Griffon Bruxellois

Griffon Bruxellois

Overview of the Griffon Bruxellois

Origin and History

The Griffon Bruxellois, often called the Griffon, is a breed full of personality and history, originating from Brussels, Belgium. Developed in the early 19th century, these dogs were initially bred from the Smousje, a type of small terrier, and were used to hunt rats in stables, a testament to their fearless nature. As they transitioned from working-class dogs to companions, they gained popularity among nobles and artists, including featured in paintings and literature throughout the 19th century. Their unique charm and distinct looks made them a favorite in the upper echelons of society.

Breed Characteristics

Physical Appearance

Griffon Bruxellois are known for their expressive faces and sturdy bodies. They come in two varieties: the rough-coated Griffon Bruxellois and the smooth-coated Petit Brabançon, with the Griffon Belge also featuring a rough coat. The typical coloration includes red or reddish-brown wiry coats with black highlights, although variants like black & tan or all-black are also common.

These dogs are particularly noted for their large eyes and short, upturned noses, features that give them a nearly human-like expression. They are often described as looking like a little bearded man. Despite their small size, typically 7 to 12 pounds, they carry a big personality, making them perfect city dogs that fit well in small living spaces.


Griffon Bruxellois are loyal, alert, and highly affectionate with their families. They thrive on interaction and bonding activities. They are known for their strong attachment to their owners, often following them around the house with great curiosity and enthusiasm.

While friendly and playful with family members, Griffons can be initially wary around strangers, making them excellent watchdogs. They are generally good with children if socialized early, though their interaction with other pets should be supervised, especially with larger dogs, to manage their bold personalities. It’s a common misconception that these dogs are aggressive; they tend to be assertive and protective, qualities that endear to those who understand them.

Health and Care

Common Health Issues

Like many purebred dogs, Griffon Bruxellois is susceptible to specific health issues, notably eye problems such as cataracts and cherry eye, as well as respiratory issues tied to their brachycephalic face structure. Prospective owners should be aware of these conditions and prepared for potential veterinary visits for symptoms like breathing difficulties or frequent eye infections.

Grooming Needs

Depending on their coat type, Griffons require different grooming approaches. The rough-coated varieties, including the Griffon Bruxellois and Griffon Belge, need regular brushing to avoid matting and may require professional grooming to trim the coat and clear the facial hair for hygiene purposes. The smooth-coated Petit Brabançon, however, requires less frequent grooming.

Regular maintenance should include bi-weekly brushing, monthly baths, and routine dental care to prevent common issues such as tartar buildup. Their nails should also be trimmed regularly to avoid overgrowth and splitting.

Diet and Nutrition

Feeding a Griffon Bruxellois properly involves providing a balanced diet that suits their particular size and energy level. High-quality dog food that caters to small breeds is ideal, ensuring that it contains the right balance of nutrients to maintain their health. Portion control is crucial to prevent obesity, especially as they age, with adjustments needed based on their activity level and health requirements.

Living with a Griffon Bruxellois

Training and Exercise

Training Tips

Training Griffon Bruxellois requires patience, consistency, and understanding of their unique personality traits. These dogs are known for their intelligence and can learn commands quickly, but they can also display a stubborn streak that requires gentle yet firm handling.

  • Positive Reinforcement: Griffons respond exceptionally well to positive reinforcement techniques. Use treats, praise, and petting as rewards for good behavior. This encourages them and helps forge a stronger bond between you and your pet.
  • Consistency is Crucial: Due to their occasionally stubborn nature, it is important to be consistent with commands and expectations. If you allow a behavior one day and scold it the next, you will confuse your dog and set back the training process.
  • Gentle Correction: When they exhibit undesirable behavior, a gentle correction is more effective than a harsh reprimand. Griffons are sensitive to tone of voice and can become withdrawn or defensive if they feel they are being yelled at.

Exercise Needs

Griffon Bruxellois are lively and energetic dogs but do not require excessive physical activity. The right amount of exercise is crucial for their physical and mental health.

  • Daily Walks and Play: A daily walk and some playtime are sufficient to manage a Griffon’s energy levels. These activities will help keep your dog physically healthy and mentally alert.
    Impact on Health and Behavior: Regular exercise helps prevent common behavioral issues such as excessive barking, chewing, or digging. It also keeps the dog in good shape and prevents obesity-related health problems.

The Griffon Bruxellois in a Family Setting

Compatibility with Children and Other Pets

Griffons are generally good with children and can coexist peacefully with other pets if properly socialized. However, their interactions should always be supervised, especially with larger dogs, to prevent accidental harm due to size differences.

Socializing Your Griffon: Introduce your Griffon to children and other animals gradually and in a controlled environment. Reward calm and friendly behavior to reinforce these interactions.

  • Handling Jealousy: Griffons can become jealous if not given enough attention, especially when new pets or family members are introduced. Ensure that your Griffon feels included and loved, which can be managed by equal distribution of affection and involving them in group activities.

Housing Needs

Whether living in an apartment or a house with a yard, accommodations can be made to suit a Griffon’s needs effectively.

  • Apartment Living: Griffons are well-suited to apartment living due to their size. They do not require a yard but should have access to a safe, enclosed space for occasional off-leash play.
  • Space for Play and Exercise: Ensure your living space accommodates your Griffon’s daily activity needs. This could mean regular visits to a park or setting up a play area at home. Even in smaller spaces, keeping a Griffon happy and healthy with the proper arrangements is possible.

Breeding and Puppy Care

Choosing a Griffon Bruxellois Puppy

What to Look for in a Breeder

When bringing a Griffon Bruxellois into your home, selecting the right breeder is paramount. A responsible breeder ensures the health and well-being of the puppies and supports you through the puppy-raising journey. Here are essential factors to consider:

  • Look for breeders who perform genetic testing and provide health clearances. This includes screening for common genetic disorders specific to the Griffon Bruxellois, such as syringomyelia, hip dysplasia, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). Reputable breeders will have documentation of the parents’ and puppies’ health clearances.
  • Avoid breeders who have multiple breeds available all year round. This can be a red flag indicating that the breeder is more interested in profit than the welfare of the dogs. Focus on breeders who specialize in Griffons and are knowledgeable about their specific needs and characteristics.

Health and Genetics

Griffon Bruxellois are delightful companions but come with potential genetic health challenges. Prospective owners should be aware of the following:

  • Watch for signs of inherited conditions like syringomyelia and hip dysplasia. These conditions can affect a Griffon’s quality of life, so early detection and preventive health measures are crucial.
  • Ensure breeders test for PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), hip evaluations, and patella assessments. These tests help predict the likelihood of the puppies developing severe health issues later in life.

Raising a Puppy

Early Care Requirements

Proper care from the moment a Griffon puppy joins your family is critical. The first few months are pivotal in setting the foundation for your puppy’s health and behavior:

  • Follow a vet-recommended vaccination schedule starting at eight weeks. Vaccinations are vital for protecting your puppy from common infectious diseases. Ensure your puppy receives all necessary shots on time.
  • Begin socialization early to expose the puppy to various people, sights, and sounds. Early socialization helps prevent behavioral issues such as anxiety and aggression. Introduce your Griffon to multiple environments, animals, and people to help them develop into well-rounded adults.

Developmental Stages

Understanding the developmental stages of your Griffon Bruxellois puppy can significantly aid in their training and management:

  • Key stages include neonatal, socialization, juvenile, and adolescence. Each stage has unique challenges and milestones. For instance, the socialization period (3 to about 12 weeks) is when your puppy is most receptive to new experiences.
  • Provide consistent training and boundaries throughout each stage. Consistency is key in raising a well-behaved dog. Set clear rules and stick to them, using positive reinforcement techniques to encourage good behavior.