Weight standards, especially where the upper limit is that might disqualify the dog from the show ring, varies among the breed standards, but the ideal weight is to for both sexes.
The neck is medium length and arched slightly. The chest is deep, and the back is level. The tail is either cropped to one-third its length or is left its natural length in breed standards than allow for that; it should be set high, and when showing, should express the alert, keen demeanor of the breed. Kinked tails are not uncommon in the breed, but are undesirable for conformation showing unless they can be docked below the kink and still leave an acceptable length (one-third of the tail for the American Kennel Club; tail docking is outlawed in many countries.)
The rounded head should be large in proportion to the body, but should not appear to unbalance the dog. Depending on the standard, the forehead is referred to as "rounded" or "domed". In either case, the appearance or the skull should be of a circle (minus the features of the muzzle) rather than an oval, and the forehead should not bulge or protrude.
The ears should be high set but well apart, small, and carried semierect if left uncropped. Cropped ears are preferred in US show rings, but most European countries ban cropping.
The dark, wide-set, black-rimmed eyes are very large and expressive, giving the face its essential human-like qualities. They should be prominent but not bulging.
The nose is broad with wide nostrils, black, and set at the same level as the eyes. There should be a very pronounced stop, and the muzzle between the nose and forehead should not be more than 1.5 cm in length. Many standards prefer the stop to be so strong as to leave no visible distance between the nose and forehead. The nose should angle upwards. The muzzle from nose to chin should not be in line with the face, instead, it should slope towards the skull, giving a turned up or layback look. The broad chin should be undershot and prominent, sweeping up to the lips.
The lips should be black, and close fitting. The top lip is short under the nose, and should not overlap the bottom lip, nor should teeth or tongue be visible. The upper lips should not be pendulous in any way. The teeth should be strong and straight, with none missing or askew.
In the Griffon Bruxellois and the Griffon Belge, the coat is wiry, harsh, and dense.This breed has little to no shedding " (see Moult). By breed standards, at no time should it look or feel woolly. It should be short enough not to disrupt the form of the dog over the body, and long enough to distinguish the texture and type from the Petit Brabançon. Furnishings around the face form a fringe around the eyes, nose, cheeks and chin, but should not be allowed to grow into a long, flowing beard. Rather, they accentuate the natural form of the chin and cheeks. The eyebrow, moustache and beard look is essential to the human-like expression sought after in the breed. There may be some furnishings around the legs as well, though shorter than the head.
To accomplish this harsh coat the hair must be groomed with a technique known as stripping. This involves pulling out the dead hair by hand. If the coat is left to grow naturally it will become soft and woolly looking.
The Griffon Bruxellois is known to have a huge heart, and a strong desire to snuggle and be with his or her master. They display a visible air of self-importance. A Griffon should not be shy or aggressive; however, they are very emotionally sensitive, and because of this, should be socialized carefully at a young age. Griffons should also be alert, inquisitive and interested in their surroundings.
Griffons tend to bond with one human more than others. This, along with their small size, may make them unsuitable as a family pet, especially for a family with very small children. Griffons tend to get along well with other animals in the house, including cats, ferrets, and other dogs. However, they can get into trouble because they have no concept of their own relative size and may attempt to dominate dogs much larger than themselves.
Some say: "Having a Griffon means having a true constant companion. They need their favorite person all the time, and will be very unhappy if left outdoors or alone most of the day. A Griffon Bruxellois will want to follow you about the house, on your errands, and to bed."
Breeding can be a difficult health issue for the Griffons. Because of the breed's size it is not uncommon for some complications to cause a caesarean section to be needed. The size of a litter is typically 1-3 puppies. The size of the litter often determines the extent of these complications. It is not unheard of for a litter to have six in it. When they are born, the puppies only weigh but a few ounces and are small enough to fit in the palm of an adult's hand.
The Griffon Bruxellois grew in popularity in the late 1800s with both workers and noblemen in Belgium. The first Griffon Bruxellois was registered in 1883 in the first volume Belgium's kennel club studbook, the Livre des Origines Saint-Hubert (LOSH). The popularity of the breed was increased by the interest of Queen Marie Henriette, a dog enthusiast who visited the annual dog shows in Belgium religiously, often with her daughter, and became a breeder and booster of Griffon Bruxellois, giving them international fame and popularity. Many dogs were exported to other countries, leading to Griffon Bruxellois clubs in England (1897) and Brussels Griffon clubs in the U.S.A. (1945.)
The First World War and Second World War proved to be a disastrous time for the breed. War time is difficult on any dog breed, and the recovering numbers after the First World War were set back by increased vigilance in breeding away from faults such as webbed toes. By the end of the Second World War, Belgium had almost no native Griffon Bruxellois left, and it was only through the vigilance of dedicated breeders (in England particularly) that the breed survived at all.
The breed has never been numerous or popular, but had a brief vogue in the late 1950s, and now is generally an uncommon breed. There has been a recent increase in interest in the United States due to appearance of a Griffon in the movie, As Good as It Gets, and also because of a general increase in interest in toy dogs.