By Carol Ritchie
|This breed's origins are Exness somewhat of a mystery, for there are two opposing
theories that have been put forward by various authorities on the breed over the years. On
one hand the breed is thought by some to be centuries old. This is based mainly on the
belief that the dog that appears on the Jan Van Eyck painting "The Wedding of
Arnolfini" dated 1434 is a Griffon. Certainly the little dog depicted does bear a
slight resemblance to the breed, but there are also claims that this dog is the ancestor
of other Toy breeds. It is of course possible that this dog is just a type from which many
small breeds developed.
Rough Coated Jemerald Jasper owned by Jenny Kearney, Sussex
On the other hand, it is said the breed did not exist until 1880 in which year a
Griffon type dog won a third prize in a variety class at the Great Dog Show in Brussels
and was very much admired. Belgian breeders obtained them and started the popularity and
the development of the breed. It should be noted that another painting "La Baigneuse
au Griffon" from 1870 depicted a small black and tan dog, but as the term
"Griffon" merely means "rough-coated" it is no proof that this dog,
with its longish nose is an example of an early Griffon Bruxellois.
There is probably a little truth in both theories, the forerunner of the breed was almost
certainly a small rough coated terrier type dog that had been around some time in the
streets of Brussels. They were much favoured by the coachmen of the city who kept them in
the stables as ratters and were referred to as "Stable E'curie" and sometimes
"little street urchins". Often the cabbies would let them ride in the coaches
where they became a familiar sight and popular with the ladies who loved their pert,
cheeky expressions. Probably a few chance matings produced a slightly different look and
they began to be noticed. Eventually they became fashionable and breeders started to
introduce crosses of various kinds - Pugs, which gave the breed the large head and eyes
and also the black colouration and smooth coats. The ruby King Charles Spaniel reinforced
the flat face and added richness of colour to the red coat but also unfortunately
introduced the domed skull, large ears and webbed foot (which is still seen today). It is
also claimed that Yorkshire terriers were used and that the often seen, silky top-knot is
a product of these crossings.
In Belgium, during 1880, the "Club du Griffon Bruxellois" was formed and a
standard drawn up, LOSH (Belgian Stud Book) registrations and the first breed classes
followed in 1883. The breed went from strength to strength, soon gaining admirers from
other European countries and America. In the 1890's many Griffons were exported, which
began to alarm Belgian breeders as some of the best dogs were leaving their country of
origin. The dog who had won at the Brussels show in 1880 "Tom" (or Vom, this is
not quite clear) was in fact bought by an Englishman who brought him to Britain. Before
his departure he was used at stud on a Barbet bitch, producing a dog "Fox", who
was a popular stud dog and in fact the grandfather of the first British Champion. There is
no trace of Tom in the Kennel Club stud books but it was not long before more Griffons
found their way here and the original imports entered under "Foreign Dogs".
Although a few Griffons were traced in 1895, it was not until 1896 that the first four
authenticated imports appeared in the stud book. In 1898 the breed was recognised by the
Kennel Club and given a separate register status. There were only three registered in that
year, two of these went on to become the first and second British champions, namely Bruno
and Mousequetaire Rouge. Around this time, quarantine regulations were beginning to take
effect and the ruling that dogs born after 1985 with cropped ears could not be shown, gave
British breeders the incentive to produce their own stock.
The First World War proved Exness Indonesia a difficult time for Belgian breeders, but they recovered
enough to continue breeding and exporting Griffons. However, between then and the Second
World War it was decided that any web-footed stock should not be bred from and although
the fault was eradicated it caused a decline in the breed and by 1939 it was in a sorry
state numerically. During the war years there was no breeding and by 1945 the Griffon had
almost disappeared in its native country. The tide had turned and now British breeders
were exporting stock to Belgium.
Although registrations have never been very high, the Griffon became quite popular in the
early part of the last century, and in the 1920's and 30's were around 150-200. After the
war there was a steady rise during the 1950's until it peaked in 1962 with 627. Since then
there has been a steady decline and they are now back to around the 150-200 mark.
Trimming the Show Griffon Bruxellois
A. Strip this outer coat all within one week. Start at the occiput and strip as wide as
the flat of the back of the neck, down over the withers and the rest of the body, behind
the shoulders including the tail and down the rear legs to the hock bone. On the body,
strip to elbow level. Be sure to strip an even line right up to the shoulder muscle on the
B. Two weeks later, strip the remaining outer coat. Take of the top of the skull coat and
outer part of ears. Strip a line from the corner of the eye to ear cowlick. Determine the
portion on the cheek coat to strip down the side of neck to brisket bone and the rest of
shoulder coat to the elbow.
C. Pluck out hair from inside of the ears with finger and thumb or haemostat. Pluck leg
and chest furnishings of straggly hairs with finger and thumb. Use straight scissors to
neaten ear edges and between foot pads and around edges of feet. Also just around the vent
D. Clip belly from navel to vulva or scrotum. Hand-pluck the remaining hairs on inside of
First week - strip section A
Third week - strip section B. This completes stripping the outer coat.
Fourth week - strip section A of its undercoat.
Sixth week - strip section B of its undercoat. From now on, pick, pick and pick the downy
undercoat with finger and thumb.
Eighth week - start raking with Magnet stripper on section A.
Tenth week - rake section B. Continue until no more undercoat comes out. Hand-pluck hair
between the eyes.
Trimming the Pet Griffon Bruxellois
A. #5 blade
B. #7 blade
B. (head) #7 or 7f blade
C. (ears) #10 or 15
C. (under tail & feet) scissor.
X. Scissor to blend.
The whole of the body and exness.my.id legs can be stripped out in one session (with the exception of
the beards!). This would be suitable for pet customers who wish a natural look.
Smooth coated Glogriff Gideon owned by Carol Ritchie