The Petit Brabancon is one of the three different breeds of Brussels Griffon. The other two are the wire coated Griffon Bruxellois and the Griffon Belge. The Petit Brabancon was once considered to be an “outcast” because of its short smooth coat. Wiry coated and smooth coated puppies can be born in the same litter. As griffon means wiry, the smooth coats were considered to be a fault. The Petit Brabancon may have a reddish brown, a tan or a black coat. A black coat is also considered to be a breed fault. During the 18th century, the smooth coated puppies in a litter are eliminated. Fortunately, some kind hearted breeders have decided to keep the puppies and they found out the outstanding qualities of the “smooth coats”. The “smoothies” were given the name Petit Brabancon as unlike its wiry coated littermates the name griffon would be inappropriate. Brabancon was taken from La Brabonconne, the national anthem if Belgium.
The Petit Brabancon is a toy type of dog with a short smooth coat that can come in black, redish brown or tan color. But what is more notable about this breed is the shape of the head and the Ewok-like face that has a human-like expression because of the shortened muzzle. It is said that this dog has inspired George Lucas in creating the fictional character Ewok in the movie Star Wars. The Petit Brabancon is a small dog with a big personality. This breed makes a wonderful companion as they are very cheerful and lively. Truly a wonderful pet to have around! This is a toy dog but it has an inflated idea of its size and its capabilities. A Petite Brabancon will not be intimidated by large breeds of dogs. This breed makes a wonderful guard dog as it will never fail to announce strangers with its incessant barking and if necessary the dog will latch its small but strong teeth to whoever would want to harm the master.
In recent years, carrying toy dogs in pouches became a trend. This breed is not easy to come by. Because of the small litter size and the difficulty in breeding, prospective owners would need to shell out more than $1000 for a puppy.
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The head is the most notable characteristic of the Petit Brabancon. This breed has rounded head that is large but proportionate to the body. Rather than oval, the skull takes a rounded shape because of the shortened muzzle. The muzzle usually measures less than 1.5 cm in length. The stop is well pronounced. The broad black nose with well opened nostrils is set at the same level as the eyes and angles upward. The large and round brown eyes are set well apart. Expressive black rimmed eyes give the dog an almost human like expression. Small ears are set on high. The ears may be cropped or uncropped. When cropped the small pointed ears would protrude amidst the hair of the head in a very Ewok-like fashion. The chin is undershot but very prominent. This breed has black loose fitting lips. The Petite Brabancon has a well proportioned square shaped body. This is a toy breed but the body is compact, muscular and well boned, never giving the impression of being delicate. The dog’s short back is straight and strong, broad chest has well sprung ribs. The tail that is set on high can be cropped to 1/3 of its length or left naturally. Undocked tail is carried upwards over the back but not curled over. The Petit Brabancon has a short, smooth coat that is rather harsh to the touch. The smooth coat though gleams and gives the dog an eye catching appearance. Coat colors are black, red or black and tan. Red or reddish brown coated individuals may have black masks.
Petite Brabancons have human-like expression on their faces. These dogs have human-like personalities as well. The dog is affectionate and very loyal. But it would also demand attention from its human family. This dog loves to be spoiled. The dog is really sociable and playful but it would at times show self consciousness and shyness especially around strangers. This dog also sulks when reprimanded. A Petit Brabancon has a small body but the dog thinks it big and often challenges dogs much bigger than himself. Because of the size and the highly excitable nature, this dog is not recommended for families with small children. The Petite Brabancon does not have high exercise requirements. This is a busy little dog; generally active inside the house thus it would do well in an apartment.
Unlike the other two Brussels Griffon, the Petite Brabancon would need very minimal care. A soft bristled brush used weekly will remove dead hair and distribute the natural oils of the coat. Care though must be given to the eyes of the dog. Because of the absence of the snout, the large eyes of the dog are prone to lacerations. Nail clipping and ear cleaning must be done regularly as well.
The ancestry of the Petit Brabancon can be traced to the terrier type of dog that is not unlike a Dutch Smoushond that was popular with both the common people and the nobility in Belgium. During the 1800s, coachmen customarily keep small dogs in their stables for the purpose of controlling the vermin population. These dogs that are known as Griffons d’ Ecurier which mean wire-coated stable dogs have an Affenpinscher-like appearance. These dogs were bred with the King Charles Spaniels, Ruby Spaniels and the Pug. The resulting breed was called the Brussels Griffon, Brussels being the capital of Belgium where the breed was developed. The introduction of the Pug to the gene pool of the Griffon d’ Ecurier accounts for the rather unique form of the head and monkey face with the human-like pouting expression. The dogs that were produced have large heads, big round eyes and cobby bodies. It also brought the black coat color. The cross breeding resulted to the development of two distinct types of coat – the wiry and the short smooth. A litter can have wiry coated and smooth coated puppies. The smooth coat was originally considered a breed fault. Smooth coated puppies were initially destroyed. However, breeders later on found out the excellent qualities that the smooth coated puppies possess. The dogs were saved and recognized as a separate breed. The smooth coated dogs were initially given the name Griffon Petit Brabancon or Small Brabant Griffon. The “griffon” in the name was later on removed. Griffon after all means wiry.
The three types of Brussels Griffon, the Griffon Bruxellois, the Griffon Belge and the Petit Brabancon became extremely popular especially when Queen Marie Henriette took to breeding the toy dogs. From the humble beginnings of being stable ratters, the breed is now favored by the nobility. The bred gained international recognition. The Brussels Griffon was shown in the Brussels Exhibition in 1880. The Petit Brabancon was depicted in the famous 17th century painting of the Flemish painter Van Eyck.
The World War 1 years have greatly decimated the population of the breed. There was a great reduction in the number of Petite Brabancon as well as in the numbers of the two other breeds of Brussels Griffon. The breed has not yet fully recovered when it had another setback… World War 11. This time the breed almost became extinct. The surviving specimens have quite a number of breeding defects one of which is the web foot. As web foot was declared a breed fault, the already small breeding stock was yet depleted as breeding from webbed foot dogs is not permitted. Breeders stop breeding and the only existing large kennel is the Chenil du Clos des Orchidees. From this kennel, the breed was revived. In recent years the popularity of the breed rose steadily especially after the dog was featured in the 1997 movie As Good As It Gets.