Description & History

The Griffon Bruxellois originated in Belgium. It is related to the Affenpinscher and possibly other German terrier breeds. Its pert monkey-like features closely resemble those of the Affenpinscher and the Pug, which are both thought to be the ancestors of the breed.

It is believed that the Griffon has been in existence for hundreds of years but it was not brought to England until the latter part of the nineteenth century, when it was used to control rats and other vermin.

Today's Griffon Bruxellois is a cross between the stable Griffon of Brussels and English Toy Terriers.

There are two varieties of the breed: the rough-coated Bruxellois with a harsh and wiry coat and the smooth-coated Petit Brabancon that has a soft coat.

The Griffon Bruxellois started life as a ratter around the the stables in Brussels. Not only were they efficient at controlling vermin but they were also excellent guard and watch dogs. Many were owned by coachmen and sat up on the front seat of the coach with their owners as they drove around the city. People in the streets were attracted to them and soon became accustomed to their noisy barking, which gave advance warning of their approach.

The breed was a favourite of the Belgian royal family, especially the late Queen Astrid, who was a keen supporter of these little dogs. It became almost extinct after the First World War, and royal support was one of the factors which helped the breed to regain its popularity.

Rosamund Walters.

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