German Pinscher Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
German Pinscher Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2016
The German Pinscher Club of America calls him "energetic, watchful, agile, fearless, determined."
One might add "strong-willed, assertive, and manipulative."
Both robust and elegant, the German Pinscher comes from a strong terrier background. This high-energy breed always seems to be observing, thinking, and planning. He makes direct eye contact, and unless you establish yourself as alpha (number one), he can be demanding and frequently in your face. This is not a good breed for dog owners who tend to be passive or permissive.
Yet the German Pinscher is extremely smart and clever, and owners who know how to lead will find him eminently trainable.
Very loyal, highly territorial, and keenly alert, the German Pinscher takes his watchdog role very seriously. He won't hesitate to back up his fierce bark with a bite. Early and frequent socialization is required so that his wariness does not become sharpness. This is a serious responsibility that dog owners assume when they choose a German Pinscher.
Most German Pinschers are okay (though bossy) with other dogs IF raised with them, but this breed has a high prey drive and quick reflexes and is death on anything that runs.
The German Pinscher can be overly possessive of objects (yours and his), and excessive barking can be a problem.
If you want a dog who...
- Is conveniently-sized, athletic, agile, and quick-moving
- Looks like a medium-sized Doberman Pinscher
- Has a sleek easy-care coat
- Thrives on vigorous athletic activities
- Looks imposing and makes a keen watchdog
A German Pinscher may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Vigorous exercise requirements
- Rowdiness and exuberant jumping, especially when young
- Destructiveness when bored or not exercised enough
- Excessive suspiciousness toward strangers, which can shade into aggression
- Aggression toward other animals
- Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
- Potential for excessive barking
A German Pinscher may not be right for you.
- choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
- 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
- training your dog to respect you
- 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 German Pinscher
If I was considering a German Pinscher, I would be most concerned about...
- Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. German Pinschers are active go-getters. They MUST have regular opportunities to vent their energy and to use their busy minds to do interesting things. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored -- which they usually express by barking and destructive chewing. This breed is too smart to simply sit in the backyard or hang around the house doing nothing.
I strongly recommend getting your German Pinscher involved in agility (obstacle course), or advanced obedience, or tracking, or a similar canine activity.
- Providing enough socialization. Most German Pinschers have protective instincts toward strangers. They need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of "good guys." Then they can recognize the difference when someone acts abnormally. Without careful socialization, they may be suspicious of everyone, which could lead to biting. Some German Pinschers go in the opposite direction -- without enough socialization, they become fearful of strangers, which can lead to defensive biting.
In this day and age, the legal liabilities of owning any breed that looks intimidating, has a history as a guardian dog, and reminds people of a Doberman Pinscher should be seriously considered. People are quicker to sue if such a dog does anything even remotely questionable.
- Animal aggression. German Pinschers were developed to hunt other animals. Many German Pinschers are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex. Many have strong instincts to chase and seize cats and other fleeing creatures.
- The strong temperament. German Pinschers, though very intelligent, have an independent mind of their own and are not pushovers to raise and train. They can be manipulative, and many 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, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.
If you have small children, I do not recommend a German Pinscher. The temptation to play roughly is strong in many German Pinschers. Many don't tolerate any nonsense from little life forms whom they consider to be below themselves in importance. Many are quick to react to teasing, and even to the normal clumsiness that comes with small children (accidental squeezing of their ears or pulling of whiskers or stepping on their paw). Many are possessive of their food and toys and will defend these from all comers, including children.
- Barking. German Pinschers are often too quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound. You have to be equally quick to stop them. If you work all day and have close neighbors, German Pinschers are not a good choice for you. For the same reason, German Pinschers should NEVER be left outside in your yard, unsupervised.
- Finding one. In the United States, German Pinschers are hard to find.
To learn more about training German Pinschers to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your German Pinscher the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.
Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy German Pinscher. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.
If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the German Pinscher might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.
Once you have your German Pinscher home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.
Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.
Please consider adopting an ADULT German Pinscher...
When you're acquiring a German Pinscher PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.
But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult German Pinschers who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!
Save a life. Adopt a dog.
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Copyright © 2000-2016 by Michele Welton. All rights reserved.
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