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Affenpinscher: This Impish Little "Monkey Terrier" Lives up to Its Name

affenpinscher puppies
The Affenpinscher is a tiny dog – but don't expect your courageous, stubborn, curious little pet to know that. "Affenpinscher" translates to "monkey Terrier" in German, and this is an apt name for the breed. A true Terrier both in appearance and nature, the Affenpinscher only weighs 8 to 10 pounds in adulthood but acts much larger. 

Stubborn, fearless, energetic, and very curious, your pet is also very friendly and very amusing. Its "monkeylike" nature comes in its propensity to "monkey around," to be playful, and mischievous. This toy breed is not delicate at all and will enjoy keeping up with children and other animals, although because it is a Terrier should not be trusted with small animals like rodents or birds.


The Affenpinscher probably originated in Germany in the 1600s. It's a working dog, traditionally used to hunt vermin on farms and in houses; its exact ancestry is not known, but it likely has bred such as the Schnauzer in its makeup. There may also be a now extinct dog, a Schnauzer-type in South Russia that stood approximately 14 inches high and was a dark steely gray. 

These dogs are thought to have become extinct because the czars that coveted them did so much hunting that the game was soon scarce. The original Affenpinscher types of dog were probably larger than today's, standing 12 to 13 inches at the shoulder and in colors of red, tan, gray, gray and tan, fawn, black, and black and tan.

affenpinscher dog
No pampered little babies these, many of the original Affenpinschers were treated just like any other working dog on the farm. They were expected to do their duty, which was to kill rats, and were not particularly seen as pets but simply farm animals that slept in stables, and ran freely. They were, however, also highly prized as lapdogs for ladies, and they could still fulfill their duties as vermin hunters since they could kill mice in households. 

Slowly, the Affenpinscher breed became smaller as breeding efforts continued, and it was crossed with the Pug, German Silky Pinscher, and German Pinscher to achieve the desired changes. Today, most Affenpinschers serve as largely companion and lapdogs.

The Affenpinscher as a breed has also become the progenitor of other wirehaired toy breeds, including the now more popular Brussels Griffon. The AKC recognized the Affenpinscher in 1936, but World War II helped prevent significant growth and popularity for the breed. The speed remains relatively rare today even in Germany, where it started, and in the United States, again superseded by the Brussels Griffin – although breed lovers are trying to rectify that situation.


Small and spunky, the Affenpinscher has a "monkeylike" face and body. With facial expressions mimicking that of the monkey, these sturdy little dogs are masters of appearance and their jovial and loving nature shines through their expressive, black eyes. Although at rest, the Affenpinscher usually looks very serious, most Affenpinschers are anything but.

Your pet will stand 10 to 15 inches at the shoulder and weigh only 7 to 8 pounds in adulthood.

The coat is usually black but can be dark gray, silver, black, and tan, light gray, or red. Dense and rough to the touch, the coat is usually one to one and a half inches in length, and has been described as "shaggy but neat." Little to no clipping or trimming is needed.

The tail is left long and natural or can be docked; if it is docked, it's usually just one or two inches in length.


If you're looking for a dog that loves people, look no further. The Affenpinscher will truly become a member of the family as soon as you adopt him or her. Although it is a Terrier, your little pet is not quite as independent as some other Terrier breeds. Curious and very intelligent, the Affenpinscher loves to figure things out and to problem solve.

All you have to do is to look at him or her, thinking hard, to know that the wheels are turning! Playful and very mischievous, your little pet wants to stay busy and will be only too happy to keep you amused with tricks and general "clowning around."

Easy to train, your pet wants to please and to obey – but it's worth noting that he or she is indeed a Terrier. If you don't set some pretty firm boundaries and keep them (although not harshly), you could find yourself being led by the nose, to your chagrin. 

The Affenpinscher is somewhat susceptible to "small dog syndrome," whereby little dogs who are babied by well-intentioned owners can become little terrors; that said, because the Affenpinscher isn't quite as independent as some Terrier breeds and because he or she does want to please you, you shouldn't have to worry too much as long as you do keep a firm hand.

Fiercely protective, you might find it funny to see this little dog, all 8 to 10 pounds of him or her, standing up to much larger animals and people, in an attempt to be the best guard dog ever. What they're really best that, though, is barking to warn you that something might be amiss. Be careful, because this very protective and intelligent dog can also become fiercely "protective" of his or her own possessions like toys, and food. Socialize your pet to be around people and to behave, make him or her feel secure, and you should have no problems.

Children absolutely love the Affenpinscher, and that love will be returned in kind. Very small children should be taught to be gentle since they can unwittingly be rough. Although not a delicate dog, it's still not a good idea to leave small children alone with your pet if they don't know how to be gentle.

The Affenpinscher makes an excellent companion for other dogs and for humans – and for some other kinds of pets, too. Socialize the Affenpinscher to be with your cats at an early age, to avoid any typical "Terrier chasing" behavior. Although your Affenpinscher wants to be obedient, it's probably not a good idea to keep birds and other small animals like rodents as pets. Because hunting vermin is in his or her very nature, you probably won't be able to completely protect your small pets from an Affenpinscher, hard as you might try.

Finally, make sure you take your pet on a walk at least daily. Affenpinscher's love travel, love riding in cars, love simply being "out and about." To protect your pet from extremely hot or cold temperatures, however. Affenpinschers do best with mostly indoor living, coupled with a brisk walk and some exercise outdoors if possible daily.


Healthy and sturdy, the Affenpinscher will live at least 10 to 12 years, sometimes longer. Occasional health conditions to be seen with this breed include something called patent ductus arteriosus (a congenital heart disorder), Legg Perthes disease, and patellar luxation. Legg Perthes disease especially can be prevented simply by getting your puppy from a reputable breeder who screens the parents for this condition before breeding.


Wiry and short, the Affenpinscher needs to be groomed regularly to keep the coat from tangling. Use a good quality wire brush or pin brush, and a wide-toothed metal comb. Brush at least every other day so that tangling does not occur, making sure to pay attention to the feathering on the belly and legs. If you show your pet, he or she will need to be stripped, usually by a professional groomer. The eyes can sometimes become irritated when small hairs to the side curl into the eyes themselves. Removing or plucking these hairs will take care of the problem.

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