Brian is depicted as a talking dog who was born in a puppy mill in Austin, Texas and has lived with the Griffin family since Peter picked him up as a stray. While he exhibits some typical dog behaviors such as eating garbage and licking himself, he also possesses various anthropomorphic qualities, such as the ability to speak quite intelligently and walk bipedally. He also has a particularly sharp wit. Peter is his best friend, despite Brian's vastly superior intelligence. Seth MacFarlane has once described Brian as "a dog who has a wit as dry as the martinis he drinks." Brian is often the voice of reason in the family, often reminding Peter how stupid his plans are.
Brian has a cultured background; he loves opera and jazz, has talented vocal ability, being able to sing all four parts to a barbershop quartet simultaneously. He is depicted speaking fluent French, Tagalog, and decent Spanish. He attended Brown University, and is an avid writer (in Brian Goes Back to College, he is invited to write for The New Yorker).
Brian is apparently working on a novel, but the fact that he just can't seem to finish it has become a running gag.
While not seen holding a regular job in Quahog, Brian is depicted owning a Toyota Prius car, paying bills, and maintaining a credit card. In an episode he has been a substitute teacher at Chris' school, a contributor for the The New Yorker, a taxi driver and a drug-sniffing dog for the Quahog police department. He also worked selling cars while the Griffin family thought that Peter had died in the episode "Perfect Castaways". Brian held several jobs while living in Los Angeles including waiter, car wash attendant, screenwriter and pornographic film director.
In contrast to the other characters on the show, Brian actually can remember things from episode to episode. In the "The Fat Guy Strangler" episode, Brian remembers Peter encouraging him to jump into the closed window of the General Lee in "To Love and Die in Dixie". Brian also recalls Stewie beating him up mercilessly over a bet in "Patriot Games" and lets him swallow Peter's chewing tobacco spittle in retaliation in the "Airport '07" episode.
As the most sensible member of the Griffin family, Brian often serves as the voice of reason or as a mediator during family arguments. He is also usually the first (and often only) one to realize that there is impending danger.
According to Brian Griffin's Guide To Booze, Broads And The Lost Art Of Being A Man, Brian's five musical artists who he finds most offensive are Ashlee Simpson, Coldplay, Jamie Foxx, Usher and Kevin Federline
In "Love Blactually", Brian is shown to be an atheist. He attempts to purchase a copy of The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins, meeting love interest Carolyn, who reaches for the same copy. However, this is questionable after the episode I Dream of Jesus, when he saw Jesus perform a miracle.
Brian was born in Austin, Texas, in a litter of 5 puppies, the other four being apparently non-anthropomorphic. The show has yet to explore his youth and adolescence in detail. He was homeless, panhandling, washing car windows on the side of a highway exit when Peter found him. Having no money to give Brian, Peter brought Brian home to the Griffin family. Brian also intermittently attended Brown University, though he remains one class short of graduating (in the season 4 episode "Brian Goes Back to College", Brian re-enrolls in an attempt to earn his degree, but fails). Brian references his unseen service in the Peace Corps in the season 4 episode "Jungle Love". When Brian returned to Austin to find his mother, in Road to Rhode Island, he found that she had died and her owners were using her stuffed body as a table. Brian absconded with her body to give his mother a proper burial. In another episode, when Brian teaches Chris's English class, it is mentioned that his father's name was Coco and was run over by a milk truck.
Despite his anthropomorphic intelligence, Brian shares certain traits and shortcomings with real dogs. For example, he cleans himself with his tongue and scratches at fleas with his hind leg. On the commentary of "Road to Rhode Island", he confirmed that he sees in black and white, and although since it was him and Stewie giving commentary, it's not known if this can be considered canon[original research?]). He has a fear of the toilet flushing (which is also odd, considering, he actually flushed the toilet, in the episode "Stewie Loves Lois"), and of the vacuum cleaner (which is again odd, considering that he was actually vacuuming in the episode "Fore Father")[original research?], though, being that the episodes are a distance apart he could have overcome these fears. He also couldn't control his animal urges for the prized Pewterschmidt dog, Seabreeze, resulting in a paternity dispute, although he was ultimately proven not to be the father of Seabreeze's pups (the father was revealed to be Ted Turner). In the episode Breaking Out Is Hard to Do, Brian is shown in the back of a van having trouble staying balanced while moving. When Questioned by Peter, he stated, "I'm a dog. I have trouble standing in a car." Another example occurs in the episode "Blue Harvest", where he (playing the role of Chewbacca) is coaxed into the trash compactor by Peter throwing in a dried pig's ear which Brian uncontrollably chases in a fit of barking.
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