Griffon belge

FCI standard Nº 81

Mrs Pamela Jeans-Brown revised by R. Triquet
Group 9 Companions and Toy Dogs
Section 3 Small Belgian Dogs
Without working trial
Acceptance on a definitive basis by the FCI
Tuesday 26 October 1954
Publication of the official valid standard
Tuesday 25 March 2003
Last update
Monday 05 May 2003
En français, cette race se dit
Griffon belge
Diese Norm ist in deutscher Sprache sichtbar
Griffon belge
En español, esta raza se dice
Griffon belge
In het Nederlands, wordt dit ras gezegd
Griffon belge


Small guardian and companion dog.

Brief historical summary

The three breeds (Griffon Bruxellois, Griffon Belge and Petit Brabançon) all descend from a small rough-coated dog called a “Smousje”, which for centuries has been found in the Brussels area.
In the 19th century, bringing in blood-lines from the Ruby King Charles Spaniel and the Pug produced the short black coat and fixed the current breed type. These little dogs are very alert and were bred to guard carriages and keep stables free from rodents.
In 1883 the first Griffon Bruxellois were registered at L.O.S.H. (The St.Hubert stud book). They were Topsy (L.O.S.H. nr.163) and Foxine (L.O.S.H. nr.164). By about 1900 they had become very popular, together with other breeds, thanks to the royal interest shown in them by Queen Marie-Henriette of Belgium. Many specimens were exported abroad and helped the spread and popularity of the breed.

General appearance

Small companion dog; intelligent, well-balanced, alert, proud, robust, practically square; with good bone but at the same time elegant in its movement and construction; attracting attention by its almost human expression.
The two Griffons are rough-coated and are distinguished to each other by colour, whereas the Petit Brabançon is short-coated.

Important proportions

Length of body, from point of shoulder to point of buttock should be as equal as possible to height at withers.

Behaviour / temperament

Well-balanced little dog, alert, proud, very attached to its owner, very watchful. Neither timid nor aggressive.


Cranial region

This is the most characteristic part of the body and the most striking. The head is quite large compared with the body and has an almost human expression. In the Griffons the hair is rough, upstanding and tousled; it is longer above the eyes, on the foreface, the cheeks and chin, forming the head furnishings.
Broad and round. The forehead is well-rounded. 
Very pronounced.

Facial region

Black. The nose is set at the same level as the eyes. Nose leather is broad with wide-open nostrils. The tip of the nose is tilted back so that in profile the chin, the nose and the forehead are on the same plane.
The foreface including the nose is very short : it must not exceed 1.5 cm. For the Petit Brabançon a correct foreface appears longer because it has no furnishing. A poor expression is given by a non-turned-up foreface, just as it is by a nose whose top line lies below the line from the bottom of the eyes and these are both serious faults.
Black. The top and bottom lips are in close contact and close-fitting. The upper lip does not form flews and does not overlap the lower lip. If it is too loose it spoils the desired expression.
Jaws and teeth
The lower jaw is curved upwards, broad, non-pointed and jutting beyond the upper jaw; the breed is undershot. The incisors on each jaw are expected to be regularly set and in a straight line, with upper and lower remaining really parallel.
The mouth must be tightly closed, showing neither teeth nor tongue. The width and prominence of the chin are extremely important. Care must be taken to ensure that no incisors are missing.
Well set apart, large and round, never bulging. Brown, as dark as possible. The eye is to be edged with black and preferably no white of eye is to be seen. Small, oval or light coloured eyes are a fault.
Small, set high with enough space between them. Uncropped ears carried semi-erect and falling forwards. Ears which are too big are undesirable, so are ears falling on the side of the head. Cropped ears are pointed and erect. Cropped and uncropped ears are equally acceptable.


Medium length; blends harmoniously into the shoulders.


The length of the body practically equals the height at the withers. The overall impression is of small square powerful dog.
Slightly raised.
Straight, short, strong.
Short and muscled, very slightly arched.
Broad and flat or only very slightly sloping.
Broad, well let down to elbows. The breastbone is well defined, which gives a slightly jutting chest in profile.
Ribs well-sprung but not barrel nor too flat.
Underline and belly
Belly slightly tucked up; flanks clearly defined.


Set high and carried quite high. A docked tail is shortened y 2/3 of its length. A non-docked tail is carried upwards with the tip towards the back without ever reaching it or being curled. A naturally short or broken or curly tail is a severe fault.



Front legs parallel with good bone, set sufficiently wide apart.
Normal shoulder angulation.
Close to body. Wrists strong.
Small, round, neither turning out nor in. Tight fitting toes; fused toes are undesirable. Thick pads as dark as possible. Nails preferably black, as dark as possible.


Hind legs with good bone, really parallel, angulated to balance with front legs.
Sufficient angulation.
Well let down, neither close nor open.
Hind feet
See forequarters. Dewclaws not sought after.

Gait and movement

Powerful, parallel movement of limbs with good rear drive. High-stepping front movement and ambling are faults.


Quality of coat : The Griffon Bruxellois and the Griffon Belge are rough-coated with undercoat. The hair is naturally harsh, slightly wavy, not curly, it is trimmed. The hair must be long enough for its structure to be appreciated. Hair which is too long destroys the outline and is not sought after. A silky or woolly coat is a serious fault. The Petit Brabançon is short-coated. The hair is harsh, flat and gleaming, and at most 2 cm long.
Head furnishing : With the Griffons the furnishing (beard and moustache) begin under the nose-eye axis and goes from one ear to the other, covering the muzzle and the cheeks with thick hair which is longer than on the rest of the body. Above the eyes, the hair must be longer than on the rest of the skull, forming eye-brows.
Griffon Bruxellois : Red, reddish; a little black is allowed on the head furnishing.
Griffon Belge : Black, black and tan. The tan markings must be pure and of a sustained colour. They are situated on the front legs, from foot to wrist, on the hind legs from foot to hock. They go up the inside of the legs. They are also situated on the chest, on the cheeks, on the chin, above the eyes, inside the ears, below the tail and around the anus. The black can be mixed with red-brown, which is allowed although pure black and black and tan are preferred.
Petit Brabançon : The same colours are accepted as for the Griffons. It has a dark mask. Grey or frosting in the mask for older dogs should not be penalised.
In all three breeds, a few white hairs on the chest are tolerated but not sought after.

Size and weight

Varies from 3,5 to 6 kg.


• Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and its ability to perform its traditional work.
• Faults listed should be in degree of seriousness.

Disqualifying faults

 Aggressive or overly shy.
 Nose lacking pigment or other than black.
 Tongue permanently visible, the mouth being closed.
 Wry lower jaw.
 Upper jaw protruding beyond lower jaw.
 Any other colours than those laid down in the standard, such as grey, blue and tan, brown and tan, liver colour.
 Any white patch.

NB :

• Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
• The above mentioned faults when occurring to a highly marked degree or frequently are disqualifying.
• Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
• Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs, with breed typical conformation should be used for breeding.



Detailed history

The three "small size Belgians", a generic name that must be adopted since the Brabançon is not a Griffon, obviously have a common origin. They come from the many small dog ratiers, commonly called "stable Griffins", which were widespread in Europe, including France, the Netherlands and Germany. These dogs were very useful when the horse was the main means of transport and traction. Very lively, curious, vigilant, small, they turned out to be very good companion dogs, little bulky nor expensive to maintain, able to destroy rodents, while keeping the house. They were therefore the favorites of traders, artisans, and city workers.

But these dogs were also prized by the big ones of this world. Recall in this regard that Henry III, whose immoderate taste for the Dwarf Spaniels has remained famous (he took them everywhere, in a corbel that hung around his neck), also had small Griffons, as evidenced by a painting from Jacopo da Empoli (1554 - 1640) who represents the sovereign in their company. And, in the nineteenth century, Queen Draga of Serbia (1867 - 1903) had with her one of these miniature Griffins, which saved her besides the life. Indeed, suspecting a conspiracy against her, she began to taste all his dishes to his favorite dog, and his presumptions were justified because the dog poisoned and succumbed. The cook, thus discovered, pulled himself, meanwhile, a bullet in the head.

In France, no attention was paid to these stable Griffins. On the other hand, the Germans did not miss to select Pinschers, Affenpinscher and Schnauzers. In the Netherlands, breeders ended up worrying about their Smousie, or Smoushond, formerly known as the Dutch Terrier, a dog quite similar to the Brussels Griffon although of a considerably larger size (from 7 to 8 kilos).

The Stable Griffins were very popular in Belgium, where they appeared very old: they probably descended from the small Barbet, from the shaggy hound dog, widely used in the dunes and swamps bordering the North Sea. Unless they had for a distant ancestor the little Griffon of the Gauls whom the Romans called Agassin.

Flemish painting offers many representations of these modest-sized, shaggy or ruffled-looking dogs, which, in truth, did not all look exactly like modern-day Belgium Griffons (their heads, in particular, were generally longer). However, some evoke them in a surprising way. Thus, in the painting of Jan Van Eyck, The Portrait of the Spouses Arnolfini, executed in 1434 near Brussels, is a small red dog, with ruffled hair (but long), with a typical expression, which is certainly not a product the fantasy of this painter.

In the last century, Belgium was a paradise for small dogs like the Spitz, the Schipperkes, the Bichons, the little Spaniels and, of course, the Stable Griffins. In no other country were they as popular as in that old part of the Netherlands which, it is true, was already very urbanized and densely populated. Moreover, when it was necessary to give a homeland of origin to the Continental Dwarf Spaniels and the Bichon with Curly Hair, France had to share this honor with Belgium. The English themselves, great lovers of dogs, made frequent expeditions to the markets of Antwerp or Brussels to acquire these small breeds. Thus, although surrounded by the great dog-eating nations that were already Britain, Germany or France, little Belgium had a privileged position in view of both the number and the diversity of its dog breeds.

It is in this context that our neighbors were able to select and improve, by crossbreeding with foreign breeds, their stable Griffins. In 1880, during the first Belgian dog show, which coincided with the Independence Day, attention was given to identifying the various Belgian races. No Schipperke came to this demonstration which, it will be remembered, stood on the plain of Maneuvers in Brussels. On the other hand, a miniature Griffon was there. It was a red-haired, medium-length, long-haired subject that belonged to a city sergeant and was, for this reason, called the "city guard dog" because, if they were well known Dogs of this kind had not yet a definite name: they were at one time referred to as "Belgian Shorthaired Terriers". The sergeant's dog was, we imagine, very much surrounded and rewarded, and, of course, an English amateur passing by bought it. Fortunately, its value had not escaped one of the judges, Mr. Limbosch, who was able to obtain, before the departure of the animal for Great Britain, a projection for his dog, long-haired Griffon. From this union was born Fox, named "dog of the coachman" because he actually belonged to a coachman of the place Royale of Brussels, Mr. Notermans. The latter and the sergeant of the city, whose history has unfortunately not retained the name, were at the origin of the first selection of the Griffons of Belgium.

But a third subject was also of great importance in the creation of the race. It was a dog called Boy, but it was better known as "Petit Waterloo" because it belonged to a cafeteria whose pub was under the name of Petit Waterloo. This dog, from a Yorkshire Terrier dog; a race that had not yet reached its present perfection; was mated to a female Carlin who fathered Tom, a famous specimen from which the first exhibition champions emerged.

But the history of these few ancestors, as prestigious as they are, can not, on its own, clarify the obscurities surrounding the birth of small Belgian dogs. In fact, these descendants of the stable Griffons were raised by workers, small traders, modest people in short, who did not concern themselves either to note the genealogies of their dogs, or to register them in the Book of origins of the Royal Society Saint-Hubert newly created. Similarly, they never recorded in writing the observations they made on their dogs, most often in the cafes, nor did they indicate the protrusions that took place in the back room or back. court. We must also know that these breeders used to transmit the same names among the different litters. Thus, there were several Fox, Tom or Little Waterloo.

However, the mention of confirmed or supposed crosses allows us to get an idea of the intentions of these breeders: they looked for, it seems, a dog with a well-tousled appearance, presenting a round face with a very short nose, very characteristic in vogue at the end of the last century. The ideal hard coat is an intermediate hair, borrowing its long and short hair characteristics, which is difficult to obtain as much as to fix stably. These peculiarities explain, at the origin, the use of curious at first sight crossings, like that with the Yorkshire or the Pug. This miniature molosse, which was very fashionable at the time, had the additional advantage of producing dogs with a round head and a very short nose. There were also contributions from the English Dwarf Spaniel (King Charles), and in particular that of the variety Ruby, with the tawny-red color.

Thus the small Griffons were born, but it should not be inferred that they were mainly derived from a heterogeneous mixture of very different races, in which case the progress of their selection would not have been so rapid. In reality, it was only a question of improving the appearance of a dog at once popular and old, and to make him acquire a retracted snout.

In 1880, a first dog was exhibited, and in 1883 the different varieties were officially defined. Finally, in 1904, the standard was developed. And the success was not long since, since the end of the last century, these dogs were adopted by the Belgian royal family and especially by Queen Marie-Henriette, wife of Leopold II, and by the duke of Flanders.

The Brussels Griffon, hard-haired, red, is certainly the first to have been characterized, and it was the most popular. Moreover, the English, who took an early interest in the Griffons, first acquired red subjects (Brussels) then black and fire subjects. The Belgian Griffon, also hard-haired, black, or black and red, has none the less its nobility. Thus, his ancestors had the honor of being represented by Pierre-Auguste Renoir: in La Baigneuse au Griffon, for example, we can see a dog of very small size, with cut ears (but with an uncut tail, on the other hand). ), black and red, with a short pile of hair.

As for the Petit Brabançon, it resulted from crosses with the Carlin. It is likely that these subjects were considered undesirable at first and, for this reason, suppressed. However, we finally recognize them, because it was born short-haired dogs of the union of brooders (in accordance with the laws of genetics), and the variety was given the name of the province which has for capital city Brussels. On the other hand, it appeared that the "short hairs" could be useful in the breeding of "hard hairs", in particular to improve the hardness of the hair which, without this contribution, had a tendency to lie down and to soften . The existence of the Brabançon thus had the advantage of avoiding the use of the Pug, whose morphology is rather far from that of the small Griffons.

The Petit Brabançon; so called officially, although there never existed a "great" Brabançon; could be, originally, red, black and fire or entirely black. The latter color is no longer provided for in the standard, even if it still exists and the judges reward on display the subjects who carry it. Of course, a Brabançon can be born from time to time in a Griffon litter, but it has not been allowed since 1977 to cross Griffons and Brabançon. Thus, if these dogs are generally considered to be three varieties of the same breed, it must be said that the short-haired dog, the Brabancon, appears almost as a distinct race. All these rules are quite complex and sometimes lack logic: if we take the example of the exhibitions, we see that each variety is given its own CAC (certificate of aptitude for the national championship), but that the two Griffons are gathered to obtain the CACIB (certificate of aptitude for the international beauty championship), while the Brabançon has a special class.

The great favor enjoyed by the "Little Belgians" at the beginning of the century lasted until the inter-war period. Colette, this great novelist known for her love of the French Bulldog, also had a lot of tenderness for the Brabançon. She had several and described them many times in her work: "Nelle is hair red, glistening, with a mask of marmoset where shine beautiful eyes of squirrels," can read.

The Second World War dealt a severe blow to the breeding of the breed, a phenomenon that is not particular to him because, when the lady and luxury dogs also began to democratize, the general public did not focus on flat-faced breeds, which have become infrequent connoisseur's dogs. But if, finally, the inhabitants of Brussels, the Belgians and the Brabançons seem to have suffered more, it is perhaps simply because of their nationality; in fact, their dogs do not care much about their national breeds, as evidenced by the fact that foreign breeding of these breeds is often more numerous and more famous than their Belgian counterparts. Thus, the Griffons and Brabançons have become very rare in Belgium, more than in France, Holland, Switzerland and Italy where they are, in any case, not numerous. In Britain, they retain a large core of fervent amateurs: at one of the last editions of Cruft; the most famous English exhibition; one could admire about sixty subjects of these three varieties.

The standard of these dogs is more than eighty years old, and it has been little changed since. However, a revision, carried out by the Belgian authorities who are the sole owners, would not be useless, because this standard is sometimes a little too succinct. The body must be "cob", which indicates that it fits in a square) but also that its proportions are collected) with) in particular, a rather wide and deep thoracic cage. The frail, legless, slender and elongated limbs are undesirable, as are those with a large chest (carlinated). The neck, slightly arched, should be neither too short nor too big. As for the hair, it is described as hard, ruffled, of medium length, which is imprecise; at present, it is desired a hard and dry hair, adhering well to the body (whereas the term "ruffled" means that the hair does not adhere perfectly to the body), which implies that it is necessary to groom both varieties of Griffins by hair removal. It should be emphasized that the hair should not be woolly or faded. The beard, without being excessive length, must be abundant, thus forming trim, and this is not specified either in the standard. Be that as it may, the Little Belgians certainly deserve much more attention than the one they have deigned to lend them until now.

Griffons of Belgium and Petit Brabançon are today very rare dogs, because they have, to serve them, only an aged image. Indeed, they remain officially "lady's dogs", an expression that has gone out of fashion for a long time. And yet, these are original dogs: the first breeders wanted them to be, in reduction, dogs built like large mastiff dogs, these tough friends who were used in the fights against the bulls and who were used to create the Boxer . Rather than seeing in them only toys, or fragile elves, we could consider the Little Belgians as mini Boxers.

Moreover, the rustic coat only reinforces this impression of solidity. Even the short-haired Brabançon has a well-stocked pelisse that does not resemble the short, glabrous dress of some miniature breeds. With their camouflaged heads, their eyes wide apart, very brilliant, well "painted", these dogs certainly have something of the monkey, and they are curious, playful, playful and understanding, just as they are very observant. Moreover, they are not at all grumpy or capricious, but, on the contrary, easygoing and interesting, very affectionate, attached to their family and very sociable, relatively calm, which does not prevent them from being always on the alert, for nothing escapes their sagacity. Their vigilance makes them good warnings, and if it happens that certain subjects seem noisy, it is mainly because they are bored, left alone long moments at home, or having vainly solicited the attention of their entourage. In a word, they are balanced dogs, where shyness or aggression would be a defect. To please their master is what the little Belgians love above all, so it is not difficult to educate them, to teach them, in particular, to remain silent.

Such a little devil loves games and gets on well with children, provided they have been used to his company and do not treat him like a stuffed animal because he has dignity. and pride. These "small sizes" are, of course, accustomed to living in an apartment, but that does not necessarily mean that they are homebody, and you must know that they enjoy walks in the woods, at liberty. They do not pose any particular health problems, but, as for all dogs with big eyes on the head, care should be taken to clean them very regularly, as well as to avoid drafts and drafts. dust, when you can.

Griffons Bruxellois and Belgian, Petit Brabançon are suitable for all those looking for a touch of originality without worrying about fashion, or who will be sensitive to their side a little "retro". These companions of the elegant years of the crazy years appeared on the arms of the models in fashion magazines.

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