(Nick Name: Monkey Dog)
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The name of the Affenpinscher describes this little dog to a tee. The German word Affen means monkey and Pinscher means terrier. His little monkey-like face is full of the most amazing array of expressions. In France they earned the nickname diablotin moustachu, meaning "little devil with a moustache". This small breed has a peppy personality. Many suffer from "little dog syndrome", strutting around like a bigger dog. These little guys are intelligent, which often shows in their alert expressions.
Despite his size, the Affenpinscher is not frail, he has a stout and hardy look. The breed is known for its hunting ability and athletic qualities, and it is his agile and good hunting abilities that led to them being used frequently around stables, farms and stores where they helped keep the rat population under control. As they were bred down in size, they became more of a companion dog that were kept by ladies to keep mice from overrunning their boudoirs.
According to the breed standard, the Affenpinscher may have a slightly undershot bite, though level is also acceptable. Their muzzle is short, and they have a domed skull with a well defined stop. Their ears may be cropped to a point and stand erect, or may be left uncropped. In which case they may be erect, semi-erect, or drop down. The tail may also be left natural or docked to 1 - 2" long. If docked, it is carried erect. Their feet should be small and round. They should be 9" to 11.5" high at the shoulder. They have been recognized by the AKC since 1936, and are a member of the Toy Group.
The Affenpinscher's coat is rough and wiry and does not shed very much, making them good dogs for people with allergies. The coat is about 1 inch long on the body, and somewhat longer on the head, neck, chest, stomach, and legs. His appearance is often described as "neat but shaggy".
Affenpinscher's are fun-loving little dogs, full of curiosity and playfulness. They are mischievous, which can be seen in many of their expressions, but are also sensitive and loyal. They are great for first time dog owners or for those with little experience with dogs. Their small size makes them perfect for an apartment, but they are very active indoors. And though you can play with them a lot indoors to meet their energy level, walks outdoors are also greatly enjoyed. The perfect Affenpinscher owner is a family that likes entertainment and has a sense of humor!
These little dogs tend to be suspicious of strangers. They can also be somewhat stubborn and strong willed. However, these toy dogs usually get along fine with other family pets, and with older, considerate children, but are not recommended for families with younger, boisterous children. The affenpinscher is also a good little watchdog.
Their wiry coats should be brushed once or twice a week, and trimmed twice a year. This will keep the coat in good condition and minimize shedding.
The Affenpinscher is one of the oldest toy breeds, but it is not precisely known when it first originated. This breed has been seen in paintings from old Dutch Masters from the 15th century.
They were seen quite a bit in Central Europe, especially in Germany in the 1600's. As mentioned above, they were traditionally used as a vermin hunting dog on farms and even in houses in cities and towns. Soon the toy versions were found in homes as entertaining lap dogs that did double duty as mousers.
The original Affenpinscher was probably a slightly larger dog, and may have measured as much as 12-14 inches at the withers. It is likely that the demand for miniature or smaller breeds for vermin hunting and companion dogs in cities and towns led to the smaller dogs being favored over the larger members of the breed. This smaller version is today's Affenpinscher.
The Affenpinscher is the progenitor of other wire coated toy breeds, the most notable being the Brussels Griffon. In 1936, when the AKC recognized the breed, it was growing in popularity, but with the advent or World War II any momentum it had began to slow. Today it is a relatively rare breed in most countries. However, breeders are actively promoting this breed and it continues to have a loyal group of fanciers worldwide.
The Affenpinscher is a very intelligent dog that enjoys to be mentally challenged. They quickly become bored with the same requests, and do not do well with a highly repetitive training program. They are very intelligent and learn quickly, so make sure to teach correct behaviors early on since they will learn incorrect behaviors just as quickly! Firm, loving and consistent training is essential.
Because of their playful and mischievous nature, it is best to keep training sessions short and in a distraction-free environment, at least until the puppy or dog understands the basic commands. Once your Affenpinscher knows what you expect he will quickly learn to follow commands even when something is going on around them. One thing to remember is that these little dogs are naturally protective and possessive of their food and toys, so it is important to train them early to "give" without snapping, especially if there are children in the house.
His stubborn streak can make training a little difficult, especially house breaking. But crate training is an ideal solution to this problem, and is very effective when done correctly.
The Affenpinscher is a very hardy and healthy breed of dog, with few major health problems or genetic concerns. As with other small breeds, there is the possibility of patellar luxation (slipped knee) as the dog ages, but this can be treated by your veterinarian.