A small terrier-like breed of dog and member of the American Kennel Club Toy Group, the Affenpinscher is a German breed believed to date to around the 17th century. Although at this time it was more of a type than an actual standardized breed of dog and it was this type that was more than likely used in the development of both the Griffon Bruxellois (Brussels Griffon) and Miniature Schnauzer. Additionally it is believed that the early Affenpinsher type was considerably larger than the modern specimen; standing 12 to 15 inches at the withers, compared to the 9-11 inches of the modern version. The original type was also colorful and came in fawn, gray, tan, black and tan, and red and gray, with or without a white feet and chest. The original purpose of the breed was vermin eradicator or ratter to the common man, working in homes, farms and granaries to remove rats and mice.
As with many breeds, the Affenpinscher has no definitive history until around the 19th century in Germany. Here it is well documented that they were used as both companions and common working dogs. The Affenpinscher gains its’ name from the German words “Affe” meaning monkey, and “pinscher” translating to dog. It received this name likely due to a strong resemblance of primates with a short muzzle and large eyes. Given the written documentation of the 19th century, many dogs strongly resembling the Affenpinscher appear in German art as early as the 15th century and are most likely ancestors of the modern breed. The earlier versions were a bit bigger and mostly used for “ratting” in kitchens and horse stables because due to its compact size it could easily chase vermin into small spaces.
There are no known breeds that this particular dog hails from, aside from its’ 15th century ancestors. As time passed the Affenpinscher became the lapdog of noblewomen and upper class society and that status led to the sizing down of the breed. Most likely being crossed with the Pug, German Pinscher and Silky Pinscher, the modern Affenpinscher arose, only in time to be surpassed in social status by the Brussels Griffon. Closely resembling the Brussels Griffon the Affenpinscher is believed to have served as a starting point for the Brussels, as well as many other breeds such as the Miniature Schnauzer. Once the Affenpinscher lost its’ position in the homes of families to the Brussels Griffon it was never able to regain its former popularity.
Though not a commonly seen breed, the Affenpinscher remains in the United States of America as well as many other countries throughout the world. The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the breed in 1936. Americans can attribute the modern Affenpinscher in America to Mrs. Evelyn Brody of Germany, who imported them in the 1950’s. One of Mrs. Brody’s studs, Bub V. Anwander was the first American bred champion of this breed.
Little is known of this breed due to it being over shadowed in popularity by the Brussels Griffon.
The modern Affenpinscher should weigh approximately 7 to 9 pounds and should not exceed 11.5 inches in height at the withers, most will average between 9 to 11 inches. The height to the withers is usually approximately the same as the overall body length from shoulder to buttocks, putting off a “square” appearance, with females being slightly longer.
The coat of the Affenpinscher is a rough wiry coat that is quite dense with minimum undercoat. The length of the coat is one inch over the shoulder and along the length of the body, while the head, chest, neck and legs have a longer finer coat. Once the canine reaches a mature age the hair across the neck and face become longer and give it a “mane” like look. The Affenpinscher sheds somewhat less than most breeds, meaning less hair to clean up, but there is no such thing a completely shed-less breed. The thick course coat provides excellent protection in harsh weather.
The head should be in proportion to the body and carried with a monkey-like facial expression. The eyes do not bulge or protrude from the sockets and are in medium proportion to the head. The neck is short and straight leading to a moderately broad and deep chest.
The Affenpinscher can be several different colors. Black, gray, silver, red, black and tan or beige. Beige has black, brown and/or white hairs mixed with red. Some dogs may have black masks or a white spot on the chest, however, a large white spot is considered faulty and undesirable.
Affens tend to be highly courageous and fearless, given the right circumstance. This behavior is most likely the result of their previous job of varmint hunting in early Germany. Mostly they are quiet in the home; however it can be noted that they do have a mischievous side indoors and outdoors. This breed is perfect for an apartment due to their compact size but also tend to fit the bill of the “small yappy dog” due to tendencies to bark at most strange noises or objects.
They do get along with other dogs, especially when well socialized. This breed is also great with children, but may be a bit territorial with their things, so it is important to teach both the dog and children the hierarchy of the pack.
The focal point of grooming the Affenpinscher is the “monkey-like” face. Mature dogs of this breed generally have two different grooming style of their face. Most show dogs maintain a long beard with round shape that is round when looking from the front. Most pet owners keep their Affenpinscher’s face cut shorter, still keeping the face round.
The breed’s coat is a rough textured, wiry haired coat. Most dogs hair is about one inch with the hair sometimes being shorter on the buttocks and tail. If the dog has a correct coat, it will need little attention and no trimming. Brushing should be done on a regular basis with a medium or fine toothed comb. The hair should always appear “shaggy” yet neat, however you do not want to try and make it too neat or tidy.
Many owners believe that the Affenpinscher’s coat should never be shaved or clipped short, doing so may result in loss of the natural rough texture of the dog’s coat for several years. Instead it is recommended the hair be stripped for dead or loose hair to maintain the coat.
Affenpinschers are part of the toy breed group, amd with most toy breeds have significant issues due to a compact size. Many bone fractures to the front legs and Oligdontia (too few or too small teeth) are at the top of the list of conditions of genetic circumstance.
Affens are also prone to: