Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.
Intro / Overview
(All dogs are individuals, which means any single dog from any breed can be any number of ways, both good and not so good. Keep that in mind as we discuss breed generalities!)
All hail the Brussels Griffon! This little toy breed pup is packed with personality, and it knows it. Distinctive to say the least, the Brussels Griffon is lively, intelligent, loyal, and curious, with an air of self-importance that is magnified by its human-like expressions. One look into those big beautiful eyes and you’ll be smitten.
Griffons make great companions and want to be by your side whenever possible. They also have a ton of energy and love to play, yet with their size, small living spaces or yards are no problem. These “bearded dogs” are also fearless, with no concept of their own size. Looking for a lot to love in a little dog? The Brussels Griffon is As Good as It Gets!
Also Known As…
Griffon Bruxellois. Griffon Belge. Petit Brabancon. Griffon. Griff. Bruss. “You can tell me that’s a Brussels Griffon, but you and I both know it’s a gremlin.”
Descending from the Belgium street dog and the German Affenpinscher in the 17th century, these wiry-haired stable dogs were used for catching rodents. Belgium coachman were fond of these little helpers and would often take them along for the ride, as the loud little fearless dogs were great at guarding the cabs.
In the 19th century, they were crossbred with the pug to create the smooth-coated Griffon and began to rise in popularity, eventually making their way to England and eventually the U.S. Today, they remain a relatively uncommon breed.
25-27 inches tall for males; 23-25 inches tall for females.
70-90 pounds for males; 55-75 pounds for females.
Where to start with these little humans disguised as dogs? Griffs are loyal. They usually choose one person (maybe two), and stick to them like glue, earning the breed tag of “Velcro dogs.” They are very affectionate and are happiest when they are with their person. In other words, they require a lot of attention and should not be left alone for long periods of time.
Brussels Griffons have an air of self-importance to match their exquisite looks, and are completely unaware of their small stature. They can, and will, run with the big dogs, which can certainly get them into trouble. They love to play and are indiscriminate about who they play with, so you’ll have to choose their partners for them to ensure their safety.
Intelligence / Trainability
Griffons have an extreme amount of intelligence to go along with those human-like, expressive features. They’re not just making faces, which makes interacting with them so fun. But along with that intelligence comes a bit of stubbornness. It’s important to remain patient and positive with training as these sensitive pups do not respond well to harsh punishment.
Early socialization is important as they can feel threatened by strangers or new situations. Training may also be necessary to help curb excessive barking, a habit Griffs can develop.
As long as they have enough room to play in, Griffons do just fine in apartments or with small yards. It’s more important that they are with their human(s), and not left alone for long periods of time.
Even with a huge living space, chances are your Griff is going to want be right at your side at all times. Keep in mind they can be rather noisy, and without training will be prone to bark at any outside sound, making them good watchdogs, but perhaps to the annoyance of those living nearby.
Good For Families And Kids?
Griffs are super affectionate and playful, and are great with kids. But they are also very sensitive and do not like being teased. Also, like any toy breed, children should not be permitted to roughhouse with these lively yet small dogs.
The average life expectancy for Brussels Griffons is 12-15 years.
Small but sturdy, Brussels Griffons are generally a healthy breed, due to the fact that they remain fairly uncommon. Like all flat-faced breeds, they can experience difficulty breathing in hot and humid weather. Other issues to be aware of can include hip dysplasia, patella luxation, eye problems, and skin allergies.
Though they may appear as if they were born to be pampered, Griffons have a tremendous amount of energy and love to play.
So, while they are great dogs for apartments or small backyards, they do still require a good amount of physical and mental exercise. Frequent walks are ideal, as are games of fetch and other playtime activities, which, due to the Griffon’s small size, can even take place indoors if need be. Their high energy can also lead to high volume, as Griffs can be rather noisy.
Friendly With…(Dogs? Strangers? Cats/Other Pets?)
While they are typically good with other familiar dogs, and even cats, Brussels Griffons are typically shy with strangers at first, and can become aggressive towards other dogs or strangers if they feel threatened. Remember, they are seemingly unaware of their small size and are not afraid to defend themselves against any opponent. It is best to keep them separated from other pets such as birds or rodents.
Coat & Grooming
There are two types of coats when it comes to Griffons. One is smooth and short and requires little in the way of maintenance and grooming. Just a quick weekly brushing and occasional bath will do. The other type is wiry and rough. This coat demands weekly grooming attention including clipping and stripping. Colors can include red, black and reddish brown (belge), black and tan, and black.
Quirks / Fun Facts
The Brussels Griffon has done well for itself in Hollywood. The breed saw a surge in popularity after one starred alongside Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt in the 1997 Oscar-winning film As Good as It Gets. Griffons were also the artistic inspiration for the loveable Ewok characters in the 1983 Star Wars film, Return of the Jedi.
Toys Brussels Griffons Would Like Best
These dogs have big hearts but small jaws, so smaller toys may work best. Of course, being oblivious to their own size, Griffons may be happy to drag and thrash a toy much larger than them as well.
Try the Lady Liberty Ball. This BARK original is perfect for rigorous games of fetch. A layer of soft yet durable plush hides the spiky squeaker ball beneath. The small size is perfect for Griffons to catch and carry, and the fabric edge is great for thrashing and throwing.
For a more extensive list, check out the following post: What Are The Best Toys For Small Dogs?
Recommended Diet Or Supplements
Brussels Griffons run the gamut when it comes to appetite, some are prone to being overeaters while others can be incredibly fussy. Therefore, it’s a good idea to stick to specific amounts of food at regular mealtimes, as opposed to leaving food out for them to graze whenever they please. The serving sizes will help to avoid overindulgence while the routine will discourage finicky eating habits.
Available in liquid form or soft gels, Nordic Naturals award-winning Omega-3 Pet formulas are made exclusively from sustainably-sourced sardines and anchovies. Giving your Griffon the daily serving of omega-3 EPA+DHA they need to live active, happy lives. Omega-3 Pet does not contain rosemary oil, or flavorings, in order to ensure the safety of your pets.
BARK’s Full Spectrum Hemp Oil is made of organically grown whole plants, grown in Colorado, and is non-psychoactive. It comes in 100mg, 250mg, and 500mg varieties, and can help with pet anxiety and pain relief. ($17.99-22.99.)
This joint supplement is veterinarian-formulated, made with all natural ingredients (glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid), and comes in the form of 150 soft chews. Basically, it looks and tastes just like delicious treats, and it could really help your Brussels Griffon with their hip and joint issues. ($32.99.)
For older Brussels Griffons or dogs suffering with arthritis or hip dysplasia (or just any dog that likes lying down!), a comfortable, supportive dog bed is probably a good idea.
This dog bed is great for supporting your pup’s tired body. A high quality combination of ergonomic memory foam and gel foam helps ease body aches, joint pain, hip dysplasia and arthritis. This bed offers the best therapeutic support for your hardworking pal. ($27.99-64.99.)
Notable Rescues To Find The Brussles Griffon Of Your Dreams
If you’re ready to let one of these wonderful dogs into your life, one of the groups below could have the perfect match.
- National Brussels Griffon Rescue, Inc. – maintains a national rescue league for abandoned, lost, and/or abused Brussels Griffons, placing them in qualified pet homes. The 501c3 group is made up of volunteers and foster-based.
- American Brussels Griffon Rescue Alliance – a small, nation-wide, non-profit, foster-based rescue organization working to find loving, permanent homes for Brussels Griffons in need.
- Adoptable Brussels Griffons on Petfinder
Notable Instagram Brussels Griffons
There just a couple of Brussels Griffon bros livin’ their best life!
Often mistaken for a monkey, (or a fruit bat), this incredibly expressive pup will ensure that you don’t get any work done. You just can’t take your eyes of this adorable dweller of the Windy City.
In the mood for some longer-haird Griffon cuteness? LaBamba has you covered. If you want to stay on this pup’s good side, here’s a little secret: LaBamba loves dried chicken!
This pup gives new meaning to the word “sit.” Plus, he’s got a beard that would make a wizard jealous. Relax a bit with Arnie. You’ll be glad you did.
***Looking for a gift to blow your pup’s mind? Spoil them with a BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <– This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! 🙂
Featured image via Danzigbros/Instagram