The Griffon is categorized in the Terrier and toy groups.
CKC, FCI, NKC, APRI
The Griffon comes in red, black or black and tan, with no particular color being more popular than the other.
Lite Shed, Moderate Shed
7-8 inches or 18-20cm
6-12 pounds or 2.5-5.5kg
7-8 inches or 18-20cm
6-12 pounds or 2.5-5.5kg
The petite stature of the Griffon makes it suitable for apartment size living. Although not very big, the breed does enjoy being active. However, because it has a strong attachment to its owner, it is a breed that prefers to stay close and does not do well when left outside for long periods of time.
The Brussels Griffon is a breed most memorable for its unique and distinguishing look. The trio of wide set eyes, flat face and prominent chin coupled with their cheerful terrier disposition has won the dog a small but dedicated following. Its expression is commonly said to characterize that of an elf or monkey. Although grouped in the toy category, the Griffon is quite a sturdy, stocky breed with thick square proportions, their stance commonly compared to that of a Boxer. The body is somewhat short yet holds the large head well. Both the ears and tail can be cropped although this is not a requirement. In fact, cropping is a practice that is largely falling by the wayside.
The Griffon will either be found wearing what is called a rough coat or smooth coat. A rough coat consists of coarse, wiry hair, while the smooth coat is glossy with hair that is flat and close to the body. Neither is more popular than the other; however, the smooth coat allows one to better see the Griffon's unique features. For instance, one can see the slightly arched neck that gives way to a solid barrel chest. One can also see the graceful line that leads up into a slender waist and strong hind legs.
The breed is a better pick for older couples or adults who live alone and want or need a companion with whom to share every moment. Because the breed has a tendency to be sensitive to sound and sudden action and children tend to naturally exhibit these types of behavior, the two are not recommended for each other. The two natures combined often result in an unfortunate situation where a well intentioned child ends up with a painful nip when the sensitive Griffon is inadvertently frightened.
When it comes to the Brussels Griffon, there are two different types of coats to consider. The most common is referred to as the rough coat, aptly earning its name from the coarse wiry hair that requires brushing at least twice a week to keep matting at bay. The smooth coat is rather glossy with hair that is flat and close to the body from head to tail.
Reaching back into their 17th century beginnings in Belgium, the small Brussels Griffon was bred to rid stables of vermin, just as many small breeds were back in the day. However, their diminutive stature and endearing character made them suitable for accompanying coach drivers on their routes from time to time. Soon, their reputation as a companion animal grew between the working class and nobility until they were presented in a dog show sometime in the late 1800's. Their popularity grew further from there as a number of breeders also took interest in the dog, boosting its numbers. However, during World War I and II, the breed dwindled to near extinction. With virtually no Griffons left in Belgium, breeders in other parts of Europe helped to bring numbers back up, although barely. Interest in the Brussels Griffon peaks form time to time with occasional appearances on movies or TV.
These days, the breed is still considered rare, putting a strain on available breeding stocks, especially when it comes to unscrupulous or amateur backyard breeders. To ensure purity of line, breeders now require signed contracts obliging new owners to have their pup spayed or neutered by a certain date.
The temperament of the Griffon rests largely on the foundation of being part of the terrier breed. This means they are all heart, endearing themselves to their owners. Where ever their owner goes, the Griffon will automatically follow. In fact, the tiny blessing is not so much meant to be a family pet as it is a constant companion. It would not be out of the question to see this breed of dog accompanying its owner almost as an escort. As many have come to find, the elfin animal is one that greatly relies on regular contact with its owner. It has not been known to do well when left alone for long periods of time.
Part of the reason a Griffon is so dependent is its sensitive nature. They are not an overly shy or aggressive animal and quite often are noted for the smug or superior look they give when at ease with the world. However, they rely on consistency and a low key environment to be at their best. This is a large reason why they do not do well as a family pet, especially when there are extremely small children in the household. They are a breed that loves to be lavished with attention but can also be easily overstimulated, making them seem somewhat moody. Those who spend a great deal of time with their Griffon are able to sense exactly what is acceptable for their dog's particular personality and just how much they will tolerate.
While they love to be the center of attention, the Griffon is perfectly happy to have a companion or two, whether another dog or other small household pet. There have been occasions when a Griffon, having a rather slim concept of its own size, has been known to try and assert his or her dominance with a dog much larger than itself. Socialization from an early age can help to keep this to a minimum.
Socialization is also necessary for this breed because of its rare look. It is not uncommon for passersby to comment on the Griffon and want to take a closer look or offer a pat on the head. However, the Griffon is one that can be wary of strangers and may feel threatened. He or she may abruptly snap at the stranger out of sheer nature. Socialization at an early age can also help keep this to a minimum. Politely requesting that strangers not touch the dog can also help in this situation.
In general, a Griffon will keep to his or her master, warming up to others on its own terms. Not outwardly aggressive, they can be shy with new people and situations. Although they will bark should the doorbell ring, unless they are excessively lonely, they are not a breed prone to the habit of barking at all times of the day and night. They prefer a calm environment and for the most part will avoid confrontation to the best of their ability.
While Griffons suffer common canine maladies no more or less than any other breed, they will, at times, suffer ailments due to their unique facial anatomy, such as the prominent wide set eyes.
stenotic nares, also known as narrowed nostrils, combined with extended soft palates can sometimes hinder breathing
protopsis or the prolapse/expulsion of the eyeball
difficult whelping, often requiring a vet to perform a Cesarean section
Miniature breeds are known to suffer from hydrocephalus (the Breeding of miniature Griffons is highly discouraged)
The Griffon comes in either a rough coat or smooth coat, each requiring its own amount of upkeep. The rough coat is one that sheds less than the smooth coat but a rough coat also requires hand stripping. Clipping is sorely advised against when it comes to a rough coat. Hand stripping is the act of removing blown, or dead grown out hair, by grasping hairs between the forefinger and thumb and gently removing in the direction of the hair growth. The hair comes out easily without any stress to the animal. The result is a smoother, more even coat. It is not a difficult task, although for the untrained individual, it can span over a day to complete. A professional groomer is likely to complete a stripping in 1-2 hours. Facial hair is often lightly trimmed and shaped with scissors.
For smooth coats, the regular use of a grooming mitt can keep seasonal shedding down to a minimum. Folds in the skin on the face of a smooth coated dog should be inspected and cleaned regularly. Left unchecked, these folds that trap dirt and debris can become malodorous, if not infected.
For show dogs, there are times when coats can become damaged due to constant washing and blow drying that inadvertently disperses necessary body oils. It is times like these when a pH-alkaline balanced shampoo should be used to restore balance to the coat. For Griffons with facial hair, it is also necessary to comb through whiskers from time to time to remove food particles and prevent matting.
Exercise for the Griffon need not be overly extensive as their diminutive stature allows them to get plenty of exercise even when indoors. They enjoy daily walks and romps outside but are not prime candidates for extreme distance walks or jogging. There are some clubs of Griffon owners who set their dogs in small obstacle courses that bring out their skills as ratters, the purpose for which they were originally intended. The Griffon shows adept skill at weaving in and out of small spaces and also ducking under and jumping over small obstacles. Their energetic personality is easy to see during these exciting events.
Groups dedicated to the promotion and care of the Griffon breed often sponsor these shows and other activities for Griffon owners to take part in. These organizations can often be found by going online or contacting a local kennel club. Information on training Griffons for these events as well as the requirements for sign up and entry fees are readily available. Events are often scheduled to move from one region to another each year.
The Brussels Griffon is a small sensitive dog, making training a large sensitive issue. While the terrier in them wants nothing more than to please their owner, they can at times seem willful and stubborn. However, heavy handed techniques or harsh tactics are an absolute thumbs down for this breed. It will not take much to put them on the side of caution. Once they have been intimidated, it can take even more time and patience to get to a place where they are ready to work on the issue again. Sensitivity will be required when training this small petite animal. Another bonus to training is that owners can get better insight into their Griffon's personality, which can at times seem a little bit moody.
For the most part, obedience training is an easy task, especially since the Griffon has the opportunity to bond even more with the owner. As many have found, housebreaking a Griffon can prove to be somewhat difficult, although not impossible. The best course of action is to work a rather flexible schedule with the dog, removing items such as expensive rugs until the dog's maturity catches up with the training process. For many breeds, it is the progression of maturity that allows the dog to better process information. As always, consistency is a must.
Although they tend to balk at new experiences, with encouragement Griffons are known to do quite well with leash training at around 6-8 weeks of age. It is important to use a lead that is of an appropriate size to ensure a smooth training process.
Classes that offer alternative disciplining measures are a best bet for owners and their Griffons. Gentle training methods for this breed can include the use of praise, treats, clickers and good old fashioned patience.