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Affenpinscher Dog Breed Info: Pictures, Traits & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove


Height: 9 – 11.5 inches
Weight: 7 – 10 pounds
Lifespan: 12 – 15 years
Colors: Red, beige, silver, gray, black
Suitable for: Active families looking for a small dog that is adaptable and affectionate
Temperament: Intelligent, playful, fearless

Few pups can catch your attention quite like an Affenpinscher. He doesn’t even look like a dog! The history of the breed is fascinating. He started as a hunter of rodents and other small pests. His fearless nature was an asset for dealing with these animals and their sharp incisor teeth.

This pooch also served a vital role as a companion pet. It’s not a stretch, given how cute he is. His big eyes and relatively high energy are contagious. You just want to want to hang out with this pup and indulge his playful personality. But for some reason, the breed isn’t a popular one, coming in at 148 out of 196, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Although he is a small dog, the Affenpinscher doesn’t seem to know that is the ca se. The history of this German-based dog goes back to the 1600s.  He resembles the Miniature Schnauzer but with more attitude. It’s his face with his big brown eyes that capture your attention. His coat is also a standout feature with its coarse texture. His friendly nature makes him worth a look.

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Affenpinscher Puppies

Affenpinscher puppy
Image Credit: Sbolotova, Shutterstock

Every breed has its quirks and special needs. The Affenpinscher is no exception. He has the bravado that a lot of small dogs share. They make up in size with the courage they’ll show whenever they feel threatened. He isn’t going to put up with anything negative from anyone! It’s a product of his background as a hunter of an especially incredible pest.

The Affenpinscher is part of the AKC’s Toy Group. These are smaller dogs that often serve as companion animals. That is this pup’s current role. The official standards call for an alert and confident dog that responds quickly to threats to his family and home. He is somewhat independent due to his hunting history. He was often alone and had to act fast.

Consequently, the Affenpinscher has a moderately high tendency to nip. His prey drive is also strong. We suggest keeping him in a fenced-in yard and limiting his time off-leash. He’ll likely run after any squirrel or rabbit he sees fleeing from him. That means early socialization and training are imperative with a spitfire of a dog like this one.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Affenpinscher

1. The Affenpinscher is related to the pug.

The Affenpinscher started its life in Germany with the unfortunate breed name, Ratting Terrier. Enthusiasts refined the dog with selective breeding with other smaller pups, including the Pug.

2. The Grizzly Bear is no match for an Affenpinscher.

Like many small breeds, the Affenpinscher makes up his size with a larger-than-life personality. One of his characteristic traits is his fearlessness. He’ll take on any threat to his family because of his steadfast devotion.

3. The accepted color of the Affenpinscher differs whether you have a dog in the United States or elsewhere.

The AKC breed standards accept a variety of colors for the Affenpinscher. However, if you find a pup in Europe or especially the UK, he’s most likely all black with a little silver frosting permissible.


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Temperament & Intelligence of the Affenpinscher 🧠

The Affenpinscher’s history as a companion dog tells you everything you need to know about this pup’s personality. He’s a charmer. This pooch is affectionate and loyal to a fault. He’s also a character. Suffice to say that there are few dull moments with this pet in your household. The Affen ticks off a lot of boxes that make him such a delightful pup.

This dog is playful with plenty of spunk. He’s adaptable and can handle city life just fine. He’s intelligent and a suitable choice for first-time pet owners. While the Affen isn’t much of a barker, he is sometimes nippy. It’s a bad habit you’ll need to curb early. He has only a moderate prey drive, a throwback from his hunting days.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

The Affenpinscher is a lovable dog and will lavish his owner with affection. However, he isn’t as tolerant of small children. He’ll fare better in a home with adults and teens. Likewise, he is somewhat reserved with strangers. Early socialization does wonders on that score. Surprisingly, this pup makes a good watchdog, despite his smaller size.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

The Affenpinscher isn’t the best choice if you have other pets in your home. He may tolerate other dogs if you introduce him to other canines early as a puppy. Cats and rodents are off the table, given his history and tenacity as a hunting dog. He will do best in a single-pet household where he gets all of the attention without the distraction of other animals.

Image Credit: idamkilde, Pixabay

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Things to Know When Owning an Affenpinscher:

The Affenpinscher scores hits on all the major aspects of owning a dog, such as feeding, exercise, and grooming. However, there are also a few quirks you need to know upfront to make sure he’s the best choice for your family. Some are pertinent to all breeds of this group. Others are specific to this pup. We’ll go over each one in detail.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

You have to monitor the diet of a puppy closely, especially with a small breed like the Affenpinscher. There are two things at play. First, dogs of this size mature quicker than their larger counterparts. Their food, therefore, is more calorie- and nutrient-dense as a consequence. Second, that growth takes a lot of energy in the form of glucose or blood sugar. If a pup depletes it too fast, he can become hypoglycemic, which simply means the level has dropped too low. Your puppy may become irritable and lethargic. More serious symptoms include muscle spasms and seizures.

One of the easiest ways to prevent it is to offer your pup frequent small meals to keep his blood sugar stable. We suggest offering him three or even four servings of kibble a day. You can reduce it to two times once he’s an adult. Make sure that your puppy eats every time. Even missing one can put him at risk for low blood sugar.

An excellent way to keep track of his intake is to pick up the food after about 15–30 minutes instead of letting him free-feed all day long. That way, you’ll know exactly how much he’s getting to ensure proper nutrition, too. That is equally as essential for your Affenpinscher’s good health. It’s also effective for catching the early signs of an illness. A sick puppy won’t have much of an appetite.

Exercise 🐕

Even though you may want to hold him all day, your Affenpinscher needs his exercise. Luckily, he’s a playful pooch and will make it easy for you to keep him active. We suggest taking him on a walk at least once a day to prevent harmful weight gain. It’s an excellent chance to reinforce his social skills and leash manners.

Training 🦮

There’s no doubt that the Affenpinscher is an adorable dog. However, don’t let that fact get in the progress of training your pooch. Let’s just say that his playful nature sometimes gets in the way of his focus on his lessons. After all, he is so eager to please. We suggest keeping treats as training aids only, given his propensity to gain weight. It’s an excellent way to connect with his loyalty and trust-building.

Funny Affenpinscher playing in the garden
Image Credit: Didkovska Ilona, Shutterstock

There are two things to remember when working with this pup. First, his background as a hunter has given him an independent streak. That’s not unusual for dogs that served in this capacity. Second, this pooch really wants to please you. That’s why rewarding him with treats works so well. He is moderately sensitive, making positive reinforcement the best approach.

The Affenpinscher is an intelligent dog. That’s great when it comes to training, but it can become an issue with other behavioral problems, especially if he gets bored. If you don’t give him something to do, he’ll find it—and not always in a way you’d like or appreciate. Interactive toys are a smart solution that handles it in an innovative way.

Grooming ✂️

The Affenpinscher scores another run when it comes to grooming. He doesn’t shed a lot, which also helps. His coat needs some attention to keep it mat-free. Regular brushing will take care of it. You will also need to keep the hair trimmed around his face to keep hair out of his eye and stem eye infections. A rounded pair of scissors will get the job done.

It’s worth noting that this breed does an excellent job of keeping himself clean. He doesn’t have an odor like some breeds with oily coats like the Labrador Retriever. You’ll likely find that you don’t have to bathe him too often. Routine maintenance with nail trimming and ear cleaning is also on your must-do list of tasks.

Health Conditions ❤️

The Affenpinscher is a relatively healthy breed with few glaring health problems. It’s more of the usual concerns with joint issues. His larger eyes also mean a higher risk of eye problems. His flat face also raises some red flags because of possible respiratory conditions, especially if he gets overexcited while playing. Know the signs of a pet under distress and act accordingly.

There are a few congenital issues that also warrant concern. Health screenings can identify some of them so that breeders know not to mate some dogs to avoid passing the trait onto other generations. Taking this precaution is the hallmark of a reputable seller.

Minor Conditions
Serious Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Patellar luxation
  • Eye issues
  • Breathing problems

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Male vs Female

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals Health Survey of Affenpinscher owners reveals that over 60 percent of owners have a female over a male. However, we think either sex makes a good pet. It depends on whether you want to breed your dog. One of the things that has factored into the general good health of the breed is its lower rank on popularity ranks.

Unfortunately, that factor have fueled inbreeding and overbreeding. Both increase the risk of inherited issues that can affect the pups’ quality of life and lifespan. It’s essential to understand that breeding your pup is a risky business. It’s tough on the female. If that isn’t an option for you, we recommend discussing spaying or neutering your pup. Don’t leave it to chance.

Bear in mind that you must make adjustments to your pup’s diet when you make this decision. His reduced rate of metabolism means that you must feel him or her less food to maintain a healthy weight.

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Final Thoughts:

The Affenpinscher is sure to capture your interest because of his cute face. It is an excellent reflection of the personality of the breed. He is fun and playful with the courageous nature of smaller dogs that makes us smile. It helps that he is so adaptable and healthy. If you are an apartment dweller, you’ll appreciate the adaptable nature of this pup. There’s a lot going in this small body.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: katamount, Shutterstock

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