Affenpinschers are small, terrier-like dogs with endearing features. The breed's name hints at the appearance this dog offers—affe is German for 'monkey,' while pinscher can mean terrier. This lighthearted, entertaining breed enjoys showing off at any opportunity. They're known to walk on their hind legs or perform goofy tricks for anyone who will watch. They are playful and affectionate with family, but aren't an ideal match for children. Typical toy breed behaviors should be expected—they may be territorial or mouthy, with big-dog small-body attitudes. Though they're often described as stubborn and difficult to train, Affens are intelligent and learn quickly if training is approached in a fun and interesting way.
Affenpinschers are also called Affens and Affies, and are affectionately called 'monkey dogs.' The French nickname for the breed is 'Diablotin Moustachu,' or moustached little devil.
Physical Description/Breed Standard
Coat - The harsh coat of the Affenpinscher is often shaggy and wiry in texture. It may be black, grey, red, or belge, but black is preferred by most breed standards. Though no breed is truly without the risk of an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals, Affenpinschers are considered a hypoallergenic breed.
Breed Standard and History
Wiry haired Affenpinschers present a neat but shaggy appearance, and are sturdy without being delicate. Their head offers a monkey-like expression, with a round skull and an undershot bite. The Affen's round, dark eyes shouldn't bulge. Ears may be cropped or natural, cropped ears should stand erect and natural ears may be erect or dropped. The tail may be docked or natural, and carried erect. Their dense coat is about one inch long, and they display a mane, hairy eyebrows, and beard. Black, grey, silver, red, black and tan, or beige are acceptable. - AKC Breed Standards
Little is known about this breed's history, other than that it is likely one of the original toy breeds. A type similar to the Affenpinscher dates back to the 1600s, where her original use was as a ratter on farms and in stables. Affens made their way indoors, where they were helpful in catching vermin, and as companions for the women of the house. They were bred to be smaller as their popularity as a lapdog climbed.
The first Affenpinschers were imported to the US in the 1930s, and they gained AKC recognition in 1936.
AKC Breed Category
Affens are adventurous little dogs with a curious nature. Though intelligent, they may have a stubborn streak—but if you approach activities with excitement, you'll likely have the goofy Affie on board as well. They're lively and confident, which can translate to territorial behaviors if their energy isn't properly directed.
Are Affenpinschers Good with Kids? Affens may do well with older children if they are raised with them, but they aren't ideal for homes with little kids. Their territorial nature and dislike of being chased or squeezed may lead to nips or bites.
Are Affenpinschers Good with Other Pets? Affenpinschers may be able to coexist with other dogs and cats if raised with them, but other pets, such as rats, hamsters, and ferrets are not a good match due to the Affen's ratting history and high prey drive.
Tiny, fearless Affenpinschers are alert and quick to sound the alarm if anything seems suspicious. Their small size means they aren't guard dogs—but that doesn't mean they won't try.
Affens are energetic and playful dogs, but aren't overly demanding when it comes to exercise.Specific Concerns
Indoor This small, adaptable breed can adjust to life in an apartment—but her tendency to bark may disturb neighbors. Their energy can usually be burned through with indoor play and a couple of supervised romps outdoors.
Outdoor Affenpinschers aren't meant to live outdoors. They should always be supervised outside and should be kept on a leash or in a fenced area. They are sensitive to heat or cold and shouldn't be asked to venture outdoors when temperatures are at the extremes.
Exercise Though energetic, Affenpinschers are often happy with a few walks and indoor playtime. If they exhibit undesirable behaviors, more exercise may be necessary.
Endurance Affenpinschers are an athletic breed that enjoys canine sports and competition—but the breed is sensitive to heat and care should be taken to halt activity before the dog is overworked. She isn't likely to quit on her own.
Activity distance rating
Food Affenpinschers should get ¼ to ½ cup of food per day, split between two or three meals. This amount is based on average weight and activity level. Affens may have dental issues and may require a special diet to accommodate missing teeth or problems with bite alignment.
Affens may be territorial when it comes to food and they may present some food and resource guarding behaviors. If your Affenpinscher displays any resource guarding, consult with a behaviorist to determine the best way to manage the behavior. Children should never be allowed to touch or remove food from any dog while it is eating.
Alone Time This companion breed prefers to spend time near her people and doesn't tolerate time alone. She may manage an hour or two alone, but that may be pushing her limit. Destructive behaviors and barking are likely if an Affie is left alone. Crate training is ideal to prevent destructive behaviors and house training accidents.
Health and Grooming
12 - 14 years
The Affenpincher's shaggy but neat appearance requires hand-stripping the coat every three to four months to maintain the proper texture. Non-show Affenpinschers may be trimmed rather than stripped, but it will alter the coat texture. Though Affens are low-shedding dogs, weekly brushing is necessary to prevent mats and tangles. Baths may be given as necessary. Trimming nails regularly will help prevent painful splitting, cracking, or breaking a nail.
Common Health Issues
A small gene pool means the Affenpinscher may be prone to some breed-specific health concerns, including:
You can minimize serious health concerns in the Affenpinscher by purchasing her from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
Affenpinschers have a stubborn terrier-type personality, but they also possess the terrier's intelligence and ability to learn. They need a firm and consistent trainer who will keep learning as fun as possible. Positive reinforcement techniques are the best method for training this occasionally sensitive breed. As with most small dogs, the Affie may be difficult to housebreak. House training and basic manners should be priorities for the Affen.
Energetic Affenpinschers may enjoy agility and advanced tricks training. They're a breed that loves to show off, and will take any chance to do so. Recent wins in the show ring have put the Affenpinscher in the conformation ring spotlight.
Sporting Dog Training
Though Affenpinschers aren't sporting dogs, they're likely to track down rodents in your yard. They may do well in barn hunt or Earthdog trials.
Is the Affenpinscher a terrier or a pinscher?
What is tracheal collapse?
A dry cough, often aggravated by activity or excitement, may point to this condition—a veterinarian can diagnose a collapsed trachea through a physical examination and X-rays. Treatment usually includes management with antibiotics to prevent secondary infections, as well as steroids, and cough suppressants for comfort. Surgery may improve the condition, but isn't always necessary or advised.
Tracheal collapse is often congenital—the weakness in the trachea is present from birth rather than caused by outside influence. However, other things may cause or provoke the condition—small dogs like the Affenpinscher may benefit from a harness instead of a collar to prevent damage to the trachea or to limit irritation to a dog with tracheal collapse.
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