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German Pinschers: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

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

German Pinscher dog breed

The German Pinscher Club of America calls this breed "energetic, watchful, agile, fearless, determined."

I would 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 the leader, he can be demanding and frequently in your face. This is not a good breed for first-time owners or for any owner who tends 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.

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.

More traits and characteristics of the German Pinscher

If I was considering a German Pinscher, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. German Pinschers are active go-getters. They need 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. Keep your German Pinscher happy and healthy by getting involved in agility (obstacle course for dogs), or advanced obedience classes.

  2. 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.

    If you have small children, you should be aware that many German Pinschers don't tolerate any nonsense and are quick to react to teasing. Or even clumsiness such as accidental squeezing of their ears or stepping on their paw. Many German Pinschers are possessive of their food and toys and will defend these from all comers.

  3. Potential animal aggression. German Pinschers were developed to hunt and kill smaller 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.
  4. The strong temperament. German Pinschers, though very intelligent, have an independent mind of their own and are not pushovers to raise and train. 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. Read more about German Pinscher Training.
  5. Barking. German Pinschers make keen watchdogs....which means they're very quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound. This can easily become nuisance barking.
  6. Finding one. In the United States, German Pinschers are hard to find. A waiting list and a high price tag should be expected.

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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