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Honest FAQ: Affenpinscher

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books


With only about two hundred puppies registered each year, difficult births, and tiny litters, well-bred Affenpinschers can be difficult to find. Expect a waiting list.

What kind of temperament and personality does the Affenpinscher have?

The most descriptive words that come to my mind regarding Affenpinscher temperament and behavior are: spunky, alert, inquisitive, loyal, full of character... and obstinate.

I give you my honest opinions about Affenpinscher temperament and personality traits and characteristics – positives AND negatives – in my dog breed review, Affenpinscher Temperament and Personality Traits (What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em).

How do you pronounce Affenpinscher?

AFF-en-pin-sher. Affen  is German for monkey (because of the breed's bewhiskered face and large eyes). Pinscher  is German for a terrier/biter type of dog. Affens are also related to schnauzers.

What were Affenpinschers used for?

Affenpinschers were watchdogs who also rid barns and other outbuildings of mice.

What traits would help Affenpinschers accomplish their work? That's right... keen senses, quick to bark, territorial instincts, spunkiness, strong chasing instincts. Just so you know!

How big are Affenpinschers? Height and weight?

About 9-12 inches at the shoulder, and 7-9 pounds, which puts them in the TINY category. However, some Affens are so sturdy they seem more like SMALL dogs than TINY.

What colors do Affenpinschers come in?

Most Affenpinschers are black. In some countries, they must  be black, while in North America they can also be black and silver, black and tan, red, and belge  (a mixture of red/black/white).

How much exercise do Affenpinschers need?

Just a few walks, plus games of fetch if you can encourage your Affen to play. Many of them will play for at least a little bit before losing interest. Set up a miniature obstacle course and run around it with him, coaxing, encouraging, and rewarding.

Do Affenpinschers need a fenced yard?

Yes. Why? and best and worst fences.

Are Affenpinschers easy to train?

Not particularly, no. With their terrier heritage, Affenpinschers do have a mind of their own. However, compared to true terriers, Affens are more willing to work with you. But you must be a firm owner who can establish a healthy leader-follower relationship with this clever little dog.

Are Affenpinschers easy to housebreak?

Again, not really. All toy breeds are harder to housebreak for two reasons: (1) their internal organs are miniaturized and slow to develop; and (2) owners let them loose in the house far too early, they start "going" behind the sofa, and the bad habit is established. Sadly, the vast majority of non-housebroken dogs are made that way by their owner.

Are Affenpinschers friendly with people?

With their beloved family, sure! These loyal dogs love their family, though they often prefer to be in the same room with you, but not necessarily on your lap.

With strangers, Affenpinschers are usually standoffish, and may even be suspicious, which can lead to excessive barking and even threatening behavior. You need to stop this the moment it starts.

Are Affenpinschers good with children?

I don't recommend Affenpinschers for children younger than about age 10. This proud little breed can be a bit high-strung and defensive around very young children.

Are Affenpinschers good with other dogs?

Affenpinschers tend to prefer their own breed, but they're usually fine with other dogs in their own family. Affenpinschers often dislike dogs they don't know, and may pitch a fit when they see one. This kind of nonsense needs to be stopped immediately.

Are Affenpinschers good with cats?

They're usually fine with cats in their own family. But they have excitable chasing instincts, so don't keep one with pet rodents or rabbits. Some Affens will even stalk birds.

How much do Affenpinschers shed?

Affenpinschers are average shedders. Their coarse coat sheds moderately in the spring and fall, and occasionally a tiny bit of hair the rest of the year.

Are Affenpinschers hypoallergenic? Good for people with allergies?

If you're allergic to dog dander, no. If you're allergic to canine saliva, no. Affenspinschers are not hypoallergenic dogs.

How much grooming do Affenpinschers need?

Just moderate brushing once a week, making sure to get out any mats under their "arms" and keeping the hair around their private parts trimmed or clipped short for sanitary toileting.

What's a good training schedule for training Affenpinscher puppies?

Here's the puppy training schedule I use for Affenpinschers: Puppy Training Schedule.

What behavior problems do Affenpinschers tend to have?

Most commonly I see excitability, darting around on the leash, and excessive barking. Also pugnaciousness toward strange dogs, and sometimes suspiciousness toward strangers. Here's how to handle behavior problems.

What health problems might Affenpinschers have?

Loose "knee" joints (called luxating patella) on their hind legs is the most common serious problem that can occur. Also eye diseases such as cataracts, dental disease, and itchy skin/allergies.

What breeds are similar to an Affenpinscher?

I might say the Brussels Griffon, which was actually created from a blending of Affenpinschers, Pugs, and English Toy Spaniels.

With those pug and spaniel genes, the Brussels Griffon has a flatter face than the Affen, and thus more health issues, especially respiratory issues. I also find the Brussels Griffon to be a bit harder to train than the Affenpinscher.

Where can I buy an Affenpinscher puppy?

Affenpinschers are uncommon in the United States, perhaps because they look rather plain, even scruffy. I find that look appealing, but many people aren't impressed.

Because the breed is uncommon, reputable Affenpinscher breeders can be hard to find. Expect a waiting list. Read more.

Where can I adopt an older Affenpinscher?

Not many Affenpinschers are turned over to Rescue groups, because not many people own them in the first place. Also Affens are not that difficult to live with, so fewer owners tend to give up on them.

For the same reasons, Affenpinschers are rarely found in Animal Shelters or Humane Societies.

I just got a new Affenpinscher. Which pages should I read first?

  • Affenpinscher Health, which includes my advice on feeding, vaccinations, and daily health care. These pages are very important, because if you start your Affenpinscher puppy off on the wrong foot, he will probably experience health problems later on. Starting off right is essential.
  • Training Affenpinschers, which includes my advice on respect training, housebreaking, and socialization. Again, you must start your Affenpinscher puppy off on the right foot by teaching him what he needs to know, and you must avoid doing the wrong things with him so that he doesn't develop bad habits that will be much harder to fix later on.

Do male dogs or female dogs make better pets?

Ah, let the debate begin! Honestly, male Affenpinschers have pros and cons, and female Affenpinschers have pros and cons. Visit Male Dogs versus Female Dogs

There's an adorable Affenpinscher puppy at the pet shop. The store manager assures me they only buy from responsible breeders. Could this be true?

No. There are no responsible Affenpinscher breeders who would ever place one of their Affenpinscher puppies in a pet shop for resale. To find out more about pet shop puppies, visit Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store.

How do I pick the best Affenpinscher puppy from a litter?

You can do puppy personality tests. Visit How To Choose a Good Puppy.

What's the best dog food for Affenpinschers?

3 Best Ways To Feed Your Dog Healthy Food.

I have to take my Affenpinscher to the vet soon for shots. Which vaccinations does he really need?

The schedule of vaccinations that dogs really need has changed dramatically – but unfortunately most vets are not telling you this, because a good chunk of their income depends on frequent vaccinations. Please don't get any more shots for your Affenpinscher until you've read my article on Puppy Shots and Dog Vaccinations.

What are the pros and cons of spaying and neutering my Affenpinscher, and when should it be done?

Spaying and neutering are often recommended too early, which can lead to health problems later in life. Visit Spaying Your Female Dog or Neutering Your Male Dog for the straight scoop on the safest (and riskiest) times to spay or neuter.

I have a question about Affenpinschers that I don't see answered on your web site.

It's probably answered in one of my free online books.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

My best-selling books – now available  FREE  on my website

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