A member of the toy group, the Brussels Griffon has a terrier-like attitude packed into a compact, square and sturdy body. He has a pushed-in nose and expressive eyes that sparkle with the confidence of a larger breed, and the Griffon definitely has the attitude of a big dog in a little body.
Their coat comes in two different types, smooth or rough, and both coats require weekly grooming. The rough coated Brussels Griffon has an impressive wiry mustache and beard, giving him a look that resembles an Ewok, one of the lovable characters from Star Wars. This Griffon has appeared alongside some of the biggest stars in show business, such as Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt in As Good as it Gets. The breed was also featured in The First Wives’ Club and Gosford Park.
The Griffon has been described as a little dog with a monkey or elf-like face. However, they have such an expressive face, they are often said to have an almost human-like face. The breed originated in Brussels, Belgium in the 1800s where their main duty was to catch rats in and around horse stables. This spunky and intelligent breed was developed primarily by crossing the Affenpinscher with the Griffon d´ecurie, a Belgian street dog that was similar to, but heavier than, the Fox Terrier. The black Pug, King Charles Spaniel, Ruby Toy Spaniel, Irish and Yorkshire Terrier also contributed to the development of the Brussels Griffon.
Because of their small size and charming attitude, the Griffon became a favorite of working class people and nobility. Cab drivers of the time used the little dogs to attract riders and discourage thieves; however, the dogs were much better at drawing customers in than keeping thieves at bay. By 1880 the breed had enough interest to be shown at a dog show in Belgium and its popularity began to grow. Unfortunately, the breed declined in numbers during WW I and II and was on the verge of becoming extinct. They had been completely eliminated in their homeland of Belgium, and the only reason the breed survived was because of breeders spread out across Europe.