A dog with lots of personality the Griffon Bruxellois has much love and affection to give. Lauren Nethercote reports.
Developed from the King Charles Spaniel, Affenpinscher, Pug and Yorkshire Terrier, it is believed the Griffon Bruxellois originated as the rough-coated dog used as a rodent catcher in the stables of Brussels and rode on Hansom cabs as a drivers friend.
There are three varieties of Griffon: Brussels Griffon, Belgian Griffon (also known as Griffon Bruxellois) and Petit Griffon. The Belgian Griffon (Griffon Bruxellois) has a long, wiry coat with a fringe around the face, the Brussels Griffon has a wiry coat that is longer than the Belgian Griffon, and the Petit Griffon has a short, smooth coat.
However, only FCI (Fdration Cynologique Internationale) countries – which encourage and promote breeding and the use of purebred dogs – divide them into the three groups. In Australia and England, the breed is simply referred to and shown as Griffon Bruxellois. They have an almost human facial expression, which has earned them the nickname “monkey face”. Today, the Griffon Bruxellois is a wonderful family companion.
The Griffon Bruxellois is known to be extremely affectionate, loyal and cheerful, as breeder and enthusiast, Lee Pieterse, tells Dogs Life. “The Griffon Bruxellois is upbeat and playful, and, at other times, ready to cuddle and be a lap dog, she says. The perfect person for this breed is someone very gentle, who doesn’t work full-time, as they enjoy people and companionship.
The Griffon is an adaptable dog, willing to play rough and tumble with children or be a couch potato with a less mobile or older person. With lots of personality, they make fine companions.
The Griffon is renowned for its deep-seated loyalty, engaging personality and sweet terrier-like disposition. These dogs get along wonderfully with children, although they are not suited for kids under five years. As always, early socialisation is a must and children should be supervised. If you are older and your daily persuits are more leisurely, the dog will grow up more sedate and become a close and loving friend.
Despite its gorgeous looks, the Griffon makes a good watchdog. They are excellent for letting you know if someone arrives, Pieterse says. This breed does not adapt well to solitary life in a backyard, but loves human companionship – they are lively, curious and love everyone. The Griffon loves to be spoilt and is said to be an ideal housedog, happily spending their lives more or less indoors with the family.
A good, safe yard is required.
Not much grass is needed; just enough for toileting, Pieterse says. Whats more important is how much couch area or bed area you are prepared to share with your puppy. If you want a backyard dog, don’t buy a Griffon – they are companion animals, not backyard dogs.
The Griffon is a versatile breed and will happily become a couch potato, but when given the opportunity, they do love to romp around, playing and exploring. Mine love to romp in the pond and chase pigeons, Pieterse says. The Griffon enjoys games and going for an energetic walk daily.
Great in agility
The Griffon is extremely intelligent and responds well to training, but can be stubborn at times. They require extra patience and persistence when it comes to training, needing to be taught basics in fun, short, 10-minute bursts. They respond well to a positive-reinforcement method.
This gorgeous breeds coat comes in two varieties: the rough and smooth coat. The rough coat requires quite a lot of grooming. Most owners will need a professional groomer to take care of the coat, as they need monthly trimming around the face and nose, as well as a weekly bath. If they are show dogs, they are stripped, which requires the old/long coat to be plucked out. This allows the new coat to grow underneath.
The smooth-coat variety is relatively easy to maintain, only needing an occasional rub down with a glove and a weekly bath, with no trimming required. The Griffon is quite a healthy, robust breed and has few hereditary diseases. However, cataracts, PRA, syringomyelia, Legg Perthes Disease, hydrocephalus, patellar luxation, hip dysplasia and heart disease can appear.
A reputable breeder will be able to reduce many of these conditions if they have their breeding Griffons tested and genetically free from hereditary diseases. The lifespan of this loving breed ranges from 13 to 16 years. If you have the time and dedication to allow one of these admirable dogs into your home, you will be blessed with an extremely loving and intelligent companion for life.
For more information on the breed or to locate a breeder, contact your local canine council via website www.ankc.org.au