result in pain when walking as well as broken nails which can become infected.
As toy dogs, Griffs can also be prone to dental issues including premature tooth decay and tooth loss. You can help prevent this by keeping up with professional dental cleaning services at your local vet and brushing your dog’s teeth with a dog-safe toothpaste and toothbrush on a daily basis.
The Average Lifespan and Common Health Issues Of A Brussels Griffon
The average brussels griffon dog lives to be around 10 to 15 years.
Like most small dogs, the Brussels Griffon has a decent lifespan of between 10 to 15 years. On average, smaller dogs do live longer than larger dogs and the Brussels Griffon is a particularly healthy breed.
Of course, this breed can still be prone to a few serious genetic health issues that could have an impact on his quality of life or overall lifespan that any potential owner should be aware of.
These health issues include:
- Patella luxation
- Hip dysplasia
- Ear infections
- Dental problems
- And Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome is a common syndrome in flat faced breeds that can cause a number of health issues. Due to the flattened shapes of their skulls, flat-faced breeds like the Brussels Griffon can be more susceptible to breathing issues and are therefore prone to heatstroke and exercise exertion. They are also more likely to be snorers when they sleep.
According the the National Breed Club, Brussels Griffon dogs should undergo a series of recommended health tests including:
- Patella Evaluation
- Hip Evaluation
- And Ophthalmologist Evaluation
While some genetic health problems are difficult to prevent, there are certain things you can do as an owner to help keep your Brussels Griffon as happy and healthy as possible.
While small, the Brussels Griffon still needs a good half hour of exercise and playtime each day. A nice, brisk walk through the neighborhood should suffice, or you could simply play fetch with your Griff in the yard.
Small dogs require a unique diet specified for their age, weight and activity level. Make sure your Griff’s dog food is filled with the proper nutrients he needs including protein, carbs and fats as well as vitamins and minerals. Steer clear of bargain dog foods that are rich in fillers, additives, preservatives and byproducts.
Grooming not only helps keep your Brussel Griffon looking his best, but it can also help him feel his best. When you groom your dog you are working to prevent skin infections, ear infections and more. Grooming also allows you to build on that strong, trusting bond you will cherish with your Griff.
Routine Vet Visits
Last but not least, keep up with routine veterinarian visits. Make sure you stay up to date on your Griff’s vaccines and that checkups, dental work, and wellness visits are maintained.
What Are The Training And Exercise Requirements For A Brussels Griffon?
These are intelligent dogs who are quick to learn and eager to please.
Because he is such an intelligent dog, the Brussels Griffon is famous for his trainability. He is eager to please and loves to learn, but he is also very sensitive and will not do well with scolding or punishment.
Try using positive reinforcement techniques during training sessions with your Griff like treats and praise, and when you sense he is becoming overwhelmed or bored give him a break.
For the most part, Griff’s are very well-behaved dogs. However, they are prone to suffering from separation anxiety and can turn to destructive behaviors like chewing, potty accidents, and escape attempts if they are left alone for too long.
Crate training at an early age can help with these anxieties, as will puzzle toys and exercise. We should also note that, as small dogs, Brussels Griffons may be difficult to housebreak. They require an owner who is patient, devoted, and vigilant to help teach them where the proper places to potty are.
Brussels Griffons are also prone to being shy around strangers, especially if they are not properly socialized. They can easily get frightened and anxious, which can lead to behavioral issues if their fears are not addressed properly.
Socialising your Griff at an early age can help reduce anxiety and in turn result in a happier, healthier, and better behaved dog.
What Are Some Pros And Cons Of Owning A Brussels Griffon Dog?
Brussels griffons become very bonded to their people but can suffer serious separation anxiety.
Every dog comes with a list of pros and cons, and the Brussels Griffon is no exception. While he makes a lovely companion for the right person, he is not the ideal dog for everyone. Here are a few pros and cons you should consider before deciding if a Brussels Griffon dog is right for you.
Pros To Owning A Brussels Griffon:
- They are small and portable
- They are cuddly lap dogs
- They do well in apartments
- Griffs are highly intelligent and trainable
- They become very bonded with their people
- They have been described as almost human-like
- Griffs are tiny comedians who will keep their owners laughing
- Griffs are friendly, affectionate and loyal
- They come in two coat types, one of which is hypoallergenic
- They require only moderate exercise
- They are relatively healthy and inexpensive dogs to maintain
Cons To Owning A Brussels Griffon:
- Griffs can be difficult to house train
- They can be prone to suffering from severe separation anxiety
- Brussels Griffons dogs are not good dogs for children
- They can be shy around strangers
- Their flat faces make them more susceptible to heat stroke and breathing problems
What Is The Ideal Home Type For A Brussels Griffon Dog?
Griff dogs do best in homes with adults and are not ideal companions for children.
Considering everything we now know about the Brussels Griffon, it’s time to take a look at yourself and your lifestyle to see if this is the perfect breed for you. Remember, this is a dog who, while small and loving, becomes very bonded with their family.
As such, the Brussels Griffon will do best in homes with owners who are able to be home often. This includes owners who work from home or have flexible schedules. It could also include owners who are able to bring their Griffs with them into work.
Because of their size, Griffs do well in homes of all sizes. They are perfect apartment dogs and do not require a lot of space or a large yard to be happy.
That said, they are not ideal dogs for homes with children and may not be the best addition to families with other dogs, especially if those dogs are larger and play roughly.
Choosing A Brussels Griffon Puppy Or Rescue Dog – Tips On Finding The Healthiest Brussels Griffon Possible
It is always best to go through reputable sources to get your Griff puppy or rescue.
Have you decided that the Brussels Griffon is the perfect addition to your household? If so, then congratulations are in order.
With that in mind, we would love to help you find the healthiest Brussels Griffon dog possible by giving you some expert tips and tricks.
Let’s begin by looking at tips you should follow when considering buying your Brussels Griffon from a breeder.
Look For A Reputable Breeder
Responsible breeders will certainly be the most expensive route you can take when looking to buy a Brussels Griffon puppy, and the price can vary depending on the breeder and the quality of the parent dogs.
If you plan on showing your Brussels Griffon, you’ll likely wind up spending more than if you are looking for a Griff who is simply bred as a companion dog.
That said, the average price of a purebred Brussels Griffon puppy from a responsible breeder can range from $300 to $4,000.
Avoid Backyard Breeders and Online Sellers
While reputable breeders can charge a pretty penny, it’s important not to try and cut costs by going through outside sources. Steer clear of backyard breeders or online sellers. While they may be able to offer you a Brussels Griffon for cheaper, you could end up spending more money in the long run in vet bills, especially if you wind up with a sick puppy.
Ask Your Breeder For A Certification Of Health
Another benefit of going through a reputable breeder to get your Griff is that you can ask for a certificate of health. Many breeders will offer this on their own when selling the puppies, but don’t be afraid to request one if you don’t see one being offered.
A certificate of health should show that your puppy has visited the vet for a puppy wellness exam and has been cleared of any major health issues before going home with you.
Ask Your Breeder If You Can See The Mother Dog
We also suggest asking to see the mother dog of your Brussels Griffon if possible. Seeing the mother dog can help give you a better idea of what your puppy will grow up to look like. You can also get a good idea of what your dog’s temperament will be like as he nears adulthood.
While buying a Brussels Griffon from a reputable breeder can help ensure you get a healthy puppy, there are other ways you can go about finding the perfect Brussels Griffon as well. Have you ever considered rescuing?
If you would like to consider rescuing your Brussels Griffon, follow these tips below:
Find A Reputable Shelter
Not all shelters are the same, so finding one you trust is key to ensuring you have a good experience when adopting and getting the dog of your dreams. You can often find shelters that even specialize in the breed you are looking for.
Communicate With The Shelter About Your Lifestyle
When you do begin the process of adopting your Brussels Griffon dog, make sure you communicate to the shelter your particular lifestyle. They should be able to help you find the dog that best fits your personality and ensure you and the dog make a good match for one another.
Exercise Patience – Sometimes You Will Need To Wait On A Waiting List
There are pros and cons to adopting your dog versus going through a breeder. One of the pros of rescuing your Brussels Griffon is going to be price.
On average, rescuing a Brussels Griffon is generally a fraction of what a breeder costs. Furthermore, you are giving a dog in need a good home and opening up room in the shelter for another dog to come in.
However, sometimes you will need to be placed on a waiting list, especially if you have your heart set on a particular type of dog.
Our Five Favorite Products For Brussels Griffon Dog Owners
Becoming a dog parent is a lot of responsibility, and it’s important to be prepared. Whether you are getting a puppy Brussels Griffon or rescuing an adult dog from a shelter, there are a few products we think every Brussels Griffon dog owner should have to ensure they start their dog off on the right paw.
Let’s take a look at our top 5 favorite products for Brussels Griffon dogs and their owners.
MidWest ICrate Starter Kit
Brussels Griffon dogs are prone to serious separation anxiety, but this can be helped if you properly crate train your puppy at an early age.
Crate training provides your Brussels Griffon with a safe space to go that is all his own while you are away. Building a routine while crate training can also help give your Griff a sense of security and assurance that you will indeed return for him.
The above crate is designed for smaller dogs and is made with a foldable design for easy storage. It also includes a cover to help your pup feel even safer as well as two dog dishes for food and water.
Furrybaby Premium Dog Blanket
These little pups are cuddlers at heart, and they’ll appreciate a soft, warm blanket to snuggle up on when they are on your lap or in their crate.
We love the above blanket by Furbaby because it is made with durable fleece that is soft, warm, and safe for your dog. It comes in different sizes and can be ordered in a multitude of colors as well.
Hertzko Self Cleaning Slicker Brush For Small Dogs
The above brush by Hertzko is great for small dogs and cats and will be especially helpful if you have a smooth-coated Griff. The brush is a self-cleaning deshedding brush which can help remove all the loose hair from your Griff’s coat while also grooming out mats and tangles.
We love that this brush is designed not to pull on your dog’s coat and will not hurt him while untangling his fur, helping to ensure you both enjoy the process of grooming.
Voyager Step-In Dog Harness
Some smaller dogs can be finicky about their harnesses, especially if they go over their face and ears. We have listed the above step-in dog harness by Voyager because it allows you to get your Brussels Griffon ready for his daily outing without causing him stress in the process.
The harness is also safe for small dogs and does not put any unnecessary pressure on their sensitive trachea.
Arm & Hammer Clinical Care Doggy Dental Kit
Dental care is very important for dogs and especially for smaller toy dogs like the Brussels Griffon. Brushing your Griff’s teeth at least once a day can help prevent tooth decay, early tooth loss, and even reduce vet bills down the road.
The above toothbrush by Arm & Hammer includes a doggy toothbrush, a finger brush, and dog-safe toothpaste that is designed to prevent tartar and freshen your Griff’s breath.
And that’s that!
So, what do you think about the Brussels Griffon? Do you already have one of your own or are you looking into becoming the proud parent of a Brussels Griffon dog soon?
Why or why not? Tell us what you think about this unique and adorable dog breed in the comment section below.
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.