Brussels Griffon

"The Belgian Street Dog"

Photo of Brussels Griffon


These were not originally the dogs of royalty, but scruffy little street dogs who earned their keep by keeping stables free of vermin. Their background gave them the instincts and sense to fend for themselves when faced with a rat. Popular in coach houses due to their ability to exterminate vermin, it wasn't unusual to spy a Brussels Griffon perched on the seat beside a driver. The Affenpinscher, Pug and English Toy Spaniel likely are twigs in the breed's family tree.


They're perfectly willing to lie beside you (or on your lap) while you're reading a book, but if you invite them to play, they'll join a rousing game of catch-me-if-you-can. They usually get along with other animals, though their ratting background might find you one hamster short. The Griffon tends to dote on one person rather than be a social butterfly.

Photo of Brussels Griffon


There are two coat tyes. Rough coat Griffons have wiry coats (pictured left), and smooth coat Griffons have short, glossy coats (pictured above). Both are red, red-brown, black or black and tan. Ears are often cropped, but they can be folded naturally. Dark eyes are placed wide apart. The whiskery face gives the breed an inquisitive look, often likened to the Ewoks of Star Wars fame. Tails are docked in the western hemisphere. Smooths and roughs alike are short-nosed. Griffons are sturdy, with good muscle tone.


Early socialization is recommended. All dogs need basics, and the Brussels Griffon is no exception. He's bright enough, however, to be an obedience competitor if that's your wish – but if your tendency leans more toward high-five and roll over, that's fine too. Positive methods work best as they're sensitive. Scoldings push their ‘off' button.

Grooming & Care

The smooth variety is wash-and-wear; roughs are hand stripped like terriers for the show ring and for owners who desire the look. This method needs to be done by a professional groomer or learned from an expert. Pets can be clipped, but it softens the coat.

Health Concerns

Patellar luxation is a concern with Toy breeds, PRA eye disease – parents should be OFA and CERF certified.

Famous Brussels Griffon

Verdell, Jack Nicholson's nemesis, in the movie "As Good as it Gets."

Ideal Owner
Activity Level Moderate
Schedule Full-time (but no overtime)
Personal Style Easygoing and casual, Affectionate, Playful
Training Style Gentle, Positive, Creative and fun
Home Anything goes with enough exercise
Children Older kids
Experience Not necessary
Quick Facts
Size Small
Grooming Consider a professional groomer
Exercise Low - happy with short walks or play
Training Can be stubborn
Temperment Friendly, Alert, Intelligent
Challenges Barks a lot; can get bossy
Height 8 to 10 inches
Weight 8 to 12 pounds
Life 12 to 15 years
Home Alone Not often or for long - wants to be where you are
With Kids Fine with older kids
With Strangers Cautious at first but okay with them if you are
Availability Rare and may have a waiting list

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