AKC group: Toy
UKC group: Terrier
Average lifespan: 12 – 14 years
Average size: 7 – 8 pounds
Coat appearance: Shaggy and wiry
Coloration: Black, gray, silver, red, tan and black
Other identifiers: Square body; deep chest; longer hair on face than rest of the body; round, black eyes; short, small nose; undershot jaw; tail is carried high at 2/3 length and ears are pointed upward; slightly curly undercoat
Possible alterations: Ears and tail may point down depending on breeder
The breed is German in origin and dates back to the seventeenth century. The name is derived from the German Affe
(ape, monkey). The breed predates and is ancestral to the Brussels Griffon
and Miniature Schnauzer
Dogs of the Affenpinscher type have been known since about 1600, but these were somewhat larger, about 12 to 13 inches, and came in colors of gray, fawn, black and tan and also red. White feet and chest were also common. The breed was created to be a ratter, working to remove rodents from kitchens, granaries, and stables.
Banana Joe V Tani Kazari (AKA Joe), a five-year-old Affenpinscher, was named Best in Show at the 2013 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City. This win is notable since it is the first time this breed has won Best in Show at Westminster.
Affenpinschers are tiny, but they have large personalities. They take themselves very seriously, and require everyone else to take them seriously as well, resulting in humorous interactions with people. Their terrier blood makes them spunky and sassy, and many owners wonder if these tiny toy dogs know just how small they really are. Mostly seen as “purse dogs” by ladies around the world, the Affen is a lovely travel companion, easy-going and accepting of new situations. Just keep an eye on the Affenpinscher about town, this breed can be mischievous.
The Affenpinscher, which has an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years, has a tendency to suffer from minor diseases like patellar luxation and corneal ulcers. Respiratory difficulties, patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), and open fontanel are sometimes seen in this breed as well. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may run knee and cardiac tests on the dog.
The Affenpinscher is an ideal dog for apartment living, especially if you have neighbors who don’t mind occasional barking. Short, brisk walks or a suitable length of time in the backyard is enough exercise for this sturdy but only moderately active dog.
Because he’s so small, the Affenpinscher should be a full-time housedog, with access only to a fully fenced backyard when not supervised. These dogs won’t hesitate to confront animals much larger than themselves, an encounter that could result in tragedy.
Like many toy breeds, the Affenpinscher can be difficult to housetrain. Be patient and consistent. Crate training is recommended.
The key to training an Affenpinscher is to always keep training fun. Use lots of praise and motivation!
The Affenpinscher is good for apartment life. They are very active indoors and will do okay without a yard. These dogs are sensitive to temperature extremes. Overly warm living conditions are damaging to the coat.
Affens are generally people-pleasers but can be stubborn, so early training is key to having an obedient dog. They respond best to positive reinforcement, with lots of treats and affection. Consistency and a gentle hand are required to prevent the Affen from becoming distrusting of people.
This tiny dog, with a penchant for mischief makes a good therapy dog. They travel well, adapt well in new environments and make people laugh, making them an ideal visitor for lifting the spirits of the elderly or the sick.
The Affenpinscher needs a daily walk. While out on the walk the dog must be made to heel beside or behind the person holding the lead, as in a dog’s mind the leader leads the way, and that leader needs to be the human. Play will take care of a lot of their exercise needs, however, as with all breeds, play will not fulfill their primal instinct to walk. Dogs that do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display behavior problems. They will also enjoy a good romp in a safe open area off lead, such as a large fenced-in yard. Teach them to enter and exit door and gateways after the humans.
The Affen has a wiry coat that can be rough or smooth, but the words “smooth” and “rough” can be misleading. A smooth Affen has some feathering on the legs and a ruff on the neck. Dogs with a rough coat have hair with a slightly softer texture and heavier feathering. Some Affens have a coat that falls somewhere in between. Whatever type of coat he has, the typical Affen looks neat but a bit shaggy. You can be sure he’ll have leaves and twigs stuck in his coat after he’s been outdoors, so he does need regular grooming to maintain his appearance.
Tools you’ll need are a slicker brush, a stainless steel Greyhound comb, a stripping knife, blunt-tipped scissors and thinning shears. Plucking dead hairs, called “stripping” the coat, is part of the package when living with an Affen. The Affenpinscher Club of America has an illustrated guide to grooming the dog to get the look just right.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every few weeks. Small breeds are prone to periodontal disease, so brush the teeth frequently for good overall health and fresh breath.
Affenpinschers don’t like aggressive behavior such as hitting, unwanted squeezing or hugging, or chasing to catch them or cornering them to hold in a lap. If they can’t escape, they will defend themselves by growling or snapping. For these reasons, they are not good choices for homes with young children. Often young children don’t understand that a cute little Affenpinscher might not want “love and kisses.”
It’s a good idea to socialize any puppy to young children, even if he won’t be living with them, but you should always supervise their interactions. Never let young children pick up a puppy or small dog. Instead, make them sit on the floor with the dog in their lap. Pay attention to the dog’s body language, and put him safely in his crate if he appears to be unhappy or uncomfortable with the child’s attention.
Always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
Affenpinschers usually get along well with other dogs and cats in the family, but like most toy breeds they are completely unaware of their size and will take on dogs much bigger than themselves. Be prepared to protect them from themselves.
Is this breed right for you?
A smaller breed that enjoys being around his family, the Affenpinscher will need consistent training in the home. Getting along well with other dogs and cats when raised with them, he’ll become loving and affectionate with children if both the dog and children are raised together. Spunky and confident, he loves to play outside and will need a yard or daily walks if living in smaller spaces. Because of his wiry coat, he doesn’t shed and will only require special grooming once or twice a year.
Did You Know?
At some point in the 18th or early 19th century, someone had the bright idea of breeding the Affenpinscher down in size, allowing them to move up in the world by becoming companions to ladies.
A dream day in the life of an Affenpinscher
Waking up to a quick cuddle session with his family, the Affenpinscher loves to start his morning with a nice walk around the neighborhood. Giving in to his curious nature, he’ll smell every nook and cranny the lovely street has to offer him. On returning home, he’ll take a quick nap before retreating to his toy area to play with the other animals and family members of the home. He’ll end his day just as it started, by cozying up with his favorite humans.