Affenpinscher is a dog breed with German origins. It was mainly bred as a small vermin hunter but today, it enjoys its status as a family pet and companion dog breed. In this guide, we will trace the breed’s origins including its near brush with extinction, temperament, a few training notes, physical characteristics, grooming needs, health issues, and few other things you need to know as a pet parent of the Affenpinscher.
Cool facts about the Affenpinscher
- The Affenpinscher is known as the monkey terrier. This is a mustached performer with a love for the spotlight. They have a comedy streak in them. The word affenmartig is German for monkey-like. The monkey’s bewhiskered looks and amusing behavior may have been responsible for this moniker.
- In France, the Affenpinscher is known as the Diablotin Moustachu.
- In the early days of the breed, they were known to have very fragile bones which resulted in fractures. So a breeder introduced a Miniature Schnauzer into the breeding program. This out-cross was supposed to rectify the issue. Experts believe that the infusion of these new genes may have improved the situation a bit.
- During World War II, the decline of the breed began. After the war, breeders started crossing Affenpinschers back to the Brussels griffon (Griffon bruxellois) which resulted in undershot jaws and shorter muzzles.
- It is one of the oldest toy dog breed and quite rare in the United States.
- The Affenpinscher is known to walk on its back legs and to sit on the base of its spine with its tail tucked underneath and the back legs extended forward.
- The Affenpinscher is similar in looks to the Brussels griffon and Miniature Schnauzer.
- They measure about 9-11 inches at withers and about 7-10 lbs in weight.
- Affens are small, compact dogs. They are known for a distinctive monkey-like expression.
- Their coat is dense, rough, shaggy, and smooth around the neck with longer hair around the eyebrows, muzzle, and beard.
- Coat colors include black, silver, gray, black and tan, or red. There may be a bit of white on the chest.
Where to find an Affenpinscher
Before beginning your Affenpinscher puppy search, talk to a veterinarian, Affen owners, and other dog breeders near you to refer you to someone who is reputable and ethical. Responsible breeders raise only one or two breeds. So avoid any breeder who has more than one breed. Dedicated breeders are usually registered with a club so contact the Affenpinscher Club of America. Many breeders also participate in sports and canine events; so you can also visit these to find good Affen breeders.
Expect to answer many questions from the breeder about your household and why you want a pet. They would also want to know about your prior experience with dogs if any. When you visit the litter, make yourself a promise that you won’t settle for the first cute face you see. Take your time and try to assess the pup’s personality. Avoid pups that show shyness or timidity. The puppy should be curious, alert, and appear well-fed and well-rested. Most breeders do not give pups off to their owners until they reach the age of 6-8 weeks. Affen breeders may even wait until 12 weeks to give your puppy to you. By this time, the puppy should be socialized and housetrained as well. Expect to pay between $800-$1200 for a purebred Affen.
It is sometimes difficult to evaluate the temperament of a puppy because traits like aggression and other behavioral tendencies may not be evident immediately. Always ask to meet the potential puppy’s mother (dam). If the dam is of good temperament, then chances are that the pup will turn out alright too. The original function of the Affen was as a vermin catcher. Later they started being kept as household pets to keep mice away. So, with proper early training, the Affen can make a great working dog.
Going for long walks or sitting with the family watching TV; Affens thrive on all kinds of human interactions. They generally do well with kids but children under 4 years of age who may not respect the Affen’s need for space or rest are best kept away from them. These dogs are also known to be dog-aggressive and may react to provocation.
Affens adjust well to the city life and do well with a moderately active owner who is firm and knows what he/she is doing. This is a very intelligent dog that can get bored with repetitions. So ensure using training methods that hold your dog’s attention. Traditional dominance-based training does not work well with the Affen; he does better with rewards, praise, food, and play. Make your dog feel like training is play-time.
Too much exercise can injure your young Affen. So keep exercise very light and do not make your puppy jump from a height. Once your pet is older, you can take him out for walks twice a day. This breed needs moderate exercise which, apart from twice-daily walks, can also include playing fetch with the kids, hiking, etc. You can also teach your Affen simple chores around the house like bringing or carrying small objects, newspaper, etc.
Grooming your Affenpinscher does not take too much time. Their coat is hard, terrier-like, and doesn’t become easily matted or tangled. Brush your dog twice a week and comb out the furnishings on its legs. Trim your pet’s nails regularly; you can use nail clippers for the job. Clean your Affen’s outer ears with soft-cotton wipes. Toy breeds like the Affen are known to have many dental issues. So clean your pet’s teeth 2-3 times a week. If your senior Affen starts showing poor appetite, broken or missing teeth, then a dental exam may be due.
Health concerns in Affenpinschers
Like many other toy breeds, Affens are prone to patellar luxation. Another genetic disease that affects small breeds is Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. One of the more serious issues in the Affenpinscher is the keratoconjunctivitis sicca or dry eye. It affects older dogs and the symptoms come on suddenly. Unfortunately, your dog cannot tell what is bothering him, so keep an eye out. If you notice the eyes looking dull, with encrusted mucus around it, take him to the vet immediately. If left untreated, the affected Affenpinscher may even develop eye ulcers or infections and injuries that could cause permanent blindness. With regular health checks, good food, and moderate daily exercise, your Affenpinscher can live between 12-16 years.