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Characteristics, History, and Health


The Affenpinscher is a small toy breed that originated in Germany, dating back to the 17th century. They were originally bred to be rat catchers in homes and stables, making them skilled hunters. The name "Affenpinscher" translates to "monkey-like terrier" in German, referring to their distinctive facial features resembling that of a monkey.

Main Info
Alternate Names
Affen, Monkey Dog, Ape Terrier
Life Expectancy
12-15 years
Average Male Height
9.5-11.5 inches
Average Female Height
9.5-11.5 inches
Average Male Weight
7-10 pounds
Average Female Weight
7-9 pounds
Coat Length
Coat Type
Coat Colors
Belge, Black, Black & Silver, Black & Tan, Red
Coat Pattern
Black Mask

Genetic Predispositions and Health

Affenpinschers may suffer from eye conditions including cataracts, distichiasis, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, corneal dystrophy, persistent pupillary membranes, progressive retinal atrophy, and retinal dysplasia. They may also be affected by the skin conditions atopic dermatitis and recurrent flank alopecia. Other conditions for which they can be at risk for include cryptorchidism, dermoid cysts, elongated soft palate, cleft lip/palate, hypothyroidism, Legg–Calve–Perthes disease, oligodontia, open fontanel, patent ductus arteriosus, polydontia (retained primary teeth), and tracheal collapse. Like many other breeds they can also be prone to hip and elbow dysplasia and patellar luxation.

Personality and Behavior

Affenpinschers are known for their lively, adventurous, and willful temperament. They are typically alert, loyal, and curious, making them excellent watchdogs despite their small size. They often get along well with other dogs, especially when socialized from a young age. However, they tend to not do well with smaller rodent pets such as hamsters or ferrets, due to their history as ratters.

With their high levels of intelligence and energy, Affenpinschers need regular mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom and associated behavior issues. They are known for their love of play and their loyal nature, often forming strong bonds with their human companions. While they can be somewhat reserved with strangers, they are generally sociable and can get along with children. However, due to their tendency to be assertive in nature, supervision is recommended when they are interacting with very young children.

Fun Facts

According to the AKC, the writer Desmond Morris shared a story about an Affenpinscher he saw during a trip he took to Alaska. Apparently, this dog displayed its "ratter" qualities of fearlessness and confidence when it chased off a large Grizzly Bear.

Affenpinschers were popular among the European nobility in the 17th and 18th centuries and were often used as lapdogs by women of the court.

The breed became almost extinct during World War II, but dedicated breeders managed to revive the population after the war.

Affenpinschers have a distinctive expression with a prominent jaw and bushy eyebrows, giving them a comical, monkey-like appearance.

Due to their small size and sturdy build, they are sometimes referred to as the "mustachioed little devil" or "little black devil."


DOI: 10.1002/9781119540687

Palika, L. (2008). The Howell Book of Dogs: The Definitive Reference to 300 Breeds and Varieties. Wiley Publishing Inc.

Fogle, B. (2009). The Encyclopedia of the Dog. DK Publishing.

American Kennel Club. (2021). Affenpinscher Dog Breed Information.

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