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The Affenpinscher is a small or toy sized purebred also known as the Monkey Terrier or Monkey Dog because of its looks. It was bred to be a ratter for shop, home and stable owners and eventually was bred to be smaller and more of a companion. It is a mischievous and entertaining little dog but is a rare breed in the US with only 200 puppies being registered each year. Unfortunately this means inbreeding is common so health issues can be a problem.

The Affenpinscher at A Glance
Name Affenpinscher
Other names Monkey Dog or Monkey Terrier
Nicknames Affen, Affie
Origin Germany
Average size Small (toy)
Average weight 7 to 9 pounds
Average height 9 to 12 inches
Life span 12 to 14 years
Coat type Dense, harsh, wiry
Hypoallergenic Yes
Color Tan, black, silver, grey, red
Popularity Not that popular – ranked 141st by the AKC
Intelligence Quite intelligent – above average
Tolerance to heat Good – can handle warm weather but nothing too hot or extreme
Tolerance to cold Good – can also handle cold weather but nothing too freezing
Shedding Low – not a dog to worry about in terms of hair around the home
Drooling Low – not a breed prone to slobber or drool
Obesity Average – not especially prone to weight gain but it can happen if food is not measured and it is under exercised
Grooming/brushing High maintenance – daily brushing and will need a groomer
Barking Frequent – will need to be trained to control it
Exercise needs Somewhat active – easy to meet its needs as it is so small
Trainability Hard – experience would help
Friendliness Good with socialization – not a very outgoing dog
Good first dog Good but best with experienced owner
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Low – socialization is essential but this breed is best not around children
Good with other dogs Good to very good with socialization – will challenge even large dogs
Good with other pets Good to very good with socialization
Good with strangers Good but needs socialization as they are naturally suspicious
Good apartment dog Excellent for size, but barking will need to be controlled
Handles alone time well Low – does not like being left alone, can suffer from separation anxiety
Health issues Not that healthy and are prone to several issues including eye problems, syringomyelia, allergies, heart problems
Medical expenses $435 for basic medical needs and pet insurance
Food expenses $75 a year for treats and a good quality dry dog food
Miscellaneous expenses $495 a year for license, basic training, grooming, toys and miscellaneous items
Average annual expenses $1005 on average
Cost to purchase $650
Rescue organizations Several including the Affenpinscher Rescue
Biting Statistics None Reported

The Affenpinscher's Beginnings

The Affenpinscher's beginnings are not as clear as some breeds, written records about their development gave been lost. DNA testing proves that it is an ancient breed and and that it predates and is related to the Brussels Griffon. Estimates place its beginnings around the 17th century though its ancestors can be seen in Dutch paintings from the 1400s. It is thought its origins are German and its name Affenpinscher is German for Monkey Terrier, referring to its facial structure that is quite monkey like and its monkey like expressions.

In its early days it is thought the dog was larger than we see it now, it was bred to be a ratter and as well as hunting vermin in stables in towns, it would have also been used on farms. Sometime during the 1700 to 1800s the dog was bred smaller and became a companion dog. Some records suggest a German breeder called Lubeck began this but this cannot be confirmed. While much of its early development happened in Munich, its popularity spread across Germany and then central Europe. It moved from a dog for the workers to a treasured pet for wealthy ladies.

The Berlin Lapdog Club started to make a breed standard in 1902 but it was really finished and agreed upon until 1913. Its popularity continued until the arrival of World War II.

New Lease on Life

The war affected most breeds, it was a time when resources and people were otherwise occupied. In 1936 just before the war the Affie was admitted to the AKC's studbook but then further development came to a stop with the war. It as not until the 1950s that interest was renewed but it remained a rare breed as it still is today. It is ranked just 141st in popularity today by the AKC.

The Dog You See Today


The Affenpinscher is a small breed weighing 7 to 9 pounds and standing 9 to 12 inches tall. It is not like a delicate or fragile toy dog, it has a squared body and a somewhat broad chest for its size. It has an arched short neck, straight legs and a tail that is carried high and in places where it is still allowed it is docked. Its coat is wiry, shaggy, harsh and dense and comes in common colors of black, silver, red, grey or tan, though dark grey or black is the more common look. The undercoat has a slight curl to it. Over the shoulders it has more hair and it is a little longer giving it a mane or cape look. Around the tail and rump the coat is shorter.

The hair on its face is longer and that adds to is monkey like face. It has a round head, short nose and round eyes that are black and prominent. Its ears are hairy and are erect and pointed usually being docked in countries where that is still allowed.

The Inner Affenpinscher


The Affen is a very good watchdog as it is alert and will let you know if someone is breaking in. It also has strong protective instincts so despite being so small it will try to defend you and is overly bold and fearless in that respect, which can get it into trouble sometimes. It can be okay with new owners but is best with people who are experienced dog owners. Experience with small dogs is especially useful. It is an affectionate breed, very loyal and happy, curious, adventurous and playful at times. It is somewhat sensitive and tends to be suspicious with strangers.

At the same time it can be over excitable and may need some help in terms of training to calm down at times. Like most terriers it is bold and outgoing, and that can mean it is overly confident when it comes to larger dogs. It is stubborn at times and mischievous which can be alternatively entertaining and frustrating. It loves to be part of the family and prefers not to be left alone for long periods. It needs a home with people who are around, have a sense of humor and are happy to pay lots of attention to them.

An Affen that is aggressive, snappish, bossy and out of control is likely that way because of being overly spoiled and treated like a baby, rather having clear rules set by a firm owner. Affens are confident but should not be the ones that dictate what is happening in the home. It can have tantrums, and even sulks if it does not get its own way without proper training. Boredom can also cause behavioral problems so make sure it has enough mental and physical stimulation.

Living with a Affenpinscher

What will training look like?

Training the Affenpinscher is certainly going to be an experience if you have never dealt with terrier breeds or toy dogs before! For people with experience it is a moderately easy dog to train, it enjoys being with you, and the mental stimulation for it is a good thing. It can be stubborn though so this can make things harder and it needs to be dealt with in a firm and consistent manner. Expect things to happen gradually and keep things mixed up so that it does not get bored. Be positive in how you approach it and be sure to include a command to control its barking! Housebreaking as with many toy dogs can be difficult and it is important to just stick with it, and not give in. Early socialization should be also be taken seriously so that your dog grows into a confident and well rounded dog you can trust.

How active is the Affenpinscher?

Affens like to be active and do not handle boredom well! They are a perfect size for apartment living as long as you get them outside for a couple of short to moderate walks, have some play time and get some off leash time somewhere safe. If there is a yard that is a bonus place it can get some activity in, just make sure it is well fenced. If you take it to a dog park keep an eye on it, perhaps go to one that has a special closed off area for small dogs, as larger dogs may get too rough in their play, and its bold nature means it won't back down from a challenge.

Caring for the Affenpinscher

Grooming needs

Affens do have more needs in terms of grooming than some other dogs due to their wiry coats that need to be stripped by a professional on a regular basis if you want to keep its texture. Clipping can be done but it will change the texture of the coat and its color somewhat. It does not shed a great deal, so if low shedding is a priority this is an option. It can be a good breed to for allergy sufferers but that should be tested by the person in question before you buy one. Brush it regularly but spray first with a detangler. You can either use a professional groomer or learn yourself how to best style your dog if you want it to successful in shows. The hair at the corner of its eyes should be dealt with as it can lead to irritation otherwise. Only bathe when it needs one to avoid drying out its skin.

Since dental hygiene can be an issue with smaller dogs make sure you brush them at least two to three times a week, if not daily. You should also clip its nails when they get too long – this can be something you learn about and do yourself with the proper nail clippers, or you can have a groomer do it for you. Its ears need to be checked weekly for infection signs and then wiped clean using a dog ear cleanser and cotton balls.

Feeding Time

The Affen will eat about ¼ to ½ of a cup of a good quality dry dog food a day, and that should ideally be split into at least two meals. The amount can vary depending on your dog's level of activity, its metabolism, build, age and health in general.

How is the Affenpinscher with children and other animals?

In general this is not a breed that is best with children. As with other terriers it does not do well with being teased, or grabbed at and can react if it feels stressed by snapping and biting. With socialization and if raised with children it can learn to put up with at least older children. Supervision of younger children is necessary. It can get along better with other pets, particularly if raised with them. With other dogs there can be problems as it will challenge dogs that are a lot larger than they are.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The lifespan of an Affenpinscher is about 12 to 14 years. As mentioned it is not a very healthy breed due to a lot of inbreeding. Possible issues include fractures, respiratory problems, PDA, syringomyelia, allergies, heart problems, eye problems, patellar luxation, Legg-Perthes Disease, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism and von Willebrand's. Another issue with the Affen is how fragile it is. Toy breeds are very easy to accidentally injure, placing your foot in the wrong place, sitting in it when it is under a cushion, jumping from your arms which is too high up.

Biting Statistics

When looking at attacks on people in Canada and the US over the last 35 years the Affenpinscher is not mentioned, so this is not a dog likely to cause serious injury. This does not mean it has not bitten people, it just has not caused bodily harm when it has done so. The Affen could easily snap and become aggressive given certain situations or conditions, and all dogs can have an off day that gets away from them. Some things to do are to make sure the dog is properly exercised and has enough mental stimulation, it is trained, well socialized and supervised.

Your Pup’s Price Tag


An Affenpinscher puppy will cost about $650 from a decent breeder for a pet quality dog. If you want something of show quality that could be $1250 up for a breeder with a good reputation. From a shelter or rescue you might get one for $50 to $250. Not only will you be giving a dog a new home, but since some of its medical needs will be taken care of, this could save some more money. Just keep in mind it may be an older dog rather than a puppy. Avoid puppy mills, too good to be true ads, backyard breeders and the like.

When you have found a good breeder and chosen your new best friend you should take it to a vet for some tests. The vet will give it a physical exam to make sure it is healthy, and will also do some things like blood tests, deworming, shots, spaying or neutering and micro chipping. These will cost about $260. Your dog will also need some things like a crate, carrier, harness, bowls and such. These will cost about $120.

There are also ongoing costs to cover like medical needs, food and so on. Dog treats and a good quality dry dog food will cost about $75 a year. Medical basics like vet check ups, flea and tick prevention, shots and pet insurance will come to around $435 a year. Miscellaneous costs like grooming, license, basic training, toys and miscellaneous items come to around $495 a year. This gives a starting cost figure of $1005.


Looking for a Affenpinscher Dog Name? Let select one from our list!

Affenpinschers are a great dog for people who are child free, have plenty of time to spend with them and perhaps want a small dog that could also be hypoallergenic. It needs owners who are not too harsh and ones prepared to take care as it is very easy to accidentally injure or even kill. Training and early socialization are important even if it is going slower than you might like because of its independent nature. Also keep in mind there are not many in the US so if you have your heart set on one you may have to join a waiting list.

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