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The Affenpinscher Dog Breed:The Funny and Intelligent Monkey Dog

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Portrait of an Affenpinscher
Credit: "Affenpinscher portrait" by Ingunn-67mod, is licensed under CC BY 3.0


Affenpinschers are funny little dogs with a comical and inquisitive look about them. They look a lot like terriers, but they are actually part of the pinscher-schnauzer of group 2 in the FCI classification (Fédération Cynologique Internationale). This monkey faced dog is a rare breed that became popular after Banana Joe, a five-year-old Affenpinscher, was named Best in Show at the 2013 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City[1]. Aspiring owners can find out more about the history, appearance, temperement, training, health and proper care of a feisty and fearless little animal.


Affenpinschers are one of the oldest toy breeds. They originated in Germany in the 17th century. These little dogs were used as mousers or ratters on farms, granaries or in food industries throughout Central Europe.

Early Depiction of An Affenpinscher Dog
Their ancestors were probably the small, rough-coated, bearded dogs depicted in paintings dating back to the 15th century. The Arnolfini Portrait by Van Eyck is on such example. Much of the breeds history is rather unclear. They may have been crossed with Pugs, smoothcoated German Pinschers, and a dog known as the German Silky Pinscher[2]. The breed predates and is ancestral to the Griffon Bruxellois (Brussels Griffon) and Miniature Schnauzer. Dogs of the Affenpinscher type have been known since about 1600 and at that time they were a bit larger, about 12 to 13 inches. Eventually, they were bred down in size and became ladies' companions.

Their name actually means “monkey-like terrier” and you can clearly see why. In France the breed is described as “Diablotin Moustachu” or “Mustached Little Devil”. This appellation matches wonderfully their appearance and temperament.  



An Affenpinscher Dog
Credit: "Affenpinscher" by Ger Dekker, under CC BY-SA 2.0


Affies have got a very distinct look. They usually stand 9.5 to 11.5 inches tall and weigh 8 to 10 pounds. They have got a round head, short muzzle, round and dark expressive eyes, and erect ears (natural or cropped).

The rough coat is about an inch long. There is slightly longer hair on the face to emphasize the features of this adorable monkey dog. The head is typically adorned by bushy, bristly eyebrows. The wreath-like hair surround the eyes and the face creating a mane or cape that blends into the back coat. Affenpinschers come in colours. Their coat can be black (most common), silver, gray, red or black and tan. These are all acceptable characteristics of the standard breed. The tail may be docked or natural.

This funny looking dog has gained cosiderable popularity after the win of Banana Joe, and for good reason. They are simply adorable!


Always alert and persistent, Affenpinschers are also playful and full of energy. In this respect they are quite similar to terriers. They are funny little dogs with a quirky sense of humour. This is generally a quiet breed, but when threatened or attacked, it becomes quite excited. The little monkey face is absolutely fearless toward any aggressor. Affies are quite agreeable family dogs. They are fine with kids as long as they treat the dog with respect. They get along with other pets, but you should probably teach them not to chase the family cat!


House training these dogs could prove a challenge. This is a quirky dog, so it may or may not cooperate with your training. The Affenpinscher Club of America recommends that these dogs attend puppy training classes for socialization, basic obedience training, or even house training if it is necessary[3].

The training should be structured, consistent, but also fun. Affies are eager to learn and to please their people. It is essential that they are taught with positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play, and food rewards. Affenpinschers enjoy canine sports and games, and, of course, trick training.

Health Issues

Affenpinschers are healthy little dogs, but like all breeds, they may be prone to certain health conditions. Hip dysplasia and knee problems can be an issue for these dogs. Like all small breeds, they might suffer from patellar luxation. This happens when the femur, patella and tibia aren't properly lined up. Another concern for small dogs is the so called Legg-Perthes disease, that is a deformation of the hip joint. Both issues can eventually lead to arthritis.

Affies can have breathing problems during hot, humid weather. Eye cataracts could also be an issue for these dogs. In a UK study the average life span of Affepinschers was 11.4 years[4]. This is a shorter life span than most small breeds, although the sample of the study was small and they might live 12 up to 16 years.

An Affenpischer Dog with a Silver Coat
Credit: "Molly" by Dean Jarvey, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Affenpinscher Care Tips

The Affepinscher requires moderate exercise. Short, brisk, daily walks or some playtime at the backyard are just the thing for the small bearded devils. The recommended daily amount of food for an adult dog is 1/4 to 1/2 cup of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two helpings[2] . This of course could vary depending on the individual dog.

The desired appearance of the breed is described as “shaggy but neat”. Grooming the Affenpinscher is no walk in the park. They need to be brushed several times a week with both a slick brush and a metal comb.Show dogs must be hand stripped. This happens several times a year to maintain the coat's characteristic feel. The stripping technique involves pulling “dead” hair out by hand. Most pet dogs are usually groomed with scissors and clippers by a professional groomer.






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  1. Kelly Whiteside "Affenpinscher wins Best in Show at Westminster dog show." USA Today. 13/02/2013. 29/12/2014 <Web >
  2. "Affenpinscher." Dogtime. 29/12/2014 <Web >
  3. Liz Palika The Howell Book of Dogs. New Jersey: Wiley Publishing Inc., 2007.
  4. Kelly M. Cassidy "Breed Data Base." Dog Longevity. 01/02/2008. 29/12/2014 <Web >

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