About the Brussels

Is a rescued Brussels Griffon the right choice for you and your family?

Griffs are not like other dogs. They are affectionately known as Velcro® dogs because they attach themselves to one person in the family, sometimes two, and want to be with that person 24/7.

They want to sleep in bed with you. They follow you from room to room and prefer to never be more than 2-3' from you. If you are standing at the sink, you may find your Griff sitting on your feet. When you sit down, your Griff will be in your lap. Can you handle that as part of your lifestyle?

Often Griffs do not do well when left alone, even in the company of other dogs. An ideal situation is to be with someone who works from home, is allowed to take their dogs to work with them, works part time, or is retired. This is an ideal breed for empty nesters.

Please read the following information about Brussels Griffons. Make sure that this is the right dog for you. This is a lifetime commitment for the Griff and could be a 12-15 year commitment for the adopter.

Brussels Griffon temperament and behavior

  • Generally, the Griff is an intelligent, happy, affectionate, adaptable companion who loves his caretakers best and craves their attention.
  • It is not unusual for a Griff to be shy with strangers or in new situations; he may hang with his owner until he warms to what's new.
  • Brussels Griffons have a high degree of intelligence coupled with a sensitive nature.
  • He barks when someone comes to the door or when appropriate.
  • He doesn't care for aggressive behavior, and if he can't escape, he'll defend himself.
  • Some Griffs are hyperactive, while others are very mellow, even shy.
  • Gender makes little difference in temperament.
  • Because of their small size and complete attachment to their family, Brussels Griffons are strictly house dogs.
  • They should always have the opportunity to socialize with their people; otherwise, they will become unhappy and withdraw into their shell.
  • Griffs are happiest when they can sleep in your bed, follow you throughout your daily activities, and be an integral part of the family.
  • Griffs almost always get along well with other pets and enjoy the companionship of their human and animal family members.
  • A word of caution: Due to their innate sense of self-importance, they are not aware of their small stature. As a result, they will often try to dominate dogs many times their size and could be hurt by a larger pet.
  • Griffs lack a homing instinct, and because of their sense of self-importance, they may take off to see the world when the opportunity presents itself. They must always be leashed when they are in an unfenced area; and some, depending on their background, will always need a safely fenced yard and no access to open doors.
  • They love to run and play. When playtime is through, they will curl up next to you for a nap, again showing that they are true Velcro dogs.
  • Griffs left alone will devise many ways to amuse themselves, many of which their family may not appreciate. To avoid accidents, leaving your Griff in a crate or confined area is best.
  • If he's to be a family dog, everyone must help in care and training.
  • Because of the Griff's small size and sensitive nature, they are not recommended as pets for small children under five who might unwittingly be rough or tease the dog.

House Training

  • Toy dogs can be difficult to house train. Often it is the owner who gets trained; that is, who learns the importance of proactively ensuring that the Griff goes out regularly for potty breaks. There are books and pamphlets on house training.
  • If you have a house with carpeting or expensive oriental rugs, it would be foolish to allow a Griff access where a "piddle" would break your heart.
  • Keeping your Griff on a regular schedule and taking him outside immediately after waking up and after eating improves your chances for successful house training.
  • The secret to training a Griff is making him think it was his idea. Griffs are eager to please but cannot be forced to do anything. You cannot win an argument with a Griff. They have a long memory and are unforgiving if they have an unpleasant experience.
  • The best way to house train is to never allow an accident to happen. For the first 2 or 3 weeks, until they prove trustworthy, keep your new rescue on a leash, tethered to you, or in a crate if they cannot be with you.
  • Griffs really want to please you and do the right thing, but retraining an adult who was never housebroken takes patience and love and the ability to maintain a strict schedule.

Adopting a rescued Brussels Griffon

  • The Griffs in the NBGR program come from all different backgrounds. Some are from shelters or puppy mills, and some are owner-released.
  • In most cases our rescues are placed first in foster homes so they can be evaluated and rehabilitated if necessary. They are taken to a vet to be examined and given all the appropriate inoculations. They are tested for heartworms, treated or put on preventatives, microchipped, and spayed or neutered. All health issues are addressed.
  • The foster home will want to know a lot about the potential adopters to ensure that the Griffs are matched with a perfect forever home.
  • Every rescued Brussels Griffon is different. What works with one may completely fail with another. The only thing that is consistent is that they will need lots of patience, understanding, love, and probably most importantly, unconditional acceptance of what they are and what their limitations may be.
  • Belly bands for the boys and doggy diapers for the girls may be a lifetime necessity for a few special Griffs.
  • Rescued Griffs are often fearful because of past abuse or rough handling. They need a gentle touch and soft words to trust fully.
  • Once trust is achieved with a rescued Griff, that person will have a loyal, loving companion for life.
  • Adopting a Griff is like living with a toddler who never grows up. Often they are an accident waiting to happen, and each one needs a guardian angel. That guardian angel could be you.
  • Be sure you are fully committed BEFORE you adopt.


Check these websites for additional, responsible breed information.


A dark brown Brussels Griffon sitting down on the grass
A frowning Brussels Griffon
Two brown Brussels Griffon sitting down on the grass

The Many Looks of the Brussels Griffon

NBGR has rescued Griffs as small as 5 lb. to over 25 lb. Their coats can be rough or smooth -- and blonde, red, belge, black, or black and tan.

Their ears may be cropped or uncropped. Their tails may or may not be docked short.

The most distinctive thing about the appearance of this sweet breed is the face. The Smooths are very pug-like, and the Roughs are most often described as looking like an Ewok or Wookiee from Star Wars. (That is no coincidence. George Lucas loved his Brussels Griffons.)

The range of appearances can make it difficult for shelter workers and visitors to identify Griffs in the shelters correctly.

Here are pictures of some of our rescues, demonstrating how different they can look. If you come across a Brussels Griffon in a shelter or needing rescue, please contact one of our coordinators.