Brussels Griffon- dog with feelings
by Robert Hudson
The Brussels Griffon originated from Brussels, Belgium and was bred to hunt and kill rats. Now the breed is kept for the tight bond they form with people and their loving and energetic personality.
|Weight Range:|| Male: 8-10 lbs.|
Female: 8-10 lbs.
|Height at Withers:||Male: 8 in. Female: 7 in.|
|Exercise Requirements:||40 minutes/day|
|Energy Level:||Very energetic|
|Longevity Range:||12-15 yrs.|
|Tendency to Drool:||Low|
|Tendency to Snore:||Low|
|Tendency to Bark:||High|
|Tendency to Dig:||Moderate|
There are two types: Smooth coat and rough coat. Smooth coat is short hair and a face like a Pug without the wrinkles, and the rough coat is long/med hair and a thick beard. Some rough coats have hair on the face and head that just grows in every direction giving an odd appearance. An example of this is the Brussels on social media named Squid. He just needs a haircut.
It all began in Brussels, Belgium 200 years ago where it was first bred as a ratter for the stables of coachmen, (carriage drivers). There are no breeding records from that time. The consensus is that the coachmen used the Pug, English Toy Spaniels, and an old Belgian breed called the Brabancon.
The appreciation of the breed changed in the 1870s when Henrietta Maria, Queen of the Belgians, took a liking to the breed. The role of the dog changed from being a ratter to being a favorite lapdog for the royal court and the upper class as a status symbol. The Queen regularly attended dog shows and began breeding the Griffons to export to America and England. The AKC registered its first Griff in 1910.
Sensitive Nature of the Brussels Griffon
The Brussels Griffon is known to be rather sensitive: as if their feelings get hurt. Patience is needed during training because they can be stubborn. Anger, shouting or physical punishment will only weaken your bond with the dog and you may have trouble getting their trust in you back.
This breed often takes longer to housebreak because of their stubbornness. They also are very likely to have separation anxiety, and become your shadow. A Brussels Griffon will shower you with affection and beg you for tummy rubs.
Bogie the Brussels Griffin
This is Bogie, a ten year old Brussels smooth coat belonging to Rheba. “We chose this breed for several reasons. I wanted a breed that was known for having a strong bond with their chosen human. We wanted a dog small enough to travel with and we prefer the look of the flat faced dogs.”
The breed is known for choosing one member of the household to have an extra close bond with.
“Griffys are known as a “Velcro” breed and once they choose their human, the bond is deep. They will do whatever it takes to be near their human. Bogie is a climber and jumper so we have special gates throughout the home. My husband and Bogie are closely bonded together. As a result Bogie will not settle down until he is in the same room and/or in my husbands lap. Gatsby was my dog and we loved each other deeply. He watched my every move and waited patiently for eye contact or to hear my voice. I carried him just about everywhere.”
A Little Troublemaker
“Mischief? We really have to watch Bogie. Bogie climbs and jumps to reach whatever he wants. He is clever and brave. Bogie keeps us on our toes with keeping chairs pushed in and clear counter tops. He is also extremely protective and fearless which can be dangerous if not supervised. So To address this we work with professional trainers to keep things on track when behavior issues arise. All of our dogs are a little quirky and require special attention at times. They are worth the effort for sure.”
Rheba has both smooth coat and ruff coat Griffys and says they differ in personality. “I have never been more entertained than with my Brussells Griffons. The two rough coat griffs were fairly laid back as opposed to the smooth coats have been full of energy. That is why I often refer to them as housecats, throw pillows or throw rugs . The dog’s routine is to eat, sleep and snuggle. The goofs still manage to make me laugh with their expressions and silly mannerisms. In contrast, my smooth coats act like a completely different breed! The two are wild, hilarious, energetic and full of personality. Bogie loves to dress up and to visit my Dad at his assisted living apartment. Because of his high energy he would run the fence line all day long chasing creatures big and small if I let him.”
Patience with your Brussells Griffon
“The breed is very loving and extremely sensitive. They truly need their humans. Brussels Griffons are terribly stubborn. Therefor training is a challenge that needs commitment and a gentle hand to be successful. The bond with your dog will weaken if you show anger, shout, or raise your hand. There is a greater chance for successful house breaking if you are very patient. Finding a responsible breeder is a challenge. The good breeders are going to charge appropriately for their dog and they will be there for support. The high morbidity rate for puppies makes them hard to obtain,” explained Rheba.
If you want a dog that needs plenty of snuggling/ belly rubs, provides non stop entertainment, and you have plenty of patience, a Brussells Griffon just may be the dog for you.
Brussels Griffon Rescue
Interview with Connie Lawrence, National Brussels Griffon Rescue
How did you become involved with this breed?
After researching breeds many years ago I fell in love with BG’s and Affenpinschers. We adopted our first Griff in 2006 then got involved with NBGR after that. First I walked the founder of NBGR’s foster dogs for her, then we fostered and quickly started coordinating adoptions. I took the position of president in Jan. 2020
As I understand it, the breed is still considered “not common” with a limited number of breeders. Are they showing up more in rescues now?
They are not common like some breeds but they are more well-known than most would think. Griff lovers are obsessed with the breed much like Pug lovers. When there is something that draws attention to the breed they get more popular for a period. It was crazy after As Good As It Gets.
I often see the breed described as “sensitive”, that they get their feelings hurt, are stubborn and hard to train, and really hate to be alone. Hard to housebreak. Do you concur with this?
They can be all of these. A few of these are characteristics of the breed while others are more traits of their experiences. They have good memories if treated poorly. Griffs are pretty full of themselves and are often very human like. They can wrap you around their paws with ease. Not mentioned is Velcro – they want to be with you at all times.
From your rescues, what is the most common reason people give up the dog?
Usually 85% of our rescues are owner surrenders. They can be surrendered due to owner death/illness or change in living situation. New baby, new spouse, new job, moving, doesn’t do well with children, not getting enough attention, needs too much attention….I even had a couple surrendered because they follow the owner everywhere (duh – Velcro – you will never go to the bathroom alone again.).
Are there any misunderstandings about the breed?
I hear people say a lot that they are hypo-allergic – they are not. Also, they do shed, the smooths more than the roughs.
What do you find the most attractive of the breed?
It’s hard to get past those adorable facial expressions. Watching them chew is entertaining as well.
Why should people adopt one?
Only those who have fully researched the breed and are ready to make a 12-15 year commitment. They are truly a wonderful breed when in the right home. We pride ourselves with matching our rescues to families that best meet the need of the rescue. And, we make sure the lifestyle of the family matches the rescues needs. You don’t want an over active dog with a family who are happy on the sofa all day.