Dog Breed Group: Companion Dog
Life Span: 13-15 years
Weight: Male: 4-5, Female: 3.5-4.5
Height: Male: 8-10, Female: 7-9
Origin of Name: The Griffon Bruxellois or Brussels Griffon is a breed of toy dog, named for their city of origin: Brussels, Belgium.
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Griffon-type dogs were well known in Europe for centuries. In Van Eyck's 1434 portrait of the ""Ornolfini couple"", we glimpse Griff's distant ancestor. It is a shorter, griffon-type dog with a longer snout than today's flattering, pouty-lipped version.
In the early 1800s, Griff's story begins right in Brussels, the capital of Belgium. This was when Griff began his rise from rough-and-tumble rat dog to sophisticated laptop companion.
Brussels trainers usually kept small terrier type dogs in their stables to keep the rat population down. These were commonly known as Affenpinscher-like dogs as ""griffons d'ecurie"" or ""wire-coated dogs"". Hack drivers experimented with various crosses to improve their dogs.
There is no written record of these breedings, but dog people have found that the pug, the English Toy Spaniels, an old Belgian breed called Brabankone, and perhaps the Yorkshire Terrier were also part of the genetic mix, which Brussels Griffen Used to produce.
The turning point of griff history came in the 1870s, when dog lover Henarita Maria, the queen's Belgian, liked the breed. With royal patronage, Griff's future was assured. They became all the rage among the courtiers of the queen, and the kennel of the upper classes further refined the breed, making the body smaller and the face more humane.
The royal impetus to the breed aroused international interest and the Griffes were exported to England and America. AKC registered its first Griff in 1910. In the case of so many European breeds, two world wars reduced Griff's population. The breed could not survive if not for the dedication of American and British enthusiasts.
Brussels Griffon won millions of new fans in 1997, when a spicy griff named Jill gave Jack Nicholson the hit movie ""As Good As It Gets.""