Griffons and Health

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Griffon Bruxellois are generally healthy sturdy little dogs who live until 14-15 years of age although Griffons of 17 years of age are not uncommon.

As with any dog, purebred or cross bred, there are some health issues which people need to be aware of but these health concerns can be minimised if you buy your Griffon from an ethical breeder who health tests all breeding stock and only breeds to produce healthy dogs.

Issues that have been found in Griffons include: cleft palates, anasarca, slipping patellas. stenotic nares and SM/CM.

The only health survey on Griffons in Australia was carried out by the Griffon Bruxellois Club of Victoria and a report on its findings can be seen below . This survey shows that the incidence of these conditions is low if the dogs are bred by an ethical breeder who health tests stock.

 In general, Griffons from ethical, ANKC registered breeder are active, cheeky, healthy little dogs who live long, happy lives

 The  Country Griffon Bruxellois Club of NSW supports health testing and has a code of ethics for all members who are breeders.

We also support the research carried out  internationally towards SM/CM and a link can be seen at the bottom of this page

The club also has an accredited breeders scheme which outlines the expectations of the club. The details of this can be seen on this page . All the photos of Griffons on this page show healthy happy Griffons owned and /bred by our club members.

Griffons and the Heat 

Griffons are a short nosed ( brachycehalic) breed and as such they feel the heat more than dogs with long noses.


Dogs do not sweat all over their body like people. The can only sweat on the pads of their feet and though their tongue. The longer the tongue the more they can sweat and therefore cool down.

Racing and working dogs like kelpies and greyhounds for example have long noses which = long tongues and therefore quicker cooling.

Any breed with a short nose has a shorter tongue  and is not able to cool itself as quickly.

Ii is very important that Griffons are not allowed to overheat in the hot summer months on Australia or they could get heat stress which can be fatal.

Never  walk your Griffon in the heat of the day.

Always ensure that your Griffon has access to shade and plenty of cool water.

Do not encourage your Griffon to run around in the heat of the day even if it is playing with other dogs as all of these things can contribute to heat stress.

Never ever leave you dog in the car - even in winter a car in the sun can heat up. In summer it becomes an oven and death by heat stress in a car is an agonising death for any dog.

 What to look for in Heat stress

  • The dog will be panting heavily - sometimes making a gasping sound 
  • It will try to find shade- and lay out flat to try to cool its stomach
  • It may become confused and disorientated
  • It may pass out.

What to do

  • If it is panting heavily take it out of the sun into the shade or into as cool a place as possible.
  • Give cool water to drink - if it will take it.
  • If possible stand in cool water  (not ice water as the shock may be to great) If you cant stand them in water then splash cool water onto the belly and inside of thighs where their are large veins.  Splash water onto the throat and under the chest an armpits. Keep doing this until the dog slows down it breathing and stops panting
  • If the dogs does not improve or has reached the stage where it seems disoriented rush it to the vet as  quickly as possible- keeping it as cool as you can. Any delay can be fatal as the body temperature must be reduced as soon as it can be .

Common sense and keeping your dog cool in hot weather can avoid all of this. 

 How can you tell if you are getting a  Healthy Griffon from an ethical breeder ?

  1. Do not impulse buy your dog. Be prepared to wait for the right dog. Good Griffon breeders do not breed frequently as they care too much about their dogs
  2. Check the breeder carefully. Ask lots of questions. Make sure you see the mother. Check out the conditions that the dogs are kept in. Are the dogs loved members of the family or just kennelled dogs used to breed fromA kennelled dog with no human socialisation will not bond with you. Good breeders socialise their pups, they have them in the house, they expose them to lots of noise and normal household distractions. These well socialised pups make better pets as they adjust quicker and they are easier to house train. Never buy from a breeder who has the dogs in kennels all the time or even worse in cages or crates. Never ever buy from a breeder if you cannot see where the dogs are kept or if you cannot see the mother.
  3. Make sure the breeder is a member of the ANKC and the Kennel control of the state. Members of the ANKC must follow a strict code of ethics. An ANKC registered breeder is not allowed to breed cross bred pups so if you ever see a breeder offering crossbreds and saying that they are a registered breeder then you will know that they are lying.
  4. Ask the breeder what health tests they have had for the dogs - if they have had the patellas, hearts and eyes of the dogs they are breeding from, checked by a vet. 
  5. Ask how many litters they have had in the past 12months. If they have had a large number of litters or if they always have puppies for sale then you should avoid them - they are puppy farmers who only breed for money and you will be buying a lifetime of health problems and vet bills.
  6. Does the breeder ask you a lot of questions? A good breeder loves their puppies and cares deeply about the home they are going to. A good breeder will ask you a lot of questions to make sure you are the perfect home for their precious puppy. Some of these questions may seem invasive but it is because they have the best interest of the puppy at heart. If they do not ask questions then you should be suspicious as they may only be concerned with making money.
  7. Does the breeder sell the pup with a health guarantee? A good breeder will offer a health guarantee ( as far as is humanly possible) and offer some form of compensation (either money or another pup) if a problem that is inherited, arises.
  8. Does the breeder say that they will take the dog back if at some stage you cannot keep it? Although you may buy the pup fully intending to keep it forever, circumstances can sometimes change. A good breeder will want you to contact them at anytime if you are unable to keep the dog. No good breed wants their dogs to end up in the pound or passed from owner to owner.
  9. Check the puppy you are buying. Is it alert, happy cheeky. Does it have a healthy coat, bright eyes, clean pink ears on the inside. Does it have nice big open nostrils. These are signs of a healthy pup.
  10. Is the pup vaccinated and microchipped? It is illegal to sell a pup that is not microchipped and no good breeder would ever sell an unvaccinated puppy.
  11. How old is the pup? It is illegal to sell a pup under the age of 8 weeks. No good breeder would ever consider selling a pup any younger. High quality Griffon breeders will keep the pups until 10 weeks, sometimes even 12 weeks to ensure that they are strong enough and big enough to go to their new homes. Remember a Griffon pup is tiny and usually only about 1kg as a baby if 10 weeks.
  12. Should pups be desexed when you buy them? Some breeders sell puppies already desexed as young as 10 to 12 weeks of age. We strongly advise against this.  There is now a great deal of scientific evidence against early desexin gof puppies of any breed and it has been proven to increase the chances of bone weakness, cancer, health issues. The hormones that are removed when the pup is desexed are essential for healthy growth. WE do not ever recommend desexing before 6 months of age and ideally after 8 months. Furthermore the Griffon is a flat faced breed and and there is always an additional risk involved when flat faced breeds are put under anaesthetic. We feel that is is cruel to subject a tiny Griffon pup to the rigours of anaesthetic at a very young age and do not believe that any reputable vet would subject a tiny baby puppy to this unnecessary surgery





Photo of a young Griffon with large open nostrils. Dogs with stenotic nares have small ,narrow pinched nostrils


Below is the report on the last health survey taken on the breed in Australia





Report on the Breeders Health Survey

In 2010 the Griffon Bruxellois Club of Victoria conducted the first comprehensive, nation wide survey of Griffon Bruxellois breeders with the purpose of identifying the common health problems besetting the breed. From this survey it was hoped that a protocol to assist breeders would be developed. The surveys were anonymous to encourage frankness from the breeders and were evaluated by Hilary Swain in Western Australia.


The surveys were sent to registered Griffon Bruxellois breeders and they were asked to report only on dogs that they had bred. Of the surveys sent out 66.6% were returned.


The results of this survey are shown in the tables below. The tables have been divided into conditions that have a greater than 25% occurrence and those that have a less than 25 % occurrence.


Table 1: Conditions with Occurrence of 25% or Greater




Percentage of dogs reported with the condition

Number of Breeders with the condition


Cleft Palate



(11 had 1 – 5 cases in litters

3 had more than 5 cases in litters)


Undescended testes




Inguinal/Scrotal Hernia




Patella Luxation

Skin problems/allergies/ezcema











Percentage of dogs reported with the condition

Number of Breeders with the condition


CM/SM-diagnosed by MRI but no symptoms

Thyroid disease






Constricted Nares

Hip Dysplasia

Legge Perthes

Pectus Excavatum







CM/SM –diagnosed by MRI with symptoms

Hare Lip

Cushings Disease

Atresia Ani

Persistent Pupillary Membrane

Umbilical Hernia

















Table 2: Conditions with Occurrence of less than 25%




No breeders identified PRA, Heart Disease or Hereditary Cataracts as a health issue in the breed.


Liver Shunt was not identified as a health problem but another article in the same issue of the Griffiti reported on the first two known cases of this condition occurring in Griffons in Australia.


This survey is very valuable as it provides factual evidence of the health issues that occur in the breed. Prior to this all reports had been anecdotal and therefore not reliable.


Whist the survey provided a snapshot of the health of the breed at a particular time (the first 6 months of 2010) it does provide breeders and clubs with a realistic idea of where the breed stands. Obviously some health conditions are more severe than others and affect the quality of life to a greater extent and this needs to be taken into consideration when devising a breeding protocol.


Reference: Griffiti June 2010 Newsletter of the Griffon Bruxellois Club of Victoria














The Country Griffon Bruxellois Club of NSW  Breeders Code





The guidelines are as follows:


  1. Pre mating testing of prospective parents.

     Note: Disease testing means:

  1. Testing for health conditions which are notified by the breed club, ANKC or Dogs NSW as relevant to the breed, and for which scientifically validated, reliable, readily available and cost effective screening procedures are available.

  2. DNA tests for hereditary diseases that are available in the relevant breed

  1. Subject to veterinary advice, no mating where tests indicate inadvisable

  2. Microchip puppies prior to sale

  3. Puppy microchip numbers to be included in the Application to Register litter (unless Veterinary advise to the contrary)

  4. Presale veterinary checks on puppies with written report by veterinary surgeon

  5. Copies of parents test results and puppy vet check results to be made available to prospective purchasers

  6. Prospective purchasers can, prior to purchase, view puppies with mother where litter was born and raised. ( This rule will not apply to a litter after pups have been weaned , where the mother and the pups will be residing in separate premises)

  7. Provide detailed information on puppy care and welfare to purchasers (All relevant documentation connected with the puppy including inter alia, advice on feeding and care, registration documents,(if already issued) details of vaccinations etc are handed over to the purchaser at the time of sale. When an appropriate contract is available it should be signed by both parties. If registration  documents are not available at the time of sale the breeder must comply with Dogs NSW Regulations Part 1 – Register and Registration Clauses 13.9 – 13.11)

To observe proper standards of management in regard to the housing, health, exercising and socialising of all dogs on the premises managed by the registered breeder, including establishing minimum staffing levels appropriate to the numbers of dogs involved. (It is strongly recommended that Accredited Breeders follow the guidelines contained in the NSW Animal Welfare Code of Practice “Breeding Dogs and Cats”)



Explanation of Terms for Accredited Breeders Scheme


  1. Pre mating testing of prospective parents.

     Note: Disease testing means:


  1. Testing for health conditions which are notified by the breed club, ANKC or Dogs NSW as relevant to the breed, and for which scientifically validated, reliable, readily available and cost effective screening procedures are available.

  2. DNA tests for hereditary diseases that are available in the relevant breed.

    At the present time the only comprehensive health survey on the Griffon Bruxellois in Australia the one which the Griffon Bruxellois Club of Victoria carried out in 2010, discussed in the previous article.

    At the present time there are no DNA tests available for Griffon Bruxellois.

    The CGBC NSW recommends veterinary checks of all breeding dogs prior to breeding. However we do not recommend the unnecessary use of anaesthetic to test for conditions that are rare or non existent in the breed or if the dog does not show any symptoms. The GFA believes that all health testing should be done with the welfare and quality of life experienced by the dog as the prime consideration and the terms of the Accreditation:  scientifically validated, reliable, readily available and cost effective screening procedures are available should at all times be kept in mind

    In reference to the health conditions identified by the Health Survey we have the following comments:

    Cleft Palate – The majority of pups born with this condition are euthanised at birth. Breeding not supported

     Undescended Testes- This is not a life threatening condition and dogs are usually castrated and live normal healthy lives. Breeding not supported.

    Inguinal/Scrotal Hernia- this can be diagnosed by a normal veterinary examination. Breeding not supported condition

    Patella Luxation- This condition has various grades of severity. A vet can diagnose the condition in a normal physical examination. Further testing/grading available if a condition is identified. Breeding not supported

    Anasarca-a condition that commonly affects brachycephalic breeds. While linked to a specific phenotype there is insufficient research to indicate if it is hereditary.  If the pup survives we would expect the breeder to be guided by veterinary advice.

    SM/CM – the CGBCNSW supports the research into this condition and supports who breeders have assisted the research by getting their dogs MRI’ed.  We acknowledge that at the present it is still very much in the research stage.  This procedure so far does not meet with any of the definitions for testing at the present time as it is not yet scientifically validated, reliable, readily available or a cost effective screening procedure(s).

    There are guidelines for breeding published by Claire Rushbridge (UK) which the club recommends members follow as far as is possible but at the present stage it is not essential that members MRI their dogs in order to be accredited

    Other Conditions: There is also no evidence that conditions such as H.D., PRA etc are an issue in the breed in this country and it is not considered necessary for breeders to subject their dogs to unnecessary anaesthetic to test for these conditions if there is no indication, in a normal veterinary examination that the dog is affected.

    We recommend that the eyes are checked during the usual annual veterinary examination. If symptoms of an eye problem are identified by the vet then we recommend a visit to a canine ophthalmologist but do not consider it necessary if the dog does not display symptoms.

    In a limited number of cases we are aware that Griffons have been born with Stenotic Nares. Whilst it is possible that these dogs can have the nostrils enlarged to enable them to breath we do not support the breeding from affected animals and members who have done so would not be accredited.


  1. Presale veterinary checks on puppies with written report by veterinary surgeon

  2. Copies of parents test results and puppy vet check results to be made available to prospective purchasers

    Puppies are vaccinated and checked by a vet at 6 weeks of age. Many breeders keep the pups until 10 weeks when they are again vaccinated and vet checked. These check ups can be considered as a pre sale vet check. It is not necessary to have an additional vet check prior to sale in order to be accredited. The normal veterinary certificate is sufficient if the pup is healthy and free of health problems. However if the pup is diagnosed with a health problem the CGBCNSW expects that breeders will fully inform the prospective purchaser prior to sale.

    The CGBCNSW believes that our member breeders have the love of the breed and the welfare of the breed as their number one priority.  

    The criteria for accreditation are reasonable and responsible. We believe that our breeders would meet the criteria for Accreditation and we offer this grading as a recognition of the hard work, effort and expense that our member breeders experience when they breed these lovely little dogs.


    Progress Made in SM/CM Research

    There has been some exciting progress made in the research towards attempts to eliminate SM/CM.

    A candidate gene has been identified in Griffon Bruxellois which can, in the long term help breeders avoid this condition. Full details on this research can be seen on the link below

    It is very early days at the moment and there are a number of genes responsible for this condition so it will be sometime before a definitive DNA test will be developed but it is a start in the right direction.

    The research is carried out in several countries and the researchers share results and cooperate together.

    In the meantime until a DNA test has been devised all breeders can do is ensure that they have a full understanding of the condition and MRI dogs according to the guidelines and in consultation with their vets






Contact Details

Secretary: Marousa Polias - [email protected]