Griffon Bruxellois (Brussels Griffon)
The Griffon Bruxellois is a small but stout and high-spirited dog with its homeland in Belgium. Originally developed as a fearless vermin exterminator, today it predominantly enjoys the life of a family pet and show animal. This unique breed will conquer your heart with its adorable monkey-like face and lively demeanour.
The major predecessor of the Belgian Griffon, the Petit Brabancon, the Griffon Bruxellois were the Griffon d’Ecurie (from French – Griffon from a stable) that was created by Belgian carriage men to eradicate rats in stables. During the late XVIII century and throughout the XIX century these men continued their breeding experiments and finally produced the present version of the breed. Unfortunately they didn’t bother with keeping any written records so the precise origin of this breed is impossible to trace. It’s rather unquestionable though that the Griffon d’Ecurie was repeatedly crossed with the Pug, a canine variety, which was widely spread in near-by France and the Netherlands. There is also a common opinion that the King Charles (black and tan) and Ruby variants of the English Toy Spaniel were involved in its development.
Ultimately the Griffon d’Ecurie evolved in several distinctive varieties that were given separate names. A smooth-haired dog was named the Petit Brabancon, after the Belgian national anthem, La Brabonconne. It’s believed that it owes its smooth coat and pitch-black colouring to the Pug, a famous breed in France and Netherlands.
A rough-haired and solidly red dog was referred as the Griffon Bruxellois (or Brussels Griffon), in honour of the Belgian capital of Brussels. The specimen with rough coat of any other colour was simply called the Belgian Griffon, or Griffon Belge.
By the middle of the XIX the Belgian Griffon, the Petit Brabancon, the Griffon Bruxellois won favour of both ordinary and noble people in its homeland. One of its most celebrated fancier and promoter was the Belgian Queen Marie Henriette who made a great deal to increase its number in other countries.
The breed was well-established in the U.S. by 1910 when the American Kennel Club (AKC) granted it its full recognition. Currently the Griffon Bruxellois, the Griffon Belge, and the Petit Brabancon are considered to be unique breeds in continental Europe but the canine clubs in the United States and in the United Kingdom interpret them as three varieties of the Brussels Griffon, and as the results they can be interbred.
Both World Wars had disastrous consequences for the Belgian Griffon, the Petit Brabancon, the Griffon Bruxellois that became extinct in its native land and in most European countries. Its population was finally reconstructed by the efforts of English and American breeders who managed to save their dogs from nightmares of wars. It attained recognition of the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1956.
Almost one hundred per cent of today’s Belgian Griffons, Petit Brabancons, and Griffon Bruxellois are companion animals although the breed remains fairly rare outside its homeland. Lately it has also made great progress in the show ring as well at agility and obedience trials.
Despite of its cute appearance the Griffon Bruxellois possesses strong will and somewhat inflammable temper of a typical terrier. This dog always bears itself with royal dignity and hates when someone doesn’t take it seriously. It’s prone to become extremely loyal only to one person and demonstrate fairly moderate level of affection towards other members of its family. It definitively won’t make a perfect playmate for a child because it reacts very negatively to any type of rough-housing during playing. The dog can bite without further notice if someone tugs at its coat too hard or maltreated it in some other way.
The Griffon Bruxellois is very distrustful of strangers although a well-brought-up specimen will never display aggression without a serious ground. This dog always keeps alert and will loudly announce its owners about the approach of an unfamiliar person. So it can successfully combine the role of a family pet with the responsibilities of a watcher. It’s also willing to use strength to defend its homestead and favourite people although it’s too small to make an effective guard dog.
The Griffon Bruxellois has mixed repute with other canines. Majority of these dogs welcomes any opportunity to socialise with other dogs but at the same time they seek to take a superior position in a pack hierarchy and can provoke confrontation with much larger dog. That’s why it’s imperative to avoid releasing your dog off-leash in public places. Extreme possessiveness is another problem that the master of this breed often faces. In spite of its background as a ratter this dog stands out for quite moderate hunting instinct. In most cases the Griffon Bruxellois will recognise a household cat as a part of its family and will treat it respectfully (of course early socialisation is still a must for this breed).
The most common problems for the breed include:
· whelping difficulties;
· breathing problems;
· heat sensitivity;
· eye problems;
· cleft palate;
· luxating patellas;
· slipped stifle.
The Griffon Bruxellois has rather extensive grooming requirements. A few hours of brushing and combing should be performed each and every week to keep its coat in show state. The dogs’ hair is also predisposed to tangling and matting so regular brushing is highly important even for those dogs that are kept strictly as pets.
Moreover manual stripping of the fur every two to three months is a compulsory condition of its healthy and neat look. However lots of their masters prefer to have their dogs regularly trimmed to make their coats more manageable. This additional coat care makes the breed a very moderate shedder.
The rest is a standard maintenance that should consist of trimming the dog’s nails every other month and occasional bathing. Examine the dog’s ears from time to time and clean them with a soft wet tissue to forestall infections and irritations from developing.
The training of the Griffon Bruxellois requires lots of efforts and equal amount of patience. Its tendency for stubbornness together with self-dependant nature explains the most of training difficulties. This dog will submit only to those people those authorities it respects.
It’s crucial to stimulate the interest of this breed with kind words and tasty treats since physical punishments usually make it totally unruly and wilful. It’s also harder to house train this breed than larger canine varieties. The Griffon Bruxellois possesses a miniature bladder that needs extra time to develop properly as well as it simply can’t hold liquid for too long.
The Griffon Bruxellois is a lively and energetic little dog that won’t be fully happy with a short daily walk. This dog must be provided with regular playtime in a safely secured territory. It also remains very frisky indoors and it doesn’t tend to laze around for hours on your coach.
This breed welcomes any type of physical activity, especially if it has some purpose in it. Be mindful that the dog that lacks opportunities to expand its excessive energies will surely become unpredictably aggressive, very noisy and destructive.