Spirited and smart, the Affenpinscher is the embodiment of a “big dog in a small dog’s body”, consistently demonstrating a courageous attitude quite disproportionate to its size. Literally meaning the “monkey-like terrier” in German, and dubbed the “moustachioed little devil” in France, the Affenpinscher does have an undeniable rugged charm in its appearance, which endears it to many dog-lovers worldwide. In addition, the Affenpinscher’s loyal nature and inquisitive temperament serve to boost its irrefutable attraction as an excellent four-legged companion. Given its constant state of high alert, the Affenpinscher also makes a great watchdog, never failing to react loudly to any hint of danger in its vicinity.
Height: 9-11.5 inches (23-29 cm)
Weight: 7-9 lbs (3-4 kg)
Average Litter Size: 1-3 puppies
Life Expectancy: Up to 14 years
Good with Children: No
Kennel Club Classification: Toy
According to the UK Kennel Club, the Affenpinscher should be either pure black or black with some grey markings. The American Kennel Club, on the other hand, accepts a wider range of colours, including black and tan, silver-grey, red or a combination of these colours.
The Affenpinscher is a scruffy little dog with a stiff, wiry coat that is approximately one inch in length. It is also renowned for its bushy eyebrows, moustache and beard, on which the Affenpinscher’s various nicknames are based. Although the Affenpinscher is a low shedder, regular brushing is recommended to prevent the coat from becoming matted or tangled. In addition, it is advisable to “strip” your Affenpinscher every so often, removing the dead hairs from its coat and leaving it neat and shiny. Some owners also like to have their Affenpinschers professionally trimmed from time to time.
In general, the Affenpinscher is a healthy little dog with few inherent health conditions to mention. It can sometimes be prone to certain ailments typical in smaller breeds, including anasarca, cleft palate, elongated soft palate, Legg-Perthes disease, patellar luxation, patent ductus arteriosus and Von Willebrand’s disease.
Affectionate, devoted and protective, the Affenpinscher is generally a great choice for a loving family pet, although its strong hunting instincts would likely prevent it from living harmoniously with other small animals – it will not hesitate to take on other animals, from mice and rats to other dogs. Intelligent and alert, your Affenpinscher can be counted upon to provide loud and lusty warnings whenever it senses any kind of threat approaching. Whilst it loves its people, the Affenpinscher also values its freedom, and it would not take kindly to being restrained against its will or handled roughly, thus making them a breed not well-suited to households with younger children.
Whilst the Affenpinscher’s high intelligence means that it is capable of learning new commands relatively quickly, it has an independent streak that makes it more challenging to train than some larger dog breeds. It is important to keep the Affenpinscher’s attention engaged and to provide a great deal of positive reinforcement and rewards for small achievements. As with many toy breeds, house training can sometimes prove difficult, and some owners find crate training helps to speed up this process. Early socialisation is also of particular importance for Affenpinschers, as this should hopefully serve to curb its strong reactions towards unfamiliar people and animals alike.
Whilst relatively small in size, the Affenpinscher does possess a tremendous amount of energy. As such, it generally requires a minimum of one 30-40 minute walk each day and ideally an additional slightly shorter one if possible. Its high intelligence level means that it becomes bored easily, and it should be kept both physically and mentally stimulated to prevent it from becoming unhappy and destructive. It should also be noted that Affenpinschers are companionable little dogs and do not react well to being left alone for long periods of time.
Native to the country of Germany, the Affenpinscher is thought to have originated from various terrier crossbreeds back in the 15th century, and it was originally bred for keeping farmyards and shops free from vermin, including rats and mice. For this reason, the breed developed a very high prey drive and strong chase instincts, which have endured over the centuries, and of which owners today must still be mindful of when training and exercising their Affenpinscher.
Over time, the Affenpinscher began to draw the attention of dog lovers who were more interested in its quirky appearance and agreeable companionship than its hunting traits. As such, in the late 18th century, more selective breeding of the Affenpinscher started to take place, with breeders focusing more on its charming looks and miniature stature than its inherent rat-catching abilities. Gradually, the Affenpinscher diminished in size, making it far more akin to a lapdog in both size and demeanour. As a result, the breed we know today is, in fact, considerably smaller than its early ancestors, although it does still retain many of its historic instincts for chasing and catching small creatures.
The Affenpinscher’s popularity increased significantly from the beginning of the 20th century, and it was officially recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1936. However, its numbers were severely reduced during the Second World War, bringing the Affenpinscher almost to the point of extinction. Luckily, breeders were able to revive this little dog’s bloodlines with the assistance of its cousin, the Griffon Bruxellois – a breed that the Affenpinscher originally helped to develop.
Although it has been recognised by Kennel Clubs around the world for over a century, the Affenpinscher has never been the most popular of pedigree breeds. To its fervent admirers, though, there can be no breed more cosmetically endearing or characteristically attractive, and while this fanbase remains, so shall the sturdy little Affenpinscher.
The most famous Affenpinscher by far has to be Banana Joe, who was the first of the breed to win the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in 2013.