Miniature Pinscher

 

The Miniature Pinscher is a toy breed native to Germany.  While this breed is commonly said to be a miniature version of the Doberman Pinscher, the Miniature Pinscher is a considerably older breed.  These are definitely large dogs in small dogs’ bodies, and are lively, energetic, and bold.  Miniature Pinschers are said to be among the most charismatic of all breeds, earning them the nickname, “King of the Toys.”  Developed primarily as a tireless killer of rats, the Miniature Pinscher has long served primarily as a companion animal.  The Miniature Pinscher is also known as the Zwergpinscher, Min Pin, and Reh Pinscher.

Breed Information

Breed Basics

Country of Origin: 
LifeSpan: 
15 to 18 Years
Energy Level: 
High Energy
Grooming: 
Rarely
Protective Ability: 
Good Watchdog
Hypoallergenic Breed: 
No
Space Requirements: 
Apartment Ok
Compatibility With Other Pets: 
Generally Good With Other Pets If Raised Together
May Have Issues With Other Dogs
May Have Problems With Non-Canine Pets
Not Recommended For Homes With Small Animals
Litter Size: 
3-6 Puppies
Names: 
Zwergpinscher, Min Pin, King of the Toys

Height/Weight

Males: 
8-10 lbs, 10-12½ inches
Females: 
Same

Kennel Clubs and Recognition

American Kennel Club: 
ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council): 
CKC(Canadian Kennel Club): 
FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale): 
KC (The Kennel Club): 
Toy
NZKC (New Zealand Kennel Club): 
UKC (United Kennel Club): 
History: 

 

The Miniature Pinscher is certainly an old breed, and has been a resident of Germany for at least 200 years.  Because this breed was created before organized records of dog breeding were kept, much of its early ancestry is something of a mystery.  However, most experts agree on a good deal of the breed’s origins.

 

The Miniature Pinscher is one of the oldest and most common members of the Pinscher/Schnauzer family.  This family also indisputably includes the Doberman Pinscher, the German Pinscher, the Austrian Pinscher, the Miniature Schnauzer, the Standard Schnauzer, the Giant Schnauzer, and the Affenpinscher.  Most experts believe that the Danish/Swedish Farm Dog is also a family member, and some place the Dachshund, Swiss Mountain Dog breeds, and the now-extinct Belgische Rekel in as well, although those additions are more controversial.  The origins of the Pinscher/ Schnauzer family have been lost in time.  However, these breeds have served as the farm dogs of German-speaking peoples for many centuries, and perhaps millennia.  The primary purpose of these dogs was to kill rats and other vermin, although some were used as guard dogs and cattle drovers as well.

 

Because these dogs were used to kill rats and some breeds such as the Schnauzers have wiry coats, many Americans believed that Pinschers were actually terriers.  Many sources even claim that pinscher is the German word for terrier.  Neither of which is true.  There is absolutely no evidence connecting the Pinschers of Germany with the Terriers of the British Isles.  Any similarities between the two groups of dogs (and most are very superficial) are likely the result of them having been bred for similar purposes rather than shared ancestry.  The word pinscher is most likely related to the English word pincher, and almost certainly describes the way in which these dogs attack their prey, with repeated rapid bites.

 

Until very recently, all Schnauzers and Pinschers were considered to be the same breed, only with several different varieties.  Most experts believe that the German Pinscher was original variety from which the others were created, although it does not have as long of a historical record.  This oldest indisputable records of the German Pinscher date from 1790, but Albrecht Durer painted dogs which are almost certainly Standard Schnauzers between 1492 and 1502.  Both coat varieties of Pinscher kept farmers’ barns free of rats, mice, and other vermin.

 

Although it is unclear when, at some point breeders decided to reduce the size of the Pinscher.  This process likely began in the 1700’s.  Generally accurate descriptions of the Miniature Pinscher can be found throughout the 1800’s but not before, implying that the breed was already established by that century but not very much earlier.  There is some evidence to suggest that the Miniature Pinscher is several centuries older, but this evidence is debated.  Breeders almost certainly started with the smallest examples of the German Pinscher.  There is some dispute as to whether other breeds factored into the creation of the Miniature Pinscher.  Some experts claim that the breed is exclusively descended from small German Pinschers, while others claim that small German Pinschers were crossed with other breeds. 

 

For many years, it was assumed that the Manchester Terrier factored into the ancestry of the Miniature Pinscher as the two dogs are quite similar in appearance.  However, the Miniature Pinscher definitely existed decades before the Manchester Terrier, and possibly centuries earlier.  In 1936, the German writer Dr. H.G. Reinchenbach stated that the breed was a cross between the Italian Greyhound and the Dachshund.  Most subsequent writers agree that the Dachshund and the Italian Greyhound are the two breeds most likely to have been used to reduce the size of the German Pinscher, although the Affenpinscher and other breeds may have played a role as well.

 

Once the Miniature Pinscher was created, the breed spread throughout German-speaking lands, which at that point had not unified into one nation.  These dogs were known as Zwergpinschers, literally, “Dwarf Pinschers.”  The red-coated dogs became known as Reh Pinschers, due to their similarity to the European Red Deer.  Although smaller than the German Pinscher, the Miniature Pinscher was still an excellent ratter, unafraid to attack and kill rodents which were nearly as large as itself.  While a definite type, the Miniature Pinscher was not yet a breed in the modern sense.  These dogs did not have pedigrees, and were probably routinely crossed with other Pinschers and Schnauzers.   By the time the Kingdom of Prussia unified most of Germany into one state in the 1870’s, dog shows had become extremely fashionable across Europe.  There was a strong desire to standardize the traditional German breeds, as well as to create new ones in order to create super-dogs.  In 1895, the Pinscher/Schnauzer Club (PSK) was founded. 

 

This club recognized four distinct varieties of Pinscher, the Rough-Coated Pinscher, the Dwarf Rough-Coated Pinscher, the Smooth-Coated Pinscher, and the Dwarf Smooth-Coated Pinscher.  These four varieties are now four distinct breeds, the Standard and Miniature Schnauzers and the German and Miniature Pinschers.  These four groupings were also described in the books “Buch von den Hunden,” written by Bernard Wolphofer in 1895, and “Les Races des Chiens,” written by Bylandt in 1897.  The first standards and organized breeding records of Miniature Pinschers were created in these years.  The first record of a Miniature Pinscher making an appearance at an organized dog show comes from 1900, when the breed was exhibited in the Stuttgart Dog Show. 

 

One admirer of the Zwergpinscher was a tax collector and dog catcher by the name of Louis Doberman.  He wanted to create a dog that looked exactly like the Zwergpinscher, only 15 times the size.  Such an animal would be able to help him defend himself when he collected taxes.  In the 1880’s and 1890’s, Doberman began to create a new dog breed.  In his role as a dog catcher, Doberman had access to many different breeds, and began to combine them, using the German Pinscher as the primary foundation blood.  By 1899, Doberman had perfected a new breed of pinscher which would forever after carry his name.  This means that the Miniature Pinscher was the model for the creation of the Doberman Pinscher, and not a scaled-down version of the larger breed.

 

At the same time that the Miniature Pinscher was becoming standardized, Germany was experiencing a period of rapid industrialization and urbanization.  Most Germans had significantly less living space than they had enjoyed just a few decades earlier.  This meant that smaller dogs were in greater demand.  From 1905 until 1914, the Miniature Pinscher soared in popularity in Germany, although the breed was essentially nonexistent outside of that country.  However, the success of the Doberman Pinscher as a police and military dog meant that the breed was exported throughout the world, especially America.  This meant that the much younger Doberman breed became by far the more famous.  This fame was greatly increased when Doberman Pinschers loyally and ferociously served the German Army in the war.  World War I was not as disastrous for German dog populations as World War II proved, and breeding populations of Miniature Pinschers were well-established in Scandinavian nations who had not gone to war with Germany by the time Germany surrendered.  Thousands of American soldiers had served in Germany, and many had encountered the Miniature Pinscher there.  The first Miniature Pinschers to arrive in America arrived in 1918 or 1919, less than a year after the close of World War I.

 

The American Kennel Club (AKC) first registered the Miniature Pinscher as the Pinscher (Toy) in 1925.  Although the breed had toy in the name, it was shown in the Miscellaneous Class.  Despite AKC recognition, the breed remained a rarity at dog shows until the Miniature Pinscher Club of America (MPCA) was founded in 1929.  In that year, the breed was moved to the Terrier Group.  Due to the lobbying of the MPCA, the breed’s name was officially changed to Pinscher (Miniature) in 1930, and the dog was moved to the Toy Group where it remains to this day.  In 1936, the United Kennel Club (UKC) also recognized the Miniature Pinscher.  In 1972, the AKC officially renamed the breed the Miniature Pinscher.  Throughout its time in America, the Miniature Pinscher’s standard has been revised several times.  The first accepted standard in 1929 came directly from Germany.  Since then, the standard has been revised in 1935, 1950, 1958, and 1980.

 

Although the Miniature Pinscher was very rare in the United States until the 1930’s, the breed steadily climbed in popularity until the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.  For a few years, this breed was one of the most popular dogs in America, and briefly even had more registrations than the more famous Doberman Pinscher.  There were many reasons for the popularity of the Miniature Pinscher, but they essentially boil down to the breed being a large dog trapped in a small dog’s body.  This dog is small enough that it can easily live in an apartment or suburban neighborhood, but has a bold and fearless nature.  The fact that the breed closely resembles the Doberman Pinscher actually greatly increased its popularity, despite the unfairly negative reputation the larger breed has for viciousness.  The Miniature Pinscher allowed a great number of families to make a compromise between a wife who wanted a small dog and a husband who didn’t want to be embarrassed by having to take a fluffy, “girly,” breed for a walk.  The Miniature Pinscher was seen as an acceptably “manly” dog because of its resemblance to the Doberman.  This breed also possesses an excellent middle ground in terms of temperament.  The Miniature Pinscher is definitely not shy or timid as is the case with many toy breeds, and it is an energetic dog that likes to play and run around outside.  However, it is also not as headstrong or aggressive as most terriers, nor is it as hyperactive as a breed such as a Jack Russell Terrier.

 

More recently, the Miniature Pinscher has suffered from a slight decrease in popularity.  The Miniature Pinscher ranked 40th out of 167 breeds in terms of AKC registrations in 2010, 23 spots lower than it had in 2000.  There are several reasons for this decline.  The biggest reason for the decline is probably that the breed is simply less trendy than it was a decade earlier.  Almost all breeds go through popularity cycles.  Also, many owners discovered that a seven-pound Miniature Pinscher was too much dog for them.  This breed is not a Maltese or a Toy Poodle.  Finally, irresponsible breeding by breeders who were only interested in satisfying market demand created Miniature Pinschers with poor health and unstable temperaments.  Despite recent setbacks, the Miniature Pinscher has a large number of dedicated admirers who will continue to ensure the breed maintains a large population in America.

 

Although initially developed as a ratter, very few, if any, Miniature Pinschers are still used for this purpose today.  As is the case with most modern breeds, almost all of today’s Miniature Pinschers are primarily companion animals.  This breed is well-suited to life as a companion, provided its owners are willing and able to meet its requirements.  However, the Miniature Pinscher is also a capable and talented athlete.  In recent years, the Miniature Pinscher has become a regular competitor in a number of canine competitions, including agility trials, obedience competitions, and flyball.

 

Appearance: 

 

Although most breed fanciers get tired of hearing this, a Miniature Pinscher looks like a miniaturized version of the Doberman Pinscher.  As is the case with all toy breeds, the Miniature Pinscher is a very small dog.  In order to be shown, Miniature Pinschers must be between 10 and 12½ inches tall at the shoulder, with ideal dogs being between 11 and 11½ inches tall at the shoulder.  While male Miniature Pinschers are typically slightly larger than females, this breed exhibits considerably less size difference between the sexes than is common in larger dogs.  Breed standards do not list ideal weights, although they require a dog’s weight to be in proportion with its height.  Most healthy Miniature Pinschers weigh between 8 and 10 pounds.

 

While Miniature Pinschers are thin dogs, they are not exactly skinny.  This breed is not built like most toy dogs.  Rather, they are muscular and sturdy.  A Miniature Pinscher should look athletic and capable of being a working dog, even though most aren’t.  This breed is well-proportioned, and many have an almost square body.  The legs of most Miniature Pinschers are relatively long for their bodies, making them appear taller than they actually are.  In America, Miniature Pinschers almost always have their tails docked, generally leaving a tail which is only an inch or two long.  In most of Europe, this practice has been banned, and in America it is slowly falling out of favor.  The natural tail of a Miniature Pinscher is fairly short in comparison to the dog’s body size, and also quite thin.

 

The Miniature Pinscher has a distinctive face, which looks considerably tougher than faces of other toy dogs.  This breed looks more like a guard dog than a companion animal.  The head and muzzle of the Miniature Pinscher are proportionate to the size of the dog’s body.  The muzzle is well-defined and distinct from the rest of the head.  Some Miniature Pinschers have quite narrow muzzles, while others have fairly wide ones.  The eyes of a Miniature Pinscher should be black, and the blacker the better.  Dogs with lighter coat patterns may have slightly lighter eyes.  The Miniature Pinscher is almost always at attention, and the eyes of this breed usually have a very intense expression.  What many observers first notice about the Miniature Pinscher are the breed’s ears.  This breed has naturally erect ears, which stand straight up.  Some dogs may have their ears cropped to appear narrower and more refined, although this practice is falling out of favor much more quickly than tail docking.

 

This breed has a very short, very smooth coat.  This coat should be lustrous, and most Miniature Pinschers almost glisten or shine.  The coat of the Miniature Pinscher is almost uniform in length over the entire body.  Miniature Pinschers may come in several color varieties.  There are solid red dogs, as well as stag red, which is red with interspersed black hairs.  These are the only two solid colors; all other color schemes have a set of rigidly defined markings.  The color that most think of when they think of Miniature Pinschers is black with rust red markings, but there are also chocolate, blue, and fawn dogs with rust red markings as well.  These markings are clearly defined and separate from the surrounding fur.  To be shown, Miniature Pinschers must have markings on their cheeks, lips, lower jaws, throats, twin spots above the eyes, twin spots above the chests, on the lower halves of the forelegs, on the hind legs and vent areas, and on the lower portions of the rear pasterns and the feet.  Dogs also must have pencil lines on the toes which correspond to the dog’s primary color.

 

Temperament: 

 

If you are aware of the stereotypical little dog that thinks that it is a big dog, you are probably thinking of the Miniature Pinscher.  This breed has a lot of personality.  Among the words most commonly used to describe the Miniature Pinscher are bold, fearless, lively, intense, and energetic.  In terms of personality, the Miniature Pinscher is probably the most robust of all the toy breeds.  It has been claimed that the Miniature Pinscher has a terrier-like temperament, but this breed is probably significantly softer-tempered than most terriers.

 

Miniature Pinschers are companion dogs, and they love to be around their favorite people.  This breed can become intensely devoted and loyal to its master.  This breed tends to prefer to be with its owner, rather than on top of its owner though.  While some Miniature Pinschers are very affectionate, most are somewhat reserved.  However, this breed is definitely a cuddler, and is always looking for comfort.  Miniature Pinschers love to play, and unlike most toys will tolerate some very careful roughhousing.  Miniature Pinschers often enjoy the company of older children, whom they form close bonds with.  However, this is not the most favorable breed to have around young children.  Miniature Pinschers may be injured by even the most well-intentioned children.  Additionally, this breed is definitely not one to take punishment and will defend itself if it feels it has to.  This can lead to a dog nipping a small child.  Miniature Pinschers are naturally standoffish towards strangers.  Although unlike most toy breeds, this standoffishness is not generally the result of nervousness or fear, but rather dominance and a protective instinct.

 

Miniature Pinschers often believe that they are guard dogs, and without careful socialization and training may develop aggression issues.  When properly trained, Miniature Pinschers will generally be polite, if somewhat challenging, with new people.  The Miniature Pinscher is perhaps the most difficult of all toy breeds for first time dog owners.  This breed is often very, very dominant.  If its owner does not calmly and firmly take control, a Miniature Pinscher almost certainly will.

 

As almost any owner will tell you, Miniature Pinschers are very dominant towards other dogs.  This breed will not tolerate another dog attempting to take a higher position on the social pecking order, and is more than willing to fight if there is a dispute.  When in a home with other dogs, Miniature Pinschers are almost always the alpha dog.  Some Miniature Pinschers are also just generally dog aggressive, and may try to attack other dogs.  With proper training and socialization, Miniature Pinschers can accept the company of other dogs.  It is always best to use extreme caution when introducing a Miniature Pinscher to other canines.  Miniature Pinschers are generally unaware of their size, and will almost never back down whatever the size of their opponent.  More than a few Miniature Pinschers have been seriously injured or killed by biting off more than they can chew in a dog fight.  This breed is best with submissive dogs of the opposite sex.

 

Faithfully serving their farmer masters, Miniature Pinschers and their ancestors were bred as rat killing dogs for hundreds of years.  Although few have served this purpose for over a hundred years, this breed still has a very intense prey drive.  Miniature Pinschers will hunt down and quickly dispatch any small animals that they have access too.  In particular, small mammals such as hamsters and gerbils will have a short life expectancy.  Miniature Pinschers can adapt to cats when raised with them from a very young age.  However, this breed will probably hassle any cat, often relentlessly.

 

Miniature Pinschers are very bright dogs, and are capable of learning very complex tricks and behaviors.  Almost anything that a dog is capable of learning outside of some herding behaviors can be taught to a Miniature Pinscher.  This is why the breed has excelled at agility and obedience trials.  However, the Miniature Pinscher is not regarded as an easy breed to train.  This is a dominant dog and will try to take advantage at every turn.  This is a breed that will learn if it wants to, but not necessarily because its owner wants it to.  This breed responds best to calm and firm training, with a dose of rewards.  This breed is somewhat stubborn, but not excessively so.  They are more likely to be resistant to training than outright refusing.  One training area where the Miniature Pinscher provides special training difficulties is with housebreaking.  The Miniature Pinscher is notoriously difficult to housebreak.  As is the case with most small breeds, the Miniature Pinscher has a small bladder which takes extra time to develop.  Additionally, this breed can easily sneak behind a couch and urinate, completely unnoticed and unpunished.  This only increases training difficulties.

 

As one would guess from the breed’s appearance, the Miniature Pinscher is considerably more athletic and energetic than most toy breeds.  Although a Miniature Pinscher adapts well to city life, this breed still has a relatively high exercise requirement.  This breed will not be satisfied with a bathroom walk.  Miniature Pinschers need long daily walks, and preferably time to run off-leash in a secure area.  The Miniature Pinscher loves to play, and enjoys typical canine games such as fetch.  A Miniature Pinscher is always on the alert, and also always on the lookout for some excitement.  Although the Miniature Pinscher does not crave a job, this breed does enjoy having play with a purpose such as running through an agility course.  It is absolutely imperative that a Miniature Pinscher has its exercise needs met.  An unexercised Miniature Pinscher will become bored, and once this breed becomes bored, it will become incredibly destructive, vocal, and sometimes nervous or aggressive.  That being said, most Miniature Pinschers will calm down and watch television with their owners once they have been exercised.  Some Miniature Pinschers, especially puppies, almost never relax.

 

Miniature Pinschers should never be allowed off leash unless they are in a very secure area.  This breed has the instinct to chase anything that it sees, and will pursue it.  When pursuing its quarry, a Miniature Pinscher will ignore its master’s calls to return, putting the dog at risk of being hit by a car, getting lost, or angrily confronting an animal to large for it to take on.  Any enclosure which houses a Miniature Pinscher must be very secure.  This inquisitive, athletic, and intelligent breed is physically and mentally capable of finding its way out of places that you wouldn’t think possible.

 

If you are looking for a dainty breed, look elsewhere.  The Miniature Pinscher is one of the “doggiest” dogs of all toy breeds.  Miniature Pinschers like to dig.  They like to get dirty.  They love to destroy toys.  Miniature Pinschers will destroy your yard and leave a path of destruction matched only by toddlers in only a few minutes time.  If you do not want to see a dog rip the heads off toy after toy, a Miniature Pinscher is probably not the ideal breed for you.

 

Miniature Pinschers can be very vocal dogs.  This breed excels as a watchdog, as they are both alert and quick to notify their owners of whatever they notice.  However, if not carefully trained, this can turn into almost non-stop barking.  Miniature Pinschers have been responsible for a very large number of noise complaints.  Even the best trained Miniature Pinschers will sometimes go into a barking frenzy.  The bark of a Miniature Pinscher is as close to the definition of yap as you are likely to find.  This breed has an incredibly shrill bark, which most find quite disagreeable.

 

Of all dog breeds, the Miniature Pinscher is probably the most likely to develop Small Dog Syndrome, and also develops some of the worst, and most dangerous cases.  Small Dog Syndrome occurs when owners do not discipline a small dog in the same way that they would a large dog.  Sometimes this is because a negative behavior seems cute or funny when coming from a small dog.  Other times it is because owners don’t see a small dog as inherently dangerous as a large dog.  Some owners simply don’t like to discipline their dogs for fear of hurting the animals’ feelings.  This lets a dog believe that it is in control of the situation and the world, as well as not letting it know what behaviors are inappropriate.  When combined with the Miniature Pinscher’s inherent boldness, fearlessness, and aggression issues, this is a recipe for disaster.  Miniature Pinschers suffering from Small Dog Syndrome are typically aggressive, constantly vocal, destructive, out-of-control, and all around unpleasant.  These dogs are a danger to both themselves and others, and will aggressively charge and even attack almost every dog and sometimes person that they see.  Luckily, Small Dog Syndrome is preventable with proper training and socialization.

 

Miniature Pinschers have recently been subjected to questionable breeding practices designed to satisfy market demand rather than demand for quality dogs.  These Miniature Pinschers often suffer from abnormal temperaments and behavioral issues.  For example, a well-bred Miniature Pinscher should never be timid, shy, or fearful.  However, many puppy-mill dogs are.  Always be sure to carefully select a Miniature Pinscher breeder.

 

Grooming Requirements: 

 

The Miniature Pinscher has some of the lowest grooming requirements of any companion breed.  They should never need professional grooming, only a regular brushing.  Many Miniature Pinschers get by with regular wipe downs with a soft towel.  However, the Miniature Pinscher does shed.  While most breed members do not shed excessively, they will leave some hair on your carpets, furniture, and clothes.  If you or a family member suffer from allergies or simply hate cleaning up pet hair, there are other breeds which may better suit you.

 

Health Issues: 

 

The Miniature Pinscher is a generally healthy breed.  These dogs have one of the longest life expectancies of any breed, regularly living to the age of 15 or more.  Most common problems in toy and other breeds are less common in the Miniature Pinscher.  This does not mean that the Miniature Pinscher is immune to health problems; it just means that this breed suffers from inheritable conditions at lower rates than other dogs.

 

Miniature Pinschers do have a few special care requirements.  One is that this breed should be protected in the cold.  They do not have very much hair to protect them from the elements, nor do they have much body fat.  Miniature Pinschers should wear sweaters and booties in snowy or wintry conditions.  For similar reasons, Miniature Pinschers should be provided with comfortable and soft places to rest such as pillows or furniture.  Finally, although it is advisable to have all dogs sleep inside at night, the Miniature Pinscher is definitely an indoor dog and should never be kept exclusively in the backyard.

 

It is always advisable to get your pets tested by either the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and/or the Canine Eye Registration Foundation, particularly if you intend to breed.  The OFA and CERF test for various genetically inherited disorders such as blindness and hip dysplasia that may impact either your dog or its descendants.

 

Some of the health problems which have been identified in the Miniature Pinscher include:

 

 

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