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Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > Affenpinscher Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More

Affenpinscher Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More


The Affenpinscher was initially created as an expert ratter in homes and on farms and was a fair bit bigger than they are today. Nowadays, they are loyal, loving, albeit feisty family pets with a distinctly mischievous streak. In honor of this, they are also commonly known as the “monkey dog,” a nod to their comical antics. They are small in size but plentiful in personality and spunk, with a courageous and fearless nature that can get them into all kinds of trouble at times!

Breed Overview


9.5 – 11.5 inches


 7 – 9 pounds


12 – 14 years


Black, grey, tan, silver, red, beige

Suitable for:

Apartment living, active families, non-experienced owners


Playful, active, curious, bold, feisty, alert, affectionate, loyal

Their other moniker, “mustached little devil,” says almost all there is to say about these dogs, but their apparent devilishness is more comical than it is problematic, and their serious nature makes them all the more hilarious. They are easy-to-love dogs, and if you bring one of these personality-filled dogs home, they will swiftly win your heart.

If you’d like to find out more about the spunky little Affenpinscher, read on for our complete guide!

Affenpinscher Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Affenpinscher Puppies

Image By: Sbolotova, Shutterstock

Before bringing home an Affenpinscher puppy, it’s important to note that these dogs become fairly attached to their owners and will need a great deal of time, attention, and dedication to look after. They can be fiery little dogs at times, courageous to a fault, and have a strong instinct to hunt down anything smaller than them. These dogs are full of personality, and if you’re looking for a docile lapdog, the Affenpinscher is not it!

That said, they are great beginner dogs because they are fairly easy to train, although independent and stubborn at times, and their small size makes them highly adaptable to any environment and easy to look after.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Affenpinscher

The Affenpinscher can be described as affectionate yet independent, sweet yet sensitive, and charming yet mischievous. They are dogs that can have you in stitches laughing one minute and frustrated the next, although their sweet, bearded face will always have the upper hand in the end. They are quiet dogs in general but can get excited and fired up at a moment’s notice, exhibiting an incredible enthusiasm and lust for life.

The most well-known personality trait of these dogs is their amazing fearlessness. While it’s true that most small dogs possess an uncanny lack of size awareness when it comes to protecting their family, the Affenpinscher takes it to another level. Indeed, these courageous dogs will likely take on a bear if the need arises! Combined with this bravery is a surprising athleticism and dexterity, and you’ll be amazed how well this tiny pooch can handle themselves in games and activities.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

While Affenpinschers are generally friendly and social animals, they are not recommended for households with young children. They do not enjoy being around high-energy children or being teased or handled roughly, and they are known to nip at small kids who do not handle them properly. They are not aggressive, however, and will tolerate older children that can respect their boundaries.

affenpinscher dog breed on a leash
Image By: Blick, Shutterstock

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

With the Affenpinscher’s ratting history, your pet gerbils, hamsters, or rats are not safe under the same roof as an Affenpinscher. They may not be used much for their original purpose anymore, but the instinct still lies deep within their genetics, and they may not be able to resist, even with sound training. That said, they are generally friendly and gentle toward cats and other dogs and can happily live in a multi-dog household.


Things to Know When Owning an Affenpinscher

In terms of diet, grooming, and training, the Affenpinscher is not a difficult dog to own. If they have all their basic needs met, they will live long, happy, and healthy lives and bring you an abundance of joy in the process. However, like all breeds, they have particular details that need attention, which may be slightly different than those of other breeds.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

With such a small stature comes a small appetite, and these pint-sized pooches don’t require much food to sustain them: ½ cup of dry food a day split into two meals is plenty. Of course, they’ll still need high-quality food that provides them with all their nutritional requirements — namely, a good source of animal-based protein. They should be fed age-appropriate foods, as small dogs like Affenpinschers mature quicker than larger breeds and need more nutrient-dense food during these rapid growth stages.

Small dogs have a higher chance of becoming overweight, and even a small change in their diet can have large consequences. Pick up any food that they leave behind after 15-20 minutes, and go easy on the treats, no matter how pleadingly that mustached face looks at you! Make sure their food has an animal source as the first listed ingredient, and ensure that the food is free from filler ingredients like wheat, corn, and soy.

Affenpinscher dogs_Shutterstock_katamount
Image By: katamount, Shutterstock

Exercise 🐕

These dogs have a surprising amount of energy for their small size, and luckily, they have the enthusiasm to match, making it easy to convince them to go for their daily walk or run. They’ll need at least 30-60 minutes a day of concentrated exercise to avoid excessive weight gain and to keep them healthy and happy overall. They are playful animals too and will love playing fetch in the backyard, playing with toys, and going on mellow walks through the park, sniffing at every new scent. Be sure to keep them on a leash, though, as a squirrel is sure to send them into hunting mode!

Training 🎾

Affenpinschers are intelligent, loyal dogs, but they do have a feisty, independent streak that can sometimes make training a challenge. Firm training from an early age is essential, as well as proper socialization. They are eager to please, though, and using treats and positive reinforcement training usually makes the process fairly easy. We recommend giving training sessions after exercise — a tired dog is a well-behaved dog. If these dogs are too excited, your command training may go over their head. Their powerful prey instincts can also easily distract them, so it’s a good idea to get them to release some energy beforehand.

Grooming ✂️

Grooming an Affenpinscher is a breeze. These dogs don’t shed much and have a wiry coat that doesn’t knot or matt easily. They should still be brushed regularly, however; once or twice a week is usually sufficient. Their long beards and facial hair can sometimes get in the way of their eyes and cause a mess when eating and drinking, so you may want to keep this area short and trim. Their coat grows slowly, though, so this will only need to be done once every few months.

Other than that, you’ll need to keep their nails trimmed and brush their teeth regularly to avoid plaque build-up and dental decay. Only bathe them when it’s absolutely necessary. Too much bathing can strip their coat of its natural oils and potentially cause skin issues later.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Affenpinschers are healthy pooches overall, with few genetic health problems, but like all breeds, they are still prone to general health issues. Of course, not all Affenpinschers will get these diseases — some will live happy, healthy, disease-free lives — but it’s important to be aware of them nonetheless.

Patellar Luxation. A fairly common problem in small dog breeds, patellar luxation is characterized by the misalignment of the patella bone, causing lameness in the leg. This can lead to other complications in the future, like arthritis, and usually requires careful management or surgery.

Hip Dysplasia. More common among large breeds, hip dysplasia is an inherited condition of the hip joint, causing pain or lameness in the leg. Careful screening usually stops dogs with this condition from being bred, but it does still occur because it can also be triggered by environmental factors, such as rapid weight gain.

Affenpinschers are also prone to several eye issues, such as cataracts, and their flat face may potentially cause breathing problems, especially when they overexert in hot temperatures.

Minor Conditions
  • Cataracts
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Skin problems
Serious Conditions
  • Patellar luxation
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Heart anomalies
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease
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Male vs. Female

The final choice to make when bringing home an Affenpinscher is whether to get a male or female. It’s important to note that while sex may have a small part to play, your dog’s temperament is largely a result of their environment, how they were raised, and their breed. Both males and females tend to be fairly territorial, and both have the characteristic fearlessness and loyalty that define the breed.

In general, males tend to be more easy-going and laidback than females, and females have a more independent streak, being far happier to do their own thing.

No matter which you choose, we highly recommend spaying and neutering your pooch. This will avoid wandering males and unwanted pregnancy in females.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Affenpinscher

1. Affenpinschers are not Terriers

Although often confused as such, Affenpinschers are not classed within the Terrier group. They are Pinschers, along with Dobermans. You’d be forgiven for mistaking these fiery little dogs for Terriers, though, as they have a similar disposition and temperament.

2. They are the ancestors of popular breeds

The Affenpinscher was one of the breeds used to create both the Brussels Griffon and Miniature Schnauzer, and you can see the resemblance! This is especially apparent with the Schnauzer’s bushy beard, a trait shared with the Affenpinscher.

3. They are most commonly black

Black is the most commonly found color of the Affenpinscher, and this is the stereotypical image portrayed of these little pooches. However, they can be found in several other colors too, albeit more rarely, including silver, brown, red, grey, and a “salt and pepper” mix of black, grey, and white.


Final Thoughts

The fiery, enthusiastic, and endlessly entertaining Affenpinscher is a small pooch with a large personality. They are loyal, adaptable dogs that can happily live in apartments if needed, as long as they are close to their owner. They do not require much exercise, are generally easy to train, and don’t cost much to feed, making them a great choice for a novice owner. They can be great family pooches, although they don’t do well with very young kids and have a tendency to snap if they feel annoyed. They are exceedingly loving and loyal animals, though, and can make great pets in families with older children.

If you are looking for a small, easy-to-care-for pooch with plenty of spunky character and personality, the Affenpinscher is a wonderful choice!

Featured Image Credit: Didkovska Ilona, Shutterstock

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