Complete Guide To The Brussels Griffon: Health, Grooming, Feeding and More

The Brussels Griffon is an amusing combination of sweetness and swagger. Clever, confident and curious, this warmhearted dog is a cuddly companion that never fails to entertain.

I don’t see enough of this breed in my veterinary practice. The first one I ever met was a dog named Monkey and the name completely fit the personality of the dog. This is a breed that really should get more attention from prospective pet owners.

How Big Does A Brussels Griffon Get?

The Brussels Griffon is a toy breed standing about 6-8″ tall and weighing no more than 12 pounds. These dogs fit in the corner of your arm like a football.

What Can The Brussels Griffon Look Like?

Petite yet sturdy, there’s nothing fragile about them. Mid-length coats come in rough and smooth varieties in four colors:

• Black
• Black and tan
• Red

White spots are a disqualification for shows. An undershot jaw is expected and contributes to their pouty-lipped look.

Griffons have an almost human-like expression with prominent dark eyes. Dogs may be shown with cropped or naturally semi-erect ears — tails are docked to a third of their length at birth.

Distinctive with a bearded cut, dogs without it are easily confused with the Affenpinscher and Pug — breeds that may be genetically related.

What Is The Personality Of A Brussels Griffon?

Few breeds make as worthy personal companions as the Brussels Griffon. Loving, playful and loyal, they form inseparable bonds with their owners. They’re superb companions for seniors but may be too sensitive for young children.

Bubbly, they need at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, but they’re happy with walks and backyard games. Bred to hunt rats, chasing balls is their delight. They also excel in organized events from tracking to agility.

The only caution about these mild-mannered dogs is that they crave human companionship. Left alone for long periods, they’ll nuisance bark and become destructive. Quick learners, however, they’re well-adjusted and polite with early socialization and training.

How Much Grooming Do Brussels Griffons Need?

Smooth-coated Griffons shed lightly year-round and more seasonally in the spring and fall. Dogs with rough coats don’t shed but require as much care to keep them looking their best.

Brushing them 2-3 times weekly with a medium-bristled brush removes dirt and debris — use a steel comb on long locks to tease out knots. An occasional bath keeps their skin fresh and wards off doggy odor. Light conditioning discourages tangles.

Most owners use electric clippers to trim their Griffon’s beard — it’s a neat look with a dual purpose. Brachycephalic breeds have short muzzles with hair close to the eyes, and regular trimming prevents irritation. Nails should be checked weekly because long hair can hide overgrowth.

While grooming a Brussels Griffon at home is straightforward, many owners choose professional care. Though not the stereotypical “pampered” breed, a spa day every three months includes the hair, nail and ear cleaning services guaranteed to keep their coats healthy.

How Much Exercise Does A Brussels Griffon Need?

As a small dog, the Brussels Griffon doesn’t need long walks or the dog park. Some Brussels Griffon would love that, but the majority would be fine with a solid 20-30 minute vigorous walk (this should be exercise, not entertainment) and a couple play sessions indoors.

While the Brussels Griffon does make for a great couch buddy, they won’t be happy without regular exercise. Don’t underestimate your little one as well – they can be fantastic ball fetchers, compete in agility, and even enjoy swimming.

Because of the thick neck and relatively small body size, I recommend a harness instead of a collar for this breed.

What Kind of Dog Food Is Good For A Brussels Griffon?

Most small kibble dry dog foods will be suitable for a Brussels Griffon. These little dogs have a pretty small mouth so large kibble will be a lot more difficult to chew.

Grain-free diets are a myth. Please do not feed your dog a grain-free diet unless there are specific food allergies that would benefit from a grain-free diet. Always consult your veterinarian before you decide to make any major diet changes.

Some good brands that I recommend include:

I usually tend to go with the bigger dog food companies because of the amount of time and money they have to research and test their products. They also have a stronger history of safe foods (very rarely will they have recalls) over the newer, more boutique-style dog foods.

It is important always to give your dog high-quality dog food. Monitor the number of treats and “people food” you give your dog to keep him healthy and fit. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight is the best and easiest way to extend the life of your Brussels Griffon. 

How Long Does A Brussels Griffon Live?

12-15 years based on information from the AKC

What Health Problems Can Brussels Griffons Have?

Like many smaller breeds that look similar to it, the Brussels Griffon have certain health issues that prospective and current owners need to know about including:

  • Dental Disease
  • Luxating Patella
  • Issues related to Brachycephalic syndrome

Where Can I Find Out More About The Brussels Griffon?

American Brussels Griffon Association

AKC Breed Page

Where Can I Find A Brussels Griffon?

Breeder Listing From The American Brussels Griffon Association

AKC Puppy Marketplace

Looking for a Rescue? I have a client who has 5 rescued Brussels all from the same rescue: National Brussels Griffon Rescue

Interesting Facts About the Brussels Griffon

The Brussels Griffon is still relatively rare in the United States, so here are a few facts to help acquaint you with this up-and-coming breed.

• Brussels Griffons Have an Aristocratic History

Griffon-type dogs have been popular with Europeans for a millennium. Ancestors of the Brussels Griffon were featured in art dating as far back as 1434.

Despite being popular as rat hunters, they were embraced by Henrietta Maria, Queen of the Belgians, becoming a favorite of the aristocracy. The courtiers of the day further refined the breed, developing the characteristics we know today.

• They Have a Nebulous Gene Pool

No one knows exactly which breeds were crossed to create the Brussels Griffon — the written records were destroyed. But breeds suggest Pugs, English Toy Spaniels, Affenpinschers, and even Yorkshire Terriers may have been involved.

• Griff-Chewing Is a Thing

Brachycephalic dogs are known to make unusual sounds when they chew. But the Brussels Griffon’s unique conformation makes them especially vulnerable to gulping air as they eat, creating noises described as something between snorting and slurping.

• They Have a Cult-like Following Online

It’s no surprise the charismatic Griffon is an Instagram superstar. Follow the adventures of the Bone Squad – a family of five Griffons with a passion for fashion and food. Or Sprout from New York, an upper-crust agility aficionado and gracious living fan. The top ten Griffons on Instagram share a whopping quarter-million followers.

• Brussels Griffons Are Remarkably People-like

It’s not unusual for small dog owners to lavish attention on their pups — what’s uncommon is dogs heaping praise on their people. The Brussels Griffon is a particularly affectionate breed known to follow their owners from room to room to avoid separation.

Their large eyes and primate-like face give them human characteristics that are tough to not anthropomorphize. But devoted Griffon lovers swear they carry on conversations with their furry friends.

• They’re As Good as it Gets

Verdell, Jack Nicholson’s obsessive-compulsive Griffon in the 1997 film, As Good as It Gets, garnered the breed thousands of new fans. Played by six different dogs, the star of the show, Jill, lives with trainer Matilda de Cagny and the two Jack Russell Terriers that played played “Eddie” on the hit sitcom, Frasier. Betty White, actress and animal welfare activist reportedly turned down a part in the movie over concerns about how the dog’s character, not the dog, was treated in the film.