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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.


Dog Breed Traits – Which Traits Are Right For You?

In this brand new series, I'll help you decide which dog breed traits would best suit you and your family, your home and yard, and your lifestyle, so you can choose the best dog breed for your family.

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.

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dog icon"Respect Training for Puppies"  and "Teach Your Dog 100 English Words"  are free step by step guides to teaching your pup to be calm and well-behaved.

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  • 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.

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 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. Follow my free online training program.
  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.

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

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy is for puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know. Click here to read for free.
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. Click here to read for free.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life. Get my honest advice about all 11 Things before you bring home your new puppy, because some mistakes with early health care cannot be undone. Click here to read for free.

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