Breeds, Toy Group

Brussels Griffon

Dive into the enchanting world of the Brussels Griffon, a breed distinguished by its heartwarming gaze and spirited personality. This guide will illuminate the endearing traits and characteristics that endear these dogs to their owners. Learn about their spirited demeanor, how they blend fierce loyalty with comedic antics, and why they thrive in companionship.

Ideal for potential owners or curious enthusiasts, this resource provides essential insights and practical advice for nurturing and understanding these captivating companions. Explore the joys and challenges of life with a Brussels Griffon, and prepare to be charmed by their unique blend of bravado and affection.

Brussels Griffon – Size & Life Expectancy

Brussels Griffon Height

7-10 inches

Brussels Griffon Weight

8-10 pounds

Brussels Griffon Life Expectancy
Life Expectancy

12-15 years

About the Brussels Griffon

The Brussels Griffon, a breed with a storied past and a distinctive appearance, finds its origins in the bustling streets of 19th-century Brussels, Belgium. Originally bred from a mix of Affenpinscher and Belgian street dogs, the primary role of these small but sturdy dogs was to hunt and kill rats in the stables. The breed gained an aristocratic flair when they caught the eye of Queen Marie Henriette, who favored the Griffon Bruxellois. This royal endorsement in the late 1800s catapulted the Brussels Griffon from the stables to the laps of high society, marking the beginning of their transformation into a beloved companion dog.

As breeders refined the Brussels Griffon, they focused on enhancing its now-famous human-like facial expressions and compact body. By the early 20th century, the breed had made its way across Europe and to the shores of America, where it quickly became a show ring favorite, celebrated for its charismatic presence and keen intelligence.

The Brussels Griffon in Modern Times

Today, the Brussels Griffon remains a breed of notable charm and distinct personality. Their expressive eyes and almost human-like quirks make them a favorite among dog enthusiasts who appreciate a breed with both character and courage. Despite their royal and cinematic fame—they’ve starred alongside stars in films like “As Good as It Gets”—the Brussels Griffon is not as widely recognized as other toy breeds. This relative obscurity can mean fewer breeders and longer waiting lists for potential owners, but it also ensures a community of enthusiasts dedicated to preserving the breed’s quality and unique attributes.

The modern Brussels Griffon comes in three varieties: the Griffon Bruxellois, the Griffon Belge, and the Petit Brabançon, each distinguished by slight variations in coat and color. They adapt remarkably well to different living conditions, thriving equally in apartments and houses, making them a versatile choice for many urban dwellers. Their small size and minimal exercise needs do not detract from their spirited nature; they bring vigor and playfulness to any home.

Ideal Owners and Lifelong Companions

The typical owner of a Brussels Griffon tends to be as unique as the breed itself. These dogs often attract those who appreciate a pet with a strong personality and emotional depth. Owners need to be prepared for a dog that demands attention, engagement, and affection. They bond deeply with their families and can become quite protective, which makes early socialization and training imperative.

Despite their small stature, Brussels Griffons possess a boldness that can sometimes lead to trouble, especially with much larger dogs. Their assertive demeanor requires that owners manage interactions carefully to avoid any David versus Goliath confrontations. Furthermore, their intelligence and sensitivity mean they respond well to positive reinforcement techniques during training sessions, making them both challenging and rewarding to train.

In conclusion, the Brussels Griffon continues to captivate hearts with its unique blend of historical nobility and modern-day charm. For those willing to embrace the responsibilities of owning a Griff, the rewards are numerous—providing companionship, laughter, and a touch of royal elegance to everyday life. This breed stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of canine companionship, from the cobblestone streets of old Brussels to the cushions of contemporary couches around the world.

Traits & Characteristics of the Brussels Griffon

  • Expressive Eyes: Often described as almost human, their large, round eyes are a defining feature.
  • Confident Personality: Despite their small size, they are known for their big dog attitude.
  • Loyal Companions: They form strong bonds with their owners and can be quite affectionate.
  • Intelligent: Quick to learn and responds well to training with the right approach.
  • Alert and Watchful: Makes a good watchdog as they are always aware of their surroundings.
  • Needs Socialization: Can be wary of strangers and other animals if not properly socialized.
  • Sensitive: Tends to be emotionally perceptive to their owner’s feelings and moods.

Owning a Brussels Griffon

Considering adding a Brussels Griffon to your life brings the joy of a companion with a large personality packed into a small, lovable package. This guide offers insights across various key aspects of caring for a Brussels Griffon, ensuring potential owners are well-equipped to meet the needs of these charming dogs.


Brussels Griffons often enjoy a robust health but, like all breeds, they have predispositions to certain conditions. Commonly, they can face issues like respiratory problems due to their flat faces, eye injuries because of their prominent eyes, and hip dysplasia. Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial to catching any signs of such conditions early. Dental health is also vital, as their small mouths can lead to overcrowded teeth and related issues. Owners should ensure their Brussels Griffon maintains a healthy weight to avoid putting extra stress on their bodies. Regular, preventive care is key to helping these dogs lead long, healthy lives.


Despite their small size, Brussels Griffons possess a lively spirit and require regular exercise to stay healthy and happy. They do well with short, playful sessions of activity that can include brisk walks or interactive games. Due to their intelligent nature, they also enjoy activities that challenge their minds, like puzzle toys. Owners should be cautious in extreme weather, however, as their flat faces can make breathing difficult in hot or humid conditions. Regular but moderate exercise will keep this breed in good shape both physically and mentally.


Brussels Griffons come in two coat types: rough and smooth. The rough-coated variety requires regular brushing several times a week and professional grooming every few months to manage their wiry fur and prevent matting. The smooth-coated type has a shorter, easier-to-care-for coat that needs only weekly brushing and occasional baths to keep it clean and shiny. Both types shed moderately. Regular grooming sessions are not only necessary for maintaining their coat but also provide a great opportunity to bond with these affectionate dogs.


Feeding a Brussels Griffon the right diet is fundamental to managing their overall health. High-quality dog food that suits their age, size, and activity level is recommended. Due to their small jaws, smaller kibble is often necessary to make eating easier. Owners should avoid foods that are high in fat and ensure treats are given sparingly to prevent obesity. Always have fresh water available, and be mindful of foods that are toxic to dogs, such as chocolate, onions, and grapes. Proper nutrition can significantly impact the health and vitality of a Brussels Griffon.


Training a Brussels Griffon can be both rewarding and challenging. They are intelligent and learn quickly, but they also have a stubborn streak that requires patience and consistency to overcome. Positive reinforcement techniques, like treats and praises, work best. Early puppy training and socialization are essential to help them develop into well-adjusted adults. Exposure to different people, pets, and environments will help temper their natural wariness and ensure they grow up to be confident, well-behaved members of the family. Training not only teaches essential commands but also fosters a strong bond between the dog and its owner.

By understanding and catering to their health, exercise, grooming, nutrition, and training needs, owners can ensure their Brussels Griffon thrives as a loving and integral part of the family.

The Brussels Griffon Standard

The Brussels Griffon, a breed celebrated for its distinctive look and spirited personality, adheres to a precise breed standard that outlines the ideal characteristics for which these dogs are judged at shows. This standard ensures that the breed retains the qualities that make it unique, from physical attributes to temperament.

Physical Appearance

The ideal Brussels Griffon is notable for its compact, sturdy frame, standing at about 7 to 10 inches at the shoulder and weighing 8 to 10 pounds. The breed features a domed head, short nose, and an undershot jaw—characteristics that contribute to its almost human expression. The eyes are large and round, set well apart, and black, contributing to the breed’s inquisitive and alert gaze. Ears can be cropped or left natural, adding to their expressive nature.

Coat and Color

Brussels Griffons are divided into two coat types: rough and smooth. The rough coat is dense and wiry with a pronounced beard and mustache, giving it a distinctive, almost whimsical appearance. The smooth coat lacks the facial hair and has a short, glossy finish. Common colors include red, black-and-tan, or black, each deep and rich in hue. A well-groomed coat is essential for show dogs, reflecting the breed’s well-maintained and tidy appearance.


The gait of a Brussels Griffon is equally important in the breed standard. It should be effortless and high-stepping, yet powerful, with a good reach and drive that suggests the breed’s agility and stamina. Despite their small size, these dogs carry themselves with a notable confidence and poise that makes their presence known in the show ring.


Temperament is as critical as physical characteristics in defining the breed standard for the Brussels Griffon. This breed is known for its alertness, intelligence, and loyalty. A Brussels Griffon should exhibit confidence without aggressiveness and a lively, spirited demeanor that endears it to judges and spectators alike. They are affectionate with their families and can be reserved with strangers, qualities that should be balanced appropriately for the show environment.

Overall Conformation

Judges at dog shows look for a Brussels Griffon that exemplifies the breed’s standard in all aspects: physical structure, movement, coat, color, and temperament. Each feature should be well-balanced with the others, ensuring the dog appears neither too timid nor overly bold. The overall health and condition of the dog are also under scrutiny, as these aspects reflect responsible breeding and good care.

Adherence to this breed standard ensures that the Brussels Griffon not only maintains its historical and aesthetic appeal but also thrives as a breed, both in and out of the show ring. For enthusiasts and breeders, understanding and striving towards this standard is key to preserving the distinctive qualities of this charming and lovable breed.

Brussels Griffon – FAQ

Explore the fascinating world of the Brussels Griffon with our comprehensive FAQ. Here, we answer the most common questions about this charismatic breed, from their unique care needs to their endearing personality traits, helping both prospective owners and curious enthusiasts understand what makes these dogs truly special.

Alternatives to a Brussels Griffon

Several dog breeds share similarities with the Brussels Griffon in size, traits, and characteristics, appealing to those who cherish the unique blend of personality and physical attributes found in small, charismatic dogs.

The Affenpinscher, often referred to as the “monkey terrier,” mirrors the Brussels Griffon in both size and facial structure. This breed exhibits a mischievous demeanor and an almost human-like expression, akin to that of the Brussels Griffon. Both breeds boast a wiry coat and a robust personality packed into a compact body, making them excellent companions for those seeking a small dog with a strong presence.

Similarly, the Pekingese offers another parallel. Known for their regal and somewhat stubborn nature, these dogs carry themselves with an air of dignity that can remind one of the Brussels Griffon’s confident stride. Both breeds share the challenge of brachycephalic (flat-faced) traits, requiring special attention to breathing and temperature regulation.

Another comparable breed is the Toy Poodle, which matches the Brussels Griffon in intelligence and trainability. Like the Griffon, Toy Poodles are highly adaptable to their living environments and possess a lively spirit that makes them both endearing and amusing family members.

Each of these breeds showcases the charm and challenges of living with a small yet spirited companion, much like the Brussels Griffon, offering unique quirks and delightful companionship in a petite package.