The Griffon Bruxellois or “Griff,” as many pet owners call it, is among the lesser known breeds in the world. If you ever saw a small dog with an epic beard and almost a human expression, that is likely a Griffon Bruxellois! Yet, there is more to this dog than its adorable human-like beard and utterance. Get to know this extraordinary breed in today’s post.
The country of origin of the Griffon Bruxellois is Belgium and it was named after Brussels, one of its regions where its ancestor “Smousje” was found. This small dog, known for its terrier-like appearance, was used to hunt and kill rats in carriage houses.
In English, the name is translated to Brussels Griffon. It is just one of the three variations of this dog that all came from the Smousje. The other variations are the Belgian Griffon and the Petit Brabancon. These are all associated with royals because Queen Marie-Henriette of Belgium showed interest in them.
The Belgian Kennel Club recognized the Brussels Griffon as a breed in 1883. During the late 1800s, they were brought to the United States and the United Kingdom. It was first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1910.
The American Brussels Griffon Association is the breed’s parent club in the United States. Modern-day Griffons can also be registered in American Canine Registry, America’s Pet Registry, North American Purebred Registry, and the Dog Registry of America Inc.
A full-grown Griffon has an average weight of only 4-5 kilograms while the height is around 9-11 inches. Based on the breed standard, they should not exceed 6 kilograms. They are well-boned, compact, and square-proportioned.
They have round, dark, and large eyes. Their big eyes give them that human-like expression that is cute and somewhat funny. Their ears are set rather high on the head while their nose is extremely short. Griffons with butterfly or Dudley noses are disqualified under the official standard of the Brussels Griffon.
Brussels Griffon comes in four beautiful coat colors. It can be solid black or red with a few black spots on the whiskers and chin. Some of them also come in mixed black and tan or “belge,” which is a combination of black and reddish brown. Belge Griffons typically have a black mask and whiskers on them.
Some Griffons are often mistaken for a Yorkshire Terrier because of their wiry and rough coat. It is also believed that they are genetically related to them. However, not all Brussels Griffon has the same coat texture as the Terriers. Griffons can either be rough-coated almost similar to the Schnauzers or smooth-coated like Pugs. The ones with rough and wiry hair have faces that are almost covered with hair.
The Brussels Griffon is a loyal, affectionate, and playful buddy. Don’t be surprised if your Griffon keeps tagging along and would love to be snuggled. Some pet owners may perceive it as having full of self-importance. They are often mistaken for being demanding when actually they are just very affectionate.
This breed may be prone to separation anxiety because it easily panics when left alone by their humans. The anxiety could turn to aggression when ignored. Socialization is very important for this breed so they will not be aloof. They are also quite emotionally sensitive. On a positive note, it makes them a good emotional support dog.
One of the best parts about Griffons is they are naturally curious around their surroundings. They are one of the intelligent dogs you will ever meet. That curiosity along with their alertness makes them a great watchdog. Obedience training is highly recommended for this dog at an early age so they will be used to simple commands.
When trained how to get along with kids, this breed can be a great addition to families with young children. The problem with many small dogs is they are not as friendly as the larger ones when playing around kids. But with proper training, you can turn your buddy into a child-loving companion. If your Griffon is not yet fully comfortable around kids, better supervise them well.
A Griffon Bruxellois has a lifespan of 12-15 years. While they are fairly healthy, that does not mean they are not predisposed to hereditary problems. Here are the common health issues associated with this breed:
- Eye Laceration- due to their short snout, they don’t have much protection from objects that could affect their vision. The cornea is the most common part of the eye that suffers from laceration. It causes it to become red and teary. Aside from foreign objects, the culprit could be debris and dirt particles. Treatment for eye lacerations includes antibiotic as it prevents infection. In case foreign object got embedded in the eyes, consider bringing him to the vet for proper removal.
- Respiratory problems- as with other breeds wit shortened muzzle, the Griffon may be prone to breathing problem. Add the fact that the Griffon does not tolerate extreme weather well. It is best to boost your dog’s immune system so it will have a strong defense mechanism from a variety of bacteria. If a dog is diagnosed with lung and airway problems, a vet may suggest to add humidity to the air and to give your pet lots of water.
- Syringomyelia – there were reported cases of Griffons suffering from this condition, which affects the spine and the brain. The fluid-filled cavities within the spinal cord cause a dog to experience mild discomfort and even paralysis. That fluid pocket is painful and may hurt even more during harsh weather. Magnetic resonance imaging is the only way to confirm syringomyelia and the best way to address it is decompressing the obstruction with the help of a medical operation. Some pet owners who do not want their pets to undergo surgery opt for pain relief medications.
- Urinary incontinence- some pet owners complain that their pets are difficult to house-train. This is due to the fact that many of them are prone to weak bladder sphincter. Your vet will likely prescribe antibiotics to treat the urinary or bladder infection. Hormonal therapy is considered first before deciding that the dog needs surgery.
When you are decided to get a Brussels Griffon, ask if it was tested for congenital defects. This would tell if the dog, in particular, inherited a health problem from its parents. Consider adopting before shopping. You could find Brussels Griffons in organizations such as the American Brussels Griffon Rescue Alliance, The Dexter Foundation, and Valhalla Canine Rescue.
Don’t belittle the Griffon’s compact built because it’s not one of those small pets under the lap dog category. Although it’s quite tiny, a Griffon can be one of the most athletic dogs you will ever meet. Griffons still have the alertness of the ancient Griffons and that makes them ideal as watchdogs.
If your pet is around three months old, a 15-minute exercise will be fine for him. As he gets older, it can be around 20 minutes a day. When walking your pet, consider putting him on a leash. Or if the weather does not permit, don’t limit your pet with walking or running. There are fun ways to help your buddy burn those extra calories.
As an active breed, your Griffon will appreciate lots of walking and playing games. However, you have to limit your dog’s physical activities because your pet does not need a lot of outdoor exercise because of their short legs and short noses that may cause trouble in breathing. Consider indoor games, such as hide and seek or dog puzzle games to stimulate his mind.
The best choice for small but active dogs is a high-protein and grain-free dog food. Aside from being grain-free, it is essential that your pet’s food does not have artificial colors and flavors. For healthier joints, opt for dog foods with glucosamine.
If you are considering a raw food diet, better consult your veterinarian first. The recommended proportion is 80% of muscle meat, 10% of bone, and 10% organ. For a weaning dog going to adulthood, meat should only be 400 grams a day, while the raw meaty bone is 50 grams and organ meat is also nothing more than 50 grams.
Griffon Bruxellois have the tendency to eat more than they should. However, glutton is never a good thing even for dogs because it can lead to obesity which is a serious problem. As a small dog, your Griffon should only be served small meals at a time to prevent obesity that could worsen digestive problems.
Brushing should depend on the kind of coat your Griffon has. Dogs with wiry coat require regular grooming while the smooth-coated ones will be fine with minimal brushing. If your buddy has a wiry coat, get a bristle brush. For dogs with short coats, the best type is the slicker brush.
Frequent brushing may be required for Griffons with a wiry coat. Because they don’t undergo blowing of the coat once a year, you will need a decent brush and a vacuum to get rid of pet hair in the house. In the case of Griffons with a smooth coat, you have to be prepared for their seasonal shedding that takes place once or twice a year.
Another brushing you should focus on is brushing those pearly whites. Your pet could easily acquire dental problems such as having tartar build-up on their teeth if not brushed which comes with a flat or curved head.
Find a brush that fits your fingers and make it a habit to brush right from the early years. This way, your pet will not have a hard time adjusting to this healthy habit. The good thing is that there are toothpaste products for dogs that already come in delicious meat flavor.
Bathe your dog every six weeks using a natural mild shampoo. Use lukewarm water when bathing your dog and dry him with a large towel. It also helps to brush his coat first before bathing to lessen the mats and tangles.
Prevent ear infection by drying it completely after baths and using an ear cleaning solution. Calendula mixed with sea salt and water is a good natural remedy for ear infections because it has pain-reducing characteristics.
Get your pooch a doggie sweater when taking him outside for a walk. It has a short coat that cannot tolerate cold weather very well. It is susceptible to cold, especially when it is too cold outside. The fact that it has a short nose also makes it less tolerant to heat. This dog will surely thrive with lots of time indoors.
In case you have a busy household, a crate just right for his size will keep him safe. There are crates that can be folded so your dog will have his safe refuge wherever you go. While the Griffon is a small breed, he needs a crate that is large enough so he will be comfortable moving around, like standing up or turning around. Because the Griffon is an active dog, you might need to invest in a crate made of tough plastic with proper ventilation.
The Brussels Griffon is an active breed with great interest for plays and outdoor walks. It can be ideal for novice pet owners as long as they know how to keep up with such an energetic dog. The compact size also makes it easy to carry, so bringing him along for travels would not be a problem. If you want a pet that is easy to train and can be a good watchdog, the Griffon may be the right one for you.