Brussels Griffons & Japanese Chins

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There seems two main versions of the History of the Brussels Griffon. One is that it is an old breed and points to a picture by Jan Van Eyck, painted in 1434 which shows a small reddish dog resembling a Brussels Griffon.

The second painting, this time by Renoir and dated back to the 1870's entitled "La Baigneuse au Griffon" shows a very small black and tan griffon. The second version is that the breed was not known before around 1880 and was bred from the Affenpincher, the Ruby King Charles Spaniel and the Pug, possibly with crosses with the Yorkshire Terrier.

Around the later part of the 19th Century Griffons were being kept on the waterfronts and in the Hansom Cab Stables of Brussels where they were kept as ratters. The cab drivers fell in love with their wonderfully friendly personalities, thus they ended up on the seat riding besides the drivers where they became well known for their monkey faces and pert expressions.

The first breed standard was drawn up in the 1880's and breed classes were first scheduled in 1883. By 1890 they had become all the rage in Belgium and were taken up by Queen Astrid of the Belgians. The first imports into England were around 1890 and first registered in 1894 when several were imported.

The first two champions came around the turn of the century with Bruno a Belgian import and then Mousequetaire Rouge bred in England. The first club set up in England was the Griffon Bruxellois Club established in 1897. The Centenary was held in 1997 with a weekend get together, seminar and Championship show. I attended the weekend and it was a lovely weekend with the show outdoors. It was held in the Midlands with Griffon enthusiasts attending from around the world.

In England they have one Breed, the Griffon Bruxellois. Under FCA rules in Europe there are three separate breeds, which are shown separately. The Griffon Bruxellois, a red rough coated dog. A Griffon Belge, a rough coated dog other than red (black, black and tan or black and red mixed) and thirdly the Petit Brabancon, a smooth coated of red, black, black and tan or black with red mixed. The coats and colours are interbred!
Some experts say that by using smooths in their breedings with roughs, it will enhance the colour of the rough coats.

The Brussels Griffon is a small cobby dog, weighing between 6 and 11lbs. It has a large wide head, with large quite prominent dark eyes and a very short nose, which slopes back to the skull. It has a very prominent chin and an undershot mouth.

The rough coats should have harsh coats and full beards. These are probably the ones that most people think of when they think of a Brussels Griffon and they tend to be the ones more illustrated in the books.

The smooths have a short tight coat and do not have beards. They should have a wide deep chest , medium legs and a short level back. The tail is customarily docked and should be carried high, emerging at right angles from a level topline. In some Countries now, tail docking and ear cropping is forbidden!

The character of the Brussels Griffon is very important. They should have a spunky terrier temperament, lively and alert, full of their own importance and very friendly and outgoing. They always act as if nobody has ever told them they are small dogs, they are definitely big dogs in a small package.

They are a very intelligent breed and take very readily to obedience or agility training and just love to please.

The smooths take little grooming, a brush used regularly or a nice grooming glove will keep them looking very smart. If you have a show rough, then you will need to be hand stripping the coat to keep it harsh and in a rollover coat ready for each show. If you do roughly an hour or two's work a week on stripping the coat eventually you will be able to have your dog looking wonderful all year round and ready for the show ring.

Most people that have the roughs as pets prefer to clipper the coats 2 or 3 times a year. It keeps them tidy and does away with the hand work. The beards need to be combed through regularly to stop any matting and a few hairs pulled out either side of the nose just between the eyes, so the hair doesn't stick into the eye.

A Brussels Griffon can manage on much less exercise than many other breeds and will be content with short walks if that is all you can manage. However, they are very sturdy little dogs and will cope with as much as you like and will happily walk all day and still be ready for more. It is quite a healthy breed although you should ensure that your pups comes from stock free of patella problems.

If you want an intelligent, friendly, outgoing little character to share your life with then a Griffon might be for you. However, getting hold of one may be difficult. Numerically it is a very small breed with very few pups born every year and most breeders have far more enquiries than they have puppies. Many people have to wait a while to find a Griffon. If you are lucky enough to find one, then you will not be sorry, they are totally lovable and steal your heart with character all of their own. One warning - almost everyone starts with one and ends up with more.

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