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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 © 2000-2014

2014 Westminster Dog Show Winner

This inquisitive toy terrier is often described as comically serious. Certainly he is spunkier and more spirited than most toys.

The Affenpinscher is a busybody who dashes around checking out new sights and sounds. His playful antics are delightfully entertaining as he clutches toys with his agile paws.

An extremely keen watchdog, the Affenpinscher may maintain his suspicious attitude even after a guest has been welcomed in.

Most are fine with other family pets, especially when raised with them, but Affenpinschers are somewhat high-strung, tend to tremble when excited, and if they perceive an invasion of their space by an approaching stranger or strange dog, they can become raucous and blustery.

Affenpinschers 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.

Spoiling is not recommended for this breed, especially since he is so bright and does respond well to calm, patient training.

Like most terrier types, the Affenpinscher is proud and sensitive and does not take kindly to being teased.


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.

But you can avoid or minimize some negative traits by
  1. choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
  2. or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
  3. training your dog to respect you
  4. avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 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 by stepping on him or by sitting on him when he's curled under a blanket or pillow, where he frequently likes to sleep. 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.

    Affenpinscher puppies are NOT suited to small children, no matter how well-meaning the child. Children cannot help being clumsy, and that a child meant well is little solace to an Affenpinscher puppy who has been accidentally stepped on, sat on, rolled on, squeezed, or dropped onto the patio. Even Affenpinscher adults may feel overwhelmed by the loud voices and quick movements that children can't help making -- and stress and shyness (even defensive biting) may be the result.

  2. 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. Grooming. To keep their wiry coat free of mats, Affenpinschers require regular brushing, and also clipping and trimming every few months.
  4. 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.
  5. Finding a healthy one and keeping him healthy. Most Affenpinschers live a good long life, but they are one of the few breeds vulnerable to a devastating neurological disease called syringomyelia. They can also suffer from chronic allergies and itchy skin conditions, as well as knee joint problems that can require expensive surgery. Other health problems in Affenpinschers include heart disease, and a severe form of cataracts. To avoid these problems, buy your Affenpinscher from the right breeder. And once you have your puppy home, you need to keep him healthy, starting with feeding the best foods.
  6. Finding one. In the United States, only about 200 new Affenpinscher puppies are registered each year. (Compare that to over 60,000 new Golden Retriever puppies.) 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. Most breeders don't even know the true inbreeding levels of their litters, but in my dog buying book, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, I'll tell you how to sniff out high inbreeding levels so you can avoid them.
  7. Stubbornness. Affenpinschers have an independent mind of their own. Some Affenpinschers are willful, obstinate, and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them that you mean what you say. You accomplish this through Respect Training.
  8. Barking. Affenpinschers are often too quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound. You must teach them not to bark excessively and to stop barking immediately when you tell them to. But this only works if you establish the right relationship between you and your Affen, where you are the leader and he is the follower.

    In other words, you must teach your Affenpinscher to respect you. A dog who respects you will do what you say and will stop what he's doing when you tell him "No."

    My book Teach Your Dog 100 English Words, gives you a unique vocabulary to use with your dog AND teaches my Respect Training Program. Your dog will look at you when you speak and do what you say. Not just when he's hungry for a treat or feels like it. But all the time. Because he respects you.

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