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Brussels Griffon


Brussels Griffon


General Description:

The intelligent and cheerful Brussels Griffon has a terrier-like disposition and is known for his almost human expression. This affectionate breed comes in a variety of colors, including red, belge (black and reddish brown), black and tan, or black. This breed makes a good watchdog and can be taught to perform a variety of tricks. A Brussels Griffon was featured in 1997's hit, "As Good As It Gets", starring Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt. AKC conformation show ring disqualifications are:  Dudley or butterfly nose, bite overshot, hanging tongue and white spot or blaze anywhere on coat.


Weight usually 8 to 10 pounds, and should not exceed 12 pounds. Type and quality are of greater importance than weight, and a smaller dog that is sturdy and well proportioned should not be penalized. Appearance should be square, thickset, compact with good balance, and well-boned.


  • Red: reddish brown with a little black at the whiskers and chin allowable.
  • Belge: black and reddish brown mixed, usually with black mask and whiskers.
  • Black: solid black.
  • Black & Tan: black with uniform reddish brown markings, appearing under the chin, on the legs, above each eye and around the edges of the ears.
For the AKC conformation show ring, any white hairs are a serious fault, except for "frost" on the muzzle of a mature dog, which is natural, but a white spot or blaze anywhere on coat is a disqualification.

Energy Level:

The affectionate, charming and curious personality of the Brussels Griffon makes it a good companion dog. However, this breed is not typical of the "pampered pet" stereotype of Toy breeds. Their active indoor lifestyle and small size makes the breed acceptable for apartment life, but they still need to be taken for daily walks.

Life expectancy:

Ranges between 9 to 15 years


Due to the breed’s diminutive size, they are not recommended for families with young children.Brussels Griffon puppies are NOT suited to children, no matter how well-meaning the child. Accidents around small toy breeds can have deadly results.   The Brussels Griffon can quickly become overwhelmed by loud voices and quick movements resulting in stress and shyness (even defensive biting).

Other animals:

The Brussels Griffon tends to get along well with other dogs and all breeds, but due to their diminutive size they must be protected from potential injury.   They also have been known to get along well with cats and other small animals, but must be taught to leave small rodents alone.


The intelligent and athletic little Griff can excel in dog sports activities and competitions such as agility, obedience, tracking, fly-ball and tricks, but it can only be trained using positive reinforcement. Being very sensitive, negative correction will scar the dog and make him everlastingly wary. For this reason, the Griffon is not suggested as a companion for children as their sometimes rough play can be misconstrued and make the dog fearful and unpredictable around children. Griffons can be stubborn but they are clever and have been trained to do very well in various dog sports. They like to be close to their owner and can be destructive if left alone for long periods of time.   It is recommended that this breed be well socialized early on as it can be shy with strangers. Getting used to being handled is also very important, as Griffons can get hysterical when restrained for nail clipping and other routine procedures.


The Brussels Griffon sheds very little and comes in two coat types:

The Rough coat is wiry and dense, not silky anywhere; which (for the show ring) requires hand-stripping without use of scissors or clippers.

The Smooth coat is straight, short, tight and glossy, with no trace of wiry hair. To keep the Rough coat free of mats, regular brushing, bathing and clipping/shearing or hand-stripping is required. It is important to teach a Brussels Griffon to tolerate all types of grooming as early as possible.


General health concerns that have occurred in this breed include subluxating patellas (slipping kneecaps), collapsing tracheas, problems with the trachea and congestive heart failure.  Abnormally small specimens of Griffons are prone to hydrocephalus, thus the breeding of mini Griffons should not be encouraged.   Griffons have other problems particularly associated with their facial anatomy including the elongated soft palate, which can inhibit breathing, as well as stenotic nares (narrowed nostrils.) Both of these conditions can be corrected surgically and can be identified quite early on by veterinary examination.  Protopsis (expulsion of the eye from the socket) can occur in the breed if the head is restrained  too vigorously.

Best with:

This breed is best for Adults who interested in and able to spend lots of time with their pet.  The breed is often “clingy” and prefers to be close to their owners at all times.   Homes with safely fenced yards are preferred.

Not for:

The Brussels Griffon is NOT the best breed for people who work long hours many days each week, leaving the dog all alone for long periods.   Not for people who prefer a “quiet” non-barking dog, nor a dog for people with pet allergies.    Not recommended for families with young children.


  • small and easy to carry, yet sturdy
  • Looks like a little terrier
  • Comes in a rough wiry coat and a short coat
  • Doesn't shed much at all
  • Is spunkier than most toys
  • Takes himself very seriously (which can be amusing to watch)
  • Makes a keen watchdog
  • Doesn't need a lot of exercise


  • Typically fragile as are most all toy breeds
  • Stubbornness (a mind of his own)
  • Excitable barking when strangers or strange dogs approach
  • Requires regular grooming of the rough wiry coat
  • Housebreaking difficulties
  • Waiting lists to purchase (hard to find) and a high price tag     (Many breeders charge $1000 or more, which is to cover expensive C-section births, tiny litters, and a high puppy mortality rate due to birth defects and failure to thrive. )

Further Information:

American Kennel Club
Brussels Griffon review
Breed Details

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