brussels griffon

Packed with personality, the Brussels Griffon is part of the ‘toy group’ of dogs. It sometimes goes by the name ‘monkey face’, ‘bearded dog’ and even ‘the Griff’ by its loyal fanbase.

This compact bundle of joy is also known to be playful and energetic.

Known to have their favorites, a Brussels Griffon is a loyal and loving dog, that forms a close attachment to its owner.

Brief History

The Brussels Griffon can trace their lineage back to 1890s Brussels, where it was bred to hunt mice and rats. It is a hybrid of a number of breeds, including the English Toy Spaniel, which can be seen in its facial features, and is also part Affenpinscher Pug, where it gets its compact size and wiry coat.

Eventually winning their way into the hearts of their owners, Brussels became popular house pets and started to enter dog shows in the early 19th century. One such fan was Belgium Queen Marie Henriette, who helped popularize this breed throughout Europe.

Today there are two versions of this breed: the rough-coated, and the smooth-coated version, also known as the ‘Petit Brabancon’. There is also belief that this smoother breed with possibly mixed with the Yorkshire Terrier, which altered its facial features.

Like many dogs at this time, the first and second World Wars posed a threat to this breed. However, thanks to due diligence from breeders in US and UK, it was salvaged for many generations to come.

It was enrolled into the American Kennel Club in 1910.

Physical Features

Its short, thick body is in contrast to its large round skull and undershot chin. It possesses large black ears and a black nose that is short and set back between both eyes. The tail is docked.

The rough coat is known to be wiry, while its smooth coat more soft. Distinctively, this covers the head to form a fringe and beard. The coat color can be either reddish brown, or black and reddish brown markings, or just plain black.

Average Height:

8-10 inches

Average Weight:

8-12 pounds

Life Expectancy:

12-15 years


They might be small, but this is a sturdy breed with a strong and charming personality that is irresistibly infectious!

Cheery, curious and confident, it’s quirky traits are loved by its owners. It also has a notable energetic streak which comes from its terrier background.

brussels griffon

But take note; some Griffs are known to be a little bossy, as part of their natural desire for independence. This can make them a bit of a challenge to train. As such, they do well with socialization classes and training as young as possible to curb unwanted behaviors. They will respond best to positive affirmations and recognition.

Although extremely loving to its owner, this is not a breed that specifically enjoys being around children and is also known to be a barker.

The Griff however is a versatile breed, which can live in small spaces and adapts well to city living.

Special Needs

The Griff is sensitive to heat and should avoid any situation where overheating is a possibility

It is also a breed that needs to be trained and socialized to prevent future challenges, combined with ongoing daily exercise and mental stimulation. Being a ‘people dog’ it does not do well on its own for lengths of time.

As this is a curious and energetic dog, they fall foul to escaping easily, and should be kept within close proximity when out and about.

They do not make good ‘emotional support dogs’ since short-faced breeds do not take to air travel well.

Possible Health Concerns

Although an active and healthy dog, this breed may be susceptible to the certain health conditions:

This includes ‘Brachycephalic Syndrome’ also known as snoring and snorting their through mouths. They are also predisposed to cleft palate – a facial defect, which is usually evident at birth.

Some Brussels are known to suffer from ‘Hip Dysplasia’ and ‘Laxating Patellas’ – a condition affecting the kneecap.


Certainly active, the Brussels Griffon needs daily exercise; at least 30 minutes a day. It may also benefit from dog training classes, obedience, agility and some rally sports.

During hotter months, exercises should take place indoors to prevent them from overheating.


brussels griffon

This breed does well on a high-quality dog food that is well-balanced. Therefore home-cooked meals work well for this breed; speak to your veterinarian for a prescribed diet.

Their recommended daily intake should be ¼ to ½ cup of dry foods.


The rough-coated Griff tends to be a relatively easy dog to care for, while the smooth version can shed at certain times in the year. Nonetheless, they do require daily brushing with a grooming glove or brush for both coat types and many will have their coats clipped for easy maintenance. At least twice a year they require specialized grooming.

Weekly bathing is required with an appropriate canine shampoo, alongside an ear cleaning and nail trimming every few weeks. Dental brushing with the use of chew toys, and dental treats is essential to help prevent plaque.

A small dog with a big personality, the Brussels Griffon is a unique toy dog with a cheerful disposition. Yet, it can be stubborn and difficult, as well as prone to barking when left for long periods alone. It also doesn’t get on as well with children as some other breeds.

Because of this, socialization and training is essential in teaching your Griff to get along with other people and pets. Plenty of daily exercise, praise and company will keep bad behaviors at bay.

Smart and friendly, the Griff’s curious nature means that you will have to keep an eye  on their whereabouts; although that shouldn’t be too hard, as they love the company of their owners. Indeed, the Griff will entertain you endlessly and win its way into your heart!

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