Brussels Griffon: Everything You Need to Know

The Brussels Griffon is a representative of the section of small Belgian dogs, a funny mustachioed brachycephalic of the black or black and tan color.

The Brussels Griffon is a miniature companion, stress reliever, and doorbell substitute that will find an approach to all the inhabitants of the house, including the same four-legged creatures like himself. The shaggy mustache pranks in moderation and is not capable of serious sabotage so that disagreements between the owner and the “Belgian” are a rare phenomenon. But the memory of the breed is outstanding, so if you once infringed upon a neighbor’s griffon in something, he will “write it down” and further add you to the list of persons with whom you should not mess with.

The Brussels Griffon is a breed whose history is “documented” in Renaissance canvases. Confirmation of this is the famous “Portrait of the Arnolfini Couple” by Van Eyck, in which a miniature dog with a Griffonian appearance is selected to the hem of the dress of a female figure. Images of shaggy pets are also found on engravings by Albrecht Durer, which makes it possible to determine the approximate age of the breed, which is almost 600 years. By the way, it is still not possible to find out exactly which dogs gave the Belgian griffons such an adorable exterior. The most common suspects, in this case, are Affenpinschers and ruby ​​Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, to whose blood the genes of pugs and Yorkies were later mixed.

At first, the ancestors of the Griffons lived in stables and were not engaged in the noblest craft. More specifically, the animals were purposefully bred to capture rats that ate horse oats. After a while, the local nobility became interested in tiny dogs – the amusing appearance and toy dimensions turned the griffons into funny pets, which were convenient to keep in quarters or take to balls. To satisfy the needs of the beau monde, everyone who had at least a minimal idea of ​​breeding immediately rushed, as a result, the Belgian kingdom was flooded with small dogs with coarse hair and flattened muzzles.

The “Belgians” began to take part in exhibitions in 1883, although at that time they were united into one breed with the Brussels Griffons. Around the same time, the breeders of Foggy Albion became interested in animals, so that soon the Brussels Griffons began to leave for England directly from the show rings. In 1904, the breed was finally standardized and completely separated from its congeners – Petit-Brabancons and “Brussels”, which increased its popularity among Western and European dog breeders.

An important point: to obtain healthy offspring of Brussels Griffons, it is allowed to breed both with each other and with other representatives of the group of small Belgian dogs (Brussels Griffons, Petit Brabancons). The Belgian Griffon, Lesser Brabancon, and Brussels Griffon share one standard of appearance in three, even though there are significant differences between the breeds that are visible to the naked eye. For example, the “Brussels” and Belgian Griffons can be identified exclusively by their colors, which cannot be said about the Petit-Brabancons, which, unlike their shaggy relatives, have short and perfectly straight hair. As for the “Belgians” themselves, these are amusing little eyes with hairy little faces, more reminiscent not of dogs, but the heroes of European folklore – bearded dwarfs and trolls.

The Brussels Griffon has a moderately large round head with a massive, convex forehead and a pronounced stop. The muzzle of pedigree individuals of the classical brachycephalic type has a length of no more than 1.5 cm.

The lower jaw is wide and curved to protrude beyond the upper teeth. As a result: All Belgian Griffons have a noticeable undershot mouth. The teeth of the animal are tightly and in line, and all the incisors must be present. The lips should be black and close to the jaws. Besides, when the dog’s mouth is closed, the tongue and front teeth should not be visible through it.

At eye level is a large coal-black lobe with decomposition nostrils. The tip of the nose is slightly “pulled” back.

The breed has large, wide-set, but not bulging eyes. The incision of the eyelids is rounded, completely hiding the white of the eye. The edge of the eyelid has a black border. The preferred color of the iris is dark brown.

For small Belgian dogs, both normal and cropped ears are acceptable. An undocked organ has a semi-erect “construction” and hangs slightly forward, but in no case sideways. Cropped ears have a pointed shape and stand upright (puppies’ ears are temporarily glued to strictly give a more stable position). The ear sheet itself is very miniature, set high.

The necks of the Belgian Griffons are of moderate length, blending smoothly into the withers.

Griffons have a square body, that is, the length of the body is equal to the height of the animal at the withers. The back and lumbar regions are shortened, but moderately muscular and of good width. The croup is even or slightly sloping. The chest is developed, reaching the elbow joints, the abdomen is tucked up with a clearly marked groin area.

The forelegs are well boned and set parallel to each other. The shoulders of the dog are well-angled and the elbows are firmly attached to the body. The hind legs are strong, parallel to each other, in harmonious balance with the forelegs. The hock joint is set low, without eversion on the inner and outer sides. Griffon’s feet are miniature, with tightly packed toes and pads of uniform black color. In motion, the hind legs of the animal provide a powerful push, while the forelimbs are not carried too high.

Like ears, Brussels Griffon tails can be docked by their natural length, or they can be left as they are. The normal tail is distinguished by a high seating position and a raised position when the tip is not curled and does not touch the back.

The coat is of a double type: with a coarse, slightly wavy awn and a moderately developed undercoat. On the dog’s face, hairy eyebrows, beard, and antennae are clearly marked, which makes it look like a fabulous creature. The hair in these areas is much longer than in other areas of the body.

The Brussels Griffon is characterized by black or black and tan coat color. The tan marks should be uniformly pigmented and should be placed on the forelegs from the metacarpals to the feet, and on the hind feet in the area between the feet and hocks. Also, tan marks can occur on the cheekbones, sternum, under the lower eyelids, around the anus, on the inside of the ear, and the chin. The presence of an insignificant proportion of white hairs on the chest is undesirable but acceptable.

To be banned from participating in exhibition events, the Brussels Griffon must have the following exterior defects:

  • depigmented or slightly pigmented lobe;
  • tongue falling out from behind closed lips;
  • white spots on the coat;
  • the too long upper jaw, hanging over the lower;
  • twisted lower jaw;
  • atypical colors (all except jet black and black & tan).

Dogs with cryptorchidism and behavioral deviations (cowardly and angry) are also subject to disqualification.

Brussels Griffons are comfortable pets in every sense. Playful, but not annoying, emotional, but easily controlled, these funny eyes are observant and subtly feel when the owner needs to cheer up, and when it is better not to be zealous and go about their business. At the same time, human orientation is considered the main advantage of the breed, which is especially valuable in cases where the animal society is designed to brighten up everyday life, for example, for people with limited mobility and elderly owners.

Griffons do not compete with representatives of domestic fauna. Moreover, they absolutely do not care with whom to share the living space: with rodents, the feline family, or arrogant shepherd dogs. These tiny pacifists are ready to do anything to preserve a peaceful atmosphere and quickly find their niche in the hierarchical system of the animal world. However, one should not confuse non-conflict with outright cowardice. The “Belgians” very much react to provocations and injustice from their own kind, therefore, if on the street your ward is threatened by some great dance, the tiny “bearded man” will not be too lazy to respond to rudeness with a barking bark.

Brussels Griffons find it hard to put up with loneliness, so the animal should live in a family, where there will always be someone from the household nearby. Also, the breed has an amazing memory for faces and actions – the pet not only recognizes friends who appear in your house but also builds an individual line of behavior for each. In the company of people from the inner circle, the Belgian Griffon keeps relaxed, confidential, and friendly, coming up with various tricks and harmless pranks to draw attention to his own person. But strangers at the first encounter with a representative of this breed have to be tested. At the sight of a stranger, the griffon turns on the mode of slight suspicion, which gradually fades away if the two-legged “alien” does not try to offend the animal or the owner.

Brussels Griffons do not suffer from melancholy and depression, they are on a positive wave and willingly join in play activities. At the same time, for entertainment, groovy “bearded men” always need a companion, which both the owner and any four-legged creature, ready to perceive the griffon as an equal, can become.

It is easy to fall under the charm of small Belgian dogs, but do not forget that a spoiled animal, even as adorable as the Brussels Griffon, is a big problem. Besides, at the age of four months, tiny “barbel” begin to encroach on the status of a leader and try to ignore the master’s authority. At first, such efforts look ridiculous. However, the further the pet goes in its disobedience, the more discomfort it threatens a person who is forced to coexist on the same territory with an ill-bred dog.

It is relatively easy to correct the habits of the Brussels Griffons. The breed is distinguished by intelligence and does not suffer from donkey stubbornness. At 2.5 months, puppies should undergo socialization, that is, learn to calmly perceive the touch of the master’s hands, not be afraid of extraneous rustles and respond to their own nickname. At the same time, it is worth considering that babies who have not overcome the three-month age bracket have a hypersensitive psyche that inhibits the educational process. For this reason, young individuals should not be pressed and shouted. It is better to stimulate them with a delicacy as the command is completed.

Demonstrating excessive loyalty is also not worth it, so if you are not sure that a pet who is keen on an interesting activity will want to hear the demand, you should temporarily suspend the lesson. Remember, the command must always be executed. Let it be slow at first and distracted by extraneous factors, but ultimately the goal must be achieved. For this reason, dog handlers strongly advise against repeating the requirements. The young griffon will quickly realize that the owner is ready to wait, and in the future will try to respond to commands after he redoes the more important, in his opinion, cases.

Teenage griffons are great lovers of food, plus at this age, they have an extremely heightened sense of smell. Often, guided by gastronomic instincts, “Belgians” resort to begging, but in no case should you be led by the cute pseudo-hungry looks of the animal. Please note that food from your table should not appear in front of the pet’s nose, otherwise it will be unrealistic to wean him from hypnotizing him with the look of dining households. Growling and trying to bite a person are also typical features of the maturing Brussels Griffon. It is necessary to suppress spontaneous aggression sharply and without anger. It is enough to shake the diverging dog by the collar or press it to the floor for him to realize that he has overdone his dominance.

Despite the pronounced companion qualities, the Brussels Griffon is a decorative dog, demanding temperature and comfort. On the street, representatives of the breed go out exclusively for a walk and toilet needs, preferring to spend the rest of the time at home, in the company of the owner. In the apartment, the pet should have a separate corner with a comfortable bed or basket, as well as several inviolable things (toys) that the animal is not obliged to share with family members and other four-legged inhabitants.

A cage or indoor aviary is not the most favorite thing of the Brussels Griffon, but an indispensable construction for the owner when it is necessary to protect the dog from himself. Better to put the animal in an impromptu “prison” less often. For example, it is advisable to do this if the puppy sins destructive behavior and remains at home alone. However, it is worth organizing the process of “childbirth” in such a way that the baby does not perceive it as a punishment. Over time, the griffin gets used to the time constraints of space and patiently endures them, unless the case is postponed for several hours.

The owner will have to manage the shedding of the “Belgian”: the dogs do not shed their coat on their own, which obliges the owner to trim (plucking the fur). Pet pets are trimmed twice a year, and the procedure is carried out not seasonally, but as the coat matures. It is very easy to understand that the hair of the Brussels Griffon is ready for renewal. Ripe wool becomes dull and weakly adheres to the hair follicles. As an example: if you pulled the griffon by the protruding shaggy strands, and they remained in your hands, and the dog did not react to the action in any way – this is a signal that it is time to “pinch” the animal.

You can remove hair manually, or you can use a trimming knife, and the thoroughness of the procedure should be adjusted depending on the season. For example, in the winter the griffon should leave the undercoat, which will act as a warming sweatshirt, and in the spring it is worth removing the hair more carefully so that the dog is not hot. A pet should be taught to treat trimming calmly from puppyhood. At the age of 3 months, the Brussels Griffon can begin to pinch in the area of ​​the body and neck, and at 6 months the dog is supposed to be trimmed completely.

They always begin to remove hair from the neck area, acting with sharp movements along with the growth of hair – this is the only way to minimize discomfort. The capture area should be small. Trying to pull out the bunches thicker, you will not speed up the process, but cause discomfort to the pet. The classic Brussels Griffon trimming sequence is neck – back – sides – thighs – legs to hocks. The tail is plucked by hand, very carefully, in bundles of several hairs, since there are many sensitive nerve endings in this part of the body.

The head of the Brussels Griffon is also plucked out without the use of trimming tools. The beard area is left intact. The final touches are a neat clipping of the hair on the bridge of the nose and inside the auricle, trimming the mustache and beard line with scissors, as well as hygienic filing in the anal area. In between trimmings, Brussels Griffons are supposed to be combed with a stripping brush, which removes dead hairs, stimulates blood circulation in the upper layers of the skin, and gives shine to the coat. And for daily combing, a regular sparse comb is suitable.

It is better to bathe Brussels Griffons, who do not go to dog shows and exhibitions, once every couple of months and always with the use of shampoo for wire-haired breeds. But the paws after walking along the city streets are recommended to be washed daily. Once a week, you should carefully examine the inside of the pet’s ear and remove the sulfur deposit that has accumulated there with a cotton swab dipped in hydrogen peroxide or boiled and cooled vegetable oil. If you notice that the “Belgian” is vigorously shaking his ears, trying to scratch them with his paw and, besides, squeals – visit the veterinarian urgently. It is likely an infection or ear mites.

Otherwise, caring for the Brussels Griffon does not require special skills. Once a month, it is useful for a dog to shorten its claws, and once a week, it needs to brush its teeth, not bypassing the hard-to-reach rear molars. Cleaning the mouth is a must for the breed and should be taken seriously. Due to the specific structure of the jaws and the displacement of the salivary ducts, the teeth of the Brussels Griffon quickly become overgrown with tartar if they are not systematically looked after. Besides, after each feeding, it is worth walking over the dog’s face with a clean cloth – the griffons’ mustaches and beards are often dipped into a bowl of food, acquiring an untidy look.

Important: Under the eyes of the “Belgians” there are small folds, disguised by a mustache, into which the lacrimal fluid flows. The moist environment attracts bacteria, as a result of which the skin with “wrinkles” becomes wet, inflamed, and gives off an unpleasant odor. To avoid this problem, treat your skin folds with chlorhexidine twice a week. If the irritation process has gone far and disinfectant solutions do not help, zinc ointment and baby powder, which have drying and antiseptic properties, will help out.

For the Brussels Griffon to be healthy and cheerful, you will have to observe the BJU balance, since overfeeding for the breed is no less harmful than underfeeding. If the dog is eating an industrial “dryer”, it should not be a high protein variety. An adult Brussels Griffon has enough food, the protein content of which does not exceed 20-25%. Pressed croquettes for puppies should be more nutritious, therefore “drying” is suitable for growing individuals, where the protein is about 30%. An important nuance: you need to monitor the presence of calcium and phosphorus in food. In a complete diet, both elements should be present, but in a reasonable dosage, since an excess of phosphorus leads to serious disruptions in the nervous system.

The diet of the Brussels Griffon, who eats natural food, is 40% lean meat. The remaining 60% falls on cereals (porridge), vegetables, fish fillets, and fermented milk products. It is more useful to give meat and fish slightly boiled or thoroughly frozen, which will reduce the risk of infection of the pet with helminths. Of the vegetables, pumpkin, carrots, beets, cucumbers, and tomatoes are useful. But the potatoes and legumes in the bowl of the Brussels Griffon have nothing to do, like any food from the master’s table, including smoked meats, bones, and sweets.

Two-month-old puppies eat up to five times a day, and feeds should be done at regular intervals. At the age of three months, the pet is allowed to be transferred to a four-time feeding regimen, and at six months – to three times a day. By the year the physical development of the Brussels Griffon is completely completed, so many breeders offer four-legged wards food only twice a day – in the morning and the evening. At the same time, some dog breeders recommend adhering to a three-time feeding schedule throughout the Griffon’s life, since this approach reduces the burden on digestion.

The Brussels Griffons do not have a predisposition to cardiovascular and endocrine diseases, therefore the average life expectancy in dogs of this breed is 12-15 years. As for genetically inherited ailments, they are of a specific nature. For example, the bulk of the problems are caused by abnormalities of the pet’s facial part of the skull, among the nasal openings, jaw and nasal openings, stenotic cavity, as well as hydrocephalus.

Another feature of the breed is the untimely change of milk teeth. Treatment in a particular case is quite simple: more often look into the baby’s mouth and take him to the veterinarian – sometimes it is better to remove milk teeth in advance so that later you do not observe how double rows of canines are formed in the jaw. The Brussels Griffons are also characterized by eye ailments such as retinal atrophy, prolapse of the eyeball, and cataracts. In some representatives of the breed, such a developmental anomaly is manifested as distichiasis (growth of additional eyelashes).

In female breeds, complications of labor can occur. As an example: many female Brussels Griffons require a cesarean section, and often the offspring born into the world remains unviable or has hereditary pathologies. In some dogs, eclampsia makes itself felt, it is also postpartum tetany.

How to choose a puppy?

Responsibly choose the seller. The Brussels Griffon is a rather rare and capricious breed in terms of breeding, so queues for puppies in kennels are a common thing.

Try to give preference to breeders who practice line breeding, in which the breeding individuals have a common champion ancestor, although they themselves are not closely related.

Pay extra attention to the puppy’s exterior. Too big-headed “Belgians” with an overdeveloped forehead and a miniature body signal genetic mutations in the droppings and the presence of a dwarf gene, which sometimes appears in the breed.

Even if in the future you do not plan to conquer exhibitions with your pet, it is better not to take individuals with a tongue falling out. This is a serious defect in appearance, in the presence of which

Belgian griffons are prohibited from breeding.

Do not buy the fattest or vice versa – the smallest puppy in the litter, giving preference to moderately well-fed average ones.

Unroll the Belgian Griffon’s coat and evaluate the uniformity of the undercoat while making sure there are no bald spots on the skin.

Don’t be seduced by fluffy babies with long hair. As it grows up, such hair does not acquire the necessary stiffness, from which the pedigree appearance of the Griffon suffers.

The extremely short faces of the Belgian griffons only look amusing, but in fact, they can cause a lot of problems. When choosing between a puppy with a classic brachycephalic type of muzzle and an extremely shortened one, give preference to the former.

Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

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