The Brussels Griffon Survey

From the January 2020 issue of ShowSight. Click to subscribe. On the photo (from top left to right): Jeff Bazell & Jeff Kestner, Anne Catterson, Mark & Karin Jaeger, Raul & Rhonda Peralta, Lorene Vickers-Smith

 

  1. Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs?
  2. In popularity, The Brussels Griffon is currently ranked #98 out of 192 AKC-recognized breeds. Do you hope this will change or are you comfortable with his placement? Do these numbers help or hurt the breed?
  3. Although he’s a tremendously hard-working dog with great power and stamina, he’s highly valued as a companion. What qualities in the field also come in handy around the house?
  4. An energetic dog—of any size—requires a special household to be a perfect fit. What about the breed makes him an ideal companion? Drawbacks?
  5. Are there any misconceptions about the breed you’d like
    to dispel?
  6. What special challenges do Brussels Griffon breeders face in our current economic and social climate?
  7. At what age do you start to see definite signs of show-worthiness (or lack thereof)?
  8. You have many choices equally valid under the Standard: rough, smooth, red, belge, black & tan, black. Any preference?
  9. What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind?
  10. What’s the best way to attract newcomers to your breed and to the sport?
  11. What is your ultimate goal for the breed?
  12. What is your favorite dog show memory?
  13. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate.

Jeff Bazell & Jeff Kestner

Mr. Jeff Bazell obtained his first Griffon in the mid-1970s with a Brussels Griffon from Nigel Aubrey-Jones. He became a parent club member in 1979, during the Iris de la Torre Bueno years. Bazell has served the club as president, show chair, and specialty coordinator, and for 16 years he was publisher of the national breed magazine. He currently serves as the parent club historian and archivist and has amassed one of the largest collections of breed-specific items known among all breeds. He has judged parent club specialties on four occasions including the national and has judged Griffon specialties and club shows worldwide and is an AKC multi-group judge. He has been an approved breed mentor since the program’s inception and has presented the breed both here and abroad on many occasions.

Mr. Jeff Kestner has been active in the breed for the last 15 years and maintains a vast Griffon breeding-record collection and database worldwide. He is approved to judge the breed along with half the Toy Group. As an active parent club member, he has served on constitutional revision committees and is a parent club–approved mentor and presenter. He has also judged sweepstakes at the national specialty.

Together the Jeffs have bred and/or owned 108 AKC champions as of October 2019, bred another 68 champions in the United States and Canada, and owned or sold another 90 champions internationally. There are 1048 first generation St Johns titlists worldwide. St Johns exported the first American Griffons to Australia, where they earned multiple group and BISS placements. The Jeffs also helped reestablish the breed in its homeland during the mid-1980s. The breed had nearly died out in Belgium and the Netherlands before St. Johns Griffons revitalized the breed on the European continent. Dogs of St. Johns breeding have sired many champions internationally, and St. Johns is behind many of the world’s successful breeding programs. Performance titlists are important to St. Johns, with 20 AKC-titled dogs and an additional 18 internationally.

Bazell and Kestner are proud AKC Breeders of Merit whose stock is fully health tested on a generational basis. St. Johns has been an AKC-registered kennel for many years.

“The Jeffs” live in a small Ohio village named Bremen in the south central portion of the state. Bazell is a well recognized garden designer having won many national and international awards for his work. Kestner, a former elementary teachers, works for the Ohio Education Association in labor relations.  We are also in the middle of writing the definitive book about the Brussels Griffon.

Popularity of a breed has so much to do with “product placement” and other factors in today’s world. If a breed is featured in a popular movie or television series, away it goes in a rush. Humans are fickle and typically do as little research as possible to find if a breed is a good fit for them or their family. In turn, this leads to a high turn in rate at shelters and rescue organizations. Being in the middle of the pack in ratings is a good place for a breed to maintain. Popular enough for ease of recognition yet, not in demand.

What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? Griffons are an equally good fit in an apartment or a large family home with large yard. They do need regular exercise though, as much for mind as for body. An unattended Griffon, especially a puppy, is a Griffon looking for mischief. Young Griffons are exactly like living with a houseful of 3 year old children. Some will sit and play and entertain themselves peacefully and some will be planning the destruction of life as we know it….no two are alike.

Are there any misconceptions about the breed we’d like to dispel? Though Griffons are included in the toy group they grow out and mature much like a working dog. Having been bred down from much larger dogs that had to fend for themselves in barn lots and carriage houses they are generally stoic and hardy. They are disasters as “purse dogs” and become as neurotic and self-challenged as their owners want them to be. A Griffon’s temperament needs to be developed and allowed to bloom over time with maturity, just like raising a happy, healthy child.

What special challenges do Brussels Griffon breeders face in our current economic and social climate? The health of the breed is in bad shape. Very few breeders are properly health testing their stock and the breed is oftentimes over bred and bred way too young. Minimally, all breeding stock should have their eyes tested bi-annually by a board certified ophthamologist, a heart certification should be in place before breeding and this should be done by auscultation and EKG, radiology checks of hips/elbows and patellas must be done prior to breeding and be within normal ranges and at least every other generation of bitches must have their brains scanned by MRI to guard against sryingomyelia and chiari malformation. This is expensive and the costs will never be covered by puppy sales so do not expect them to be. But, if you are a sound breeder and not doing breeding to sell puppies at a profit this must be done. Cesarean sections are common in the breed and quite expensive. Prior to breeding an outside bitch we bluntly ask the owners if they and their bank accounts are prepared to take care of the mother and puppies. The cost of veterinary care has risen astronomically in the last decade and tough questions should be asked by both stud owners and owners of potential broods if they can afford to do a breeding properly and whelp and raise a litter. Puppy mortality in the breed can be quite high especially if the puppy’s lungs are not afforded extra attention.

At what age do we start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? Personally we are dealing with a very old, tightly line-bred, family of dogs that breed true to type due to these factors. I hear people say they pick their pick on birth and stick to it….we do not. We want to see a litter of healthy puppies that have no glaring faults nor glaring virtues. The breed is a study of moderation. Moderate angles and moderate in movement. They are not to be raced around a ring like a sporting dog. We start training puppies to stack and move on lead around five to six weeks and evaluate them weekly. We have whelped, raised and completed the championships on two litters containing eight puppies each. We evaluate puppies and decide what type of home we want for them at ten weeks of age then work on developing a system for placement according to what living situations those prospective homes provide. Sometimes a top potential show puppy goes to live with what we believe to be a perfect pet home and that is just fine with us. We agree that a great pet home is far better than a poor show home and place the pups accordingly.

There are many choices equally valid under the Standard: rough, smooth, red, belge, black and tan, black. Do we have a preference? According to the standard rough and smooth are equal in all respects except coat—always remember that. Now for our preferences. Bazell was raised amongst black and tan breeds and loves them to live with and look at. But REAL Belge is his favorite—not what some unknowing folks call Belge, but REAL Belge with patterning. They are very rare and less than 4% of the Griffon population. As people age in the breed we think they tend to become more fond of smooths because of the coat work. To properly maintain a rough coated Griffon in show coat requires real devotion and time, approximately 12 hours of flat work each week per dog. Clippered coats are just a mess to maintain and destroy the breed’s outline and integrity.

The most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? Do not be fooled by “flash and dash” that is so apparent in the breed currently. Think working structure, front legs directly under the withers, head larger than normal for the body with proper features, short backed and thick, and moderate in all respects, except head.  Care should be taken to get under the coat on a rough dog.  Groomers can easily hide an incorrect head under hair. Never call the breed “Brussels” for short or people in the breed will know you do not know the breed.

The best way to attract newcomers to our breed and to the sport? Easiest answer, be kind and be professional in all your dealings.

Our ultimate goal for the breed? Bazell has been most fortunate to have spent the last 50 years working with this breed and watching the family develop, as with any long standing relationship there have been major disappointments and mind blowing success.

Our goal for the breed is to leave it better than we found it and we have succeeded in that already. It will surely be a long time that the St John family and genetics will still be recognized and that is our legacy to the breed and its people.

Our favorite dog show memory? There are truly so many that we cannot set one apart from the other so here is a partial list—early morning drive onto the Polo Grounds at Chagrin Falls with fog and dew everywhere and thousands of dogs and huge white tents, wonderful life long friends sharing a bottle of wine while getting dogs ready for a show, getting children and grandkids ready to head into the ring for the very first time, long rides home after a fun day at the show, watching something you brought into this world win BIS at some of the largest shows in this country, losing something you brought into this world/having it leave you while holding it in your arms with tears running down your cheeks, and walking into that big ring and pointing your finger for the first time. Sad, happy, thrilling, confounding—the dog world is complicated.

As you can tell from some of our answers this is not an easy breed, it is not for everyone, nor should it be. It has an interesting history, is difficult as far as husbandry issues go, can be loving or care less about you, can be notoriously hard to raise and train and can lead a very short life or live forever. They are a study in contrasts and you will be rewarded in return for what you give to them. No effort, no reward.

Anne Catterson

Anne Catterson has been breeding and exhibiting since the ‘80’s, starting with Boston Terriers and adding Brussels Griffons to the household shortly thereafter. She has bred dozens of champions under the Bobcat prefix. Bobcat dogs were always owner-handled, either by Anne or by son, Paul, first as a Junior and now as a professional handler. Anne has been an AKC judge since 1999. She is currently approved to judge the Non-Sporting group, several Toy breeds, Australian Shepherds and Jr. Showmanship. In addition to judging for AKC, she often judges for ARBA (American Rare Breed Association) and ASCA (Australian Shepherd Club of America).

Anne participates in several dog organizations in various capacities: Secretary and Show Coordinator for the Pasadena Boston Terrier club; Vice-President of the Sand-to-Sea Non-Sporting Association, and Governor on the Board of Directors of the American Brussels Griffon Association. Her all-breed affiliation is with the Kennel Club of Riverside, where she is Treasurer and Show Chair.

Anne edits and publishes the ABGA Bulletin, the parent club publication, and writes the Brussels Griffon breed column for the AKC Gazette. She has also had articles published in Top Notch Toy and Dog News.

I live in Southern California. Outside of dogs, I am a retired RN.

Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfortable with their placement? It’s a comfortable place to be. Those of us who suffered through popularity after the movie “As Good As It Gets” featured a Griff are happy to be on the down-low. They neither help nor hurt.

What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? Griffs only want to be with their person/people. That makes them the perfect couch potato if that’s the plan for the day, but also the perfect traveling companion, because they just want to be with us wherever. In households with children, most Griffs will gravitate to the adults for companionship.

Any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? They are not yappy.

What special challenges do Brussels Griffon breeders face in our current economic and social climate? The “shop don’t adopt” mentality is a challenge to all preservation breeders, but if that’s their philosophy we’d rather they’d adopt. Cropping ears and docking tails is always a target animal rights groups.

At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I take a good look at eight weeks, at conformation but also attitude. By 12 weeks, which is when pups can go to a new home, I have an idea. If I’m undecided, they stay a few more months.

There are many choices equally valid under the Standard: rough, smooth, red, belge, black and tan, black. Do I have a preference? Not really. I think we all like to have a nice black and tan at least once, just because it is the most recessive gene and hard to come by—especially a good one, but I don’t actually prefer it over the other colors.

What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? It is a “thumb breed”. Mouths are examined by rubbing the thumb across the lower lip and jaw to determine if they are undershot as desired. However, if there is any concern about the mouth or bite, they certainly can explore further, preferable by having the handler show the bite. And concerning that lower jaw, it should be wide with a big, fat protruding lower lip. The pout is a hallmark of the breed.

Judges question what to do when presented with a Brussels Griffon with a natural tail, since our standard say “….the tail is docked….”. There are three choices: judge the dog on it’s merit considering that the tail does not meet the standard (a fault), put the dog at the end of the line, or excuse it for lack of merit.

The best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? Within the breed we can encourage our children and grandchildren to carry on. At my all-breed club we have events that focus on children, including no entry fee for Jr Showmanship, Pee-Wee, and a children’s art contest focusing on dogs. This year the theme was “Work Dogs Do.” While these are not specific to Brussels Griffons, they do encourage kids into the sport.

My ultimate goal for the breed? I have no ultimate goal, as there will never be a perfect dog. We can only strive, through health testing and carefully planned breedings to improve with every litter. As more DNA information becomes available the potential for doing away with genetic issues increases.

My favorite dog show memory? I have two: winning BOB at our Roving National Specialty with my first Griff, JoJo, and judging the ABGA National Specialty in Louisville.

I’d also like to share about the breed that they need to be socialized early and often. Breeders need to make a concerted effort to expose them to as many different situations as possible.

Mark & Karin Jaeger

Starting with Miniature Schnauzers in 1974, Mark has shown English Cockers, Cairn Terriers, Pugs, Brussels Griffons, and English Toy Spaniels. With the late Terry Smith, he bred the first modern black smooth Brussels Griffon champion, Ch Wisselwood Karma Disk Jockey, in 1989. He is currently President of the Ingham County Kennel Club in Lansing, Michigan and AKC Delegate from the American Brussels Griffon Association.

We’re located in Mid-Michigan, where we are Life Members of the Ingham County Kennel Club. Karin is Secretary and Mark is President there.

Karin is an Independent Insurance Agent; Mark is Web Administrator for the Michigan Department of Treasury, and teaches computer programming and information system security at
Baker College.

Do we hope the breed’s popularity will change or are we comfortable with their placement? Ranking is not as important as the decline in litter registrations. Except for a slight upward blip in 2017, the breed has been on a steady decline since 2008. Several prominent breeders have retired from the whelping box, which increases the concern.

Although the breed is a tremendously hard-working dog with great power and stamina, they’re highly valued as a companion. What qualities in the field also come in handy around the house? I think that this would be better answered by our Wirehaired Pointing Griffon friend Karen Spies; our Griffs are rugrats.

What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? They are great lap dogs, and when they have a companion will entertain themselves (most folks who have one of our Griffs have at least one other).

Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? I’m going to pass on this one, but I will note that they can be hard to housebreak.

What special challenges do Brussels Griffon breeders face in our current economic and social climate? Look at the cost of getting a litter of three (our average litter size) to an age where they can leave home (12 weeks by our Code of Ethics). It easily tops $5,000. Few buyers are in the market at the point where cost recovery is possible. From the show side, there are large regions where majors just are not available, so extended travel is needed if you want to finish Champions.

At what age doI start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? Some stand out from the time they are whelped. Others will get into the ring, even get points, before washing out (though that’s usually attitude, not conformation). Eight weeks is a good age to evaluate; six months is not (many go through what we call a “spider monkey” phase where they are all legs and little body—not a good look when the Standard calls for “thickset”). They are usually not fully themselves until they are three.

There are many choices equally valid under the Standard: rough, smooth, red, belge, black and tan, black. Do I have a preference? Since we bred and finished the first Black Smooth Champion (a multiple Group winner at that), that combination is very close to our hearts. Still, most of our Specials have been Rough. We’ve tried really hard to get Black and Tan, but to date have produced only one Champion in each coat type. Our current Specials are a Belge Rough dog and a Red Smooth bitch.

As a judge, neither coat nor any color has any preference. As I once said in response to a similar question at a forum held by the Griffon Bruxellois Breeders Association (UK), that’s just the frosting.

What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? Attitude is type. A Griffon with a tail not carried up is not correct. A thickset body is important (it’s a significant differentiation from the Affenpinscher), as is parallel movement coming and going (narrow fronts and rears are a bit of a drag on the breed. Look for a large nose, with wide-open nostrils (small and pinched is another drag). Then consider that the head is large in proportion to the body (yet another drag), though their heads often continue improving through their third year.

The best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? These are quite separate questions. Griffs are not a breed for newcomers to the sport (too hard to obtain a good one unless you have some serious show experience, too few to compete against). There is one group for which having Griffs as a first breed makes sense—those who were raised with the breed, like ABGA’s current Treasurer, Heather Stants, who is a third-generation breeder.

As to the second part, get them involved in the other AKC titling activities (Agility, Rally, Obedience, Scent Work, Fast-CAT, even Dock Diving), get to know them, get them to know our dogs, wait for them to want another dog, then offer them one which can compete successfully.

My ultimate goal for the breed? Without putting too fine a point on it, the breed’s survival.

My favorite dog show memory? For Mark, it’s watching Karin’s reaction at winning the 2012 ABGA National with GCHG Chismick’s Life on Broadway (we picked him out at four months on the day that I judged the 2008 ABGA National). She was pretty much the only person who didn’t realize that Winners dog was behind her on the last go-around. Susie Depew had to remind her to breathe.

I’d also like to share about the breed that they’re like Lay’s Potato Chips—you can’t stop at just one.

Fair warning, though: they are happy to try to trip you when you are going down a flight of stairs, or buckle your knee by banging into the back of it. And like any brachycephalic breed (we also have English Toy Spaniels), they will snort in your face to make a mess of your glasses.

Raul & Rhonda Peralta

Rhonda and I live in Trinity, North Carolina. I have a daughter living in Greenwich, Connecticut. Professionally, I am an engineer by education, turned to businessman in the later stages of my career. I serve on several boards including the Southern Economic Development Council and the NC Community College Foundation.

Personally, I am a Master Gardener, avid sailor and fly fisherman. I currently serve as the President of the American Brussels Griffon Association (ABGA), and have shown Brussels Griffons in conformation for over 20 years.

Rhonda: I enjoy traveling with my husband and we enjoy time on the water. I love to cook and entertain.

The most rewarding part of being owned by this breed is the friendships we have developed. Best of Breed Rosettes eventually are stored in the attic—good friends last a lifetime.

Our hobbies include pleasure boating, fishing, traveling and visiting as many wonderful restaurants as possible.

Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfortable with their placement? We are very comfortable with the popularity (or lack of) that our breed deals with. In our opinion, its not the quantity that we look for—it’s the quality.

Rhonda: Raul and I both volunteer for the Parent Club in different and several capacities. I try not look at numbers regarding popularity instead concentrate as the Membership Committee Chair to welcome newcomers and build a strong membership base. This is to not only help support our Club but to mentor and guide those members who are new to the fancy on responsible ownership. From there, guide them in the direction of their interest.

What qualities in the field also come in handy around the house? Although this question is more directly related to other breeds, I do appreciate how the “ratter” in the Brussels Griffon’s makeup manifests itself when it comes to keeping squirrels off of our bird feeders and backyard.

I’d have to say my most favorite trait is this breed’s loyalty to its owner. Regardless of the size of property you live on, he or she will perform perimeter checks and flush out any unwanted trespassers to protect its home.

What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? In our opinion, their willingness and interest in simply serving as companions is what endears Brussels Griffons to us. Their loyalty and need to be next to you is ideal for our lifestyle. Their size makes it easy to transport them when we travel and their intelligence makes them a very adaptable little breed.

Through the years of finding wonderful homes for our Griffons, we have concluded that if the family makes a commitment to this breed and welcomes he or she 100% as part of the family, they will remain loyal.

Are there any misconceptions about the breed we’d like to dispel? Brussels Griffons are not hard to housebreak. Consistency and rewards are keys.

What special challenges do Brussels Griffon breeders face in our current economic and social climate? The challenges Brussels Griffon breeders face today have not changed much over the years. Backyard breeders (puppy mills) remain active and social media has provided them with even more exposure to the public. As reputable breeders committed to health testing and never leaving a puppy in an unsafe or inadequate home, we are constantly searching for fellow breeders who are willing to consider homes for their puppies.

At what age do we start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? We do a formal evaluation of our puppies at eight weeks of age. While it is not guaranteed that this evaluation can determine their show-worthiness it is a good indication of their structure and personality in the future. Having said that, Brussels griffons change considerably as they mature. Many times, their faces (nose placement and layback, etc.) evolve and change throughout their first two years of their life. That is one of the reasons a breeder will not place their puppy with a new owner until later in life.

There are many choices equally valid under the Standard: rough, smooth, red, belge, black and tan, black. Do I have a preference? In terms of coats, we recognize the qualities that both Rough and Smooth Brussels Griffons offer and do not show prejudice towards either one. There are numerous Brussels Griffons being successfully shown in the ring today—both Rough and Smooth. Coat color preference is a very personal decision. We see many beautiful specimens in a wide array of colors.

What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? In our opinion, judges should consider a balanced dog that includes the correct expression (proper nose placement, round head, size of eye and pout) along with sound movement (structurally correct). If the dog is complimented by a daring, happy attitude, then you have a wonderful representative of a Brussels Griffon!

The best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? The AKC Parent Club (The American Brussels Griffon Association) is the best way to connect with the breed, related activities and reputable breeders. In 2020 we will celebrate our 75th Anniversary with a year-long celebration of “all that is Brussels Griffons”. Our Club activities include educational sessions as well as social activities.

Our ultimate goal for the breed? For it to remain a healthy, happy companion.

My favorite dog show memory? Due to the length of time we have been involved with this breed, our favorite memories are numerous. The absolute favorite memory outside a dog show, is when I was trusted by Kay Braukman to have one of her puppies. Not only is she a wonderful lady, but one of the pillars of our breed in the US. She remains a great friend and mentor.

Our favorite dog show memory is being selected by a Breeder-Judge as BOB at the ABGA 2019 National Specialty.

Rhonda: There are numerous memories that I can recall. Some of my favorite go back to one of my first mentors, JoAnn Adamson. Her spark, love and enthusiasm for this breed and this sport is what I hope to always be able to emulate. Our show weekends when I first began are ones I will never forget. We will always remain the best of friends.

Also, the journey we are on now with our dear friend Ruth Pereira with one of the top winning Griffons (Booker) of all time has given us memories we will always cherish.

Lorene Vickers-Smith

Lorene has been “in dogs” all her life. Her parents and paternal grandparents bred Boston Terriers. Lorene established the Wisselwood line of Pugs in 1964 and added Brussels Griffons about 15 years later. She has been dedicated to establishing and improving the black color in both of her breeds. Lorene is past President of Ingham County K.C. and enjoyed membership in both her breed clubs in England.

Lorene became an AKC judge in 1980. She is honored as a Life Member of both her breed parent clubs.

Lorene Chairs the Judges’ Education and Illustrated Standard Committees for the American Brussels Griffon Assoc. She is a past director of the Pug Dog Club of America and also served on their Ethics Committee, Judges’ Education Committee and Chaired the first Pug Illustrated Standard Committee.

Lorene was long time President of the National Brussels Griffon Club. She founded the Mid Michigan Pug Club in 1979. Lorene has long been considered an expert in brachycephalic head types, presenting many comparison studies to Judges Groups over the last 30 years.

When Lorene is not doing judges education, her time is divided between public education and breed rescue.

I live in Tucson, Arizona but we spend summers at our Lake Huron Cottage in Michigan. Most of my “dog life” was based out of Ohio and Michigan. My first Homebred Champion from my first litter won WB and BW when I showed her at my first National Specialty in 1971. I started showing my own breeding as a teenager and successfully continued as Breeder of the Year in our National and several of my breed clubs. After 1980 I rarely showed dogs when I started actively judging.

Outside of dogs, my husband Greg and I play Old Time music with different groups of fine musicians. We love to walk, cook, eat and spend time with our dogs and close friends.

Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfortable with the placement? I feel that popularity always has a negative effect on a breed.

The breeds conformation, health and temperament are compromised by careless ‘breeders’ hoping to get on the band wagon. I have watched many breeds dear to my heart struggle under popularity and overwhelm breed Rescue (and no doubt shelters as well) So, no, I would not like Brussels Griffons to become any more popular than they are.

What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? The Brussels Griffon is the ideal companion for the right type of home. It’s the home that needs to be ideal FOR the Brussels Griffon. This breed is not for everyone. The home the Griff goes into needs to understand the dangers that await any Toy breed. Besides protection, the new owners must understand that highly intelligent breeds are not always the easiest to train or live with. In a home that lavishes “positive training”, love, protection and a large dash of humor the Griff will thrive and give years and years of companionship and love.

Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? The breed is NOT a Terrier (and should not be sparred in the ring). A ‘stable ratter’ is only part of the make up of this breed. Two other main breeds known to be ancestors are Pugs and English Toy Spaniels. Both having a more laid back disposition. A correctly bred Griffon will show a blend of these traits both physically and temperamentally. Please read our ABGA Illustrated Standard at our ABGA website.

What special challenges do Brussels Griffon breeders face in our current economic and social climate? From what I see, no doubt also due to rise in popularity, the breeders are enjoying abundant sales for their puppies. The Challenge would certainly be the same as always—don’t breed to sell puppies. Breed to improve the breed and only when you want to keep something. Know your buyers well and make it clear if ever they don’t want the dog—it returns to YOU. Be available for the entire life of every dog that you bring into the world and check on each one regularly.

At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I am watching and carefully scrutinizing every whisker from birth on! At birth I look for a nice, broad, wide muzzle and large nosepad, balanced with a wide skull and jaw. Some bloodlines “fold” with a low set nose folding up between the eyes to finish off with a quite lovely head somewhere around 15 months. My line generally is there at birth or not at all. At about eight weeks I can usually see balance and a little miniature of what the adult will be.

Do I have any preference on color? Breeders are allowed preference. If Judges of the Brussels Griffon have a preference, they should stop judging our breed.

The most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? Type, type, type. Study the Illustrated Standard (which includes the Standard) and attend the parent club’s Judges Education presentation as often as possible. By the time a person has a Judges License, they should know skeletal structure, various types of movement in general, temperament and purpose of every breed they judge. But the type of each breed is what makes them unique from all other breeds. In our breed, our head is what exudes our type.

We provide the following statement to every judge. It is pretty clear. “The Brussels Griffon is a small, compact, double tracking Toy dog with normal structure and moderate angles front and rear. It should appear square, relatively thick set, cobby and well boned. The rib cage is well sprung and the loin short with no obvious tuck-up. The tail is set high and carried up”. That being said—we move on to head type which sets our breed apart from other breeds.

The best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? Always be courteous, encouraging and helpful to everyone, whether you are judging them in the ring or meeting them walking their dog on the street.

My ultimate goal for the breed? To hold true to our breed type as written and expressed by the “old people”. The people who wrote the Standard and the Illustrated Standard. To have future Standard, Illustrated Standard and Judges Education Committees to hold our breed type true through the years and fads! To not be taken in by some on the European continent who falsely believe dogs must have a “length of nose” to breath properly and be healthy. To continue to put great emphasis on our breed’s soundness and health.

My favorite dog show memory? I have been fortunate to have over 50 years of wonderful Dog Show memories. Special dogs, special lifelong friends and special moments.

 

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