Wily and Wiry

The Brussels Griffon will charm and challenge you — at the same time.

Bee Gee could spot a novice from a mile away. When Denise Brusseau-Ortlman of Lawrenceville, Ill., vice president of the American Brussels Griffon Association, took home her first Brussels Griffon puppy, the tiny dog decided not to eat, walk on a leash, or do one single thing her new, eager-to-please owner asked.

“No treat or words moved her,” Brusseau-Ortlman recalls. She burst into tears as she called the breeder, afraid her new puppy would starve.

The breeder set her straight: Bee Gee was too smart to starve. “I was letting a 6-pound dog tell me what to do,” Brusseau-Ortlman says. “That day, I put on the leash, stood tall, acted like I was the boss, and in a loud, commanding voice, said ‘Let’s go!’” The little Brussels Griffon stood up and walked. “She followed me everywhere for the next 14 years,” Brusseau-Ortlman says.

Affectionate, endearing, and smarter than most people expect, the Brussels Griffon — who probably descended from a mix of streetwise Belgian Terriers and pampered lap dogs like Pugs and English Toy Spaniels — can seem like a puzzle. When you realize that this funny-faced breed contains the qualities of both the gentle toys and the fiery terriers, you’ll understand the Brussels Griffon.

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