History of the Brussels Griffon Breed
The origin of the Brussels Griffon begins in Belgium, and it is thought that this breed was developed from the affenpinscher and a Belgian street dog, often called the "griffon d'ecurie" which stands for "stable griffon." Aptly named, this breed worked as a guard dog for cab drivers in Brussels. But it is thought that the comical dog was used more to gain the attention of would-be riders than to defend the cab and discourage thieves. It is believed that the stable griffon was bred with the pug in the late 1800s, which accounts for the unique shape of the head, called brachycephalic, and for the smooth-coated version of this breed, called the Petit Brabancon. At first, the smooth-coated dogs were destroyed, but in time they were accepted as another variety of the breed. The Flemish painter, Van Eyck, portrayed an early example of this dog in his paintings. The Brussels Griffon was recognized at Belgian dog shows by 1880, particularly, the Brussels Exhibition. Around the same time, it is thought that the breed was further developed by crossing it with other breeds, including the English toy spaniel and the Yorkshire terrier. The Brussels Griffon became very popular in Belgium in the early 1900s, and it was the preferred breed of nobility. The outbreak of World War I resulted in a great drop in numbers of the Brussels Griffon, but the breed made a comeback thanks to its devoted supporters throughout the world. The Griffon (which means "wiry") comes in three distinct varieties: the Belgian Griffon, the Brussels Griffon, and the Petit Brabancon. The Belgian features a fringed face, and a long, wiry coat. The Brussels wiry coat is longer than the coat of the Belgian, and the Petit Brabancon features a coat which is short and smooth. But the AKC only recognizes the variety we know as the Brussels Griffon. This breed was the lively little dog in the movie "As Good as it Gets".
Size and Appearance of the Brussels Griffon Breed
Compact and square-proportioned, the Brussels Griffon features muscular, straight front legs of medium length and strong, well-muscled thighs. The small, compact feet are round with arched toes and black pads. Giving almost a human-like expression, the very large eyes of this breed are set well apart and have long, black eyelashes. The small ears are set high, and the ears can be cropped or left natural. The skull is large and round with a domed forehead. The short nose is black is color, and the nostrils are large. The jaws of this breed are undershot. The medium-length neck arches gracefully into a short, level back. The tail is normally docked to one-third, and it is held high. The gait of this breed is described as being a purposeful trot. The coat of this breed comes in two varieties: rough and smooth. The rough coat is wiry and dense, and the head is normally covered by wiry hair that forms a fringe around the face. The smooth coat is devoid of wiry hair, and it is straight and short with a glossy sheen. This breed comes in a variety of colors including: red (which consists of a reddish brown color, sometimes with a little black at the whiskers and chin), beige (which consists of black and reddish brown hair mixed and usually features a black mask), black and tan (which consists of overall black with uniform reddish brown markings usually found on the head and legs), and solid black.
Brussels Griffon Temperament
Spunky, bold, and comical, the Brussels Griffon is a breed that is overflowing with self-confidence. It is a playful and mischievous dog that is often considered to be high-strung. Normally this lively dog is good with other pets, including other dogs. It gets along well with older children if they are involved with the dog's training. This breed likes to bark, and some have been known to be climbers. Some can be picky eaters, and this breed may also be difficult to housebreak. While the Brussels Griffon can be spoiled and moody, it can be an entertaining family companion.
Brussels Griffon Recommended Maintenance
Grooming of this breed depends on the coat variety. The rough-coated dog should be combed two or three times a week, and professional shaping and stripping is suggested about four times a year, unless the dog is clipped. The smooth-coated dog is easy to groom - the occasional brushing to remove dead hair is about all that is needed. This breed does not shed much hair. Active and playful, the Brussels Griffon should be provided with physical and mental stimulation on a daily basis. It enjoys playing outdoors, but it should sleep and live inside. This breed is appropriate for apartment dwelling, as it doesn't require large spaces. Daily games and walks will provide this dog with the exercise it needs. Consistent and firm, yet sensitive training should begin at an early age.
Brussels Griffon Health
Life span: 12 - 15 years
Major concerns: none
Minor concerns: none
Occasionally seen: weak bladder, patellar luxation, distichiasis
Suggested tests: none