Brussels Griffon Care

Brussels Griffons (Griffons, or simply BGs, for short) are tiny, lively, and extremely distinctive-looking--they're often compared to a creature out of the Star Wars franchise. Dogs of this breed are a bit rare, and they're beloved by their owners, partly because they don't require a great deal of maintenance. Below you'll find plenty of details on caring for a Brussels Griffon: puppy development, exercise needs, diet and nutrition, and more. For answers to all your questions about Brussels Griffon care, read on!

Brussels Griffon Breed Development

As a toy-sized breed, Brussels Griffon puppy development typically spans 14-16 months from birth to full maturity. Physically, Griffon puppies grow swiftly in length and height for the first 5-6 months, then those growth rates slow somewhat while the adolescent BG "fills out" by adding muscle mass and fat; a Brussels Griffon is usually at or near its full adult size (an average of eight inches in height and 10 pounds in weight) at 10-11 months of age.

Socially, Griffon pups develop steadily: they reach adolescence at 4-5 months, sexual maturity at 8-9 months, and full mental maturity by about 15 months (though some BGs may retain their puppylike behavior for a few months more).

For specific milestones in BG development, see the following chart:

Brussels Griffon Exercise Needs

The Brussels Griffon is a solid, lively, surprisingly strong breed in a tiny package, so exercise requirements for these dogs are a bit more extensive than one would think. BGs are also extremely social, so they'll do best with activities in which their human owners also participate. The typical adult Griffon will need 30-45 minutes of proper exercise per day; you can begin exercising your BG puppy at three months old by taking it on short (5- to 10-minute) walks, then increasing the walks' frequency and duration as the puppy grows.

Some things to keep in mind when you're exercising your Brussels Griffon: first, puppies younger than nine months old shouldn't participate in activities that include a lot of jumping and running, as doing so can injure their still-developing bones and joints. Brussels Griffons, regardless of age, are brachycephalic, meaning they have short noses that don't cool the air they breathe as well as other, longer-nosed breeds; this makes BGs overheat very easily, so they shouldn't be exercised very long in extremely hot temperatures. Their short coats make these dogs get cold very easily too, so frigid days should be avoided as well. And as previously mentioned, Griffons really like their people, so they'll benefit most from exercises that their owners perform alongside them. Suffice it to say that simply letting your BG out to play by itself in the yard--even a fenced one--simply won't do, as the little dog will either find a way to escape, dig up the entire flower bed, or howl in misery. And perhaps all three!

Precautions aside, it's important to exercise your Brussels Griffon every single day. These dogs will express their boredom or restlessness by digging, barking, being fussy and temperamental, and by extreme unhappiness overall. Consistent exercise, therefore, is good for both the dog's sanity and your own. Here are a few exercise ideas:

  • Walking: Two 15-minute walks per day is a good target
  • Fetch: Can be played indoors or out
  • Hide-and-Seek: Great exercise for a rainy day; give the dog a treat when it finds you
  • Canine Sports: BGs excel at agility and obedience trials
  • Dog Park: Your Griffon will enjoy the company of other dogs

When indoors, it's a good idea to give your BG access to one or more balls or chew-toys that will allow the dog to burn off any excess energy. It's also recommended that you establish a consistent daily exercise schedule for your Griffon, such as walks after breakfast and dinner and a play period in the afternoon.

Brussels Griffon Maintenance

The care required for these dogs in terms of shedding and drooling is low to moderate overall. Brussels Griffon shedding depends on the coat type: the smooth-coated variety sheds seasonally, while rough-coated BGs shed year-round--but in both cases, the amount of shedding isn't too profuse. Drooling isn't much of an issue at all.

Smooth-coated Griffons have short, glossy coats that don't shed much except in the spring and fall shedding seasons--and even then, the shedding is not very excessive. Smooth BGs will need weekly brushing with a hound glove for most of the year; during shedding season, owners will need to use the hound glove almost daily during the 2- to 3-week shedding period--but the brushing combined with a warm bath or two should minimize the shedding pretty well.

Rough-coated BGs take a bit more work to reduce shedding. Griffons with this coat type have wiry, dense hair that grows to several inches, then falls out and is replaced by new hair--which means these dogs will shed lightly all the time. Rough-coated Griffons will need brushing twice a week with both a slicker brush and a metal comb. Most owners have their rough BGs clipped several times per year, and hand-stripped about every six months to keep the coats in good shape and minimize shedding.

In regards to drooling: a Griffon may drool a bit in anticipation of food, but little otherwise. If your Brussels Griffon is drooling excessively, it may be a sign of a medical issue, in which case a veterinarian should be consulted.

Brussels Griffon Diet

Diet and nutrition for Brussels Griffons is important in keeping these little dogs healthy and long-living. Obviously, a dog of such small size won't eat a great deal of food--but the food will need to be of high quality, with plenty of animal proteins and carbohydrates for energy and--particularly in the case of the smooth-coated variety--some omega fatty acids for coat and skin health. Brussels Griffon food will also need to be free of grains like corn, barley, and oats, as many of these dogs have grain allergies. All this means that the best food for Brussels Griffons is premium grain-free food, as it'll contain the proper nutrients for them. Cheap, generic dog foods are not recommended for this breed, as they contain a lot of empty "filler" ingredients (usually including grains) that just don't satisfy a Griffon's nutritional needs.

And while premium foods are more expensive and harder to obtain, your BG won't each much of it. An adult Brussels Griffon, depending on its age and activity level, will only need about ¾ cup of premium dry food per day, divided into two meals. BG puppies will need even less: depending on the pups age, about half a cup per day will be plenty, divided into three meals per day (not two) until the puppy is six months old. Fore more info on feeding a Brussels Griffon from puppyhood through maturity, reference this chart:

*--Around this time, transition to adult food by first mixing in just a little adult formula with the puppy food. Over the course of a week, with each meal add a bit more adult food to the mix until the dog is eating it entirely.

Though the above-listed portions may seem tiny, they're ample enough for these little dogs, so it's best to try and stick to them. Surprisingly, a BG will easily become overweight if it regularly overeats--and a fat Brussels Griffon will have breathing, joint, and digestive problems, not to mention a shortened lifespan. You can control your Griffon's weight in several ways: by establishing consistent feeding and exercise schedules, by not feeding the dog table scraps, and by not leaving food in its bowl all the time, thereby allowing the dog to eat anytime it wants. It's better to put your BG's bowl down only at mealtimes, then pick it up a few minutes after the dog begins eating.

If you're worried your Brussels Griffon is overweight, you can give the dog this simple test: run a hand along its side, and if you can't feel any ribs, it's diet time. Reduce your BG's daily food consumption by a bit, and add an extra walk or play period to its daily exercise schedule.