Showsight Presents The Brussels Griffon

American Brussels Gri ff on Association DIAMOND ANNIVERSARY BY ANNE K. CATTERSON 2 020 marks the 75th anniversary of the American Brus- sels Gri ff on Association. Brussels Gri ff ons are a relatively new breed on the grand scale of breeds, having been “put together” from Pugs, A ff enpinschers, and English Toy

Spaniels among others in the late 19th century. In the late 1980’s, when I acquired my fi rst Gri ff , there were very few of them being shown, or even kept as pets. Th e saying was “a live Gri ff is a show Gri ff ”. Th is pejorative comment referred both to the belief that the puppies were very hard to keep alive for the fi rst few weeks, and to the lack of quality Brussels Gri ff ons in the ring. Attending the National in Louisville for the fi rst time in 1992 revealed a lot of well-loved but not well-socialized dogs bellying around the ring with tails down—unhappy to be o ff the couch. We’ve come a long way. Breeders, guided by pioneers like Mar- jorie Simon, worked hard to improve temperaments and socialize their puppies. We no longer had the judge standing in the middle of the ring pronouncing “Winners Bitch is the fi rst one who gets her tail up”. And while there were some noteworthy winners back in the day like Zorro, Richard, Charlie Brown and others, we now fi nd competitive Gri ff s being specialed in all areas of the country. Th ere are Brussels Gri ff ons routinely up in the national standings, not only in Toys but All-Breed as well, in part due to the in fl uence of the Terrier handlers becoming more and more involved with the breed. It was a natural progression since the coat is hand-stripped much like certain Terrier breeds, but along with this came a more stylized Gri ff on. Th e handlers tended to put a tighter Terrier-type jacket on a dog, and when those dogs were winning, the desired “look” changed. Gone is the slightly rumpled street urchin in favor of the labor-intense tight jacket and lavish furnishings. On the positive side, the desired self-important Brussels Gri ff on attitude is being displayed in the ring weekly. Over the years other more subtle changes have taken place, some good, some not so good. “Bad fronts” have been mostly overcome by dedicated breeders doing the right thing. Th e same is true of small eyes, prevalent for a while but not so much anymore. As the dog world became more knowledgeable about health and genetics, the ABGA took up the problems speci fi c to the Gri ff on, with attention directed to cataracts, luxating patellas, dysplastic hips, thyroid, and syringomyelia. A very active health committee encourages health testing and genetic screening in an e ff ort to eliminate or at the very least control these most common of problems in the Brussels Grif- fon. If there is a problem still to be addressed, it’s the size of the breed. Th e standard says eight to ten pounds, not to exceed twelve pounds, but there is no disquali fi cation for a dog outside the desired weight. Th e myth of the “group dog” has been propagated. Suppos- edly a bigger dog is more noticeable in the group, and so the race to the aforementioned national standings, which revolves around group placements, is causing bigger and bigger Gri ff s to be shown, and becomes evident in the whelping box. It is time for breeders to focus on the cobby dog with lots of bone, instead of the tall, sub- stantial “group dogs.” So, now, seventy- fi ve years later, Brussels Gri ff ons are in decent shape. Th ere have been some outstanding Gri ff ons in the modern ring. Lincoln, a group winner at the Garden, put smooths on the map. Th ey are no longer second-class citizens to the general public, and never were to breeders. Lincoln holds the record for the most Best In Shows by a Brussels Gri ff on. Th e breed weathered the dam- age done by the movie “As Good As It Gets”, which caused mill

dogs to abound. Th ey emerged from the Low Entry list, possibly a result of “the movie”. NBGR, the national rescue organization is quite active across the country—a blessing and a curse. Th is year we will celebrate our seventy- fi ve years with a Dia- mond Jubilee not only at the National Specialty in Louisville in March, but across the country with multiple supported entries. Look for them at the Delaware Toy Dog Fanciers in New Jersey in March, Mt Baker in Washington in May, at Woofstock in CA in June, at Piedmont in South Carolina in July, and then the Roving National Specialty at Morris and Essex in October. Come and help us celebrate! OF PROBLEMS IN THE BRUSSELS GRIFFON.” “A VERY ACTIVE HEALTH COMMITTEE ENCOUR- AGES HEALTH TESTING AND GENETIC SCREEN- ING IN AN EFFORT TO ELIMINATE OR AT THE VERY LEAST CONTROL THESE MOST COMMON


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