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Brussels Griffons: the most honest dog breed review you'll ever find about Brussels Griffon temperament, personality, and behavior.

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Brussels Griffon dog breed

Brussels Griffon Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em

Brussels Griffon Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013

Often described as "full of self-importance," the terrier-like Brussels Griffon is happy, spunky, spirited, and comical.

His adept climbing skills, coupled with his curiosity and imagination, can get him into trouble. Be watchful that he does not end up too high, where he could fall and break his neck.

An alert watchdog, the Brussels Griffon may become friendly with guests or he may be cautious or even shy with new people and new situations. Socialization is a must to promote a confident, stable temperament.

Most Brussels Griffons are fine with other family pets, but if they perceive an invasion of their space by a strange dog, they can display great ferocity, though it is mostly bluff and bluster.

This is not an eager-to-please breed! The Brussels Griffon has a clever mind of his own and without a firm hand can be demanding and manipulative.

Training him to walk calmly on a leash may take time and patience, for he can be obstinate and may pitch a fit of acrobatic leaping and flinging himself about.

If you can chuckle at some of his eccentricities yet remain firm about the general rules of the household, the Brussels Griffon is very pleasant and entertaining to live with.

Like most breeds of terrier heritage, he is proud and sensitive and may become defensive if handled harshly or teased. This is not a breed for small children.


If you want a dog who...

  • Is small and easy to carry
  • Looks like a little terrier
  • Comes in a rough wiry coat that doesn't shed much
  • Also comes in a short coat if you prefer that (but that one sheds)
  • Is spunkier than most toy breeds
  • Takes himself very seriously (which can be amusing to watch)
  • Makes a keen watchdog
  • Doesn't need a lot of outdoor exercise

A Brussels Griffon may be right for you.


If you don't want to deal with...

  • The fragility of toy breeds (see below)
  • The fine line you need to walk with toy breeds, where you need to protect their safety, yet require them to stand on their own four feet and be well-behaved
  • Stubbornness (a mind of his own)
  • Excitable barking when strangers or strange dogs approach
  • Regular trimming of the rough wiry coat
  • Notorious housebreaking difficulties
  • Waiting lists (hard to find) and a high price tag

A Brussels Griffon may not be right for you.

But you can avoid or minimize some negative traits by
  1. choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
  2. or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
  3. training your dog to respect you
  4. avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy


More traits and characteristics of the Brussels Griffon

If I was considering a Brussels Griffon, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Fragility. Too many people acquire a toy breed puppy without understanding how incredibly fragile a toy breed is. You can seriously injure or kill a Brussels Griffon by stepping on him or by sitting on him when he's curled under a blanket or pillow, where he frequently likes to sleep. And Brussels Griffons can seriously injure or kill THEMSELVES by leaping from your arms or off the back of your sofa. A larger dog can grab a Brussels Griffon and break his neck with one quick shake. Owning a toy breed means constant supervision and surveillance of what's going on around your tiny dog. Brussels Griffons must always be kept on-leash -- they are just too easy to injure when not under your complete control.

    Brussels Griffons are NOT suited to young children, no matter how well-meaning the child. Children cannot help being clumsy, and that a child meant well is little solace to a Brussels Griffon who has been accidentally stepped on, sat on, rolled on, squeezed, or dropped onto the patio. Most Brussels Griffons feel overwhelmed by the loud voices and quick movements that children can't help making -- and stress and fearfulness (even defensive biting) may be the result.

  2. Housebreaking problems. Toy breeds are almost always difficult to housebreak. It is so easy for them to sneak behind a chair or under a small table, and it takes only a few seconds for the deed to be done. The results can be hard to see. When you don't see it, you don't correct it -- and so the bad habit becomes established. If you hope to housebreak a Brussels Griffon, consistent crate training is mandatory. These dogs must not be loosed in the house for many months, until their small internal organs become strong enough for reliable control.
  3. Suspiciousness and barking. Suspicious by nature (their terrier heritage), Brussels Griffons need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Many Brussels Griffons will put on a display of excited ferociousness (i.e. they "pitch a fit") when other people or animals approach what is THEIRS. It's not funny and it must be curtailed, else their suspicion can become shrillness or nastiness.


    book cover To learn more about training Brussels Griffons to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book,
    Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.

    It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Brussels Griffon the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.

    Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.


  4. Grooming. To keep their wiry coat short and free of mats, Rough Brussels Griffons require regular combing, and also clipping and trimming every few months.

  5. Finding one and paying the price. In the United States, only about 1200 new Brussels Griffon puppies are registered each year. (Compare that to over 60,000 new Golden Retriever puppies!) Many breeders charge $1000 or more, which they explain is to cover expensive C-section births, tiny litters, and a high puppy mortality rate due to birth defects and failure to thrive.


    book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Brussels Griffon puppy. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.

    If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether a Brussels Griffon might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.


    book cover Once you have your Brussels Griffon home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.

    My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need. Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.




Please consider adopting an ADULT Brussels Griffon...

When you're acquiring a Brussels Griffon PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.

But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Brussels Griffons who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!

Save a life. Adopt a dog.

Adopting a Dog From a Dog Breed Rescue Group

Adopting a Dog From the Animal Shelter

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