Brussels Griffon temperament
Brussel Griffon were bred to hunt vermin in Belgian stables (Photo: Adobe Stock)
helloBARK! staff
By helloBARK! staff
Updated on March 25, 2019
Fact Checked

Brussels Griffon are one of the more striking dog breeds thanks to their trademark beards and cropped ears.

While the breed achieved international fame thanks to the appearance of a Brussels Griffon called Verdell in Oscar-winning film, As Good As It Gets, in 1997.

Brussels Griffon may be famous for their physical traits and big screen appearance, but there is more to this Belgian breed than some fluffy facial hair and pinned back ears.

They have quite a unique history having originated in Belgian, starting from lowly beginnings before rising the social ladder to eventually become associated with the Belgium royal family.

These dogs have special personalities which can be both charming and challenging. It is vital to do research into any dog breed before bringing a new canine companion home.

A brief introduction to Brussels Griffon

The Brussels Griffon originated in Belgium as their name suggests. They became popular at the turn of the 20th century amongst coachmen in the European country. These dogs served an important function: hunting vermin in the stables. However, there was a sharp upturn in their fortunes when the Queen of the Belgians took a particular interest in these petite canines. Also known as Marie Henriette of Austria, she started to breed these dogs to achieve international acclaim.

However, the breed suffered another setback during the devastating and destructive World War One and Two to leave Brussels Griffon on the brink of extinction. Some careful breeding in the United Kingdom helped to protect the breed and allow the Brussels Griffon to flourish once more.

Do you know what breeds were used to create Brussels Griffon

The Belgian breed is certainly unique looking but to get a better outstanding of Brussels Griffon, we have to examine what breeds were used to create these special dogs. They are thought to be direct descendants of Smousje, which is a small companion dog in Belgium. However, there were up to four different breeds used to create the modern Brussels Griffon. Black Pugs, King Charles Spaniels, the Ruby Toy Spaniel/King Charles Cavalier Spaniel and the Affenpinscher were used to create these Belgian dogs.

Brussels Griffon personality and temperament

(Photo: @squidthegriff / Instagram)
(Credit: @squidthegriff / Instagram)

One of the key features of this breed is barking. They are prone to yapping, which is a trait that could infuriate some prospective dog owners. They make good watch dogs given they tend to bark at noises outside the household, including strangers at the door, animals in the yard or strange noises around the home. Of course, Brussels Griffon and other dogs that bark excessively can benefit from working with an experienced trainer, or helloBark! recommend contacting your local veterinarian to get advice on resolving this problem.

It is important to socialise Brussels Griffon from a young age. These dogs can be shy and nervous around people they don’t know, so Brussels Griffon do benefit from going to puppy manners or socialisation classes to help ease any anxiety. Doing so can help this Belgian breed to become a more stable and well-rounded pet at home.

Unlike other breeds such as Alaskan Klee Kai and Corgis, the Brussels Griffon aren’t as motivated to please their owners. This can make the breed particularly difficult to train. They are intelligent dogs and as a result, they have been known to manipulate their human companions to their own advantage. The breed are very wily pooches and can be demanding, which sometimes manifests itself in a temper tantrum.

Their stubbornness can be a problem when it comes to housebreaking. With small dogs such as Brussels Griffon that tend to spend a lot of time indoors, it is vital that these canines can get a quick grasp of housetraining. Nobody wants an unwelcome mistake inside the house. But again, a competent and experienced dog trainer can help speed up the process and reduce the numbers of mistakes.

While Brussels Giffon can be quite cunning canines, they are generally very loving dogs and become quickly attached to their humans. The breed demand a lot of attention from their owners, so they are a good fit for people with an abundance of time on their hands to dedicate their time to these little Belgian dogs.

There can sometimes be issues between Brussels Griffon and other dogs. They can posture when confronted with other dogs but it tends to result in a lot of noise and not a lot else. Brussels Griffon aren’t suited to households with small children given they are quite sensitive. As always, we never advise leaving small children unsupervised with any breed of dog.

Separation anxiety

Another feature of this breed is separation anxiety. Many people will not have encountered this condition until they bring home their puppy and leave them alone for the first time. According to ASPCA, this is a condition which is “triggered when dogs become upset because of separation from their guardians, the people they’re attached to”. This can result in excessive barking, howling or even screaming, urinating, chewing, digging – and much more. For pet owners, this can be a distressing and uncomfortable sight and sound as no-one wants to hear or see their dog suffer. This could also land pet owners in trouble if they are living in close vicinity to their neighbours.

There are a number of potential solutions but of course all dogs have different personalities, so it is worth attempting a variety of techniques to see which works best for your canine. In our experience, we have found a dog camera with a microphone can help to soothe an anxious voice, benefitting from hearing their owner’s voice.

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An alternative step could well be a dog trainer, perhaps someone with experience with this particular issue. Simple fixes could include leaving the television or radio on and using essential oils and an oil diffuser.

Other Brussels Griffon facts

– There are two different types of Brussels Griffon: the smooth coat and the rough/wire coat.

– According to Adoptapet.com, you should expect to pay anywhere between $800-$4,000 for a Brussels Griffon puppy.

– Brussels Griffon dogs have an average life expectancy of 12-15 years, although some can live to the age of 20!