Affenpinscher

Studio shot of an Affenpinscher.
Agency Animal Picture/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The affenpinscher is a compact and sturdy toy dog that is expressive and alert. The face of this breed has a cute, almost "monkey-like" appearance as the fur is longer and shaggier on the face and forms a cape on the head and shoulders.

The affenpinscher has an independent spirit blended with a soft side. This breed will closely bond with its owner and act as both protector and companion. They are well-suited to apartment living.

They make lovely pets for many people, especially those who like little dogs with big personalities

Breed Overview

  • Group: Toy
  • Size: Weight of 7 to 10 pounds; height of 9 to 11.5 inches at the shoulder
  • Coat and Color: Wiry shaggy coat in black, gray, silver, red, black and tan, or beige
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Characteristics of the Affenpinscher

Affection LevelHigh
FriendlinessMedium
Kid-FriendlyLow
Pet-FriendlyMedium
Exercise NeedsMedium
PlayfulnessHigh
Energy LevelMedium
TrainabilityHigh
IntelligenceHigh
Tendency to BarkLow
Amount of SheddingLow

History of the Affenpinscher

The affenpinscher is one of the older dog breeds still seen today and likely originated from Germany and surrounding areas of Europe. Their name basically translates as "monkey-terrier" in German, which comes from their almost monkey-like faces. Affenpinschers were traditionally somewhat larger dogs that were once used to hunt rats in the home and around the farm.

They were bred down in size over the years, but some of the hunter's instinct still remains.

It's thought that they were crossed with pugs and German pinschers. They later are thought to have contributed to the bloodlines of the Brussels griffon and the miniature schnauzer. The breed first gained a breed standard with the Berlin Lapdog Club in 1913.

Affenpinschers were first recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1936 but there was little interest during World War II. Breeding was revived in the 1950s but the affenpinscher remains a rare breed. If you set your heart on one, you may be on a long waitlist.

Affenpinscher Care

Relatively frequent grooming is necessary for this breed's coarse, rough coat. This primarily consists of regular brushing, but the breed might benefit from occasional trips to a professional groomer. You may need tips on how to properly strip the rough coat and keep it looking good. In general, the Affenpinscher's coat is shaggy but not unkempt in appearance. You may need to check for hair growing in the corner of the eyes to keep it plucked so it doesn't cause irritation.

They do not shed much and so this is a good breed if you want less dog hair on your clothing and furniture. They are considered to be hypoallergenic by some because of this, but allergens are shed in the dander and saliva. Each person will react differently.

You should help your dog with dental hygiene by brushing his teeth daily to prevent periodontal disease. Trim your dog's nails every couple of weeks or whenever they have grown enough that you hear clicking on hard surfaces.

Though not considered hyperactive, Affenpinschers have a fair amount of energy and should receive routine exercise. Plan a daily walk at the very least for the health of your dog. This will help your dog to burn energy and better focus. However, the breed can overheat due to its short, stubby nose and potential airway problems, so use caution. They should be kept indoors and can have access to a fenced yard for play. But they need supervision when walking or if taken to a dog park because they are known to confront much larger dogs and don't realize they aren't a big dog themselves.

The affenpinscher is a curious and intelligent dog that can have a stubborn and feisty streak. Firm and consistent obedience training and proper socialization are essential. This will help you and your dog to be happier as well as fine-tune the breed's natural talents as a loyal watchdog and hunter.

You will need to socialize an affenpinscher from a young age as they are naturally suspicious of strangers. While most are not problem barkers, an affenpinscher can take awhile to settle down and stop barking once something has triggered him.

Affenpinschers may not be ideal matches for children or other pets, but training and socialization can sometimes change this. They don't tolerate being teased or handled roughly by small children. As a toy dog, they can be easily injured. They have a natural inclination to hunt rodents, so they are not good dogs for households with gerbils or guinea pigs and they may even chase after cats.

This breed can be difficult to housebreak. You will need to be consistent and be sure to have plenty of puppy pads and cleaning supplies available.

Common Health Problems

Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions. However, some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed. The following are some conditions to be aware of:

Diet and Nutrition

As a toy dog, your affenpinscher won't need much food. Two meals a day of up to 1/4 cup of dry dog food will be sufficient. The amount will vary by the dog's size, age, and activity level. Your dog's needs will change throughout his lifespan. Monitor your dog for any weight gain as even one extra pound is significant for a tiny dog. Being overweight or obese will shorten your dog's lifespan and predispose him to many health conditions. If you note any weight gain, discuss it with your veterinarian to get recommendations for feeding schedules, amount of food, type of food, and exercise.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Before you decide whether the affenpinscher is right for you, be sure to do plenty of research. Talk to other affenpinscher owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to learn more.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, look into these to compare the pros and cons:

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there. With a little research, you can find the right one to bring home.