Wiry-coated Brussels Griffons are considered hypoallergenic dogs, but this does not mean they do not shed or release dander. They are a light-shedding dog, but still produce dander and saliva which can trigger an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals. The smooth-coated Brussels Griffon, called Petit Brabançon, is not considered hypoallergenic due to the difference in coat and shedding.
Griffons may suffer from skin allergies which can present through scratching and chewing on the feet, and may cause hair loss, lesions, and infection. Diet and environment may contribute to allergies—a veterinarian can help figure out the irritant, and suggest solutions. Scratching and irritation may also point to syringomyelia—a neurological disease the Brussels Griffon may be susceptible to.
Syringomyelia is a condition that may affect brachycephalic breeds like the Brussels Griffon—fluid-filled cavities form within the spinal cord, which may cause severe pain, paralysis, or neurological symptoms.
Symptoms may include:
- Sensitivity to touch
- Gait abnormalities
- Crying out in response to movement
Many dogs with syringomyelia display a behavior referred to as 'phantom scratching,' the act of scratching the shoulder and neck area with their rear leg, without actually making contact with the skin. This may be due to the itch-like sensation they feel as a symptom of syringomyelia.
Dogs who present Chiari-like malformation—a condition related to overcrowding in the small skull—may be more at risk for syringomyelia. The shortened skull and rounded forehead may contribute to the risk of both Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia. Though symptoms can be severe, medical management or surgery may be an option. Some dogs with these conditions are asymptomatic and require no intervention, but symptoms may present later in life. Syringomyelia and Chiari-like malformation are inherited disorders. Dogs with clinical signs of Chiari-like malformation or syringomyelia should not be bred.