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Affenpinschers: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Affenpinscher temperament, personality, training, behavior, pros and cons, advice, and information, by Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Affenpinscher dog breed

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.

  • 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.

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.

Books by Michele Welton

dog icon"Respect Training for Puppies"  (or "Respect Training for Adult Dogs" ) is a step by step guide to help you bring out the best in your pup so you can enjoy a calm and well-behaved dog, no matter what his age. Get your book today.

dog icon"11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy"  is a comprehensive guide to keeping your dog mentally, physically, and emotionally happy and healthy so you can enjoy a longer lifetime of companionship. A healthy dog is a happy dog, so buy your copy today.

dog paw

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.

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.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.

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