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General Description:

The Affenpinscher (German translation is “Monkey-like Terrier”) is a small, balanced, wiry-haired terrier-like toy dog whose intelligence and demeanor make it an excellent house pet.   He has the face and impish nature of a monkey and a neat but shaggy appearance. The tiny toy-breed dog acts like a bigger dog as he proudly struts around. The coat of an Affenpinscher is usually black, but they also come in gray, silver, red, or black & tan and belge (not beige). This breed makes a good watchdog and can be taught to perform a variety of tricks.
He is a sturdy, compact little dog with a height of 9" to 11" and weight of 7 to 8 pounds.  The tail is often docked between 1" and 2" long and the body should appear square.  Coat should be dense, rough/harsh and about 1” in length, with longer hair on head, eyebrows and beard.   Some regular grooming is necessary consisting of bathing, brushing, nail trimming and occasional trimming.   In general, the Affenpinscher's coat is shaggy but not unkempt in appearance.

The Affenpinscher is a curious and intelligent toy dog that can have a stubborn and feisty streak.  Firm and consistent obedience training and proper socialization are absolutely essential. This will help you and your dog to be happier, as well as fine-tune the breed's natural talents as a loyal watchdog and hunter.   They make lovely pets for many people - especially those who like little dogs with big personalities.  Because of his slight build, the Affenpinsher is an amiable lap dog, easily spoiled who loves to play with his master.  He also excels in climbing and is an entertaining breed of dog to live with.

The affectionate, charming and curious personality of the Affenpinscher makes it a good companion dog.   However, this breed is not typical of the "pampered pet" stereotype of Toy breeds. Their active indoor lifestyle and small size makes them ideal for apartment life.

Because not all Affenpinchers are alike, you may find:

  • There are energetic Affenpinschers, and placid Affenpinschers.
  • Hard-headed Affenpinschers, and sweet-natured Affenpinschers.
  • Serious Affenpinschers, and good-natured goofballs.
  • Introverted Affenpinschers, and Affenpinschers who love everyone


One of the most ancient of toy dogs, the Affenpinscher originated in Central Europe (Munich, Germany and France), where they earned the nickname "little devil with a moustache."  During the 17th century, small terriers were frequently kept around stables, on farms or in stores where they served as ratters.  Bred down in size, these small terriers became household companions who kept mice from overrunning their mistresses' boudoirs. 

Early breeders did much crossing with other breeds to perfect what they were looking for in a house dog. Some of these other breeds included Pug (giving the start of the Brussels Griffon), the smooth-haired German Pinscher, as well as a German breed of Silky Pinscher (giving some of the soft silver coat to some of our dogs of today).


Weight usually runs between 7 to 8 pounds and height at withers from 9” to 11”.  Type and quality are of greater importance than weight, and a smaller dog that is sturdy and well proportioned is preferred.  Appearance should be square, thickset, compact with good balance, and well-boned.

Energy Level:

Although not described as hyperactive, the Affenpinscher does have a fair amount of energy.  A daily walk is a good plan for the health of your dog and will help the dog burn energy and be more focused.   However, the breed can possibly overheat due to its short, stubby nose and potential airway problems, so use caution during hot weather.


The Affenpinscher’s personality is very similar to that of a typical terrier. Unlike most terriers, the Affenpinschers are more inclined to socialize and get along with other pets.  The breed is persistent, curious, and extremely playful by nature. They have a mischievous streak, but they are quick-witted and responsive to commands. Some Affenpinschers might be difficult to housebreak, but other than that, they are a breed that’s comparatively easy to train. Because of their animated personality and propensity to become bored, Affenpinschers like variety in their daily routines. They are a dog that does best with a family that will appreciate their humorous antics.

The Affenpinscher is alert and inquisitive with great loyalty and affection towards its master and friends. The breed is generally quiet, but can become vehemently excited when threatened or attacked, and is fearless toward any aggressor.   The breed typically exhibits a happy combination of charm and pluck.  A small dog with stamina, agility, and great courage, the Affenpinscher will on occasion display sensitivity and gentleness.  The Affenspinscher often possesses a "big dog in a small body" mentality.  This boldness makes it necessary to be cautious that the dog’s tough exterior does not inadvertently provoke an attack by a large dog.  It is this same bold attitude, however, that also make them such a joy to own.

The Affenpinscher is a great dog to travel with and they readily adjust to changes. These little dogs are alert and ready at all times to protect their owner, his home and possessions.   The Affenpinscher is highly intelligent and has a strong desire to please.    He has a great many endearing little traits that you seldom find in other breeds. He will toss his toys in the air for long periods of time, walk on his back legs - looking like an organ grinder's monkey, tucking his tail beneath him and sitting on his spine with back legs extended.   The Affenpinscher’s charming characteristics are many; talk to their owners and you soon will discover why it is said… "Bet you can't own just one!"

Overall, the Affenpinscher has an independent spirit blended with a soft side. This breed will closely bond with its owner and act as both protector and companion.


Life expectancy ranges between 10 to 12 years.


Due to the breed’s diminutive size, Affenpinschers are not recommended for families with young children.  No matter how well-meaning a child may be, accidents around small toy breeds can have deadly or result in expensive veterinarian visits.   While Affenpinschers are very loving pets and enjoy being with their families, they frequently guard their food and protective of their toys.   They are instinctually courageous and confident, and may bite if provoked.

Other animals:

Affenpinschers tend to get along well with other dogs and all breeds, but due to their diminutive size and “big dog mentality” they must be protected from potential injury from larger aggressive dogs.   They also have been known to get along well with cats and other small animals, but must be taught to leave small rodents alone.


The intelligent and athletic little Affenpinscher can excel in dog sports activities and competitions such as agility, obedience, tracking, fly-ball and tricks, but it can only be trained using positive reinforcement.   They make excellent camping and boating companions, as well as happy lap dogs, preferring to be with their people rather than left at home alone.   They like to be close to their owner and can be destructive if left alone for long periods of time.   It is recommended that this breed be well socialized early on as it can be shy with strangers. Getting used to being handled is also very important, as Affenpinschers can get hysterical when restrained for nail clipping and other routine procedures.

The breed is an excellent ratter (rodent reducer) and great watchdog.   Being very sensitive, negative correction will scar the dog and make him everlastingly wary.  For this reason, the Affenpinscher is not suggested as a companion for children as their sometimes rough play can be misconstrued and make the dog fearful and unpredictable around children. Affenpinschers can be stubborn but they are exceptionally clever.  

The Affenpinscher is a balanced and sturdy breed. They are a combination of charm and spunk, with a great deal of courage and boldness. They are capable of amazing dexterity and agility. They possess thinking and reasoning process, and will on occasion display sensitivity and gentleness. The Affenpinscher is often considered the "class clown".


The Affenpinscher sheds very little.   To keep their wiry coat free of mats they regular bathing brushing & combing, as well as some scissoring and nail trimming.   It is important to teach the Affenpinscher to tolerate all types of grooming as early as possible.


The Affenpinscher is an overall healthy breed, but some genetic health concerns include:  Hip Dysplasia, subluxating patellas (slipping kneecaps), Legg-Calves-Perthes (disease of the hip joint) eye disorders, collapsing tracheas and congestive heart failure.   Abnormally small specimens of Affenpinschers are prone to hydrocephalus, thus the breeding of mini Affens should not be encouraged.   Protopsis (expulsion of the eye from the socket) can occur in the breed if the head is restrained too vigorously.   Like most other short-nosed breeds, Affenpinschers may be prone to some respiratory problems in warm weather. Their facial anatomy can result in elongated soft palate (which can inhibit breathing) as well as stenotic nares (narrowed nostrils).  Both of these conditions can be corrected surgically and can be identified quite early on by veterinary examination

Best with:

This breed is best for Adults who interested in and able to spend lots of time with their pet.  The breed is often “clingy” and prefers to be close to their owners at all times.   Homes with safely fenced yards are preferred.

Not for:

This breed is best for Adults who able to spend lots of time with their pet.  The breed is often “clingy” and prefers to be close to their owners at all times.   Homes with safely fenced yards are preferred, but Affenpinschers also do well in apartments and condos.    Owners should be easy-going and enjoy laughing at the little comedian.


  • Small and easy to carry, yet sturdy
  • Looks like a wiry-coated little terrier
  • Easy grooming
  • Doesn't shed much at all
  • Is spunkier than most toys
  • Very happy and playful breed
  • Makes a keen watchdog
  • Doesn't need a lot of exercise
  • Does well in apartment and condos
  • Loves the human lap
  • Rids homes of rodents
  • Little comedians will make you laugh
  • Small yard is adequate


  • Fragile,as are most all toy breeds
  • Suspicious of strangers and strange dogs
  • Excitable barking when strangers or strange dogs approach
  • Wants to be center of your attention
  • Should never be left outside alone
  • Can be stubborn and difficult to train (a mind of his own)
  • Requires regular grooming
  • Housebreaking may be difficult
  • May harass small furry pets
  • Clingy – want to be with you all the time
  • Mischievous
  • Easily spoiled by owners
  • Difficult to find


Further Information:

Affenpinscher Club of America
American Kennel Club (AKC) profile
Breed Details

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