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  • Writer's pictureScarlett Bowman

Breed Spotlight: Brussels Griffon


Tipping the scales at no more than 12 pounds, this humanlike toy of complex character has enough personality for 10 ordinary dogs. A sensitive companion for discerning grownups, the Brussels Griffon is smart, devoted, and comically self-important.

With this breed, you get a big personality in a 5-to-15-pound package. One look into his big, human-like eyes, and you'll be smitten. Griffs come in four colors red, black-and-reddish-brown (called Belge), black and tan, and black and in smooth coats (like a Pug) or rough coats (like a Schnauzer).

Their black muzzle and whiskers earned them the nickname 'bearded dogs' in old folk songs. The Griff's big black eyes described as 'almost human' coupled with a fringed beard and mustache covering his short muzzle, gives him the air of a worldly, French-speaking philosopher. Griffs come in four colors: red, black-and-reddish-brown (called Belge), black and tan, and black and in smooth coats or rough coats.

The Griff's body is thickset and sturdy, and he moves with the purposeful trot of a fellow who knows what he wants. Griffs are alert, sociable, and easily trained. Although playful and energetic, their small size and sensitive nature make them a poor choice as roughhousing playmates for kids. They have a low threshold for loneliness and will stick close to their special human, providing years of love and laughter.


There are two types of Brussels Griffon, with two types of coats: smooth and rough. With the smooth-coated Griffon, weekly brushing, daily during shedding season, which is usually a week or two in the spring, and then again in the fall and the occasional bath will help to remove dirt and loose hair and keep the dog looking his best. Rough-coated Griffons do not shed. Many have their hair except for the distinctive beard clipped short, either by their owner or a professional groomer. As with all breeds, the nails should be trimmed regularly, as overly long nails can be painful to the dog and cause problems walking and running.


The Brussels Griffon should do well on high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian's supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog's age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog's calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog's weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.


Griffons need at least a half-hour of moderate exercise a day to stay healthy and happy. They love to romp and play and are happiest when doing activities together with their people. A game of chasing the ball is fun for both the dog and the owner. Their intelligence and trainability mean that many Brussels Griffons excel in canine events such as obedience, agility, and tracking.


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