While all purebred dog breeds are predisposed to certain diseases, the adorable little Brussels griffon has relatively few hereditary health issues. Buy a puppy from a reputable breeder and make sure you receive a health guarantee on the dog. But be aware that not all diseases reveal themselves in puppyhood.
One of the things you love about the Brussels griffon is his wide-eyed look. Unfortunately, those peepers are subject to some of the genetic problems affecting the breed. The Brussels griffon may suffer from progressive retinal atrophy, a disease eventually causing blindness. He may also be prone to cataracts as he gets older, but surgery might be able to correct them.
Hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joint affecting many breeds, also strikes the Brussels griffon. This disease causes lameness and early-onset arthritis. The breeder should be able to certify that a puppy's parents did not have hip dysplasia, along with the X-rays to prove it. As with many toy breeds, luxating patellas or displaced kneecaps affect Brussels griffons. In serious displacement, surgery is necessary for the dog to walk normally. Legg-Perthe disease, in which the head of the femur becomes necrotic, also occurs in the breed. As the disease progresses, the hip joint eventually gives out. Surgical options are available for treatment of this painful condition.
The neurological condition syringomyelia, an abnormality of the spinal cord, most commonly occurs in small breeds. The Brussels griffon is no exception. According to the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, the disease is "characterized by the development of fluid filled spinal cord cavitations or syrinxes," causing weakness and a lot of pain for the affected dog. While the disease is generally hereditary in the Brussels griffon, it may also develop as the result of trauma.
If you plan to breed your female Brussels griffon, understand that these dogs often have difficulty giving birth, or whelping as it's known. In order to save the puppies and the mother, the vet may have to perform a cesarean section. When you take your pregnant girl in for checkups, ask the vet about emergency arrangements ahead of time so that if she has whelping problems you have an action plan ready.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.