Originally from Germany, the Affenpinscher name comes from the word Affe, which, in German, means monkey- an ode to the tiny, monkey-like face of the Affenpinscher, which is also sometimes referred to as the Zwergaffenpinscher, meaning dwarf pinscher. In France, the Affenpinscher is known as the Diabletin Moustache, which literally translates to the mustached little devil.
Throughout Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, small dogs such as the Affenpinscher were used in marketplaces and homes to keep rodents away, but in subsequent years this already petite breed was bred to be even smaller to make for a better familial companion.
Characteristics of the Affenpinscher
The Affenpinscher is a unique breed with distinct features and characteristics, so let’s take some time to understand the Affenpinscher’s appearance and temperament.
With it’s tiny, but alert eyes, the Affenpinscher has a never-ending gleeful appearance. The Affenpinscher is part of the Toy dog group, which contains the smallest breeds. Indeed, the Affenpinscher is the smallest of the pinschers and schnauzers, stacking up between a measly 9.5 to 11 inches and weighing only 6.5 to 9 pounds when full grown.
The coat of the Affenpinscher is rough, thick, and naturally uneven, lending itself toward a generally untidy appearance. The coat is usually exclusively black, although some grey fur has been known to show itself every so often. In some countries, not including the United States, the tail of the Affenpinscher is docked.
Because of its thick fur and tendency to shed, Affenpinschers require careful, daily brushing for an optimal appearance, although you shouldn’t expect the coat to ever look completely tidy, as the fur is naturally longer in some areas and shorter in others.
As its cheerful face would suggest, the Affenpinscher is a lively, energetic, and intelligent breed that requires a high level of affection and attention. A very social and affectionate breed, the Affenpinscher interacts well with children, cats, and other dogs, and makes for a great family pet. However, it is important to note that the Affenpinscher is also a fearless and self-confident breed that will make a great watchdog but will often confront any intruder, including much larger dogs, with relentless barking and little sense of self-preservation. The Affenpinscher is not a good companion in households with small rodents as pets, due to its history as a rodent-catcher breed.
Due to their incredibly high social nature, the Affenpinscher does suffer from frequent separation anxiety. However, they make great travel companions and are comfortable in small crates. The Affenpinscher enjoys time both indoors and outdoors and has a low tendency to dig holes in the ground- or carpet.
For an Affenpinscher, one can expect a lifespan between 12 and 14 years. Upon reaching reproductive age, the Affenpinscher litter size is usually one to three puppies. The Affenpinscher is an uncommon breed with small liters, and therefore there are not usually an abundance of puppies available, so it is important to contact a breeder with your interest in an Affenpinscher puppy well in advance.
Overall, the Affenpinscher is ideal for large or small households desiring a social, family pet that is fiercely- but not so menacingly- protective.
Caring for the Affenpinscher
The best way to care for the Affenpinscher is by understanding its unique requirements in regard to nutrition, exercise, and training. We will also take a look at some common health problems seen in the Affenpinscher.
Affenpinschers do not require much food, being that they are so small. Dry dog food will suffice, and you will not need to feed your Affenpinscher more than twice daily with ¼ cup of food at each feeding. However, the amount of food needed to keep your Affenpinscher at a healthy weight will vary based on your pet’s size, age, and activity level. It is important to monitor your dog’s weight as nutritional needs can change throughout a dog’s lifespan.
Although the Affenpinscher can be a great breed for a small apartment without a yard, your pet will still require twenty to forty minutes of exercise per day. This exercise can be in the form of walks, socializing with other animals, or socializing with people. The Affenpinscher will thrive on a routine that includes at least one daily walk, but ideally two or three. Due to their short snouts, the Affenpinscher may overheat and have difficulty breathing during exercise. Be sure to monitor your dog for signs of respiratory distress or extreme fatigue. While on walks, keep in mind the curious and fearless nature of the Affenpinscher, who will have no problem approaching larger dogs, people, or foreign objects.
While easy to train in regard to social interactions, such as playing with children and not barking at family members, Affenpinschers can be quite difficult to house train due to their stubborn nature. If adopting an Affenpinscher as a puppy, it is important to have available plenty of potty pads, cleaning supplies, and patience!
The Affenpinscher breed can be easily injured due to its small and fragile nature, and this can be a downside when playing with small children that have not yet learned how to properly handle pets. If handled too roughly, the Affenpinscher can break its delicate bones.
Affenpinschers bred to high standards are less likely to develop chronic health problems, but Affenpinschers can still have problems with breathing due to their short snout. However, this Brachycephalic syndrome is not usually as severe in Affenpinschers as it is in breeds such as the Pug.
Another common health condition that can become more severe as Affenpinschers age is Patellar Luxations. This occurs when the patella, or knee cap, slides below the knee. This is a genetic condition that can affect puppies and worsen with age. Due to the heritability of the condition, dogs with Patellar Luxations should not be bred. The Affenpinscher has also been known to develop corneal ulcers in the eye.
Affenpinschers can live up to 14 years or even longer if they live a healthy, active lifestyle. It is important to monitor your pet for health conditions such as obesity or those mentioned above and consult a veterinarian with any questions you may have.