The Brussels Griffon, named for the city of his origin, Brussels, Belgium, is a lively, sturdy little fellow, classified as a member of the Toy Group due to his small size. Adults usually range in weight from six to twelve pounds. During the early 1800’s, it was the custom for coachmen to keep small terrier types as ratters in the stables, and such dogs of that period in Belgium were Affenpinscher-like, known as Griffons d’Ecurie (wire coated stable dogs).
Just when or why other breeds were introduced can only be conjecture as the Brussels’ stablemen who initiated these crosses apparently kept no records.
The Pug, a Victorian favorite from across the Channel, was bred to the native Belgian dog in the mid 1800s. From this cross came a smooth coated Griffon designated Brabancon after the Belgian national anthem, La Brabonconne. At about the same time the King Charles (black and tan) and the Ruby varieties of the English Toy Spaniel were also crossed with the Belgian dogs.
From these two crossings not only did two distinct types of coat emerge, the harsh coated bewiskered rough, and the smooth coated Brabancon, but also the rich red color; the black and tan color, and the solid black color. The English Toy Spaniel ancestry can also be seen to this day in an occasional (and completely acceptable) web footed, kink tailed, or tailless Griffon puppy, often the one with the most desirable head properties. These two short faced, big headed, large eyed breeds forever changed the serviceable little ratter into a delightful small companion dog with a strong, broad, up-swept underjaw, and a very short, up-tilted nose placed high between very dark, lustrous eyes with the high domed skull of the English Toy Spaniel.
All of this together conjures that wonderful “pout”, which gives the Griffon that almost human expression. No longer serving his original function (in itself obsolete) the Brussels Griffon has evolved into a most intriguing looking, alert and active companion.