From a rat hunter to a beloved pet, the Brussels Griffon is a small companion dog with tons of personality. Behind its almost human expression hides a proud, intelligent, and devoted pet that adapts easily to all families.

The breed has a lot of energy and requires an owner willing to dedicate their time to it. Its small size makes it suitable for people living in apartments or houses.

The petite dog is often the center of attention because of its specific look. With its enthusiastic personality, this remarkable breed has won the hearts of millions of dog lovers worldwide. Let’s see why:

The Notorious Rat Catcher 

The breed is also known as Griffon Bruxellois. One of its early roles was as a watchdog in stables and rat hunter. Its energetic personality and alertness came in handy, so this skilled dog can proudly wear the title “Notorious Rat Catcher.”

A Belgium Dog Breed From the 19th Century 

The breed’s story begins in Brussels, Belgium’s capital city, in the early 1800s. In the beginning, Brussels’ coachmen kept terrier-like dogs, but they wanted to improve them, so they experimented with various crosses.

It’s a Mix of Affenpinscher, Pug & Street Dog 

The Griffon dog breed crosses the Pug, the German Affenpinscher, and the Belgian street dog. In the past, you could often see it riding in and supposedly guarding Brussels’ cabs.

The strength of street dogs mixed with the Affenpinscher’s intelligence proved helpful to cab drivers. But eventually, this cocky little dog became a beloved companion.

The AKC Recognized the Breed in 1910

The breed gained popularity in the early 20th century because of Belgium’s queen Maria Henrietta’s interest. The royal boost sparked international popularity, and these dogs were exported abroad.

The Griffon’s journey from a rat catcher to a sophisticated pet was long, but it was worth it. The AKC officially recognized the grumpy Griffon in 1910.

An Appearance of a Spunky Gentleman 

Thе unique Belgian dog is well-built, constantly alert, and practically square proportioned. But its elegant posture and movements give the impression of a spunky gentleman.

The head is among the essential features of this breed. It’s rounded and quite large compared to the body, attracting attention with its almost human expression.

Don’t Let the Small Size Fool You

A Teacup Brussels Griffon is rather small. Its average height is 7–10 inches, and it usually weighs 7.5–12 pounds. That ranks the breed among the ideal small indoor dogs, but don’t let the size fool you. These dogs are very energetic and playful.

Bearded Dogs with Big Black Eyes

The Griffs have a flat face, prominent chin, and short black muzzle. The slightly longer hair around their eyes, cheeks, and chin forms a hipster-looking beard.

They have big, round black eyes. Their glassy eyes with long black eyelashes show an alert yet intelligent expression. This unique look, combined with wide-set eyes, has inspired George Lucas to create his Wookie or Ewok Brussels Griffon character from the Star Wars trilogy.

Rough or Smooth, Their Coat Comes in Four Colors

The breed has two types that differ in the coat. The Brussels Griffon that’s short-haired, also known as Pettit Brabançon, has a smooth, straight, and glossy coat. It looks more like a Pug, and its short hair doesn’t exceed an inch.

In contrast, the Brussels Griffon with long hair has a naturally rough, dense, and wiry coat. But it shouldn’t appear untidy.

The coat comes in four colors:

  • Black
  • Red — reddish brown
  • Belge — black mixed with reddish-brown
  • Black and tan

Temperament — Cocky Yet Comical

The most accurate qualities that describe the Brussels Griffon temperament are intelligence, alertness, and sensitivity. They’re also very proud dogs, and combining that with a certain ego makes them pretty cocky. But they’re also pretty funny and expressive, so we can say they’re cocky yet comical.

Bossy Nature with a Tendency to Bark 

Brussels dogs are independent and consistently bossy around the house. They’ll certainly run the show if you allow them. They have a mind of their own, so they need continued behavioral training.

The breed can be pretty vocal, making it an excellent watchdog. But excessive barking can be a bit too much, and some may not appreciate living with a noisy housemate. It’s always a good idea to teach your dog the “quiet” command.

Typical Black Griffon in the spring garden

Affectionate Softie

Beneath the rough exterior hides a softie that adores being close to its owner. The Brussels Griffon is loyal, affectionate, and constantly seeking attention.

They Don’t Do Well with Loneliness

They’re not called “Velcro dogs” for no reason. These puppies love sticking close to their owners, and they don’t do well with loneliness. Since they may suffer from separation anxiety, they need an available owner to dedicate enough time to them.

A Robust Indoor Game Is Enough to Keep Their Fire Burning

Although they’re good apartment dogs, Griffons still require regular exercise to remain healthy and happy. A daily 30-minute robust indoor game will keep their tails wagging.

Bad Training & Harsh Behavior Will Trigger Their Stubbornness

Training the breed will require a lot of patience. Also, harsh methods and techniques won’t do the trick. They’ll only trigger the dog’s stubbornness, another feature of the Brussels Griffon personality. Always use positive reinforcement and try to make training sessions more fun.

Nutrition — High-Quality Kibble & Healthy Treats

Since this is a petite breed, it doesn’t need much food. Its recommended daily intake should be 1/4 to 1/2 cup of high-quality kibble, divided into two meals.

Just Food For Dogs’ nutritious diet will meet your Griffon’s daily food needs and keep it in peak condition. But be careful with the treats as these dogs gain weight fairly quickly.

A Pretty Healthy Doggo 

Generally, the Griffon dog breed is healthy. Still, adequate veterinary care is necessary if you want your little bundle of joy to live a happy and healthy life.


The average lifespan for this Griffon is 12–15 years, making it a long-lived breed by dog standards. Owning one means many years fulfilled with love and devotion.

Common Health Issues

It’s crucial to be familiar with possible issues and monitor the symptoms. Here are the health concerns with this breed:

Weak Bladder

A weak ladder can be an unpleasant health problem for you and your pet. Urinary Incontinence is usually caused by a medical condition, and your dog probably isn’t aware it’s happening.

Breathing Issues

The Friffon Bruxellois is prone to breathing issues due to its cute smushed-in face. Combined with a short nose, that’s almost always a proven recipe for snoring.


A cataract is among the most common causes of blindness in older dogs. Cloudy spots may form due to changes in water or protein balance in the lens of a dog’s eye. They’re clear signs of a cataract.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation is an orthopedic problem where a kneecap (patella) slips out of its usual position. While it may seem overwhelming, it isn’t painful for a dog. That said, it causes limping.


Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an inherited disease, rarely noticed in its earliest stages of development. A Griffon Terrier with a PRA is genetically programmed to go blind, and, unfortunately, it’s incurable.


Legg-Perthes is a degenerative disease that occurs when the ball part of the hip joint is poorly supplied with blood, causing the bone to crumble and die. This painful condition is surgically treatable, but in the meantime, orthopedic beds for dogs with joint issues will make their lives easier.

Hip Dysplasia

Canine Hip Dysplasia is a genetic condition that causes hip deformity in dogs. The ball and a socket of a joint don’t fit properly, and instead of sliding smoothly, painful joint grinding happens.


Distichiasis, or extra eyelashes, is a condition when hairs grow out of the eyelash area. Although this might not seem like a big deal, the eyes may get irritated due to the eyelashes’ sensitive location.

Grooming — As Easy As Pie

A Smooth Brussels Griffon is pretty low maintenance. A weekly brushing and the occasional bath are enough to keep them in tip-top shape.

But the rough-coated breed version has slightly higher grooming needs. Still, it’s pretty easy to take care of it. Besides weekly brushing, you may trim the hair to keep the coat looking neat. But many say you shouldn’t clip the coat because it becomes softer and lighter in color. Instead, you should hand-strip it at least twice a year, which isn’t an easy task.

Whether smooth-coated or rough, these are the low shedding dogs. The Brussels Griffon is hypoallergenic, so it’s ideal for allergy-suffering pet parents.

Other than that, you should trim their nails regularly. It’s also essential to brush your dog’s teeth at least three times a week to avoid dental problems.

Finding a Brussels Griffon  

If you want to get one of these irresistible dogs, finding the perfect one won’t be an easy job. You have two options.

1.   Shelter or Rescue Adoption

Since this isn’t a common breed, you’ll rarely find it in a shelter, but it’s worth trying. Adopting or fostering is always a better choice than buying. Besides, getting your Brussels Griffon from a rescue or shelter is cheaper. 

2.   Choosing a Breeder

If a pedigree is important to you, do your best to find a registered and reputable breeder. A good one can provide all the necessary documentation and practices responsible breeding, reducing potential inherited problems.

A reputable breeder will gladly answer all your questions to help you decide. Also, if they don’t have a litter of puppies available, be ready to put your name on a waiting list.

The high price is another downside. Breeders sell puppies for a price ranging between $800 and $3,600. But if you want a healthy puppy, you’ll have to pay for it.


Hailing from Belgium, the Brussels Griffon was initially bred to keep rats out of the stables. In time, the breed made its way to our homes and became beloved pets.

These puppies may be small, but they have a lot to offer. Loyal, loving, and expressive, but at the same time bossy, cocky, and energetic, this isn’t your typical lazy and pampered toy dog. Their charming personality is bound to win your heart.

While this unique dog is excellent for apartment living, your neighbors might not appreciate its excessive barking. So, proper training and early socialization are necessary.

Like all intelligent dogs, the Brussels Griffon can be stubborn sometimes. But a firm hand combined with positive reinforcements will do wonders.

The sturdy Belgian dog with an almost human expression steals the show wherever it goes. It’s a loyal and affectionate companion, so it’s not hard to see why the breed is so popular.

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