Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Griffon Bruxellois
Average Cost to keep/care for a Griffon Bruxellois
A breed that originates from Belgium, the Griffon used to be known as the "Belgian street urchin" and just seeing their mischievous faces, it's easy to understand why. These little dogs are boast adorable looks with the added bonus of them having fun-loving natures. These are just two of the reasons why Griffons have become such a popular choice as family pets and companions not only here in the UK, but elsewhere in the world too.
There are two types of Griffon, the first boasting a smooth coat and the second having a rough one. A Griffon with a smooth coat is referred to as Petit Brabançon, but both are charming dogs that are great fun to own and to have around with them boasting the same sort of personality too.
Originally bred in Belgium, the Griffon Bruxellois boasts having the Affenpinscher as their ancestor. Small dogs very similar to the Griffon are depicted in artwork by Jan van Eyck, a 15th century Flemish painter and dogs were already being bred to a standard right up to the sixteen hundreds. They were originally bred to be stable dogs, looking after the horses and hansom cabs and the breed only arrived on British shores late in the 1800s.
The breed was created by crossing Pugs, Affenpinschers and Belgian stable dogs during the 19th century and their job was to guard hansom cabs and to rid stables of vermin. Griffons became highly prized for their toughness and were renowned for combining a "street dog" mentality with the intelligence of an Affenpinscher. When these little dogs arrived in England, they were crossed with toy spaniels with the end goal being to create a dog that boasted a "human-like" face. There is some thought that it was at this time of the breed’s development that Yorkshire Terriers were also introduced into the mix.
Today, these little dogs have found their way into the hearts and homes of many people both here in the UK and in many other countries of the world, thanks to their lively, affectionate natures and their adorable monkey-like mischievous looks.
Height at the withers: Males 18 - 20 cm, Females 18 - 20 cm at the withers
Average weight: Males 3.6 - 4.5 kg, Females 3.6 - 4.5 kg
The Griffon is an enchanting looking toy dog that boasts terrier-like traits that makes it a joy to share a home with one. They are well-balanced although quite cobby in appearance which adds to their overall appeal. There are two types with the first being rough-coated and the second boasting a smooth coat. Their heads are big in relation to the size of their body with dogs boasting a rounded, not domed skull which is quite wide between a dog’s ears.
The hair on a dog’s head is rough, but not coarse and they boast black noses with open nostrils and a very well defined stop. Their muzzle is shortish with dogs boasting tight lips and prominent chin. Rough coated Griffons have beards whereas a smooth coated dog does not.
Eyes are dark in colour, clear and round set nicely apart with an alert expression. Their ears are set high and small with dogs carrying them semi-erect. A Griffon’s mouth is slightly undershot but dogs don’t show any teeth or their tongues. Their neck is moderately long and dogs hold them slightly arched with shoulders being well laid back.
Their chest is deep and wide with Griffon’s boasting strong, straight front legs with lots of bone. They are compact dogs and therefore have short, level backs with well sprung ribs and strong albeit short loins. Hindquarters are muscular with well-muscled thighs and longish back legs. Their feet are very cat-like and small with dogs having black nails. Tails are set high, moderately long and at right angles from a dog’s topline which they carry curved over their backs when they are on the move.
When it comes to their coat, Griffons with a rough coat have wiry and harsh coats with an undercoat. However, smooth coated dogs have shorter and tight coats with no undercoat. Accepted colours include the following:
The Griffon Bruxellois is a lively, alert little dog that boasts many terrier-like traits which includes the fact they are fun-loving and affectionate characters by nature. They are a great choice for first time owners because these little dogs are very intelligent and in the right hands they are easy to train. They are known to be sensitive and as such they do not respond well to any sort of harsh handling or training, but they respond well to positive reinforcement.
Griffon puppies have to be well socialised from a young age which means introducing them to as many new situations, people and animals as possible once they have been fully vaccinated. They are known to have a bit of a stubborn streak, but when they are given the right sort of guidance and direction, they can excel at many canine sporting activities.
Griffons form a very strong connection with their owners and as such these little dogs really do not like being left to their own devices for too long. They are prone to suffer from separation anxiety which can result in Griffons developing unwanted and destructive behavioural issues around the home. They are the ideal choice for households where at least one person stays at home when everyone else is out at work. They are not a great choice for people who spend most of the day out of the house leaving their dog on their own.
Griffons are sensitive dogs and do not respond well to any sort of harsh training or correction. They do answer well to positive reinforcement and when they are given the right sort of guidance and direction, these little dogs can be trained to take part in all sorts of canine sports and they do very well at them. Their training has to start early because it is important to curb some of their stronger "terrier" traits before things get out of hand.
It is also important for Griffons to be well handled from a young age which means training them to have their paws and ears touched because otherwise a lot of these little dogs get extremely stressed out when it comes to trimming their nails or checking their ears for infections.
Griffons generally get on with children, but any sort of rough handling and play must be avoided which means any interaction between the kids and a dog has to be well supervised by an adult to make sure play time stays calm and to prevent things from getting out of hand.
These little dogs are usually good around other dogs and if they have grown up with cats, they will tolerate them being around too. If a Griffon has been introduced to smaller pets and animals they will accept being around them, but it would be unwise to leave a Griffon alone in a room with them.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Griffon Bruxellois is between 9 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
The Griffon is known to be a robust little dog and one that does not boast suffering from many of the hereditary and congenital health issues that plague a lot of other pedigree dogs. The health concerns that affect the breed the most worth knowing about if you are hoping to share your home with one of these lively, energetic little dogs include the following:
As with any other breed, Griffons need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, they need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Griffons with short coats are low maintenance on the grooming front and just a weekly brush will keep things tidy and looking good. However, a rough coated Griffon is higher maintenance because their coats need to be hand stripped at least twice a year and ideally this needs to be left to a professional groomer. It's also important to keep an eye on a Griffon's ears and to clean them when necessary to prevent the risk of any infections taking hold which are known to be notoriously hard to clear up.
It's also important to comb and clean a Griffon's face every day because food often gets stuck in the folds which if left starts to smell and could lead to a dog developing painful sores which are often hard to clear up.
Griffons are energetic, little dogs and they need to be given at least 30 to 60 minutes exercise every day. With this said, they are a good choice for people who lead more sedentary lives and who would take their dogs out for several short walks a day. Ideally, Griffons should be taken for a shorter walk first thing in the morning and then a longer, more interesting one in the afternoon. They also enjoy being able to romp around in a back garden as often as possible where they can really let off steam, but the fencing has to be very secure to keep these dogs in.
It's also important for Griffons to be given lots of mental stimulation because otherwise these intelligent little dogs might get bored and as a result they will find ways to entertain and amuse themselves which could mean them being a little destructive around the home.
If you get a Griffon Bruxellois puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
If you are looking to buy a Griffon Bruxellois, you would need to pay anything from £500 to over £1200 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Griffon in northern England would be £19.20 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.22 a month (quote as of April 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Griffon and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £800 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Griffon Bruxellois would be between £70 to £100 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree Griffon puppy.
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