Brussels Griffons: Get to Know your Dog’s Breed

About the Breed

The Brussels Griffon is a breed that comes from Brussels, Belgium, and he was developed as a stable dog and then companion. In the 1800s, the coachmen kept small dogs within in the stables as ratter dogs. While they didn’t keep precise records, the Brussels Griffon is one such dog resulting from mixing numerous breeds. 

It is assumed that perhaps the Pug and English Toy Spaniel breeds were mixed with the native Belgian terrier-like breed to create the Brussels Griffon.

Brussels Griffons sleeping
A sleeping Brussels Griffons

These imported toy breeds helped cement the breed’s current look and likely added the dimension of a toy breed companion rather than entirely a ratter. The breed was almost lost during the World Wars, but luckily, vigilant breeders could resurrect it.

Physical Characteristics

The Brussels Griffon is classified as a toy dog, and true to form, he is only 8-12 pounds in weight, with males being slightly larger than females.

There are two coat styles in this breed: rough and smooth. The smooth coat is short and lies very close to the body. The rough coat is dense and harsh to the touch, terrier-like.

The coat comes in four variations: red, black, black and tan, and belge. Belge is a mixture of red and black.

The Brussels Griffon is well known for his characteristic face that gives a human-like expression. His eyes are widely set with a nose that is pushed up almost exactly in between them. He has a shortened muzzle, so his face is slightly squished appearing.

There are two coat styles in this breed: rough and smooth. The smooth coat is short and lies very close to the body. The rough coat is dense and harsh to the touch, terrier-like.

His ears, when appearing natural, drop over, but his ears are often seen cropped. His tail is usually docked as well.


The Brussels Griffon is a friendly little companion that enjoys spending time with his family. He is almost like a little Velcro dog and enjoys following his human around, sitting in one’s lap, etc. 

Annoyed? What do you think?

He makes an excellent alerting dog and will let the family know when someone comes to the door. He may be reserved or shy with strangers, and he can be a little worried in new situations.

While the breed is friendly with all family members, he is likely to bond with his primary caregiver. If everyone wants to bond equally, everyone will have to participate in the dog’s care equally. 

He should be in a home where children are older and have been taught to handle a dog and respect him properly.

He gets along well with other animals, including dogs and cats. It is best if he is matched with a similarly sized dog for his safety. Additionally, he doesn’t regard himself as a small dog, and his attitude could get him in trouble with a larger dog.

He adapts to various living situations, and he can do equally well in an apartment setting or home. A fenced yard is recommended for his safety.   


The Brussels Griffon is an intelligent little dog, and he can learn tasks well with patience.

He is sensitive and doesn’t handle harsh treatment or methods.  Instead, lots of praise treats, and positive energy works best. 

Aww, I want to hug it!

It is recommended that you enroll in puppy kindergarten classes and basic obedience classes to begin training early. The breed is far more difficult to housetrain, and owners should be prepared to invest time and patience in the process. 

As a toy breed, they can’t be left for extended periods without a restroom break, and crates or a playpen will likely be necessary.

Because he can be shy with new people or in new situations, early socialization is key to help him overcome this possible issue.

Shedding & Grooming

Since the breed has two styles of coat, there are two styles of grooming.  The smooth coat is very easy to care for, and a simple brushing with a glove brush or a light brush pulls out loose hairs. The rough coat version isn’t shed out the same way.

Instead, the coat is more terrier-like and either requires the dead hairs to be stripped or plucked out, or it requires regular trimming by a groomer. To maintain the correct coat, it is stripped rather than trimmed.

He doesn’t require frequent bathing and should only be done as needed. Otherwise, regular nail trims, ear cleaning, and toothbrushing are what is required.

Health & Life Expectancy

The Brussels Griffon’s average lifespan is 12-15 years of age. He does have a few health issues to be aware of:

  • Syringomyelia
  • Eye injuries
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Cataracts
  • Lens luxation
  • Glaucoma
  • Breathing and overheating (related to his short nose/flat face)
  • Luxating patellas


Brussels Griffons are a joy to keep and pet. They may need some patience here and there, but their companionship is worth it. 

Since you have taken some time to learn about this breed, it is safe to say that you want to provide the best care for them. Keep on with it. You will have yourself a pet that loves you to death and a companion like no other!

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