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Affenpinscher Dog Breed Temperament & Personality [Full Guide 2021]


The Affenpinscher, or Affen, is a German toy breed that is amusing, loyal, and curious. These fluffballs share several personality traits with Terriers, but their resemblance is closer to a mischievous monkey. We’ve gathered all the information you need to know about this energetic breed. Let’s get to meet the delightful Affenpinscher!



Affenpinscher Dog Characteristics

“Affenpinscher” literally translates to “monkey terrier,” so it’s no surprise that these small, charming dogs have the appearance of little monkeys. Their bright, quizzical faces feature plenty of facial hair, resulting in a lion-like mane if not clipped. The coat of this breed is neat yet shaggy with wiry hair.


As their name implies, Affenpinshcers have many characteristics of the Terrier group. Their wiry coat and alert personality are similar to many Terrier breeds, but they do not have enough similarities to be considered Terriers. Affenpinschers are instead classified as a toy breed.


Affenpinschers share a strong resemblance with two other dog breeds: the Brussels Griffon and Miniature Schnauzer. You may be wondering which of these breeds came first. Affenpinschers were the first of these dog breeds and helped create the Brussels Griffon and Miniature Schnauzer.


The average life span of an Affenpinscher is 14 years. Some dogs of this breed may reach 15 years of age, but Affenpinschers have generally lived a long and full life by 14 years. Proper pet care and regular trips to the veterinarian will keep your Affenpinscher healthy and happy for years to come.



Affenpinscher Dog Size

The Affenpinscher is a little dog that generally stands 9-12 inches tall. The average Affenpinscher weighs 6-13 pounds. These small, monkey-like dogs are called diablotin moustachu in French, which translates to “mustached little devil.”



Affenpinscher Dog Personality

Whatever the Affenpinscher lacks in height and weight, it makes up for with its big personality. In its early days, this breed was used as a watchdog, chasing small animals away from homes. This function is another similarity Affenpinschers share with Terrier dogs, who also performed such jobs.


These Terrier tendencies are great for protecting their owner, but they also cause the Affen to act unfriendly towards strangers. This little devil might not get along with children or other small breeds easily, but socialization training can correct this behavior.


When it comes to their adult owners, the Affen is loyal, defensive, and independent. They may be the perfect size for lapdogs, but they don’t enjoy being held in one position. They want the freedom to jump down whenever they like, so let your Affenpinscher snuggle up on your lap in their own time.






Affenpinscher Dog Exercise

Suitable for this so-called “monkey dog,” Affenpinschers have greater physical needs than other toy breeds. Their impressive energy level is another result of the Affen’s former life as a ratter. Give your Affenpinscher at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. Provide your dog with a good workout by taking them on a walk, letting them run around in a large fenced area, or taking them to a dog park.


Many small dogs need this same amount of exercise. Though, if you miss one or two walks, other breeds will still satisfy their physical needs with playtime. In contrast, the Affenpinscher is more likely to grow restless with its pent-up energy if it misses a day of exercise.


Many pet owners choose small dog breeds for their low-maintenance personalities. While the Affenpinscher does not require the intense physical exertion that some larger dogs do, they need more exercise than other toy breeds. This little dog adapts well to apartment life, but prospective Affenpinscher owners should keep their physical needs in mind.



Affenpinscher Dog Training

The Affenpinscher isn’t a sporting dog, but they still benefit from training due to their high energy. Construct an agility obstacle course to teach your pet valuable skills in strategy, memorization, and stamina. Moreover, every pet should learn the same commands a sporting dog needs to know.


These commands are here, sit, stay, kennel, heel, and no. Let’s take a look at each command and train the Affenpinscher to learn them.



Every dog should take the word “here” or “come” as a command and not a request. Your dog should drop whatever they are doing and come to you. Attach a long leash to your pet and firmly say, “here.” If the dog does not come, pull on the leash until they are at your heels. Repeat until your Affenpinscher no longer needs the leash.



Sit is a command that should cause your dog to lower its hindquarters immediately. You can easily train your dog to sit while also feeding them. Hold a bowl of food in one hand, out of reach from the dog.


Say “sit” and wait for the dog to obey. If your dog doesn’t immediately sit, push its backside to the ground. Once they are in the proper position, repeat the word “sit” and reward them with food.



Teach your dog the sit command before moving on to stay. Once your dog is sitting, hold up an open-faced palm, and say “stay.” Walk away, and turn to face your dog. They should remain sitting until you say the command “here.”


If your dog doesn’t stay seated, guide them back to a sitting position and begin the exercise again. Do not punish your dog for disobeying the command, but do not reward them either. Remember to give the “stay” command with a firm tone.


Repeat the exercise, waiting longer each time before calling the dog over. They need to associate the command with staying seated until told otherwise.



Dogs crave a space of their own, especially one that is cozy and secure. This is why we recommend crate-training for puppies. Each time you place your dog in its crate or cage, say the word “kennel.”


Repeat this practice until you can give the command without having to lead your dog to its kennel. The dog should walk inside its crate or cage and stay there. It’s best to begin kennel training when the dog is already relaxed, so it does not feel the need to leave the kennel when you place them there.



A well-trained dog walks at the same pace as its owner. They do not lag or run far ahead unless told. Walk your dog on a leash, saying “heel” and pulling your dog close by when it falls behind or speeds up.


Take your Affenpinscher on walks this way until they do not need a leash. If your pet wanders, they should immediately come to your side if you say “heel.” Once your dog is a pro at this command, teach them to sit every time you stop walking.



Save this command for behaviors you wish to correct. If the dog hears their owner say “no” in a playful context, they may be confused when given the same command as they chew on furniture or soil the rug. A firm and loud “no” should only be associated with bad conduct.



Affenpinscher Dog History

The Affenpinscher dog breed comes from Germany. In German, “affen” means monkey, and “pinscher” means terrier, translating to “monkey terrier” or “monkey dog.” Although the Affen is not considered a Terrier today, they performed the same jobs as many Terrier breeds.


One of those jobs was to chase rats and other vermin away from homes and farms. The Affenpinscher then moved inside from the stables to rid kitchens of mice. Both the dogs and their owners found that the Affenpinscher was well-suited to the indoors, capable of serving as both a watchdog and a lapdog.


The original Affenpinscher dogs were larger than the ones we see today. Selective breeding caused them to get increasingly smaller the longer the pets stayed indoors. The first kennel club to provide a breed standard for the Affenpinscher was the Berlin Lapdog Club in 1913.


The American Kennel Club recognized Affenpinschers in 1936. However, not many people were interested in a German dog breed just before World War II. It wasn’t until the 1950s, after the end of World War II, that Affenpinschers started to see the attention they deserve.






Affenpinscher Health Problems

Although this breed is not susceptible to many health conditions, no dog is completely immune. Also, there are potential issues like brachycephalic syndrome and patellar luxation that commonly affect toy dogs. These are possible health problems to look out for, as well as their symptoms and treatment.


Brachycephalic Syndrome

The Affenpinscher’s short nose is partly what gives it its charming appearance. It may also be the cause of breathing troubles. Brachycephalic syndrome, also known as brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), refers to respiratory troubles caused by the animal’s head’s shape.


Dogs with mild cases of BOAS show difficulty breathing and make noise when they inhale and exhale. More severely affected dogs may have gastrointestinal issues as well. This can lead to retching, gagging, and vomiting.


Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation literally means “slipping kneecaps.” Normally, a dog’s patella rests in a groove on the dog’s femur. In the case of patellar luxation, the patella slips out of this groove.


Toy breeds such as the Affenpinscher have been selectively bred for their small size. This can result in joints and ligaments sitting too far or close to each other, causing conditions such as patellar luxation. This disease’s symptoms include limping, kicking the foot out to one side as the dog walks, or reduced mobility.




Digestive Issues

The Affenpinscher is not susceptible to any specific digestive disorders. However, their small size makes overfeeding a potential problem. Obesity can make simple movements difficult and dramatically affect the gastrointestinal and joint health of your pet.


Care for your Affenpinscher’s weight by providing them with a good level of physical stimulation, healthy dog food, and plenty of water.



How to Care for an Affenpinscher

Proper care for this breed primarily revolves around joint health, weight management, and adequate physical exertion. These energetic dogs are otherwise not prone to severe health conditions and don’t require special food.


A dog’s coat is a good indicator of its overall health. A dull or brittle coat probably means there’s an issue with your pet’s exercise, diet, or general health. Whether your dog’s coat is black, gray, silver, red, black and tan, or beige, take note of its natural shine.


Once you’re familiar with your pet’s healthy coat, you will quickly notice when your Affenpinscher suffers from health conditions or a poor diet. Additionally, their skin should not be greasy, flaky, or bumpy. If your pet’s coat or skin loses its natural look or feel, take your dog to a veterinarian.



Nutrition and Feeding for Affenpinschers

The best pet care starts with nutritious food. Before your dog can run around, play, or learn commands, they must be well fed. A dog’s specific daily food amount should be determined by its weight and daily activity level. You should generally give your Affenpinscher 2-4% of its body weight every day, or about 1/4-1/2 cups of food daily (split into two meals).


Dog food should have all of the necessary proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins that canines need to live healthily. As with most products, you get what you pay for. Kibble is no exception, so it is generally advised to purchase the highest quality food that you can afford.


An Affenpinscher puppy should not eat the same food as an adult. This is because dog food designed for puppies is intended to help bones and muscles grow. Adult kibble maintains the body of a dog that has already matured. Puppy food has more calories and vitamins to assist in the dog’s growth. Toy breeds like the Affenpinscher gain weight quickly, so adults would not benefit from puppy food.


Once your Affenpinscher reaches the size of an adult, you should switch them over to adult food. To be certain that the kibble adheres to a top-quality nutritional standard, check whether the chow has been approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). AAFCO guidelines require that dog food be nutritious and safe for the average dog.


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Coat Color And Grooming

The monkey-like Affenpinscher has a rough coat that may come in a variety of colors. Standard coat colors include black, gray, silver, red, black and tan, or beige. Black and tan Affenpinschers generally have a mask on their face, similar to the black mask of a Pug.


Take care of the Affenpinscher’s iconic appearance by establishing a regular grooming routine. Bathe your little devil every 6-8 weeks using canine shampoo and conditioner. If your Affenpinscher competes in the show ring, bathe them monthly.


Leave their facial hair long for a lion-like mane, or clip it close to their face for a bright, puppy look. As you groom, search for any bumps, lesions, or other abnormalities on their skin.






Children And Other Pets

Affenpinschers are some of the best pets you’ll find, but they aren’t always good family dogs. As we’ve mentioned, this breed shares many characteristics with Terrier breeds. Just like Terrier dogs, Affenpinschers generally don’t do well around children.


Affenpinschers have a natural urge to chase small animals. Socialization training can curb this behavior, but you’ll still want to make sure you properly introduce your Affenpinscher to children and other small pets. Children should not pull at the pet’s coat and learn to keep their voices low and calm around an Affenpinscher. If the animal gets overwhelmed, separate them from the rest of the family.


How can you tell if your Affenpinscher feels like the playtime is getting a little too intense? Body language is your pet’s way of telling you how they feel. A long, low growl paired with bared teeth typically means the dog is feeling aggressive. Prolonged eye-contact generally means a canine is challenging whoever they’re looking at. If your dog holds its head low and shows the white of its eye, this usually means the animal is anxious or scared.



Rescue Groups

Fortunately, you don’t have to go all the way to Germany to add an Affenpinscher to your family. The official kennel club for this breed is the Affenpinscher Club of America. They also run a rescue program for this breed, called the Affenpinscher Rescue of America.


Although Affenpinschers are excellent pets, they aren’t very common. If you go down to your local pet store searching for an Affen, you probably won’t have much luck.


One of the best resources for finding dogs in need of a new home is Petfinder. Petfinder’s filters allow you to search by breed, coat color, size, and even more options that help you find the best pet for your lifestyle.


Since the Affenpinscher is a rare breed, you may be placed on a waiting list. Before the Affenpinscher was well known, Miniature Pinscher clubs often looked after their German cousins. Some Miniature Pinscher clubs still look after Affens, so it’s worth contacting a Min Pin group if you’re having trouble.


The American Kennel Club (AKC) has a large network of rescue groups, including those for Miniature Pinschers. Check out the AKC’s Miniature Pinscher rescue groups if you can’t find an available Affenpinscher.



Breed Organizations

The official breed organization for the Affens is the Affenpinscher Club of America. They are the official Parent Club of the American Kennel Club (AKC), and their rescue branch, the Affenpinscher Rescue of America, can help you find that perfect pup.


The AKC is the largest kennel club in the world. Though, with 195 dog breeds to provide information about, the AKC can’t do it all on their own. This is why they choose breed-specific Parent Clubs to care for particular dogs.


Register your Affen with the Affenpinscher Club of America to connect with other owners, learn about breeding information, and so much more. Although Affenpinschers are a rare breed, they deserve the same attention that all our other pets do!



More About This Dog Breed

The Affenpinscher has a long history since it emerged from Germany. Affens have helped establish two other dog breeds and have charmed their owners for generations. Some owners even find their Affens have a wonderful sense of humor.


They don’t require much special care, and they love to monkey around. As long as their physical needs and freedom are respected, your Affenpinscher will remain loyal and loving for years to come!

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