Many people fall in love with the Affenpinscher the first time they see one of these delightful “monkey dogs”.
Owners find an Affen is a wonderful friend and companion who fits well into any home, if provided the needed love, care and training.
Affenpinscher Breed History and Function
The origin of the Affenpinscher is lost in the mists of time since they are believed to be one of the oldest of the toy breeds. Early representations of the Affenpinscher can befound in the works of Van Eyck, Durer and
other artists. Apparently Affenpinschers originally were ratters in German stables, with the word Affenpinscher used to describe a wire-haired rat terrier with a monkey-ish appearance. “Affen” means “ape” or “monkey” in German and “pinscher” means terrier or dog. The little monkey dogs were brought into the kitchen to combat the European rats and mice who threatened food supplies and terrified women when they ran beneath their long skirts.
The Affenpinscher never returned to the stables. In 1889 the word Affenpinscher was first applied to a class of dogs at a German dog show. The little dogs with rounder heads, shorter muzzles and undershot mouths in a
litter of wire-haired rat terriers were called Affenpinschers. The German Pinscher-Schnauzer Klub began registering these dogs in Volume 11 (1903-07) of their registrations with 14 entries with colors of yellow, red, gray, black, and black and gray recorded. In the 1920’s and 30’s, Affenpinschers appeared in circus and cabaret acts.
Affenpinscher Breed Standard Characteristics
The Affenpinscher should be a sturdy compact dog of medium bone, not delicate in any way. Size should be between 9-1/2 and 11-1/2 inches at the shoulder and weight should be between eight and 10 pounds. His
eyes are round, black and brilliant but should not bulge or protrude. Ears may be natural standing erect,
semi-erect or dropped or cropped. All are acceptable ears as long as the monkey-like expression is maintained. Tails may be docked or left natural.
Permitted colors in the Affenpinscher are black, gray, silver, red (ranging from wheaten to a dark orange), black and tan or belge, defined by the American Kennel Club as “a color of black and reddish brown mixture”. Affens may have a black mask on the face.
The look of an Affenpinscher should be “shaggy but neat”. The Affenpinscher should have a cape or mane: longer, less harsh, hair extending from the back of the shoulders forward toward the front of the neck.
The Affen’s coat should be harsher or wiry on his back and may be stripped (hand plucked). The longer hair on the head, eyebrows and beard stands off and frames the face to emphasize the monkey-like expression.
A thinning shears and plucking can be used to neaten the remainder of the dog. (Any all-breed grooming book or instructions on the Affenpinscher Club of America web page will give detailed instructions for grooming.)
Like many toy breeds, Affenpinschers can be challenging to housebreak. Both diligence and patience are required. It is highly recommended Affenpinscher puppies be crate trained. The owner’s commitment and hard work will determine housebreaking success Affenpinschers can be dominant little dogs, so puppy kindergarten training also is recommended. Affenpinschers respond best to positive training methods; the current clicker training or training with food works well.
Affenpinschers are quick to learn and are successful in obedience and agility, as well as in the conformation show ring. Numerous books are available, from commercial bookstores or from specialty dog publishing companies, on crate training, puppy training and formal training.
Affenpinscher Health Care
Selection of a veterinarian to care for any animal is extremely important. Follow the vet’s instructions on regular inoculations, nutrition and any special problems which may be encountered. Affenpinschers can be subject to hip dysplasia or slipping of the knees in the hind legs (luxating patellae), both hereditary conditions.
In some instances eye problems and heart defects have occurred in the breed. A veterinarian should be consulted at the first symptom of any irregularity in gait, vision or stamina.
Due to the extremely limited gene pool and hereditary health problems, breeding Affenpinschers requires knowledge of pedigrees and health characteristics. Many bitches require caesarean sections to deliver safely. Newborn puppies are small and delicate, needing constant and knowledgeable care. Spaying or neutering an Affenpinscher will not change his fun-loving ways. The altered Affen may be a better pet since there no longer will be the messy twice-yearly seasons for females and the tendency to mark territory and be aggressive may be reduced in the male. While altered dogs cannot be shown in the breed ring, they are eligible for performance events such as obedience and agility.