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 © 2000-2018
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.
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.
- 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 German Pinschers 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. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
- Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your German Pinscher to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Finding one. In the United States, German Pinschers are hard to find. A waiting list and a high price tag should be expected.
To help you train and care for your dog
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.
To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.