Breed of the Week: The Affenpinscher - Simply For Dogs

Breed of the Week: The Affenpinscher


You’ll never believe me folks, but I don’t have a cute story to go along with this week’s breed of the week. I’ve never met an Affenpinscher up close, and don’t know of anyone who owns one. This isn’t exactly a rare breed; they just don’t happen to be very popular in the area I live. However, this breed is possibly one of the most “so ugly it’s cute” breeds there is (check out 10 Goofiest Dog Breeds for more of those), and I can’t resist featuring it this week.

Known for looking something like Ewok on four legs, the Affenpinscher has historically been called the “monkey dog” because before Star Wars, everyone thought this breed resembled a primate in the face. With the flat nose, under bite, and the close-set eyes, I can see it. Like most terriers, this is a spunky dog that can develop a mischievous side – but always in good fun.

Affenpinscher Dog’s Products On Amazon

Click Below To Go To Amazon Rating Price
Puppy Pads
Dog Litter Box
Small Slicker Brush
Metal Greyhound Comb


Quite a lot is known about the history of the Affenpinscher, partially because this breed is not very old in the grand scheme of things. The most reliable history we have says that these dogs first appeared in the 19th century in Germany; however, we may be able to trace their ancestors back to the Netherlands in the 15th century. The breed that we know today, though, was bred in Germany to catch rats and other small rodents in stables, stores, on farms, and in homes.

Over the next century, the silly-looking creatures caught the eye of rich ladies, and it became a fashion statement to have an Affenpinscher – the smaller the better. Selective breeding resulted in the toy-sized breed we know today. The standard for Affenpinschers was created in 1902 and finalized in 1913. Like many other breeds, these dogs fell out of popularity during the second World War, and then bounced back into the spotlight in the 1950s.

But in truth, today’s love of the Affenpinscher can be accredited in part to a Westminster Kennel Club Show win just 15 years ago. In 2002, an Affenpinscher named Super Nova won the Toy Group, and that has brought the breed back into the public eye more than anything.


Affenpinschers are a toy breed, meaning they won’t typically get any taller than about 11.5 inches tall, and don’t tend to weigh more than nine pounds, tops. They have short, wiry coats like most terriers, which can be both neat and shaggy in appearance depending on the grooming. Naturally, Affenpinschers can look a bit shaggy and overgrown, partially due to their bearded faces and heavy eyebrows. Their muzzles are flat and their ears are very short. The body of an Affenpinsher is balanced and in proportion.

Affenpinschers can come in black, gray, silver, red, or black and tan – although black with a hint of gray or silver is the most common coloring. Their coats are rough with a bit of a harsh texture. The good news is that they don’t shed very much. Their coats are much shorter on the rump and back legs, with a bit of a shaggy “cape” around the chest, upper back, neck, and face.

This breed’s lifespan is about 14 years, making them good choices for a family that wants a dog to grow with them.


The terrier personality runs strong in this breed. Affenpinschers are known for being clever and for hamming it up. Naturally funny and more than a bit mischievous, these dogs are busy bodies. They’ll need to be trotting around the house checking things out and getting in your business on a regular basis. While their energy level is moderate, this isn’t going to be a couch potato dog that sleeps the day away. Affenpinschers prefer being with their person or people, and likely won’t do well left alone for long hours every day when there’s nothing to do.

While they are very lovable, Affenspinschers do suffer from a bit of a Napoleon complex. They will attempt to take on any dog or stranger that they think is a threat, and they don’t always remember how small they are. They can be very excitable when they get into this mode, and calming them down can be tricky.

Affenpinschers need a firm hand when it comes to training. They can be stubborn and tricky, partially because they are smart and partially because they are pranksters. Housebreaking this breed is notoriously challenging, so I would recommend crate training a puppy right away, and investing in some puppy pads. You may also have better luck training your Affenpinscher to use a dog litter box rather than forcing him or her to go outside. Additionally, this breed is known for jumping when they greet, and you’ll have to work hard to train that out of them if you prefer they don’t.

Affenpinschers need socialization early and often to avoid developing suspicious natures. They can be good with other dogs and people, but only if that behavior is taught to them. Otherwise, they will be protective and stubborn when it comes to making new friends.


All pure-bred toy sized dogs can develop certain medical conditions. However, if you choose to adopt an Affenpinscher from a reputable breeder, you can look closely at the parents or older siblings for signs of these concerns, and prepare yourself. Health issues that owners of Affenpinschers may need to watch out for include:

  • Patellar Luxation: This is a common issue for toy breeds, and is caused with the patella (a three-part bone structure that makes up the thigh, knee cap, and calf) doesn’t line up correctly. This can cause dogs to walk with a funny skip or hop, or can make that leg useless. Typically this condition is present at birth, but the symptoms may not be noticeable till later in life. The condition can vary from mild to severe, with the most severe version creating a bow-legged look in the dog, and which may require surgery to correct.
  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia occurs when the thigh bone doesn’t fit right into the hip joint. This can cause pain and lameness, as well as arthritis. Because this is a hereditary condition, dogs with this condition should never be bred – however, certain environmental factors can cause hip dysplasia in dogs that have not displayed this condition before, such as very rapid growth or being injured from a fall.
  • Legg-Perthes Disease: This is a disease specific to toy breeds, in which the hip joint’s ball is deformed. This can cause arthritis and pain for the dog, and usually shows up when the dog is around six months old. Surgery and rehabilitation therapy are typically the best options for treatment.
  • Heart Murmurs: Affenpinchers are prone to heart murmurs, which can be an indicator that something is wrong with the circulatory system. If a dog has heart murmurs, they do need to be monitored for other conditions.

Other health concerns that a potential Affenpinscher owner should look out for with the parents include elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, von Willebrand’s disease, and any issues concerning the eyes.

Toy breeds frequently struggle with dental concerns such as periodontal disease, so be sure you are keeping a close eye on your dog’s dental health as well.

Grooming and Care

The Affenpinscher doesn’t need much exercise or space to feel happy – they are more interested in mental stimulation. As long as your neighbors don’t mind some barking, they would be great for small apartments. A brisk, short walk outside every day is more than enough exercise for this breed. Keep them stocked up on mental exercises with toys like a Dogit, and they’ll be just fine.

Because Affenpinschers are at risk for joint issues, their weight should be kept under control. Don’t overfeed an Affenpinscher, in other words! Feed them twice per day, about a quarter cup each time, of high-quality dry dog food. If your pup is more active than the average Affenpinscher, you may need to feed them more. Just keep the food appropriate for their activity level.

Affenpinschers do need a little bit of grooming attention to keep their coats in good repair. To maintain their typical appearance, use a small slicker brush followed by a metal greyhound comb about once every week. Be gentle about breaking up mats or tangles – many Affenpinschers will do better if you use a bit of detangler spray or conditioner on their coat before brushing and combing. This combination of brush and comb is called “stripping”, and it’s important for keeping the texture of an Affenpinscher coat.

Like all dogs, Affenpinschers need regular attention to their dental care and nails. Taking care of your dog’s teeth can be a daily or weekly task, but it takes just a few moments and is one of the best ways to protect them from serious medical conditions. Trim the nails about twice per month to ensure that they don’t scratch you – Affenpinchers are known for jumping!

Be sure to check the ears, nose, feet, and eyes for signs of redness or irritation while grooming. Pay attention to the way the ears smell, especially. Because so much hair grows in and around the ears, it can be common to see ear infections in Affenpinschers. Any bad smell can be a sign of infection, which should be treated right away. Keep the hair around the ears dry and clean to avoid this issue.

Kids and Other Pets

Affenpinschers are notorious for not enjoying behavior such as hugging, chasing, or being forced to sit in someone’s lap. They are very affectionate, don’t get me wrong – but only on their own terms. Therefore, it’s common to see an Affenpinscher not be as fond of kids as you might hope. Older kids who know better than to corner a dog will get along just fine with an Affenpinscher. Young children should be heavily supervised when playing with this breed. Affenpinschers, even well-trained ones, are known for being snappish when they feel overwhelmed.

Affenpinschers do tend to get along with other dogs and even cats, but only when they are able to be the leader of the pack. These dogs are dominant and feisty, and won’t be willing to play second fiddle for long. If you have very large dogs that are also dominant, you may need to supervise playtime until the dynamics have been sorted out. Puppy kindergarten is a very good idea for Affenpinschers, who are smart and great at learning, but who lack that eagerness to please that would make them faster learners. They do need to be firmly but lovingly handled. Affenpinschers love fun, so they tend to respond best to training that involves treats, praise, and fun time together.

Affenpinscher Dog’s Products On Amazon

Click Below To Go To Amazon Rating Price
Puppy Pads
Dog Litter Box
Small Slicker Brush
Metal Greyhound Comb

The Final Word

At the end of the day, there’s something to be said for the spunky nature of a terrier. They are feisty and loyal and oh-so-fun to watch. The Affenpinscher in particular is a very fun dog to be around because of their goofy appearance and mischievous natures.

These dogs are great for someone who has the time and energy to train a dog, but who maybe doesn’t have a ton of space for exercise. Affenpinschers can adapt very well to getting most of their activity from mental games.

Affenpinschers are very good learners, but they are stubborn and a little full of themselves. In order to get your pup housebroken and socialized, you may need to take a firmer role in training. These dogs are not as great for living with small children, and need supervision at first with other pets until the pack dynamic is sorted out.

All in all, this is a very cute little dog with a very specific nature. If you love the sound of a sassy dog with attitude and moxie, you’ll likely love the Affenpinscher. You should be sure that you can devote the time to training an Affenpinscher before adopting; if you can, then you’ll be in for a lifetime of cute antics, loyal protection, and affectionate love.


About the Author Ash

Popular posts