20 Things You Didn’t Know about The Brussels Griffon

Brussels Griffon

The Brussels Griffon is a kind of toy dog that can trace its roots to its namesake. It has never been the most popular dog breed that can be found out there. However, the Brussels Griffon has managed to stand the test of time because it wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t. Here are 20 things that you may or may not have known about the Brussels Griffon.

1. Not Named For a Mythological Monster

Some people might wonder whether Brussels Griffons were named for the mythological monster. If so, they should know that this is not the case. Brussels Griffons are very adorable-looking. However, they aren’t the most physically-impressive dogs. As a result, it would have been very strange to name Brussels Griffons for the mythological monster, which had an extraordinary reputation in pre-modern Europe because the eagle was the king of birds while the lion was the king of beasts.

2. Their Name Refers to a Kind of Dog

Instead, Brussels Griffons are called thus because Griffons are a kind of dog that are associated with the Low Countries for the most part. Supposedly, these dogs started out as hunting dogs. However, while most of them have remained as such, others have managed to find a new role for themselves as personal companions. Griffons have a reputation for being rough-coated, though it is important to note that this isn’t guaranteed to be the case for every single Griffon that can be found out there.

3. Their Name Refers to the City of Their Origin

As for the other part of the Brussels Griffon’s name, that refers to the city of Brussels, which is supposed to be their place of origin. There is much that can be said about Brussels, seeing as how it is one of the most famous cities on the planet. To name an example, it is interesting to note that it is a French-speaking city for the most part even though it is surrounded by the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. Something that can be explained by a language shift that happened in the 19th century. Nowadays, both French and Dutch enjoy the status of official language in Brussels, though French is the city’s lingua franca because more than 90 percent of the city’s very multilingual population can speak it.

4. Can Refer to Either One or Three Kinds of Dogs

It is important to note that the Brussels Griffon can refer to either one kind of dog or three kinds of dogs. This is because there are three kinds of dogs called the Brussels Griffon, the Griffon Belge, and the Petit Brabancon that are related to one another. Sometimes, they are considered to be different varieties of the same dog breed called the Brussels Griffon. Other times, they are considered to be different dog breeds, meaning that Brussels Griffon cannot be used to refer to either the Griffon Belge or the Petit Brabancon.

5. Descended From the Smousje

These three kinds of dogs have strong connections with one another. To name an example, they are descended from the Smousje, which was a small, rough-coated dog that has often been compared with terriers. Something that makes sense because said dogs were stationed in stables for the purpose of killing rodents. This was a very important task. After all, rodents (https://www.savvyhorsewoman.com/2018/03/5-ways-to-keep-pests-out-of-your-stable.html) could bite horses, carry diseases, and even cause damage to the stable itself. As such, it wasn’t difficult for the Smousje to endear itself to the people who worked with them.

6. Descended From Imported Toy Dogs

Later, the Smousje was crossbred with various toy dogs imported from other countries. One example was the Pug while another example was the King Charles Spaniel. In other words, it is no coincidence that the Brussels Griffon of modern times can have such a pronounced resemblance to these dog breeds.

7. The Petit Brabancon Was Once Considered to Be a Fault

This cross-breeding introduced a number of characteristics that are considered to be iconic for the Brussels Griffon of modern times. However, this wasn’t always the case. For proof, look no further than the fact that the Petit Brabancon was once considered to be a fault of the dog breed. Something that presumably changed when enough people decided that they liked the look of those dogs, which is a good reminder that what is and isn’t considered to be a fault in purebred dogs can be based on nothing more than aesthetic preference.

8. Embraced By Both the Elites and the Workers

Curiously, the emerging Brussels Griffon was embraced by both the elites and the workers in its homeland. It isn’t hard to see why it was embraced by the workers. After all, the Brussels Griffon was created by the workers using a working dog as well as imported toy dogs. The more unusual part is how the Brussels Griffon managed to catch on with the Belgian elites as well. Perhaps the latter wanted to satisfy their desire for canine companionship using a dog from Belgium rather than some other country, particularly since nationalism was such a powerful force in the 19th and 20th centuries.

9. Got a Huge Boost From Marie Henriette of Austria

The Brussels Griffon got a huge boost from Marie Henriette of Austria, who was Queen of the Belgians because of her marriage to Leopold II, King of the Belgians. Generally speaking, the latter is remembered because of his founding of the Congo Free State, which was run in such a systematically brutal manner that the Belgian government was forced to take it from him by international pressure. However, it is interesting to note that Marie Henriette and Leopold’s relationship started out very poorly before proceeding to become even worse over time. One of her consolations was her animals, which extended to include an interest in both dog breeding and horse breeding.

10. Went International Because of This

Brussels Griffons went international in the late 19th century and early 20th century. This can be seen in how clubs for these dogs were established in the United Kingdom towards the end of the 20th century. If Brussels Griffons hadn’t gone international in this period, chances are very good that Brussels Griffons would no longer exist in the present.

11. Got Devastated During the First World War

Belgium suffered a great deal during the First World War. For those who are unfamiliar, Germany decided to attack France through the neutral countries of Belgium and Luxembourg. There was a fight. However, there was no way that the Belgian army could win, seeing as how it was about a tenth of the size of its German counterpart. Afterwards, the German occupation proved to be very bad as well. Any resistance was met with collective punishment, which meant the burning of buildings as well as the shooting of people. Unsurprisingly, the numbers of Brussels Griffons plummeted in these times.

12. Didn’t Have a Strong Recovery During the Interwar Period

Some Brussels Griffons managed to survive the First World War. However, they didn’t have a very strong recovery in Belgium during the interwar period because there was more of a focus on eliminating faults in the dog breed rather than increasing the numbers of the dog breed. This would have been fine if the peace had been longer. Unfortunately, it wasn’t too long before the Second World War broke out, meaning that the Brussels Griffon was already in a rather shaky position by the start of that conflict.

13. Got Devastated During the Second World War

Belgium took so much damage during the First World War that Belgians were less than enthused by the thought of getting drawn into another major conflict. The country made a serious effort to become neutral, as shown by how it repudiated a defense pact with France and secured a neutrality pact from Germany. That didn’t do it any good because Germany invaded it anyway as a part of the wider invasion of France and the Low Countries. Combined with the occupation, this was bad enough that Belgium decided to just straight-up abandon any attempt at maintaining neutrality in preference for integrating with its neighbors. As for the Brussels Griffon, it was near-extinct in Belgium itself by the end of the war.

14. Survived Because of Non-Belgian Dog Breeders

In fact, it should be mentioned that there weren’t enough Brussels Griffons remaining in Belgium to continue the dog breed, which speaks volumes considering how inbred dog breeds can get. Instead, the dog breed was saved by the efforts of international dog breeders. Something that wouldn’t have been possible if they hadn’t become popular enough to go international in the first place.

15. Inspired Ewoks

Brussels Griffons have been influential in some very unexpected ways. To name an example, the Ewoks from Star Wars looked like a combination between bears and monkeys. However, it turns out that both the visual effects director and the make-up artist for Return of the Jedi took inspiration from pictures of a Brussels Griffon.

16. Not Necessarily Rough-Coated

Griffons are famous for being rough-coated. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that a lot of Brussels Griffons are rough-coated as well. However, it is interesting to note that this dog breed comes in both rough-coated and smooth-coated varieties. If people want to minimize the need for grooming, they should go for one of the smooth-coated dogs rather than one of the rough-coated dogs. This is because those require minimal grooming whereas their rough-coated counterparts require weekly grooming.

17. Docking and Cropping Were Once Common Practices For the Brussels Griffon

Tail docking and ear cropping were once common practices for the Brussels Griffon. Nowadays, these practices are becoming rarer and rarer because they are seen as being cruel. Both tail docking and ear cropping have been banned in most of Europe for quite some time. Similarly, while these practices haven’t been banned on the national level in the United States, disapproval is becoming more and more widespread. Something that is reflected by state-level legislation. Despite this, there are dog breeders out there who still choose to dock the tail and crop the ears of their Brussels Griffons.

18. Can Be Sensitive Animals

Personality-wise, Brussels Griffons tend to be very affectionate, which makes sense considering their status as personal companions. However, they can be rather sensitive animals as well. Something that can be managed through proper training as well as proper socialization.

19. Gets Along Well With Other Animals

Conveniently, Brussels Griffons can get along well with other pet animals such as cats and dogs. They do have an issue in that they don’t seem to have a very good idea of their own size. As a result, Brussels Griffons have been known to try to dominate much bigger dogs, which can get them into trouble. As for humans, it should come as no surprise to learn that these dogs get along quite well with humans, though they have been known to latch onto one human member of the family in particular. Brussels Griffons are even capable of getting along well with young children so long as the latter know how to interact with them. Something that isn’t necessarily guaranteed, which is why such interactions should always be supervised.

20. Not Particularly Sensitive to Heat

On the whole, Brussels Griffons are supposed to be relatively healthy dogs. For instance, even though they are one of the dog breeds with a shortened snout, they aren’t particularly sensitive to either the heat or the cold. Something that can’t be said for a lot of the other dog breeds with shortened snouts, which are particularly prone to heat strokes. Having said this, Brussels Griffons aren’t particularly resistant to extremes of temperature either, so interested individuals need to be very careful about exposing them to such.

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