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Griffon Belge Breed Description

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Breed Organization

American Brussels Griffon Association

Native Country

Other Names
Brussels Griffon, Belgian Griffon, Petit Brabancon, Griffon Bruxellois

Life Expectancy
Approximately 12-15 Years

Litter Size
Average 4-5 Puppies

Breed Group
AKC Toy, Terrier

General Description

The Brussels Griffon is typically a small breed with a sturdy frame. The average adult Griffon stands from 9 to 11 inches (230–280 mm) tall, and weighs 8 to 10 pounds (4–5 kg). They have domed heads, short noses, and an underbite. Their human-like facial features were the inspiration for the Ewok.

The Griffon comes in two coat variants, wiry/rough and smooth coat. Their hair (not fur) can be red, black and tan, or black and reddish in color. The short hair Griffon requires little grooming while the wiry/rough coat Griffon requires weekly grooming attention.

Generally, breeders will dock tails and crop ears on puppies for sale. This practice is illegal in most of Europe and increasingly frowned on in the United States, but still practiced in some places.

Breed Standard

Head: Broad and round. Well-domed forehead. Prominent chin. Lower incisors cover upper incisors in an underbite. Hard, tousled hair, long around the eyes, nose, cheeks, and chin. Wide, black nose.
Ears: Very straight, always cropped to a point.
Eyes: Very large, round, black. Eyelids edged with black.
Body: Square build. Chest fairly broad and deep.
Tail: Raised, docked by one-third.
Hair: Brussels and Brussels Griffons: medium in length, hard, tousled, dense.- Small Brabant: short.
Coat: Brussels Griffon: Reddish-brown. Minimal black markings on the mustache and chin are tolerated.- Brussels Griffon: Black, black and tan, and a combination of black and reddish-brown are the only colors allowed.- Small Brabant: reddish-brown and black and tan are the only colors allowed. A black mask is not a fault.
Size: Large variety: approx. 28 cm.Small variety: approx. 24 cm.
Weight: Large: dog: less than 4.5 kg; bitch: less than 5 kg.Small: dog: less than 3 kg; bitch: less than 3 kg.


There are three varieties of small Belgian dogs that differ only in coat type and color:- The Brussels Griffon (Brussels Griffontje) has hair of medium length;- The Brussels Griffon (Belgische Griffontje) also has hair of medium length; and- The Small Brabant (Kleine Brabandere) has short hair.- The Brussels Griffon, the oldest variety, is descended from the Barbet (Belgian kennels). Selection and improvement of the variety began before 1880 in Brussels. Numerous crosses were made with the Barbet (Belgian kennels), griffons (Belgian kennels), the Brussels Griffon , the Yorkshire Terrier, the Pug, and the solid ruby (reddish-brown) King Charles Spaniel. The Brussels Griffon was first shown in Brussels in 1880. The first standard was published in 1883 and modified in 1904. Belgium's Royale Saint-Hubert recognizes the Brussels Griffon and its two varieties, the Brussels Griffon and the Small Brabant. Specimens were first shown in France in 1889, in the city of Roubaix. In 1894, the Central Canine Society created a class for Brussels Terriers. Breeding was interrupted by both World Wars. Great Britain is the country with the highest population of small griffons. In France, the population remains very limited.- The Brussels Griffon was developed by crossing the Brussels Griffon with the Pug and perhaps with toy terriers. The type was set in 1905, and the Central Canine Society recognized it as a distinct breed in 1908. The Brussels Griffon nearly went extinct during World War I. Breeding resumed in 1928, but the Brussels Griffon is the least common of the small Belgian dogs.- The Small Brabant is also descended from a cross between griffons (Belgian kennels) and other breeds, particularly the Pug. The Small Brabant is very uncommon.


Brussels Griffon: Tough, energetic, lively, and merry, this dog is very attached to his owner. He rarely barks, but his vigilance makes him a good little watchdog.- Brussels Griffon: This lively, merry, even-tempered dog is quite tough and vigorous and makes a very good pet. Vigilant and vocal, he makes a good watchdog. He is also a good eliminator of pests.- Small Brabant: This very confident, lively, strong-willed dog is quite intelligent and makes a good pet.These dogs need firm training.

The Brussels Griffon is well-suited to apartment life but does not like being left alone. This very clean dog requires regular brushing and must be groomed every three months to maintain his handsome appearance. He does not tolerate heat well. His eyes must be checked regularly. The Brussels Griffon can live in an apartment, as long as he gets regular walks. He requires daily brushing and regular grooming. His eyes and the folds on his face must be checked regularly. The Small Brabant is a very clean city dog. Regular brushing is enough to maintain his wiry coat.




Griffons have relatively few inherited health problems, but should still be tested for congenital defects, the most serious of which are Syringomyelia (SM) and Chiari-like malformation (CM). The typical life span of a Griffon is somewhere in the range of 10 to 15 years.

Griffons usually have no trouble whelping on their own, but sometimes complications can necessitate a Caesarean section. The size of a litter is anything from 1-10 puppies. The size of the litter often determines the extent of these complications. When they are born, the puppies only weigh a few ounces (about 100 grams) and are small enough to fit in the palm of an adult's hand.

Cleft palate
One issue that is typically fatal for the puppies is having a cleft palate. It results in the puppy not receiving nourishment from the mother and eventually starvation. It is uncommon but, depending on the size of the cleft, it is possible for the puppy to survive. When it becomes older surgery can be done to close the hole.


  • Most have large eyes that may require rechecks from a veterinarian.
  • Lacerations are a common issue amongst the breed. Because the Griffons have such large eyes and a short snout, there is very little there to protect their vision from foreign bodies. If a laceration is left untreated it can result in blindness.
  • As with most breeds, cataracts are a common problem as the dog ages. For many breeders it is a disappointment that the cataracts typically develop long after the dog has already been bred.
  • Lens luxations can be fairly common in the breed and result in secondary glaucoma
  • Glaucoma can also be a common issue amongst Griffons owing to the breed's facial features and eye size.
  • Although Griffons have a shortened snout, heat stroke is not a major concern for them as it is with other flat-faced breeds. The breed's shortened muzzle may cause respiratory problems in extreme heat, but overall they tolerate both hot and cold weather well. As with any breed, owners must use common sense and not leave them outdoors without protection from the elements or subject them to rigorous exercise during extreme temperatures, so let them in your house for cool air and some water.

    Syringomyelia (SM) is a condition affecting the brain and spine, causing symptoms ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain and partial paralysis. Syringomyelia is characterised by fluid filled cavities within the spinal cord. SM occurs secondary to obstruction of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) especially if that obstruction is at the foramen magnum. Not all dogs with SM have clinical signs. The presence of signs is correlated to the width of the syrinx and extent of spinal cord dorsal horn damage. Syrinxes can progressively expand and a dog which is asymptomatic in early life may eventually experience pain.

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