Since the release of the movie As Good As It Gets in December, 1997, there has been an astounding increase in numbers of people thinking they want to own a Brussels Griffon. If your interest is recent and in response to the current movie and TV exposure this breed is receiving, there are a number of things of which you should be aware. Brussels Griffons rank near the bottom of the 140 breeds registered by the American Kennel Club. The Brussels Griffon, although enormously charming and endearing, has never before been a popular breed. There are some very good reasons for this fact. One of the foremost is that they are very difficult to breed and it is very expensive to breed them.
Griffons are a brachycephalic (large head, short nose) breed. This combined with their small size means that emergency C-sections are often needed to save the lives of the moms and puppies. Sometimes free-whelping is not even attempted. Brussels Griffon litters are usually small (2-4) and the puppy mortality rate is high because of birth defects (cleft palates, hare lips, open fontanels, water babies). The death rate is also high because such tiny puppies ( average 4 oz at birth) require a lot of special care and attention for the first few weeks of life.
Another reason Brussels Griffon has not become a household word is because these dogs are definitely not for every household. Although very bright, they are extremely sensitive dogs. They can become fear-biters if handled roughly and they often neither like nor do well with children. They have a tendency toward shyness and can easily be overwhelmed. They also often cannot be reliably housetrained.
There are not large numbers of Griffon breeders in the United States and they are scattered across the country. There are not breeders in every city or state. The most careful and responsible of them usually have about one litter a year. Their goal is to produce a better dog, closer to the breed standard than its parents. They carefully place puppies they don't plan to show. However this is usually not before 3-4 months of age.
All of this means that with the sudden popularity caused by the Movie and its related publicity, there is a greater demand for puppies than there are puppies available. There are people trying to cash in on this situation who don't care about the breed, or the quality of the puppies, or their dogs, or their customers. They want to cash in on the demand for puppies. BUYER BEWARE: this is a very hard time for someone new to the breed to find a high quality, sound puppy. If a Griff is what you really want, try to do careful research, get to know a responsible breeder, and if necessary, be prepared to wait. Otherwise you may simultaneously let yourself in for heartbreak and contribute to the deterioration of a wonderful breed. Also please keep in mind that because the movie has been as bad as it gets for our breed, over the next few years there will be a large number of Rescue dogs in need of loving homes.
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