Brussels Griffon

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Fast Facts

Country of Origin:Belgium
AKC Group:Toy Group
UKC Group:Companion
Use today:Companion
Life Span:12 to 15 years
Color:Belge (red hairs banded with black), black and tan, red or black.
Coat:Two coat types: Smooth - short, straight and glossy. Rough - wiry and dense.
Grooming:Smooth: brush weekly. Rough: hand strip or clip twice yearly; brush weekly
Size:Small Dog Breed
Height:No height standards
Weight:8 to 12 pounds

Thanks to the movie "As Good As It Gets," the Brussels Griffon is in the spotlight. It's easy to understand the appeal of this snub-nosed imp with remarkable intelligence. Brussels Griffons are small, weighing less than 12 pounds. They need little space and seem to get plenty of exercise hopping on and off laps. The breed is curious and an outstanding watchdog for its size. Small wonder, then, that the demand for this breed always seems to exceed the supply. The coat, which sheds little, may be harsh and wiry or smooth and tight. The rough variety needs hand stripping, but the smooth takes minimal grooming care. Weekly brushing will keep the coat in condition. Ears may be cropped to a sharp point or natural, carried semi-erect. While the Brussels Griffon is generally obedient, leash-training can be difficult, so start at an early age. This sensitive, good-natured breed is best suited to adults and older children who will treat it with the respect it deserves.


An Intelligent Imp

The Brussels Griffon is a sensitive, good-natured companion.

By Elaine Waldorf Gewirtz


Top Traits
  • Compact
  • Humanlike expression
  • Sensitive and devoted
A wise man’s beard, a sturdy body with presence, and plenty of moxie distinguish the Brussels Griffon from other members of the Toy Group. Developed in Belgium about 200 years ago from the English Toy Spaniel, Pug, and a small German terrier, the Griff comes by his quick wit, arrogance, and naughty sense of humor from his ancestors.

Toy Trickste

Jeff Bazell of Bremen, Ohio, historian of the American Brussels Griffon Association and an American Kennel Club judge, describes the Griff as a smart dog who craves constant cuddles. "Marianne, our 10-year-old Griff, runs to us for comfort when the other dogs fight,”  Bazell says. "We always picked her up until we realized that she instigates the skirmishes for our attention.” One day Bazell watched Marianne steal a toy from a Griff, snap at another who was asleep, and act as if she had nothing to do with it. 

Multiple Personalities

First-time dog owners who are thinking of adding this intelligent imp to their lives should know that the breed’s personality ranges from reserved and sheepish, to outgoing and bossy. "I first saw Brussels Griffons at the Westminster Kennel Club about 20 years ago, and I was drawn by their clownlike appearance and how angelic they looked while asleep,” says Donna Vartanian, a longtime owner in Manasquan, N.J. "Little did I know that they have a mind of their own.”

Griffs in Art and Movies

With the Brussels Griffon’s unique appearance, it’s not surprising that the breed appears in works by these artists:
  • American artist Mary Cassatt, who depicted a black-and-tan Brussels Griffon in her painting Susan on a Balcony Holding a Dog
  • French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who painted Bather with a Griffon dog* Flemish artist Jan van Eyck, who represented a Griff in The Arnolfini Portrait
  • British-American canine artist Maud Earl, who painted many Griffs
Griffs also starred as these movie characters:
  • Verdell in the 1997 film As Good As It Gets
  • Ernie in the 200l film Sweet November
Other Brussels Griffons appeared in the movies Gosford Park and The First Wives Club, and in the sitcom Spin City.


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