Due to the relative rarity of the breed, ascertaining the exact nature of its origin is difficult. The place of origin is incorporated in the name; the Griffon Bruxellois hailes from Belgium, where it was traditionally favoured by coachmen as a portable companion aboard hansom cabs. Featured in a Flemish painting from 1434, the breed is believed to have an ancient heritage, being a likely descendent of the King Charles Spaniel and the Pug. Facing extinction by the end of the Second World War, the Griffon Bruxellois was resurrected by enthusiasts, although it has never been popular or numerous, remaining amongst the rarest breeds today.
Falling within the 'toy' breed group, the Griffon Bruxellois is a compact and proportioned breed, low to the ground, with a domed forehead, large, wide-set eyes, a hanging tongue and a deep muzzle. Classified as two distinct coat varieties - the Rough-Haired and the Smooth-Haired - common in colour variations of reddish brown, solid black and black and tan. The Griffon Bruxellois is a relatively low maintenance breed, requiring infrequent grooming and bathing, whilst being sufficiently exercised within the home or garden.
Although rarely seen as a domestic pet, the Griffon Bruxellois has experienced a resurgence in popularity in the United States, with toy dogs growing in demand. The breed is an exemplary companion dog, well suited to active family life or to a dedicated sole owner, providing its needs for activity, enrichment and companionship are met. Loyal, mannered and obedient, the Griffon Bruxellois is compatible with children and other house pets, adapting well to new situations and people. A healthy average weight for the Griffon Bruxellois is 3-6 kg, with a life expectancy of 12-15 years.
Breed-specific or genetic diseases are difficult to determine due to the rarity of the Griffon Bruxellois, although documented cases of optical disorders namely cataracts and retinal atrophy, as well as orthopedic and neurological complaints are commonly identified in the breed. Otherwise, the Griffon is typically healthy and a low maintenance breed choice.