Griffon Bruxellois (Smooth)



Known as the ‘The Connoisseurs Dog’, the Griffon Bruxellois developed from small, rough coated stable dogs that existed in the Middle Ages. Over the centuries as the breed developed, they moved from the stable to become alert dogs for Brussels coach men, finally graduating as the spoilt companions of Belgian aristocracy.

They were a recognised breed by the mid to late 19th century and by this time they had become so popular with the aristocracy that they were bred by the Queen of the Belgians herself. Large numbers were also imported by English upper classes during this halcyon period and prior to World War I there were known to be over 5000 Griffon bitches in Belgium.

World War I and World War II saw the breed virtually wiped out in Belgium. It was saved from extinction by the English breeders, who had imported earlier stock and, in fact, we owe the modern Griffon to those English breeders. Today they remain popular but not common. George Lucas was said to have owned five Griffons, who became an inspiration for Star Wars.


The Griffon Bruxellois is a small (3.2-5kg), square, cobby little dog with a distinctive face and monkey like expression, which is almost human.

The breed comes in two coat types – rough and smooth and in the UK standard three colours are recognised – red, black and black and tan. The FCI and USA standards also recognise a colour known as belge - a sable colour with red and black hairs interspersed. When shown, the rough coat is hand stripped.


The Griffon Bruxellois are generally sturdy, healthy little dogs and they usually live to about 14 years of age or more. A recent international health survey carried out by the Country Griffon Bruxellois Club of NSW found that the most common health issues Griffon owners or breeders faced were slipping patellas, cleft palates and undescended testicles. For more details of this survey go to:

Griffons are mostly a robust breed. Australia’s largest and oldest Club, The Griffon Bruxellois Club of Victoria does a terrific job of discussing the relevant disorders worthy of breeders and pet owners to screen their Griffons for; namely Patellas, Eyes, Hips, and CM/SM.


The best way to avoid purchasing a puppy that could grow up to have any of these disorders, is to buy your puppy from a breeder who screens their breeding stock for these exact disorders and gives you a copy of the official veterinary results of your potential puppy’s parents. 


The Griffon Bruxellois has a lively and alert temperament that is described as “terrier like”. This does not mean it is as feisty as some terriers, but means that it is cheeky, sparky and full of life and mischief. They do not bark excessively, but will bark to alert the owner to visitors or intruders.

Griffons are extremely affectionate and they are intensely devoted to their owners and love to be with them. A Griffon owner is often like the Pied Piper with a posse of Griffons following wherever they go, even to the bathroom!


Griffons make wonderful house dogs and companions. They are affectionate and cheeky, happy to play, but also happy to sit quietly and watch TV. They are suitable for apartments, as they do not need a lot of space, however, they do like to run and Griffon owners are familiar with ‘zoomies’. They need to be a member of the family and be with the family and cannot be treated as yard dogs and left outside.

Like all flat faced dogs they should not be exercised in the heat and they do need to be kept cool if the temperature soars. However, if the weather is cool, they are active little dogs and can be walked for several kilometres easily if conditioned for it.

Being a small dog, young children need to be supervised with them to ensure that they do not hurt the dog. Griffons are a great pet for families, single people or older people. They are easy to travel with and can easily be taken on holidays with the family.

They are very friendly little dogs, who love to meet and greet other people as well as other dogs. At club gatherings there are frequently 50 or more Griffons all running happily together.

They have very endearing personalities and Griffon owners have a saying- “ you just can’t stop at one”.

Words: Michelle Parker Brien on behalf of the Country Griffon Bruxellois Club of NSW Inc

Image supplied by: D Norman, T Mills & K Bell, Photo by Roughstock Images

In Conclusion

Now you know a little about the Griffon Bruxellois (Smooth Coat), you may think that this is the dog for you. Before you make a decision, please make contact with the breed club or your State controlling body for purebred dogs. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the Griffon Bruxellois (Smooth Coat), and its needs and whether this breed would indeed suit your lifestyle.