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Griffon Bruxellois

Published on 9 Nov 2021

The Griffon Bruxellois or Brussel Griffon often nicknamed the Griff or Griffon, hails from from Brussels, the capital city of Belgium. With humble beginnings as rat hunters, they were a popular choice in stables to keep the rodents at bay. It is thought that the English Toy Spaniel and the Affenpinscher are ancestors of the breed. In the 1800’s they rose to fame when the Queen of Belgium, Henrietta Maria began breeding them. Like many of the companion breeds, they almost became extinct during the World Wars.

Earlier versions of the breed had much longer muzzles, and over time they have been selectively bred for a flatter face, more distinct underbite and big round eyes.  

Breed facts and characteristics 

Origin

Brussels, Belgium  

Bred for

Hunting rodents 

Size 

Toy; 17-25cm 

Weight range

3.2-5kg  

Colours

Red, black, or black and tan

Life expectancy

12-15 years 

Coat

Wiry – rough with an undercoat

Smooth – short and close to the body   

Low shedding

Temperament

Comical, affectionate, highly strung  

Exercise requirements

Moderate

Best suited for

Families or individuals with time to give them company and attention 

Apartment friendly

Yes

Grooming

Both the wire and smooth coat varieties are reasonably low maintenance. A weekly brushing for the wire coat or going over with a grooming mitt for the smooth coat will help remove loose hairs and keep the coat in top condition. Some prefer to have the wire coat clipped short at the groomers to keep them nice and tidy. 

Regular ear cleaning should be part of the grooming schedule as the breed is predisposed to ear infections. 

Flea and tick control is recommended year-round to prevent parasites. 

Personality 

Griffons are known for being spirited and clever companions. Like many of the Terrier breeds they have a big personality inside a tiny package. They bond strongly with their family and can be standoffish with new people. 

Early training and socialisation with other dogs, people and animals is important to help them become more comfortable with strangers and unfamiliar situations. 

Always show caution however, when introducing them to pocket pets as they may still have a strong prey drive with their rat hunting ancestry. 

They adapt well to apartment living if they are given daily exercise, play time and toys to keep them occupied. 

Boredom and being left alone is a combination that can result in separation anxiety and destructive behaviour in this cheeky little dog so they may be better suited to a household with plenty of time to keep them company, and of course always give them plenty of toys and activities to do. 

Feeding

When choosing a food for your Griff, select a premium dog food appropriate to your dog’s life stage. Follow the recommended feeding guides on the food appropriate to your pets’ size. 

Make sure your dog always has a supply of fresh, clean water available.

Griffon Bruxellois Black Coat - PetCulture.jpg

Common health concerns 

According to PetSure data from the past five years (2016-2020), the five most common reasons for Griffons to require a vet visit (excluding for routine visits like vaccinations) were: 

RankCondition

Average cost for single treatment

(average pet insurance claim amount)

Highest cost for single treatment

(highest pet insurance claim seen for this condition)

1Gastrointestinal conditions, including Canine Haemorrhagic Gastroenteritis$303$4,439
2Skin conditions, including allergic skin disease $178$1,835
3Ear infections $147$759
4Eye Conditions, including conjunctivitis and corneal ulcers$157$1,819
5Patella luxation  $677$4,819

Most popular Griffon names (PetSure data 2020)

  1. Dozer
  2. Frank
  3. Bear
  4. Bob
  5. Bruce
  6. Chewbacca
  7. Chewie
  8. Dave 
  9. Dudley 
  10. Ernie 

Female 

  1. Boots
  2. Poppy
  3. Beans
  4. Billie
  5. Eevee
  6. Ginger
  7. Maggie
  8. Maple 
  9. Pebbles
  10. Pepper

Male 

  1. Dozer
  2. Frank
  3. Bear
  4. Bob
  5. Bruce
  6. Chewbacca
  7. Chewie
  8. Dave
  9. Dudley 
  10. Ernie 

Did you know 

The Griffon, named “Verdell” in the 1997 film “As Good as it Gets” was played by six different Griffons. 

Griffon Bruxellois Puppy - PetCulture.jpg

Griffon Bruxellois FAQs

Where can I get a Griffon?  

There are breed societies and reputable breeders you can contact for Griffons. It is important to do your research prior to purchasing a purebred dog. 

Another option is to check your local animal shelters, rescue groups and humane societies for Griffons or other small sized breeds looking for their forever home. 

Do Griffons bark a lot?

Griffons may be described as clingy and love to be given attention. They form strong bonds to their family members and may display unwanted behaviour if left alone for long periods of time such as excessive barking. 

Early training is key to helping your pet understand when certain behaviours are appropriate. 

Follow this link for more tips on training

Are Griffons easy to toilet train?

Griffons are highly intelligent and do well with consistent, patient training. Each pup is different but with perseverance they will be toilet trained in no time. 

Follow this link for a toilet training guidelines

Are Griffons indoor or outdoor?

Their dependent nature and activity requirements make them excellent apartment dogs. A half hour of exercise daily outside or inside the house is adequate. With Griffons, be mindful of the weather as their shorter muzzle makes them heat sensitive. 

Can you leave a Griffon home alone?

Griffons may be described as clingy and love to be given attention. They form strong bonds to their family members and may display unwanted behavior if left alone for long periods of time. 

If you leave your pup alone make sure they have been exercised and have some form of entertainment. 

How much should you exercise a Griffon?

A half hour of exercise daily outside or inside the house is adequate. 

Who is best suited for a Griffon? 

Families or individuals with time to give them attention. If you lead a busy lifestyle and are not home most of the time this may not be the breed for you. 

References 

  1. American Kennel Club, Brussels Griffon, accessed on 23/06/2021. 
  2. Australian National Kennel Council 2021, Griffon Bruxellois, accessed on 23/06/2021
  3. “Verdell” the Brussels Griffon, accessed 22/07/2021

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Kylie Mitchell

Kylie Mitchell

Veterinarian

Kylie Mitchell is a veterinarian with over 17 years experience in animal health and welfare, including in the veterinary and pet insurance industries

She has three rescue cats (Noah, Bei Bei and Meeka), four very old cockatiels and a pond-full of fish.

Kylie Mitchell's Pets

  • MeekaMeeka
  • Bei BeiBei Bei
  • NoahNoah