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  • Temperament: Loyal, Alert, Curious
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 97 of 194
  • Height: 7-10 inches
  • Weight: 8-10 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
  • Group: Toy Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Brussels Griffon lying down in three-quarter view facing forward
Brussels Griffon standing in three-quarter view facing forward
Brussels Griffon sitting in three-quarter view
Two Brussels Griffon dogs sitting in three-quarter view, smooth-coated dog on left, rough-coated dog on right
Rough-coated Brussels Griffon coat detail
Brussels Griffon

Find a Puppy: Brussels Griffon

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

A toy dog, intelligent, alert, sturdy, with a thickset, short body, a smart carriage and set-up, attracting attention by an almost human expression. There are two distinct types of coat: rough or smooth. Except for coat, there is no difference between the two.

HEAD

A very important feature. An almost human expression. Eyes set well apart, very large, black, prominent, and well open. The eyelashes long and black. Eyelids edged with black. Ears small and set rather high on the head. May be shown cropped or natural. If natural they are carried semi-erect. Skull large and round, with a domed forehead. The stop deep. Nose very black, extremely short, its tip being set back deeply between the eyes so as to form a lay-back. The nostrils large. Disqualifications – Dudley or butterfly nose. Lips edged with black, not pendulous but well brought together, giving a clean finish to the mouth. Jaws must be undershot. The incisors of the lower jaw should protrude over the upper incisors. The lower jaw is prominent, rather broad with an upward sweep. Neither teeth nor tongue should show when the mouth is closed.

BODY

Neck medium length, gracefully arched. Topline – Back level and short. Body – A thickset, short body. Brisket should be broad and deep, ribs well sprung. Short-coupled. Tail – set and held high, docked to about one-third.

FOREQUARTERS

Forelegs medium length, straight in bone, well muscled, set moderately wide apart and straight from the point of the shoulders as viewed from the front. Pasterns short and strong. Feet round, small, and compact, turned neither in nor out. Toes well arched. Black pads and toenails preferred.

COAT

The rough coat is wiry and dense, the harder and more wiry the better. On no account should the dog look or feel woolly, and there should be no silky hair anywhere. The coat should not be so long as to give a shaggy appearance, but should be distinctly different all over from the smooth coat. The head should be covered with wiry hair, slightly longer around the eyes, nose, cheeks, and chin, thus forming a fringe. The rough coat is hand-stripped and should never appear unkempt. Body coat of sufficient length to determine texture. The coat may be tidied for neatness of appearance, but coats prepared with scissors and/or clippers should be severely penalized.The smooth coat is straight, short, tight and glossy, with no trace of wiry hair.

HINDQUARTERS

Hind legs set true, thighs strong and well muscled, stifles bent, hocks well let down, turning neither in nor out.

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Brussels Griffon

About the Brussels Griffon

With this breed, you get a big personality in a 5-to-15-pound package. One look into his big, human-like eyes, and you’ll be smitten. Griffs come in four colors—red, black-and-reddish-brown (called belge), black and tan, and black—and in smooth coats (like a Pug) or rough coats (like a Schnauzer). Their black muzzle and whiskers earned them the nickname “bearded dogs” in old folk songs.The Griff’s big black eyes—described as “almost human”—coupled with a fringed beard and mustache covering his short muzzle, gives him the air of a worldly, French-speaking philosopher. Griffs come in four colors—red, black-and-reddish-brown (called belge), black and tan, and black—and in smooth coats or rough coats. The Griff’s body is thickset and sturdy, and he moves with the purposeful trot of a fellow who knows what he wants.

Griffs are alert, sociable, and easily trained. Although playful and energetic, their small size and sensitive nature make them a poor choice as roughhousing playmates for kids. They have a low threshold for loneliness and will stick close to their special human, providing years of love and laughter.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Brussels Griffon

Find a Puppy: Brussels Griffon

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Brussels Griffon Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Brussels Griffon should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

There are two types of Brussels Griffon, with two types of coats: smooth and rough. With the smooth-coated Griffon, weekly brushing—daily during shedding season, which is usually a week or two in the spring, and then again in the fall—and the occasional bath will help to remove dirt and loose hair and keep the dog looking his best. Rough-coated Griffons do not shed. Many have their hair—except for the distinctive beard—clipped short, either by their owner or a professional groomer.  As with all breeds, the nails should be trimmed regularly, as overly long nails can be painful to the dog and cause problems walking and running.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
2-3 Times a Week Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

Griffons need at least a half-hour of moderate exercise a day to stay healthy and happy. They love to romp and play, and are happiest when doing activities together with their people. A game of chasing the ball is fun for both dog and owner. Their intelligence and trainability mean that many Brussels Griffons excel in canine events such as obedience, agility, and tracking.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended for all dogs and help to ensure that the Griffon grows into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion. Griffs have a high degree of intelligence and bond strongly with their owners, which makes them easy to train. As with many toy breeds, though, housebreaking may take some extra time and effort. Griffons have a very sensitive nature, and they don’t respond well to harsh corrections or training methods. A Griffon wants to be with his family, often following his person from room to room, and undesirable behaviors can result if he is regularly left alone for long periods of time.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Agreeable

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Friendly

HEALTH

Griffs are generally healthy dogs, and responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as heart problems, eye defects such as cataracts, and orthopedic problems such as patella luxation and hip dysplasia. Like all flat-faced breeds, Brussels Griffons can experience breathing problems in sunny, hot, or humid weather, and usually snore. As with all breeds, a Griffon’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Patella Evaluation
  • Hips Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Brussels Griffon
Brussels Griffon
Brussels Griffon
Brussels Griffon
Brussels Griffon
Brussels Griffon

History

Griffon-type dogs were well known in Europe for centuries. In Van Eyck’s celebrated 1434 portrait of the “Arnolfini Couple,” we glimpse a distant ancestor of the Griff. It’s a small, griffon-type dog with a longer muzzle than today’s flatter-faced, pouty-lipped version.

The Griff’s story, however, properly begins in Brussels, Belgium’s capital city, in the early 1800s. It was then that the Griff began his rise from rough-and-tumble rat dog to sophisticated laptop companion.

The coachmen of Brussels commonly kept small terrier-type dogs to keep down the rat population in their stables. These were typically Affenpinscher-like dogs known as “griffons d’ecurie,” or “wire-coated stable dogs.” The hack drivers experimented with various crosses to improve their dogs.

No written records of these breedings survive, but dog people have surmised that the Pug, English Toy Spaniels, an old Belgian breed called the Brabancon, and perhaps even Yorkshire Terrier, were all part of the genetic mix that produced the Brussels Griffon.

The turning point of Griff history came in the 1870s, when the dog-loving Henrietta Maria, Queen of the Belgians, took a liking to the breed. With royal patronage, the Griff’s future was assured. They became all the rage among the queen’s courtiers, and kennel keepers of the upper classes further refined the breed, making the body smaller and the face more humanlike.

The royal boost received by the breed led to international interest, and Griffs were exported to England and America. The AKC registered its first Griff in 1910. As is the case with so many European breeds, the two world wars decimated the Griff population. If not for the dedication of U.S. and British enthusiasts, the breed might not have survived.

The Brussels Griffon won millions of new fans in 1997, when a spicy Griff named Jill upstaged Jack Nicholson in the hit movie “As Good As It Gets.”

Did You Know?

The Brussels Griffon originated from breeding of the Affenpinscher to the Belgian street dog (Griffons d'Ecurie, or Stable Griffons).
The Brussels Griffon is not typical of the "pampered pet" stereotype of toy breeds.
The Brussels Griffon is super-intelligent and sensitive.
Smooth-coated Brussels Griffons are termed "Brabancons".
The Brussels Griffon was featured in 1997's hit movie, "As Good As It Gets", starring Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt.
The Brussels Griffon can be self-conscious around strangers.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

A toy dog, intelligent, alert, sturdy, with a thickset, short body, a smart carriage and set-up, attracting attention by an almost human expression. There are two distinct types of coat: rough or smooth. Except for coat, there is no difference between the two.

HEAD

A very important feature. An almost human expression. Eyes set well apart, very large, black, prominent, and well open. The eyelashes long and black. Eyelids edged with black. Ears small and set rather high on the head. May be shown cropped or natural. If natural they are carried semi-erect. Skull large and round, with a domed forehead. The stop deep. Nose very black, extremely short, its tip being set back deeply between the eyes so as to form a lay-back. The nostrils large. Disqualifications – Dudley or butterfly nose. Lips edged with black, not pendulous but well brought together, giving a clean finish to the mouth. Jaws must be undershot. The incisors of the lower jaw should protrude over the upper incisors. The lower jaw is prominent, rather broad with an upward sweep. Neither teeth nor tongue should show when the mouth is closed.

BODY

Neck medium length, gracefully arched. Topline – Back level and short. Body – A thickset, short body. Brisket should be broad and deep, ribs well sprung. Short-coupled. Tail – set and held high, docked to about one-third.

FOREQUARTERS

Forelegs medium length, straight in bone, well muscled, set moderately wide apart and straight from the point of the shoulders as viewed from the front. Pasterns short and strong. Feet round, small, and compact, turned neither in nor out. Toes well arched. Black pads and toenails preferred.

COAT

The rough coat is wiry and dense, the harder and more wiry the better. On no account should the dog look or feel woolly, and there should be no silky hair anywhere. The coat should not be so long as to give a shaggy appearance, but should be distinctly different all over from the smooth coat. The head should be covered with wiry hair, slightly longer around the eyes, nose, cheeks, and chin, thus forming a fringe. The rough coat is hand-stripped and should never appear unkempt. Body coat of sufficient length to determine texture. The coat may be tidied for neatness of appearance, but coats prepared with scissors and/or clippers should be severely penalized.The smooth coat is straight, short, tight and glossy, with no trace of wiry hair.

HINDQUARTERS

Hind legs set true, thighs strong and well muscled, stifles bent, hocks well let down, turning neither in nor out.

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Brussels Griffon

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Belge Check Mark For Standard Color 005
Black Check Mark For Standard Color 007
Black & Tan Check Mark For Standard Color 018
Red Check Mark For Standard Color 140
Blue 037
Brown 061
Chocolate 071
Tan 195
Wheaten 224

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