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Brussels griffon sitting on the ground in front of a walkway

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Toy group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height — 7-8 inches
  • Weight — 8-10 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — Medium, smooth, or rough
  • Coat color — Variations include black, black and tan, red, or black and reddish brown (called belge). Any coat color may exist in either smooth or rough coated grifs. Puppies maintain the coat color they have from adolescence into adulthood.
  • Exercise needs — Average
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — High
  • Life span — 12-15 years
  • Hypoallergenic — No, but the breed may be easier for people with allergies to be around due to lower shedding levels.
  • Origin — Belgium

Brussels griffon temperament and characteristics 

The Brussels griffon may be small in stature but packs a lot of personality in a small package. These pint-sized pups vary from outgoing and sociable to reserved and shy, though in either case they are always loving and affectionate towards their human families. Griffons have a very low tolerance for loneliness, and can be prone to separation anxiety. They prefer to be with their people as much as possible, often following their owners from room to room and snuggling up with them on the couch.

A grif is best suited for a home with either older children or without children, as they have less patience for rough play. They are however generally comfortable in homes with cats or other dogs. These dogs do well in either a home or an apartment. As long as they have a little space to walk and play and their humans by their side, a Brussels griffon can be comfortable.

Brussels griffon fun facts

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Brussels Griffons Chewy; Gizmo is the 2nd most popular male name. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Brussels Griffons love Sophie or Molly equally.

  • Brussels griffons are stars on the silver screen. A Brussels griffon had a starring role with Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt in 1997’s classic film “As Good As It Gets.”
  • The Brussels griffon can be difficult to breed. Many Brussels griffon dogs are unusually small, and may require Cesarean sections during birth. The mortality rate for puppies is also unfortunately higher than other breeds.
  • There are two different types of Brussels griffon. Though they have the same temperaments and many of the same care needs, the smooth-coated Brussels griffon and the rough-coated griffon require slightly different grooming care.
Brussels griffon colors

Common Brussels griffon health problems

Brussels griffons are typically a healthy breed. Breeders of grifs should be sure to screen puppies for potential underlying health conditions such as eye problems or hip dysplasia. Even with the healthiest breeds, some conditions are common and can range from life threatening to manageable with veterinary care.

  • Hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a common condition when the head of the thigh bone doesn’t fit neatly into the hip joint. If left untreated, this can lead to arthritis later in life.
  • Patellar luxation . A luxating patella happens when the knee joint in the hind legs slides in and out of place and is a common condition with small dogs. Even with this condition, griffons can lead a normal life with treatment and monitoring by their veterinarian.
  • Skin allergies. Grifs can be prone to skin allergies, caused by topical substances such as bedding or shampoo, eating certain food, or exposure to inhalants such as pollen or dust. Identifying the cause of the allergies is the first step to treating the allergy and determining what treatments may be necessary.
  • Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) . A series of upper airway issues that can affect a dog’s breathing, BOAS is a condition flat-faced breeds like grifs have a higher likelihood of developing due to their short snouts.

Cost of caring for a Brussels griffon

While Brussels griffons are generally a healthy breed, if they do develop a health condition, the cost of care can add up. If your dog develops allergies, the ongoing treatments can get pricey. Diagnostic testing can cost $350 or more, and medications can cost around $150 for four months. If your Grif is diagnosed with BOAS, treatment or procedures to fix the issue can cost anywhere between $200 to $1,500.

To help offset the cost of veterinary expenses, pet health insurance can be an excellent option to reduce out-of-pocket costs. Another alternative, like a pet savings account, may be helpful in the event your pet would need medical care down the road.

Brussels griffon being brushed outside

History of the Brussels griffon

Different variations of the griffon dog have been around in Europe for centuries. However, the Brussels griffon came to be sometime in the early 1800s in Brussels, Belgium. Coachmen in Brussels commonly kept dogs in their stables to help cull the rat population. The coachmen experimented with breeding to improve their dogs. While no official records exist, it is thought the Brussels griffon may be a mixture of the affenpinscher, pug, English toy spaniel, and an old Belgian breed called the Brabancon.

The Brussels griffon first hit celebrity status in the 1870s when the Queen of Belgium, Henrietta Maria, expressed her fondness for the breed. This made grifs all the rage in the Belgian royal court, and gave the breed international recognition and eventual exportation to other parts of the world. The Brussels griffon earned official recognition with the American Kennel Club in 1910, and today they are categorized in the Toy Group.

Although the Brussels griffon was almost lost to history during the World Wars when keeping pedigree dogs became a luxury few could afford, the breed survived thanks to the work of dedicated breeders.

Caring for your Brussels griffon

Any time a new pet becomes a member of the family, the to-do list can be overwhelming. The first priority should be to make your first trip to the vet and schedule your dog’s vaccinations.

We can also help you puppy-proof your home and prepare for surviving the teething stage. No one likes to think about losing their new dog, but FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag so you’re prepared just in case.


Although tiny in stature, the Brussels griffon is an energetic breed, and needs at least a half an hour to an hour of moderate exercise each day. This can include a leisurely stroll or some dedicated play time. While griffons typically do well with other dogs in their home, they can sometimes be wary of strange dogs. It’s important to practice good training techniques when learning to socialize your dog if you plan to bring them to a dog park or beach for their playtime.

Grifs are also a highly intelligent breed, and tend to excel in agility training or tracking exercises. One very important thing to keep in mind with a Brussels griffon is that due to their short snouts, they have trouble regulating their breathing and may get overheated and possibly suffer heat stroke in hotter weather. In the warmer summer months, keep excessive play time indoors or moderate your pup’s exercise.

Brussels griffon running outside in grass and flowers


There are two types of Brussels griffons, and each has their own unique grooming needs. Smooth-coated Brussels griffons require a good weekly brushing. During their shedding seasons, which occur twice a year in the spring and fall, they should be brushed daily. Occasional baths will clean up dirt and keep their smooth coat looking shiny. The rough-coated Brussels griffon is more low maintenance and does not have a shedding season or shed excessively. Regular weekly brushings of their rough coat and an occasional bath is all they need.

Many Grif owners keep their pup’s hair short and highlight their distinctive black mask beard and whiskers. Both smooth and rough-coated griffons should always have regular nail trimmings to keep their nails from getting too long, and their teeth should be brushed regularly to maintain healthy teeth and gums.

While the Brussels griffon is often labeled a hypoallergenic breed, no dog breed is truly hypoallergenic. Allergic reactions occur due to the protein found in a dog’s dander, hair, and saliva. Dogs that are considered hypoallergenic simply shed less, and thus have a smaller effect on owners with dog allergies.

Diet and nutrition

A Brussels griffon should eat on average a quarter cup to a half a cup of high-quality dry dog food  per day. Always be sure to consult your vet to determine the right portions for your pup. Their meals should ideally be divided into two meals per day. Like many toy dog breeds, the grif can be prone to obesity if their food intake isn’t monitored carefully. Measure out your dog’s food before feeding and keep their active lifestyle on track to prevent weight gain in your dog.

A good way to gauge if your Brussels griffon is overweight is by feeling their ribs. You should be able to feel them without pressing too hard. If you can’t, talk to your vet about how to get your pup to a healthy size.

Training your Brussels griffon

Brussels griffons are very smart – sometimes a little too smart for their own good! They can be stubborn and willful, and require a dedicated and loving owner to help train them to be their best selves. With griffons, consistency and positive reinforcement is key. Although they may be stubborn pups, they are also very sensitive and do not do well with harsh words or punishment. In fact, this may make training more difficult and stressful for everyone involved.

Lead your training sessions with plenty of praise and training treats. And always be sure to end on a positive note with your puppy, praising them for a job well done.

Training your Grif this way will help strengthen your bond and develop your puppy into a well adjusted and happy best friend.

Brussels griffon close up with greenery in the background

Breeds similar to the Brussels griffon

Not quite sure that a Brussels griffon is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Chihuahua. Another pint-sized pup with a giant personality, Chihuahuas are smaller than griffons, tipping the scales at only 6 pounds fully grown.
  • Pekingese. The Pekingese also has a snort snout and flat face, though with longer and silkier fur than the Brussels griffon.
  • English toy spaniel. The English toy spaniel is also a small affectionate dog. They tend to be more tolerant of young children than the griffon.

Frequently asked questions

Is a Brussels griffon a good pet?

The Brussels griffon makes an excellent pet for adults or families with older children. They can be wary of strange dogs and are not always tolerant of young children or roughhousing.

Why are Brussels griffons rare?

Breeding grifs can be difficult due to their low litter sizes and high puppy mortality rate. They currently rank 97th among the American Kennel Club’s most popular dog breeds.

Does a Brussels griffon shed a lot?

While all dogs shed some hair, the rough-coated Brussels griffon is considered a non-shedding breed. This means they do not shed as much as some other breeds and do not have shedding seasons. However, the smooth-coated Brussels griffon does have a shedding season.

What two breeds make a Brussels griffon?

It is thought that the breed was bred from a variety of other breeds, including the Affenpinscher, the pug, the English toy spaniel and the Brabachon.

Do Brussels griffons have breathing problems?

Yes, due to their short snouts, the grif can be prone to breathing issues.