The 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 in 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.
Breeding for Function
These dogs were kept for rat and mice control, and over time they were bred down to a toy size to suit the companionship needs of their owners. They also excelled as watchdogs and affenpinscher and quail trackers.
Height at Withers: 9-11.5" (23-29 cm).
Weight: 7-8 lb (3.0-3.5 kg).
Coat: 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.
Longevity: 14-15 years.
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.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Traits ascribed to the Affenpinscher include: Intelligent, low grooming needs, friendly to his master, protective, fearless, alert, curious, loyal, and independent minded. It is suggested that one start earlier for obedience training than with many other breeds. They are quick to learn when focused. In French they are nicknamed "diabolitin moustachu" meaning moustached devil. Some have also referred to them as the "little ruffian".
Can be snappy with children, show terrier tendency to excitement when on alert and can be bold and take on bigger dogs. They enjoy games that require dexterity of forelimbs, and should be introduced early to small pets.
They are very good alert barkers and enjoy close human contact. High-energy dogs, they enjoy games and vigorous runs for 30 minutes or so per day.
Normal Physiologic Variations
Hip Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing degenerative joint disease and hip arthritis. OFA reports 15.7% affected. Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. OFA reports 3.8% affected.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. OFA reports 3.1% affected, but not enough Affenpinschers have been evaluated for statistical confidence.
Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease: Polygenically inherited aseptic necrosis of the femoral head, resulting in degenerative joint disease of the hip. Can be unilateral or bilateral with onset of degeneration usually between 6-9 months of age. Treat surgically if causing lameness/discomfort. Reported in the breed with a male prevalence on The Affenpinscher Club (UK) website.
Distichiasis: Abnormally placed eyelashes that irritate the cornea and conjunctiva. Can cause secondary corneal ulceration. Identified in 6.38% of Affenpinschers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Persistent Pupillary Membranes: Strands of fetal remnant connecting; iris to iris, cornea, lens, or involving sheets of tissue. The later three forms can impair vision, and dogs affected with these forms should not be bred. Identified in 6.38% of Affenpinschers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Retinal Dysplasia: Retinal folds, geographic, and generalized retinal dysplasia with detachment are recognized in the breed. Identified in 4.26% of Affenpinschers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Cataracts: Anterior or posterior intermediate and punctate cataracts occur in the breed. Unknown mode of inheritance. Identified in 2.13% of Affenpinschers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Corneal Dystrophy: Affenpinschers can have an epithelial/stromal form of corneal dystrophy. Identified in 2.13% of Affenpinschers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. Not enough samples have been submitted for thyroid auto-antibodies to Michigan State University to determine an accurate frequency. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%).
Seasonal Flank Alopecia: Wintertime, bilateral, symmetrical alopecia affecting the flank, dorsum and tail.
Anasarca, Cleft Lip/Palate, Cryptorchidism, Dermoid, Elongated Soft Palate, Inhalant Allergies, Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca, Oligodontia, Patent Ductus Arteriosus, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Retained Primary Teeth, and Tracheal Collapse are reported.
Isolated Case Studies
Congenital Hypothyroidism with Epiphyseal Dysplasia: Diagnosed in a 4 year old Affenpinscher presented with a vertebral physeal fracture.
Tests of Genotype: none
Tests of Phenotype: CHIC Certification: Required testing includes CERF eye examination at a minimum of 1 year of age, and patella evaluation at a minimum of 1 year of age. Optional testing includes hip radiographs for hip dysplasia and Legg-Calve-Perthes evaluation (See CHIC website; caninehealthinfo.org). Recommend thyroid profile including autoantibodies, elbow radiographs, and cardiac evaluation.
- Breed name synonyms: Affen
- Registries: AKC, UKC, CKC, KCGB (Kennel Club of Great Britain), ANKC (Australian National Kennel Club), NKC (National Kennel Club)
- AKC rank (year 2008): 132 (171 dogs registered)
- Internet resources: Affenpinscher Club of America: affenpinscher.org
The Affenpinscher Club (UK): affenpinscherclubuk.com
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