This spunky and playful breed came from humble beginnings, being bred initially for the specific purpose of hunting vermin in the stables of Belgium. The breed later was crossed with the Pug and became quite a comical little creature companion for cab drivers, though it isn’t certain if the customers were more attracted to the Griff or the cab drivers! Bearing the expressive face of the Pug and either a smooth or wire-haired coat, this breed , also called “velcro dog”, is extremely loyal, loving, playful, curious and protective and really doesn’t like being left alone. The Brussels Griffon breed can sometimes be plagued with cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, a bony malformation at the base of the back of the skull called Chiari-like malformation (CM) or syringomyelia (SM), corneal dystrophy and hip dysplasia.
The Brussels Griffon breed began over 200 years ago in Belgium, the city of Brussels specifically being the area of its birth. The breed began when the Griffon d’Ecurie, a wire-haired stable dog became the companion of choice by cab drivers, farmers and peasants as both a theft deterrent and a discourager of vermin. In the 1800’s, this determined little ratter was bred with the Pug and was blessed with its crowning glory -- the magnificent head piece which defies the human face for expressive purposes. As time went on, the Brussels Griffon was bred with the Affenpinscher, the English Toy Spaniel and possibly the Yorkshire Terrier to get the sturdy and compactly built toy breed we see today. Of course, the “ratting” abilities have basically been bred out of the Brussels Griffon but not the fearless, courageous and adventurous part of him. He is still a loyal, loving, spunky, playful and protective “velcro” dog who will never be more than 3 feet from those he loves, even in sleep. Whether he wears a rough or smooth coat, whether that coat is red, black, black and tan or beige, he will still have the high level of intelligence and adaptable personality to couple with a loving nature to be your ultimate companion. Today, the breed is still considered relatively rare and isn’t as popular as other toy breeds. The breed has three varieties: Brussels Griffon, Belgium Griffon and Petit Brabancon, though the American Kennel Club only recognizes the Brussels Griffon in both the smooth and rough coated varieties. The breed has gained some increase in popularity after it was introduced in several movies, though it is still not as popular as a companion dog as other small breeds. The Brussels Griffon is recognized by many associations including the AKC, ANKC, APRI, CKC, FCI, NAPR, and UKC.
The Brussels Griffon is a compact with a squarely proportioned toy breed who has medium length muscular front legs with strong thighs which are well-muscled. The feet of this spunky little urchin are small and round, featuring black pads and arched toes. The most memorable features of this breed are the extremely large eyes which are set well apart with long black lashes. It is these impressive eyes which give the Griffon a look which is almost human and just as expressive. The Brussels Griffon has small ears which are set high and may be left natural or cropped. The head of the breed is large and round, having a dome-like forehead. Their noses are short and black with large nostrils. Generally, the jaw is undershot. The breed sports a gracefully arching neck of medium length which connects to a short, level back. The tailset is high and is generally cropped to about one-third of its natural length. Those muscular legs carry the Brussels along at a purposeful trot. The coat of the Brussels can be either rough or smooth, with the rough being wiry and dense and the head being covered with the wiry hair causes the face to be fringed with wiry hair, adding to the breed’s distinctive look. The smooth coat has no wiry hair but rather is straight with a glossy sheen. You can get your Brussels in a variety of colors: red (actually more like a reddish-brown with a few black whiskers at the chin), beige (consists of a black and reddish-brown mixture with a black mask), black and tan (usually black all over with uniform reddish-brown markings which are generally on the head and legs) and solid black.
The Brussels Griffon requires some grooming based on the type of coat they have. The rough coat requires brushing several times per week with coat stripping every three months to maintain the hard wiry coat. The smooth coat needs to be brushed about once a week. Bathing and shampooing are required as needed. Neither the rough or smooth coat shed very much hair at all but they are not hypoallergenic. This is a small dog breed and many of small dog breeds are prone to periodontal disease. Accordingly, teeth cleaning on a regular basis will be needed to maintain good oral health and fresh breath. They are a pretty clean breed, having minimal smell issues. The activity level of the Brussels is active but not necessarily hyper. They are generally active and busy in the house and love to go on daily walks. The Brussels can function well in an apartment or a house with a small yard as long as they are taken on their daily walks. The Brussels Griffon breed is extremely loyal and loving. They have the dubious honor of having the nickname “velcro” dog because they are always very near those they love. When it comes to housing, they are suited to living in any size house or apartment with any size yard or not. They don’t flourish when they are separated from their human families so they’re not outside dogs. They can live in urban or rural areas and, since they aren’t outside dogs, climate really isn’t an issue. Their dietary regimens are best when offered a well-balanced commercially prepared or home prepared diet, though they will gladly take any scraps offered from the table.