Griffon Bruxellois Are Charming Social Climbers

Breeds

Griffon Bruxellois are a little breed with a lot of personality. Staring into their bearded, weirdly human, faces you get the sense that this is a dog that really backs themselves. That confidence–some would day cockiness–means they can hang with bigger pets and love people. And while they clearly think they’ve got it going on, they still always have time for the people they love.

History

We joke about their inflated sense of self, but honestly looking at this breed’s history, it kind of makes sense. With roots stretching back to the Middle Ages, Griffon Bruxellois were originally bred to be rodent catchers in Brussels’ stables. But their natural affinity with people ment they weren’t exiled to that job for long. As horse drawn cabs became a common sight across Europe they could often be spotted riding up front as a driver’s companion. But their social aspirations didn’t stop there.

Over the centuries they became a favourite of the Belgian aristocracy, eventually being recognised as a breed by the mid to late 19th century. Their status was no doubt helped by the fact the Queen of the Belgians herself bred them. Eventually their popularity left the continent, with the English upper classes importing Griffon Bruxellois as fashionable pets at the turn of the century.

That UK support ultimately saved the breed, who despite their highly placed fans almost disappeared in Belgium following the Second World War. English breeders kept them going though, and their continuation as a breed is largely credited to them. While they’re not quite as popular as they once were, they still have an impact. George Lucas is a life-long fan, and his own dogs were apparently one of the inspirations behind Star Wars’ Ewoks.

Griffon Bruxellois

Appearance

Griffon Bruxellois are perhaps most famous for their distinct faces that often look like little grumpy old men. They’re usually red, black, tan, or a mix, and they can have one of two coat types: rough and smooth. While they’re small, usually weighing in at three to five kilos, they’re hardly delicate. Their thickset and sturdy bodies give them a certain (pocket-sized) gravitas. 

Life Expectancy

Up to 16 years.

What You’ll Love about Griffon Bruxellois

Trainable: Griffon Bruxellois are smart and love to be trained. Although this also means they’re quick to get bored (and a bit yappy) if they feel understimulated. 

Family friendly: While Griffon Bruxellois are high energy and need a decent daily walk, they’re usually happiest at home with you. They get on well with other dogs and kids (as long as they’re conscious of their small size), and are a good option if you have limited space.

Charming: We’ve mentioned it a few times but we really can’t stress how fun they are. There is just something about how they carry themselves, it’s impossible not to laugh and smile when they’re around.

Griffon Bruxellois

What You Might Find “Challenging”

Noisy: If they’re not properly trained and exercised their excess energy can cause them to act out by barking or acting aggressively around visitors or strange dogs. 

Not very independent: They really love their families, and can become stressed if they feel left out. If you’re not home much, or tend to leave pets outside, they’re not for you.

Common Health Issues for Griffons Bruxellois

Luxating patella: Some dogs have issues with their knees, so keep an eye on them when they’re playing and running around. 

Heat Sensitive: Like pugs and Frenchies their snub noses mean they can become overheated if they run around when it’s very warm. Keep them inside on hot days, but in general this doesn’t stop them enjoying exercise.

Instafamous Griffons

Thinking about getting a dog? Check out our other great articles on the topic, like:

Should You Get a Dog?

Should You Get a Rescue Dog? How to Decide

What You Need to Know about Bringing a Dog Home for the First Time

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Written by on for Off The Leash

Article last updated on August 20, 2020

Wendy's never met a dog she didn't like. Although she has a special place in her heart for muts: three legs, one eye, missing fur, bit of a weird walk? The scruffier the better. Her favourite dog in the whole world though is her terrier-mix Stevie.
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