Small, smart, and sensitive, the Brussels Griffon is a toy dog with a big personality. Also known as a Griffon Bruxellois or “Griff” for short, these dogs originated from Brussels, Belgium. Originally bred to keep the rat population in check for horse stables, the ancestors of the modern Brussels Griffon were thought to be a mixture of an Affenpinscher and a street dog.
The bred was further refined and bred with English Toy Spaniels, Pugs, Brabancons, and Yorkshire Terriers. Brussels Griffons did not rise in popularity until Queen Henriette Maria took a liking to them in the 1870s. From there, they gained international exposure in Britain and the United States.
Brussels Griffon Appearance
The Brussels Griffon is a small dog weighing between 5-10 pounds and around 8 inches tall. Almost human-like, some compare the face of the Griff to a French philosopher, with a long beard and mustache and dark human eyes. Others think that the bred looks like an Ewok from Star Wars. Brussels Griffons have a squished face like a pug and a large head.
They are very expressive with their facial features and are known to give the side eye often. Griffs have two types of coats, rough and smooth. The rough coat is very wiry and long, while the smooth coat is like that of a Pug, short and sleek. Their hair comes in four colors, red, beige, black and tan, or black. Some have a black “mask” over their snouts. The Griff’s ears when alert, stand up and when they are relaxed, the tips fall over. Their overall frame is sturdy and short bodied.
Brussels Griffons are spunky dogs who are very affectionate towards their owners. The ultimate lap dog, they love to snuggle and be with their master. They will follow their owners everywhere and do sometimes suffer from separation anxiety. Giffs may benefit from another dog or cat in the house to help alleviate their loneliness. However, they do not fare well with other pets such as bird, reptiles, or rodents.
Brussels Griffons are not usually aggressive or shy, but are considered “emotionally sensitive.” They love to play but are not patient, so they should be properly socialized and never teased. Brussels Griffons may not be the best choice for families with young children, as they can be stubborn and sensitive.
Due to their historical upbringing, they are still athletic dogs who will trot with authority. Most Griffs still have an instinct to hunt and climb. You can find a Brussels Griffon perching on top of a couch, your shoulders, and even sometimes, a tree! This can lead to some mischievousness indoors.
They are very vocal if not trained properly and will let you know if something does not please them. Griffs can make a good watchdog and are fearless when it comes to protecting their home, but they don’t always understand their size. They love to play and are considered very energetic but their small statue makes them idea for apartment living or a house with little to no backyard. The life span of a Brussels Griffon is between 12 to 15 years.
Caring for Brussles Griffon Tips
Now we’ll go into how to care for your Brussels Griffon.
Brussels Griffons should be fed high quality, dog food for smaller dogs. You should look for foods with real meat as the first ingredient and never fed your Griff food with corn, wheat, or soy. Typically, you should be feeding your dog twice a day and the amount per serving should be according to their weight and age on the packaging. However some Brussels Griffons are known to be greedy eaters or picky eaters, so you may want to spread out the serving size to a few smaller meals during the day if possible. Probiotics sprinkled on top of your dog’s food will also help assist them with digestion and live a longer, healthier life.
Even though Brussels Griffons are small dogs, they do need regular exercise. They typically love to play with toys, so investing in some fun, interactive toys will allow them to burn off some energy. They love spending time with their owners, so taking them places will help them stay active as well as feel loved. Brussels Griffons fare well outside and can be taken on short walks or allowed to roam in the dog park. However, you will need to keep a close eye on them, as they tend to be escape artists and like to climb on things.
Brussels Griffons are friendly and intelligent, so they should be able to be trained pretty easily. Griffs bond with their master quickly, so as long as they are treated with respect and not teased, they will happily oblige to learning new skills. Toy breeds do have a tendency to have issues with potty training, and should be confined to a small area using a playpen or gates until they can learn to hold their bladder. Putting down potty pads can also help in keeping the mess to a minimum. Due to their history, Brussels Griffons can excel at agility courses and tracking smells. Continuing with high training classes will keep your Griff happy and healthy and give them a sense of purpose.
Brussels Griffons have a flat face that can cause issues with their breathing. Like Pugs and other breeds with a shortened snout, Griffs will often wheeze and snore during humid and hot weather. They are also at risk for being born with a cleft palate and depending on the severity of the hole, may need multiple surgeries to fix any problems. Griffs also have large eyes which should be checked regularly for lacerations and lens luxations so that blindness does not occur.
You should always clip your dog’s nails and brush their teeth with toothpaste for dogs. For Brussels Griffons with short hair, you need to brush their hair 2 to 3 times a week as well as bath them every month or so using doggie shampoo. Long haired Griffs do not shed as much because they have a different type of coat. However, they still need their “beards” trimmed often as they tend to get food and other debris stuck in it often. Investing in a good grooming kit will help you make sure your Griff looks his or her best. If you do not have experience in dog grooming, please bring your dog to a professional groomer for the safety or you and your pet.
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