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Affenpinscher Dog Breed Information

General Information:

Height: 9 ½ – 11 ½ inches from the shoulder
“6.5 lbs. – 13 lbs.”
Life Span:
“11-14 years”
Most are black. Also acceptable is gray, red, silver, black, and tan
Area of Origin:
Similar Breeds:
Russian Dog, Griffon Cross, Affen Terrier, other terriers, Schnauzer

History and Origin:

The Affenpinscher hails from Germany and is one of the most ancient breeds of toy dogs. In fact some believe that the Affenpinscher is the most ancient of toy breeds. Sometime during the 17th century – in the mid to late 1600’s, the Affenpinscher was born. The term Affenpinscher is translated in German to mean Monkey Terrier. During this time small terriers of all sorts were kept on farms, around stables and in stores where they served to hunt both mice and rats. A little later on they were bred to also be indoor lap dogs.

We really don’t know the specific origin of the breed except to know that there is a mix of terriers in the Affenpinscher. We know who followed the breed and was influenced by it. The Schnauzer and the Brussels Griffon were certainly two of the breeds that followed the Affenpinscher and were influenced by it. It is believed that the Affenpinscher was a larger dog when first bred, perhaps standing 12-14 inches at the shoulders.

The original, larger Affenpinscher was bred down with the use of other toy dogs and toy terriers. They came in black and tan, red, gray, gray and tan, and fawn. The chest and feet were normally white.

After being bred down to a smaller size, the Affenpinscher then became a companion animal, an in house animal. Also because the smaller dogs were better hunters, getting into the smallest spaces, the smaller version of the dog was favored by the masses and the breeders.

For the most part the breeding of the Affenpinscher was anchored around Munich, Germany. There was however a fairly large contingent in France as well. Over time the breed came to be nicknamed the “mustached little devil” or “Diablotin moustachu” mostly by the French.

The Affenpinscher is no longer as popular as they once were and other breeds like the Brussels Griffon have passed them by in this respect, especially in Europe. On the other hand, the breed has flourished in the show ring. Officially recognized by and admitted to the American Kennel Club in 1936, a five year old won Best in Show at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2013. Banana Joe V Tani Kazari (AKA Joe) was the first Affenpinscher to win this most important New York dog show. However with this breed win at the New York City AKC Westminster Dog Show, there has been a slow increase in the number of Affenpinschers in the United States over the past year and one half. There is no way of knowing if this is a one-time effect or if there will be sustained growth for the breed in the United States.

Personality and Temperament:

The Affenpinscher is what we would call a “people dog”. They love to be in on everything that their people are doing. They are not independent loners like many others of the terrier group, but like all terriers they are very smart, adept at problem solving.

They are playful, intelligent, mischievous, assertive, loyal, and protective. If you are looking for a quiet little dog look elsewhere. The Affenpinscher is a talker and they will bark aggressively and continuously if they think that their people are threatened. Even when in the presence of a much larger dog, they will face them down and fiercely protect what is theirs. They can be very possessive and you have to watch them that they do not fall into resource guarding behavior.

The Affenpinscher is a great family dog even though they are small. They are better with older children who understand them. If you have young children they must be taught how to handle a toy dog that is somewhat fragile of body but also thinks of himself as a big dog. Don’t let your small child accidentally injure your Affenpinscher.

Also keep young children from teasing or taunting your dog. They will guard what is theirs and respond badly to teasing. Finally in the family setting, the Affenpinscher is good with other household pets – dogs and cats. However they are not good if left alone and to their own resources. They are likely to take their boredom out on your home and possessions. They are high strung somewhat nervous dogs, especially when left alone.

Exercise & Training:

There are positives and negatives with training an Affenpinscher. They are as previously noted, highly intelligent dogs. They are easy to train, but their training is not the same as other dogs. Like all toys and many terriers they are notoriously difficult when it comes to housebreaking.

They need a training regimen that is constantly changing as opposed to routine. They get bored easily so change it up for them and they will learn quickly. They are well known both for not following commands when bored and at the same time excelling in complicated routines, tricks and service commands. With the right training routine they can pass the Canine Good Citizen test with ease.

The Affenpinscher is so smart that they will learn both the command you give them and to ignore the command at the same time. If you have trained them for obedience they will either willingly “sit” on command or intentionally not to so. In addition to a stubborn streak, the Affenpinscher is mischievous and very playful. So she might be playing when she does not obey your command, or she might be stubborn.

Keep your training sessions short. Don’t try to give him too much at one time despite how intelligent he is. He is also easily distracted. If you want your training to succeed make sure your training space if free of such distractions. Once they have learned the commands then they won’t be bothered with any distractions.

As mentioned previously the Affenpinscher is inclined to resource guarding especially with toys, food and people. In order to prevent this it is important to train your puppy early to obey the “give” command without growling, snapping or any other guarding behavior. If you have other dogs or young children this training is essential.

The breed is like so many toys – difficult to housebreak. Their size is actually a detriment to this training. It is not that they don’t like to go outside, they love it. Try crate training for when you are not home and let your puppy be outside as much as possible when you are home.

The final training emphasis with the Affenpinscher is to socialize your puppy. It is important to socialize any puppy to other dogs and other people, other animals besides dogs. But with the Affenpinscher’s tendency to resource guard, socialization is particularly important. This is because your puppy is likely to resource guard you if she is not socialized. Socialization will also help your puppy be less nervous and anxious in all situations. Remember she is a little dog.

Now for exercise. The Affenpinscher is a small dog that needs a small amount of exercise. They are not couch potatoes but they are not runners either. They can get all the exercise they need inside but they love to be outside. They need to exercise on a regular basis; you just don’t need to do too much at any one time. The breed loves to play and if you just play with them they will get enough exercise that way.

They love to explore, to climb, and to run. If you have a fenced yard you will have a very happy dog. Given that you don’t want your dog to be harassed by larger dogs, an invisible fence is not as good as a chain link one. Without a fence the Affenpinscher might wander off or chase other smaller animals in the area.


There is quite a bit of grooming involved with the Affenpinscher breed. They have an outer coat and an undercoat which usually indicates quite a bit of shedding. The outer coat is shaggy and lays neatly over the thick, wavy under coat. When you pet an Affenpinscher, their coat feels slightly rough and looks a lot like the other terrier breeds. The outer coat is somewhat longer than most terriers.

It is a somewhat wiry coat and it needs regular grooming. The coat can become tangled over time, especially the facial hair. You will need a metal comb with wide teeth or a wire brush and brush them every other day at the least. There is no harm in brushing them daily if you choose to do so. Remember to comb the legs and belly as well as the body.

Unless you are going to show your dog, you probably should not strip the coat. However the Affenpinscher who will be in the show ring is both stripped and plucked. This is usually done by a professional groomer. Clipping ruins the dog’s coat and you should not bath them unless it is absolutely needed. The Affenpinscher has protective oils in their outer coat that bathing removes.

Make sure you pay attention to any skin irritations or rashes as well as any tearing or irritation of the eyes. The Affenpinscher has small hairs growing on the sides of the eyes and some might irritate the eyes. These hairs need to be plucked. So you can see that the breed has quite a few areas of concern that need regular attention when it comes to grooming.

Health and Wellness:

This is a healthy and hardy breed so there are not a lot of major or long term health issues to deal with. The Affenpinscher does face the possibility of patellar luxation (the slipped kneecap) that so many small dog breeds also face. As the Affenpinscher ages this can become more of a major problem that will need treatment. The breed is also susceptible to Legg Perthes Disease or hip degeneration when the dog is young. It is usually treated successfully with surgical intervention.
There is also a rare heart condition that the Affenpinscher might be The parents of your Affenpinscher should be genetically screened for these diseases and health concerns. There is another condition that is rare but possible with this breed and that is a heart condition. Patent ductus arteriosis (PDA) is a rare congenital condition where the ductus arteriosis does not close after birth. The breed is also susceptible to a rare condition where the bones of the skull fail to close properly called open fontanel.
The breed is also known to have collapsed trachea as most small breeds do and cataracts are also a problem. There has also been an emergence of syringomyelia. The most common reason for death among the Affenpinscher was old age with the median lifespan of 11.4. The second most common cause of death was urologic and combinations of conditions were third.

Interesting Facts about the Affenpinscher:

  1. Little dogs that know no fear.
  2. The female Affenpinscher is longer in body than the male in order to have room to carry a litter.
  3. Delicate and fragile dogs who think they are big and tough.
  4. Based on their monkey like facial expressions the breed was named Affenpinscher. The name Affenpinscher comes from “Affe” meaning monkey or ape, and “Pinscher” meaning terrier.
  5. Affenpinschers are clowns that entertain their owners on a regular basis as they like to walk on their hind legs for no reason and at their own inclination without any human command. Affenpinscher owners believe the dogs do this for their own fun.

Organizations dedicated to the Affenpinscher:

  1. Affenpinscher Rescue is an organization dedicated to helping Affens in need.
  1. The Affenpinscher Club of America is the national, or “parent” club devoted to promoting and protecting this breed.

Breeds Similar to Affenpinscher Dogs:

Affenpinscher Breed Information