Affenpinschers: the most honest dog breed review you'll ever find about Affenpinscher temperament, personality, and behavior.

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Affenpinscher dog breed

Affenpinscher Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Affenpinscher Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2017


The "toy-terrier" Affenpinscher is spunkier than most other toy breeds. Somewhat high-strung, he tends to tremble when excited. If he perceives an invasion of his space by an approaching stranger or strange dog, he will try to appear intimidating by becoming raucous and blustery.

It might look comical, but if not nipped in the bud, an Affenpinscher may maintain his suspicious attitude even after a guest has been welcomed in. Socialization is very important with this breed to keep him under control.

The Affenpinscher adores his family and is fine with other family pets, especially when raised with them.

In the home, he is an inquisitive busybody who must check out new sights and sounds. His playful antics are delightfully entertaining as he bats toys around with his agile paws.

Affenpinschers do have a mind of their own, and without a firm hand can be obstinate and demanding, tossing tantrums or sulking when they don't get their own way.

It might make you laugh, but spoiling is not recommended for this breed, especially since he is so bright and does respond well to calm, patient training.

Like most terrier-type dogs, the Affenpinscher is proud and sensitive and does not take kindly to being teased. This breed is happiest in a home without young children.


If you want a dog who...

  • Is small, easy to carry, and doesn't take up much space
  • Looks like a wiry-coated terrier
  • Is spunkier than most toys (his terrier background)
  • Takes himself very seriously (which can be amusing to watch)
  • Makes a keen watchdog
  • Doesn't need a lot of exercise

An Affenpinscher may be right for you.


If you don't want to deal with...

  • The fragility of toy breeds (see below)
  • Suspiciousness toward strangers and strange dogs
  • Stubbornness (a mind of his own)
  • Regular brushing and trimming of the rough wiry coat
  • Housebreaking difficulties
  • Barking
  • Waiting lists (hard to find)

An Affenpinscher may not be right for you.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

  • You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult Affenpinschers have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
  • If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
  • Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your Affenpinscher to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.

More traits and characteristics of the Affenpinscher

If I was considering an Affenpinscher, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Fragility. Too many people acquire a toy breed puppy without understanding how incredibly fragile a toy breed is. You can seriously injure or kill an Affenpinscher puppy by stepping on him or sitting on him. And Affenpinschers can seriously injure or kill themselves by leaping from your arms or off the back of your sofa. A larger dog can grab an Affenpinscher and break his neck with one quick shake. Owning a toy breed means constant supervision and surveillance of what's going on around your tiny dog. Affenpinschers must always be kept indoors, in a safely fenced yard, or on-leash. They are just too easy to injure when not under your complete control.
  2. Potential suspiciousness. Many Affenpinschers will put on a display of excited ferociousness (in other words, they pitch a fit) when other people or animals approach them or anything they consider "theirs". It sounds funny, but isn't. Without careful socialization, an Affenspinscher may be suspicious of everyone.
  3. Housebreaking. Toy breeds are almost always difficult to housebreak. It is so easy for them to sneak behind a chair or under a small table, and it takes only a few seconds for the deed to be done. The results can be hard to see. When you don't see it, you don't correct it – and so the bad habit becomes established. If you hope to housebreak a toy breed, consistent crate training is mandatory. Toy breeds should not be loosed in the house for many months, until their small internal organs become strong enough for reliable control.
  4. Stubbornness and barking. Affenpinschers have a mind of their own and will make you prove that you can make them do things. For example, they are often too quick to sound the alarm, so you must teach them not to bark excessively and to stop barkingwhen you tell them to. This only works if you establish the right relationship between you and your Affen, where you are the leader and he is the follower. You accomplish this through Respect Training.
  5. Grooming. To keep their wiry coat free of mats, Affenpinschers require regular brushing, and also clipping and trimming every few months.
  6. Potential health problems. Most Affenpinschers live a good long life, but they are vulnerable to a devastating neurological disease called syringomyelia. They may also suffer from chronic allergies and itchy skin, as well as knee joint problems that can require expensive surgery. Read more about Affenpinscher Health.
  7. Finding one. In the United States, only a few hundred Affenpinscher puppies are registered each year. This means you will probably need to get on a waiting list. Also their rarity means a small gene pool, which means inbreeding levels can be high. A higher inbreeding level increases the risk of many health problems.

To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

book cover My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.

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