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The Miniature Pinscher

Nicole Cosgrove

miniature pinscher standing on tire

The Miniature Pinscher is a small purebred from Germany known for its talents in competitive obedience and agility events. It is not a small Doberman though there is a very similar appearance between the two, but in fact an old and distinct breed of its own. Because of its noble looks and confidence it has been known as the King of Toy breeds. It is a fearless and lively dog and has a great deal of curiosity.

Here is the Miniature Pinscher at a Glance
Name Miniature Pinscher
Other Names Reh Pinscher and Zwergpinsc, Zwergpinscher
Nicknames Min Pin, King of The Toys
Origin Germany
Average size Small
Average weight 8 to 10 pounds
Average height 10 to 13 inches
Life span 12 to 14 years
Coat type Short, hard, smooth, sleek
Hypoallergenic No
Color Brown, black and red
Popularity Somewhat popular – ranked 64 by the AKC
Intelligence Above average
Tolerance to heat Good – can handle some warm weather but very hot or extreme
Tolerance to cold Low – not good in any kind of cold weather, care to be taken
Shedding Average – will be loose hair on clothing and furnishing
Drooling Low – this breed is not known for lots of drool or slobber
Obesity Very high – prone to overeating and gaining weight, watch food and exercise
Grooming/brushing Easy to groom but needs brushing daily or every other day
Barking Frequent – training will be needed to control it, and this may be a factor to consider if you live in an apartment
Exercise needs Fairly active but being small this is easy to meet
Trainability Moderately hard – housebreaking in particular can be hard
Friendliness Good with socialization
Good first dog Good but better with experienced owner as it has a strong will
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Good but needs socialization
Good with other dogs Moderate – thinks it is larger than it is and will challenge other dogs, socialization is essential
Good with other pets Good with socialization
Good with strangers Good with socialization
Good apartment dog Excellent due to size but its frequent barking may cause problems
Handles alone time well Moderate – does not like being alone for long periods
Health issues General health is good but some issues include eye problems, patellar luxation and epilepsy
Medical expenses $435 a year for basic care and pet insurance
Food expenses $75 a year for treats and good quality dry dog food
Miscellaneous expenses $195 a year for training, license, miscellaneous costs and toys
Average annual expense $705 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $650
Biting Statistics Attacks doing bodily harm: 1 Maimings: 1 Child victims: 1 Deaths: 0

The Miniature Pinscher’s Beginnings

The Miniature Pinscher is a German dog breed and in fact it is believed to be a very old breed but there is not documentation or mention of them until a couple of hundred years ago. It was bred to be a ratter and was used as such in stables and homes. It was developed using the Italian Greyhound, the shorthaired German Pinscher and the Dachshund and not from breeding Doberman smaller. That misconception started because in the US the Doberman Pinscher was introduced before the Miniature Pinscher, despite it being very likely the small dog is older than the larger.

In Germany when it was bred it was called Reh Pinscher after a small deer called the reh that lived once in the forests in Germany. In the late 1800s further development of the breed really took off and German breeders formed a breed club called the Pinscher Klub and then the Pinscher-Schnauzer Klub. The first breed standard for the Min Pin was written then and they began to enter dog shows in the 1900s. At this time apart from in Germany it was not a well known breed. In Germany up to the first world war it grew in popularity and after the war breeders in Scandinavia and Germany worked on improving lines.

New Lease on Life

In 1919 the first Min Pins were imported to the US and shown in dog shows. It was called Pinscher and the AKC’s description of referring to it as appearing like a Doberman led to the incorrect belief it was a miniature doberman pinscher. In 1929 the AKC recognized the breed and the Miniature Pinscher Club of America was formed. Until 1972 it was called Pinscher (toy) there, when it was then changed to Miniature Pinscher. Today they are ranked 64th most popular registered dog by the AKC.

The Dog You See Today

The Min Pin is a small dog weighing just 8 to 10 pounds and standing 10 to 13 inches tall. It is a compact dog with a short, hard, smooth coat that lies close to its body and comes in common colors of black, brown and red. It does not have an undercoat. It has straight front legs and in places where it still happened the dewclaws are removed. The feet are almost like a cat’s. Its tail is cropped in countries where that practice is still allowed but in ones where it is now against the law, the tail is left natural.

Its head is in proportion to its body and is flat. It has a muzzle also in proportion to its head. It has oval shaped dark eyes and high set ears. Those ears are cropped in places where it is still allowed but in some places, especially Europe this is no longer allowed so they are natural.

The Inner Miniature Pinscher


The Miniature Pinscher is an alert dog so makes a great watchdog who will let you know by barking if there is an intruder trying to get in. It is a very energetic and lively dog, very outgoing but also very strong minded, assertive and independent so while a new owner could have one, it would be better with experienced owners. This is a dog who even when trained likes to dart out of doors and yards and will not always come back when you call.

It is definitely a social breed, it wants to a part of family activities and would not be happy left outside alone. Also you would not want to leave it alone in the yard because it likes to dig and it will go at it in your yard. Min Pins are affectionate, faithful and loyal. It will want lots of cuddles and will happily spend any time when you are sat down on your lap with you. Min Pins are quite suspicious naturally so socialization will be important in how it deals with strangers.

It will want to play and it is a smart dog. It also enjoys acting the clown to get attention and entertain the family. The trouble with Min Pins can come when its owners treat it as a spoiled baby rather than as a dog. It can lead to small dog syndrome and the dog thinks it is the boss. With the Min Pin it can lead to demanding tyrant rather than a sweet dog, it will bark more, become destructive, dig, pee indoors and snap at other people. Also its spirited nature combined with its pride and overly courageous nature means it can get itself into trouble especially with other dogs.

It is a very inquisitive and curious dog and will explore everything which can be exasperating for some owners as it can get itself into trouble. You would be wise to baby proof the house and supervise more closely than you would some breeds. It also likes to chew and swallow thing it should not so take care with coins, medications, small toys and so on.

Living with a Miniature Pinscher

What will training look like?

The Miniature Pinscher is moderately hard to train both in terms of obedience and housebreaking. It is a stubborn, strong minded, independent dog and that means while it is intelligent it is going to test and challenge you often. It needs owners to be very firm, always consistent but still fair. Keep the training positive and engaging, use treats and praise and encouragement and keep the sessions interesting so that it thinks this is what it want to do anyway! It will try to manipulate you so you will have to show who is boss. As a frequent barker you will want to have good training to control this.

Housebreaking is tough because being a small dog it is easy for it to sneak off and pee in places you do not spot so cannot immediately correct. Stick with it though or you will end up with it peeing indoors all its life.

It is very important to properly socialize the Min Pin, it is a suspicious and standoffish dog otherwise and can become aggressive towards other dogs, strangers and children. It can also become overly possessive of you and jealous of any attention you give elsewhere. Also Min Pins can be overly timid without it.

How active is the Miniature Pinscher?

The Min Pin is a lively dog but being small even a fairly active toy breed it is easy to meet its needs in terms of exercise. Some of its activity will be done with its indoor play and antics. You will then need to take it out at least once a day for a short walk but make sure it is leashed so it does not run off and that if it is cold it has protection. It can live in an apartment due to its size and it does not need a yard, but having one is a bonus. The issue with apartment living would be more about controlling its barking. It should also be provided with opportunities to be mentally challenged and have toys it can rotate through, but it can be quite tough on them!

Caring for the Miniature Pinscher

Grooming needs

Its coat is easy to brush being short, and being small! It does shed an average amount so there will be some hair in the home. Regular brushing will help with this and kelp keep the coat clean and soft. Using a soft bristled brush, give it a brush at least every other day and a wipe down with a damp cloth. Start with its face and make sure you give under the eyes a good wipe and then move towards the tail. A wipe down like this can be done weekly and will mean fewer baths are needed. Only bathe and shampoo when it really needs one to avoid damaging the natural oils in it skin.

Brush its teeth at least two to three times a week to prevent tooth decay and gum disease and improve its doggy breath! Check its ears for infection once a week and give them a wipe clean but do not insert anything into them. Its nails will need to be clipped when they get too long. Many choose to have the vet or professional groomer do this. If you want to take care of it yourself you must be careful not to cut or nick too low down where there are blood vessels and nerves. It will hurt your Min Pin, cause bleeding, and likely make it difficult to do again because it does not want to experience the pain again.

Feeding Time

A Min Pin will likely eat about ½ to 1 cup of a good quality dry dog food each day, split into two meals at least. How much exactly can vary from one dog to another as it does depend on its size, rate of metabolism, health, age and level of activity. This breed is prone to obesity so make sure it is not over fed, avoid feeding it table scraps and watch how many treats it gets.

How is the Miniature Pinscher with children and other animals?

With socialization and when well raised that Min Pin is good with children though it is best with older ones, 10 years or older, as younger ones can be too rough and too loud for it. Young children can be clumsy and are not able to see the warning signs of a dog that has had enough, and the Min Pin is likely to snap if it is hurt or overwhelmed. If there are young children around always supervise them when with the dog. Also teach them how to touch appropriately and play nicely.

With other pets socialization and a firm owner can ensure it gets on fine with them but sometimes it will want to chase small creatures like rabbits, hamsters or even cats. Therefore best in a home that is free of such pets. It tends to be trouble around other dogs too without strong training and socialization. It will challenge them no matter how much bigger they are than it. Make sure it is supervised around other dogs unless it has been raised with other dogs in the house in which case normally they are able to live together fine.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Miniature Pinscher lives for 12 to 14 years though some can live a little longer. It is a fairly healthy breed but there are health issues it can be prone to such as hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, von Willebrand’s disease, eye problems, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, epilepsy and patellar luxation.

Biting Statistics

When looking at reports of attacks against people doing bodily harm in the US and Canada over the last 34 years the Min Pin is mentioned in one incident. It was classed as a maiming, meaning the victim, a child, was left with permanent scarring, loss of limb or disfigurement. Even a dog as small as this one can become aggressive and cause injury. The Min Pin must be trained and socialized and raised with a firm hand. Make sure too it gets enough exercise and mental challenge, the attention it needs and that it is supervised when it is needed.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Miniature Pinscher will cost somewhere between $500 and $800 so about $650 as the average. This is for a puppy that has been bred by a good breeder of pet quality dogs. For a puppy bred by a top breeder of show quality dogs you can expect that to start around $1500 and go up to several thousands. Getting a dog from a rescue is a rewarding decision. You are offering it a new chance, and it will cost less, $50 to $300 but it is probably going to be an adult Min Pin not a puppy. Places you should avoid buying from are pet shops, backyard breeders, ads in local papers or online. Many if not most are getting their dogs from puppy mills or are not treating their animals well. Plus there are no checks on lines, parental health and so on.

Initial costs will mean getting certain needed items, like a crate, carrier, collar and leash, bowls and such, along with having it medical needs taken care of. It should be examined by a vet, vaccinated, dewormed, have blood tests done, micro chipped and spayed or neutered. In all these first costs will be about $400.

Annual costs included food costs, medical costs and other miscellaneous needs. A good quality dog food and treats are going to cost about $75 a year. Pet insurance and basic medical care like shots, tick and flea prevention and check ups come to another $435 a year. Other costs such as license, training, toys and miscellaneous items come to $195 a year. This gives a total of $705 a year as a starting figure.


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Min Pins are a smart, spirited and strong willed dog so they require owners who are consistent, firm and able to treat them like a dog not a baby. Otherwise you can end up with small dog with a lot of attitude, yappy, snappish, aggressive and destructive. It is a very loyal dog and loves to have lap time and get lots of attention. It is not the best dog with children, so only take it home if there are none or they are older than 10 years. It will bring much smiling and laughter with its antics, as well as some frustrations with its digging, barking and sticking its nose everywhere.

Popular Miniature Pinscher Mixes

Chihuahua, Miniature Pinscher Mix
General Information
Size Small
Height 8 to 12 inches
Weight 5 to 18 pound
Life span 10 to 12 years
Touchiness Very sensitive
Barking Occasional
Activity Quite active
Breed Traits




Pug, Miniature Pinscher Mix
General Information
Size Small
Height 10 to 14 inches
Weight 12 to 22 pounds
Life span 12 to 15 years
Touchiness Quite sensitive
Barking Frequent
Activity Fairly active
Breed Traits

Excitable and Happy
Small energetic companion
Very loyal
Tendency to get Fat
Low Tolerant to Solitude



Beagle and Miniature Pinscher Mix
General Information
Size Small to Medium
Weight 10-20 pounds
Height 12-16 inches
Life span 12 to 15 years
Touchiness Fairly sensitive
Barking Occasional
Activity Fairly active
Breed Traits




Featured Image Credit: Dorena Beckendorf, Pixabay
Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.