Yes, they are! With little shedding, hardly any dander and little proclivity to slobber or drool—they’re a wonderfully compact hypoallergenic doggie!
The Brussels Griffon Hypoallergenic Dog
With its strong sense of attachment, playful nature and an appearance that changed science fiction history forever—the Brussels Griffon is an amazing addition to your pooch-loving family. And, for the allergy-suffering pet parent, they’re ideal—being one of the ultimate hypoallergenic dogs.
Firstly, these diminutive doggies are seriously low on the dander-producing scale. Naturally, like all mammals, dead skin cells fall off. But, with few dermatological issues—and a coat that imprisons wayward flakes, they’re unlikely to drop onto your furniture and spark an intolerant reaction.
Secondly, they aren’t going to be depositing allergy-inducing hair around your home. Like all dogs, they will lose a little, especially in the spring and fall. However, compared to many equally-sized pups, their coat is impressively non-shedding. Some quick advice for those sneezy-sufferers. The Brussels Griffon typically has one of two types of coat—smooth or wiry. If you’re highly sensitive to animal fur, opt for the wiry version, since this sheds even less than the smooth version. And the third reason the Brussels Griffon is reassuringly hypoallergenic—they’re unlikely to drool over you. Proteins in saliva are one of the main canine-created allergens—often inducing eczema or asthma reactions. But, the Brussels Griffon isn’t a slobbery dog. Perhaps it’s the characteristic underbite that catches all the slaver—or maybe they’re too intent on keeping saliva out of their extensive whiskers. Whatever the reason, you’re unlikely to be showered with spit when your pooch greets you with insatiable enthusiasm. Just a quick heads-up. Brussels Griffons can be quite licky, especially towards their main pet parent. However, if this is an issue, early training can discourage them from overwhelming you with doggie kisses.
|Hypoallergenic Dog: Yes!||Shedding: Low||Drooling: No|
|Size: Small||Breed Group: Toy||Lifespan: 12 to 15 years|
|Energy Level: Moderate||Trainability: Average to Good||Family Dog: Yes! Although care is required with small children.|
(Skip to the next section) Humorous, loving, and expressive—yet bossy, self-important, and energetic—the Brussels Griffon isn’t your typical lazy and pampered toy pup.
The Story Behind the Brussels Griffon
Whether you want to call them a Brussels Griffon, Griffon Belge, Belgian Griffon, Griffon Bruxellois, Petit Brabançon, or the incorrect Griffon terrier—one aspect remains constant—they are one proud pooch. And this possibly stems from their aristocratic heritage. Doggies similar to the Griffon have happily romped around the homes of the elite for centuries. Back in 1434, the renowned Belgian impressionist, Van Eyck, included one of the present-day varieties’ ancestors in his world-famous Arnolfini Portrait.
However, the history of the modern breed began in the capital of chocolate and waffles—Brussels, Belgium.
The local coachmen—wanting to keep their stables rat free—employed the use of Griffon style dogs, known as wire-coated stable dogs, or Griffons d’Ecurie. In an early attempt at genetic improvement of the breed, and to make them more effective hunters, they mixed in a little Pug, Brabançon, Spaniel and Yorkshire terrier. One of these resulting puppies came to the attention of the doggie-adoring Marie Henriette, Queen of the Belgians, who adopted one for her household. The upper classes, wishing to emulate their monarch, did exactly the same. Hence, everyone who was anyone soon had a Brussels Griffon. Well, I guess, apart from the coachmen who had sold their vermin-catchers for a quick buck—probably leading to a biblical-style plague of rats in the stables of Belgium. The English, never wanting to miss out on royal trends, began to import the Griffon and then export to their cousins across the Atlantic. This was a seriously lucky break for the Belgian Griffon, since two world wars all but exterminated the Brussels contingent of the poor pooches. The Brussels Griffon was registered with the AKC (American Kennel Club) in 1910 as their 64th breed.
Physical Characteristics and Coat of the Brussels Griffon
Stare into the face of a Brussels Griffon and you’ll feel that you’re looking at an overly-hairy tiny human. Large, almond-shaped eyes with long eyelashes—just like yours—will look directly back at you. Honestly, you’ll be convinced there’s a little person in there, wearing a canine costume. This is possibly the reason the legendary film producer and director, George Lucas, used the Brussels Griffon as his inspiration for Ewoks—the furry and feisty fellas in the classic movie, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983). Owning three of these cutey-poochies himself, Lucas explained his Brussels Griffon Ewok idea to the British make-up artist, Stuart Freeborn, who quickly developed the unmistakable character we know today. Brussels Griffon Ewok
However, the Brussels dog is somewhat smaller than its movie star counterparts. Typically, they measure around 7-10 inches and weight no more than 8-10 pounds. In keeping with its human-like countenance, most Brussels Griffons sport a mustache and beard beneath their little black noses on their pug-like muzzle—a face that wouldn’t have looked out of place in 19th-century aristocratic Belgium. Their frame is sturdy and muscular—allowing them to make for a great exercise companion, and enjoy one of their favorite pastimes of climbing. The coat of the Brussels Griffon is either rough and wiry or completely smooth and glossy. Usually, they have the coloring of:
- Black and tan.
In Belgium, a red and roughly-coated pooch is considered to be the Brussels Griffon, while a smoother-coated dog in any color is known as a Belgian Griffon. However, neither the KC nor the AKC makes such a distinction.
Brussels Griffon Temperament
With possibly more personality than twelve ‘ordinary’ pooches, this distinctive doggie can prove to be the ideal and most entertaining of companions. The Brussels Griffon is highly loving, attentive, and loyal—making an extremely strong human bond. However, be warned! These adoring canines often form a strong connection with one particular family member—favoring this person above all others. While for some pet parents this may be an attractive trait, in other households it might become an issue. At the very least, this could promote inter-family jealousy—with your partner or children wondering why you have been chosen as the Griffon’s idol. Furthermore, it can lead to severe separation anxiety—the poor pup pining like crazy every time you leave the house.
Admittedly, even a Brussels Griffon with an extreme case of hero-worshipping will still happily be fussed by other members of your household—and engage in playful behavior. But one person will always remain the favorite.
Like a small child, these cunning canines can be manipulative, and become bossy if they don’t get their own way. Despite their small size, they have a huge attitude and an air of humorous self-importance. They’re not afraid to attempt to dominate much larger dogs, should they come across them in their walks. If you have kids—be a little careful. Many Brussels Griffons happily share their homes with tiny tots—but overall, it’s not recommended. While not at all aggressive, their playful and energetic behavior can encourage younger children to engage in a little rough-and-tumble. However, the Griffon’s small stature and sensitive nature mean it doesn’t take well to this type of play—despite its outward bravado. A Brussels Griffon that is exposed to this form of behavior from puppyhood can become snappy and vocal. Hence, older children make much better companions.
Looking After Their Coat
These doggies are impressively hypoallergenic—with the Brussels Griffon shedding propensity being very small. But, to ensure that the risk of developing intolerance symptoms is at a minimum, some careful care of your pooches coat is crucial. As I mentioned earlier, their hair is one of two types—wiry or smooth. In the case of smooth-coated Griffons, comb and brush two to three times a week. However, during the shedding seasons of spring and fall, you need to make a little more effort. To make certain that their dead hair doesn’t cover you, your carpets, or your sofa, you must attend to your Griffons coat daily. In addition, during these periods, a weekly bath will both remove loose fur and ensure your proud pooch always looks his or her best. Rough and wiry-coated Griffons hardly shed at all. So, a couple of intense grooming sessions twice a week is usually sufficient. Although, always make certain you comb right down to the skin. The dense and tightly-formed hair can trap allergens, including dander—which is initially beneficial as it prevents deposits around the home. But, to prevent saturation, you need to remove it from time to time. In addition to the coat, pay attention to their facial hair. Some owners choose to cut this right back, as it can trap food, detritus, and water. Personally, I think that’s an enormous shame. The beard and mustache are factors that make Griffons so appealing—and they perfectly complement the breed’s apparently philosophical countenance. A little trimming once a month, and a comb passed through their length weekly, is all that’s required to keep them in top condition.
Happily, there’s little more to grooming your Griffon. They’re relatively low maintenance—well, appearance-wise—not in respect of their attention-demanding personalities.
Just keep their nails trimmed monthly, to prevent cracking or splitting, and clean their teeth weekly with a doggie toothpaste.
(Skip to the next section) As a small breed, the Brussels Griffon can make for a perfect apartment pooch—or for those in homes with tiny yards. However, exercise is absolutely vital. These doggies are inherently playful, meaning that if they’re deprived of sufficient activity, they become bored and listless. Although no more prone to chewing than other small breeds, a lack of physical exertion and too much tedium can lead them to take their frustrations out on your rugs and furniture. Yet, as bossy dogs, trust me, they’ll give you prior warning that they’re becoming annoyed. They will bounce, run around, yap, and stare intently into your eyes—explaining that it’s time to play. The Griffon dog breed needs around 30-40 minutes of daily walking. Ideally, these should be broken into two excursions, at the beginning and end of the day. While they have boundless energy, they’re not really suitable as running companions—unless you’re an extremely steady jogger. Their little legs aren’t designed to keep up with you during training sessions—although they will welcome the odd sprint or increase in pace for a few minutes during your strolls. Furthermore, their short snout can lead to respiratory issues if they become overexerted. In addition to walking, they love games. Their genetic breeding as rat catchers explains their insatiable appetite for sessions of ‘fetch.’ Furthermore, they love a game of tug-of-war with an old shoe or sock—although remember, no rough stuff—they’re not as tough as they want you to believe.
They tend to want to learn on their own terms—as and when they’re ready. So, if you find that your doggie is disinterested in your educational methods, take a break and try again when he or she is feeling more receptive.
Often, it’s a case of finding what reward your pooch likes best—treats, nibbles, walks, praise, or cuddles. Many Griffons have a particular favorite ‘prize’ for their training, so discover what this is and stick with it.Furthermore, they will often only be receptive to instruction from their preferred human—considering this person alone to be worthy of their obedience. Trying to get them to follow instructions from other family members is often an exercise in futility. Additionally, keep any training sessions relatively short. Like the most intelligent humans, they can quickly become bored, and they will look for something much more stimulating to do instead. If you have a yard or garden—be careful. Brussels Griffons are clever, resourceful, and excellent problem solvers. This ability—combined with their propensity to love climbing—can often lead to your doggie taking an excursion into neighboring properties or the street. Therefore, it’s crucial that your outdoor boundaries have no escape holes or loose boards— as the Griffon will soon find them. And, in all seriousness, you’ll need a fence or wall at least four feet high. I know this is a tiny pooch, but they are excellent at jumping. Anything less, and they’ll be over the top the moment you turn away. Finally, like most small breeds, housebreaking will take some patience. The issue is, these little doggies just can’t hold it in like their bigger cousins. Many owners find that crate training can be one of the most successful methods.
(Skip to the next section) Happily, Brussels Griffons are usually very healthy dogs. Respectable breeders typically check their doggies for the most common health problems of hip dysplasia and patella luxation. Yet, there are a couple of conditions of which it’s important to be aware:
Due to their small noses and flat faces, the shortened muzzle of the Brussels Griffon can lead to respiratory issues, such as brachycephalic syndrome. This can restrict the ability to breathe—especially when exerted. However, it seems less of a problem than in other compacted-snout breeds—such as the Pug or Pekingese.
In this disease, fluid-filled cavities form in the spinal cord—leading to symptoms that can range from discomfort to intense pain or, in worst cases, paralysis. Syringomyelia is prevalent in around 52 percent of Brussels Griffons. However, in the majority of cases, affected pooches show no external signs and lead happy and trouble-free lives. That said, if you notice any of the following symptoms, it’s crucial you take your Griffon to the vet for a once-over.
- Vocal sounds such as crying, whining, or barking, when you lift them under their chest, or when the doggie changes position.
- Constant head rubbing or scratching.
- Reluctance to move—such as a refusal to climb stairs, run, or jump.
- Sudden changes in behavior—becoming anxious, aggressive, shy, or timid.
- An aversion to being touched, petted, and stroked.
(Skip to the next section) The Brussels Griffon’s humanlike expression makes them irresistible. Energetic, playful, alert, and loyal—they’re excellent companions for prospective pet parents seeking a fun-loving and affectionate pooch.
Admittedly, they’re not perfect for households with small children, and their propensity to latch onto one family member makes them unsuitable for all families.
However, it would be hard to find a more adorable and character-filled canine. But—most importantly—they’re ideal for allergy sufferers. Hardly shedding, low on dander and not a dog which produces sloppy drool—the Brussels Griffon hypoallergenic pooch means no unwanted itches, sneezes or coughs.
Do Brussels Griffons Shed?
Luckily, they shed very little, making them highly hypoallergenic. The wiry-coated types hardly drop any hairs at all. The smoother varieties, although still low shedders, will lose some hair in spring and fall.
Do Brussels Griffons Bark a Lot?
While not inherently vocal dogs—separation anxiety, meeting strangers, or coming across other canines in their daily strolls may induce barking.
Are Brussels Griffons Affectionate?
Yes! Playful and loving, Brussel Griffons adore praise, cuddles, and snuggles! However, they can develop a particular affection for one particular pet parent, who may then be the recipient of more attention than other family members.
Are Brussels Griffons Hypoallergenic?
Indeed! The Belgian Griffon sheds very little, produces low dander, and hardly drools—the main cause of allergy symptoms.
How Much Does a Brussel Griffon Cost?
On average, a Brussels Griffon costs around $1000. Although, depending on the pedigree and breed line, this figure can reach an eye-watering $6000.
Do Brussel Griffons Have Breathing Problems?
With short, flat noses, the Brussels Griffon is at a higher risk of developing respiratory disease. This is why it’s important not to overexert your Belgian dog through excessive play or exercise.
How Long Do Wirehaired Griffons Live?
Brussels Griffons, with both long and short hair, have a lifespan of 12-15 years.
How Much Should a Brussels Griffon Eat?
Usually, it’s common to reduce your Brussels Griffon’s puppy meals—from three or four dinners per day—to twice daily, at 12 weeks of age.
How Big Does a Brussels Griffon Get?
The Brussels Griffon, as a toy breed, is a generally small dog, with a strong and muscular frame. A typical adult Griffon stands at 7 to 10 inches (17.78-25.4 cm) tall, and weighs 8 to 10 pounds (3.62-4.53 kg). The Brussels Griffon size makes them highly suitable for apartment life. However, if you have a yard or garden, these pooches are excellent jumpers and climbers, so ensure your fence or walls are at least four feet high, to prevent escapes.
Are Brussels Griffon Easy to Train?
Although the Brussels Griffons are highly intelligent, they can be a little stubborn and become bored quickly—making them a little challenging to train. However, patience—and finding what treat method your pooch prefers—will yield successful results.
|Other Names||Brussels Griffon, Griffon Belge, Belgian Griffon, Griffon Bruxellois and Petit Brabançon|
|Height||7-10 inches (17.78-25.4 cm)|
|Weight||8-10 pounds (3.62-4.53 kg)|
|Lifespan||12 to 15 years|
|Temperament||Inquisitive, playful, watchful, companionable, alert, self-important, and sensitive|
|Colors||Beige, black, black and tan, red, blue, brown, chocolate, tan, and wheaten|
|Coat||Dense, can be rough and wiry or smooth and dense|
|How much grooming?||The Griffon comes in two coat variants—wiry/rough and smooth coat. The smooth-haired Griffon needs grooming around three times per week, while the Griffon with a wiry/rough coat requires brushing twice a week|
|Do Brussels Griffons Shed?||Little to nothing for the wiry coat. The smooth coat sheds a little, particularly in spring and fall|
|Dander levels||Very low|
|Saliva||Low. They’re not prone to slobbering or drooling—although they do like to lick|
|Energy levels||Moderate to high|
|How much exercise do they need?||Around 30-40 minutes of exercise per day, ideally split into two walks, is sufficient|
|Health problems||Remarkably healthy for a small dog, although their flat faces and small snouts can lead to brachycephalic syndrome. Furthermore, 52 percent of Brussels Griffons develop syringomyelia|
|Good for an apartment?||Excellent, due to their size, but they still require around 30-40 minutes of exercise per day|
|Suitable for kids?||Low to moderate. They’re best in homes with no children, or at least just older children—socialization is essential|
|How much do they bark?||Occasionally. The main causes are boredom and being separated from their main pet parent|
|Can they be left alone?||Not for extended periods. Brussels Griffons are very loyal and love company. When left alone, they suffer from separation anxiety|
|Intelligent?||Yes. They are problem-solving escape artists and excellent manipulators|
|Trainable?||It can be challenging. Brussels Griffons are stubborn and will only learn on their own terms|
|How popular as a pet?||Fairly. They’re ranked as the 95th most popular breed by the AKC. What’s more, the Brussels Griffon hypoallergenic nature means its highly sought after by pet parents with allergies|