The Affenpinscher: A Mischievous Monkey-like Little Dog

Sometimes called the Black Devil, the Affenpinscher is among the oldest of the European toy dogs. A brave watchdog and ratter despite its size


Sometimes called the Black Devil, the Affenpinscher is among the oldest of the European toy dogs. It retains its terrier instincts though, and is a brave watchdog and ratter despite its size. With its bright, sometimes stubborn personality, this dog learns easily but needs to know who is boss. It loves to play and gets on well with children who handle it considerately.

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Tough, fearless, self-confident, energetic—a terrier can claim all of these descriptions, and more. The terrier group takes its name from the Latin word terra (earth), referring to the original use of various types of small dog as hunters of underground-dwelling vermin, such as rats. However, some modern terriers are large dogs, bred for different purposes.

Breed History

The breed name is a German word for “Monkey-like terrier”. The origins of this moniker probably derive from the cute monkey-like expression these dogs possess. Presence of a prominent hairy chin, sweeping moustache and prominent brows gave rise to the unique breed expression.

This ancient breed originated in the Munich area and has contributed to the development of breeds such as the Brussels Griffon (crosses with Pugs may have resulted in the Brussels Griffon). Other Affenpinscher outcrosses included the smooth haired German Pinscher and German Silky Pinscher. The progenitor genes used these outcrosses may have derived from a Schnauzer-type Russian ratter.

The ancient core German breed may have branched off into Miniature Schnauzer and Affenpinscher based on size originally. Though first historical records in artwork date to the year 1600, the breed standard was not drawn up until much later and details about the intervening breed development are sketchy. For a while they were termed ratting terriers and were larger in size.

AKC first admitted the breed in 1936.

Physical Characteristics

Height at Withers

9-11.5” (23-29 cm).


7-8 lb (3.0-3.5 kg).


The medium-short coat is black, gray, black and tan, or silver with markings, or solid red (some have tan furnishings). They are low shedders.

They have low grooming needs except for periodic stripping, and ears need regular plucking. The stiff, dense and wiry-textured coat is about 1” (2.5 cm) in length, and the ear hair is trimmed short. Color is not considered too important, though large white patches are not desirable.

In Europe and England, black is the standard breed color.


14-15 years. 10-12 years according to some references.

Points of Conformation

In the Affenpinscher, high head carriage is seen, eyes are round and dark, palpebral margins are black, ears may be cropped to sit pricked or left naturally (semi-erect on average; though are quite variable).

The skull is domed, stop is well-defined, short blunt muzzle narrows to a black nose, lips are black, and a prognathic bite is normal.

The neck is short and straight, topline is level, abdomen is slightly tucked up, thorax is broad and deep, they are particularly broad-chested in front; the ribs are moderately sprung.

Limbs are straight, dewclaws usually removed, feet are small with thick black pads and nails, high-set tail is carried high and is covered with short hairs.

Breed Behaviour and Traits