Affenpinscher: A Canine Napoleon

black affenpincsher on grass
John Walton
Written by John Walton

If you’re looking for an animal to work out with, then a dog would be an amazing addition to your home—specifically energetic and alert dogs, such as the Affenpinscher.

If you’re looking for a loyal and affectionate dog that makes a great companion for a family, then the Affenpinscher is a great option. The Affenpinscher is a rare, yet, desired breed. These dogs are extremely friendly with adults and older children. Plus, since Affenpinschers were originally a pest control breed, if you have a pest problem, they’ll have no problem keeping it under control.

Unfortunately, these dogs are not ideal for families with young children as they have no patience for aggressive behavior—whether intentional or unintentional. Although, this doesn’t mean they’re completely unable to handle children; they simply need time to adapt and be trained. On top of how to work around their Napoleon Complex, this article will give you more information about these dogs’ personality, grooming, and many more, so stay tuned!

Breed Characteristics

light-coated Affenpinscher lying on red carpet

  • Adaptability: Medium.
  • Trainability: Low; these dogs are quite stubborn.

  • Health and Grooming: Above Average Maintenance; their unique hair needs more effort to maintain.

  • All Around Friendliness: Medium; only friendly towards their family.

  • Exercise Needs: Above Average; quite active but don’t really require long walks.

Dog Breed GroupCompanion Dogs
Height9 to 11 inches
Weight7 to 9 lbs
Lifespan12 to 14 years

Their Napoleon Complex does lead them into trouble at times. Thus, whoever owns an Affenpinscher will need to have patience when it comes to training them. However, once they know the rules of the game, they’re amazing dogs to have around.The Affenpinscher is a stubborn, yet loyal breed that will do anything to protect the people it considers family. Their loyalties have a tendency to put them up against dogs three times their size as they do suffer from a slight Napoleon Complex.

Though they’re loyal to their family, they’re not ideal for families who have small children. This is simply because if they receive aggressive behavior such as hair-pulling or squeezing, they’ll feel the need to protect themselves by either growling or snapping.

With older children, they get along just fine. In addition, they are also known to adapt well to other pets such as cats and dogs.

They make great apartment dogs as they’re small in size and don’t need a lot of space. They’re generally easy to take care of and are fine with brisk walks or running around the backyard. Thus, if you don’t have hours to spend walking a dog, they make a perfect companion for you.

Though the Affenpinscher is a rare breed, it’s an extremely desired and popular one—leaving many future owners on waiting lists.

Main Highlights

red affenpinscher standing

  • The Affenpinscher is a difficult breed to train.

  • The fur of the Affenpinscher is wiry and hypoallergenic. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t shed. It’s important to remember that all dogs shed or produce some dander.

  • Affenpinscher translated means “monkey-like terrier.”

  • They’re known as the Monkey Pinscher, Monkey Dog, Black-Mustached Devil, or Affen.

  • The Affenpinscher is a rare breed, meaning that getting one may not be as easy as you think.

  • They’re not naturally inclined to like younger children. Thus, it’s best to introduce them to older children. If you have young children, you may want to check out these best dog breeds for kids instead.

  • It’s a German breed that’s been around since the 17th century.

  • They were used in the development of the Griffon Bruxellois and Miniature Schnauzer.

  • The Affenpinscher used to be ratters, which means they tend to hunt mice, rats, and ferrets. If you own a ferret, a mouse, a rat or a gerbil, this breed will not get along with them.

  • They get along great with other dogs and can adapt to cats as well.

  • The Affenpinscher was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1936.

Breed History

brown affenpinscher watching

The Affenpinschers’ origins date as far back as the 17th century in Germany. In Germany and Central-Europe, they were used as ratters and were warmly welcomed by those working in farms, shops, stables, and homes.

However, with time, they were slowly bred to be smaller. Gradually, they became companion dogs instead. The city of Munich was one of the first to focus on Affenpinscher development. Their popularity quickly spread throughout Germany.

The Berlin Lapdog Club developed a breed standard for the Affenpinscher in 1902. However, the breed standard was not finalized until 1913. The breed standard in Germany was then translated into English and then accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1936.

Sadly, World War II disrupted the growth and development of the Affenpinscher breed. However, in the 1950s, the breed began to revive itself. Its popularity sparked again in 2002 when Ch Yarrow’s Super Nova won the Toy Group; the event was televised. However, until today, the breed is still quite rare.


The Affenpinscher is a small dog—weighing between 7 to 9 pounds and standing around 9.5 to 11 inches tall. The height is usually around the same as the overall body length of the Affenpinscher—from shoulders to buttocks.

This body design gives the dog a square appearance; however, females are usually longer. This small body size translates to most Affenpinscher dogs having a Napoleon Complex.

Personality and Character

affenpinscher sitting in human hands

The Affenpinscher is always alert. Though these dogs are affectionate and curious by nature, they’re also always on guard. When an Affenpinscher is brought into a new home, from then on, he will protect and be loyal to his family.

Because they’re tiny dogs, they tend to have a Napoleon Complex and have no problem challenging dogs which are ten times their size. These dogs are really protective. When they are excited or protecting their family, it can take a while for them to calm down.

See Also: How to Calm Down a Dog

Affenpinschers really need to be socialized—especially when they’re young to ensure that they grow into well-rounded and well-trained dogs. Make sure that they are introduced to as many different dogs, people, and environments as possible to calm their protective and alert personality. This will allow them to be more people and dog-friendly on all levels.

See Also: How to Socialize a Dog

Health and Potential Problems

affenpinscher walking on bridge

Though Affenpinschers are typically healthy dogs, they’re prone to specific health conditions just like all other breeds. Although not all Affenpinschers will inherit a disease, it’s important to know what they’re prone to:

  • Hip Dysplasia: Very common in all dog breeds, hip dysplasia is a heritable condition where the thigh bone doesn’t fit into the hip joint. This can be diagnosed with X-rays. If your dog has hip dysplasia, he/she shouldn’t breed as it is heritable. Thus, make sure your dog’s parents were tested for hip dysplasia.

  • Legg-Perthes Disease: This is a typical issue among smaller breeds as this is a condition which focuses on the deformity of the ball of the hip-joint. This condition develops when the dog is between 6 and 9 months of age. It’s easily confused with hip dysplasia, as it causes arthritis and the degradation of joints. Surgery is the only solution.

  • Heart Murmurs: This is caused by a direct disturbance in the blood flow throughout the chambers of the heart. This is an indicator that there’s most likely a heart condition that needs to be checked out by your vet.

  • Patellar Luxation: It’s also known as “slipped stifles” and is commonly found in small dogs. This is when the patella—which consists of three parts: the femur, the patella, and the tibia—are not properly aligned. Thus, it causes lameness in the leg or for your dog to skip or hop. This condition can lead to arthritis or degenerative joint disease.

See Also: Best Joint Supplement for Dogs

Care Features

The Affenpinscher makes a great apartment dog. Though they can be quite noisy, so make sure your neighbors are okay with that. They will need frequent exercise, though they love short, brisk walks or simply running around in the backyard as well if you don’t have time.

They’re small in stature and are usually trouble magnets. You will need to keep an eye on them when around other dogs are they’re fearless when it comes to challenging any dog that comes their way—regardless of the size, which can end tragically for your Affenpinscher.

Thus, regardless of where you live, your Affenpinscher should be a fulltime house dog and not left outside unsupervised. You’ll need to invest in training as they’re highly stubborn dogs. Crate training is highly recommended.

See Also: How to Train a Puppy Not to Bite

Feeding Schedule

affenpinscher puppy and nuts

To keep your Affenpinscher fit and lean, measure his/her food and feed them on a strict schedule with two meals per day. If you’re using high-quality food, then you should feed your dog between ¼ to ½ cup of food a day—divided into two meals.

Of course, you should consult your vet to ensure that your dog does not need any specialized diet, just in case he/she has a specific health condition. In addition, the amount of food you feed your dog will depend greatly on his/her size, age, metabolism, and level of daily physical activity.

To make sure your dog isn’t overweight, you should be able to see his/her waist and feel the ribs without having to press down hard.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

grooming black affenpinscher

Affenpinschers have coats that are shaggy, wiry, but neat. Their hair is thick, short, and rough. It is known for its harsh texture. They don’t shed much which is what makes them ideal for families looking for a hypoallergenic companion. Their coat is with black, grey, silver, red, or brown—though in Europe, Affenpinschers only come in black.

To keep their hair wiry and neat, you’ll have to brush them on a weekly basis with a small brush and then comb them with a metal greyhound comb. You can also use your fingers to rake through their hair in case of any tangles gently.

If you’re determined to keep their unique hair in perfect form, then you’ll have to keep up with their grooming routine. After a while, it becomes easy to remember. If you need to, you can use a detangler spray for dogs.

See Also: Best Dog Brush

Affenpinschers are known to be prone to periodontal disease, meaning you’ll have to take extra care and make sure their teeth are brushed a couple of times a week. This will remove tartar and any build up.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Affenpinschers are not fans of young children as they’re not comfortable around aggressive behavior such as hitting, hair-pulling, hugging, or squeezing. This behavior is typically shown in young children.

If these dogs feel threatened, they have no problem growling or snapping. This is why we recommend that you do not bring them into a home with very young children.

If you do have young children, it’s important to make sure that their encounters are supervised and that you teach your child how to interact with your Affenpinscher in an appropriate and friendly manner.

See Also: Dog Facts for Kids — Teach the Little Ones to be Friendly

When it comes to other dogs and cats, the Affenpinscher gets along well with other animals—though they need some time to get used to them.

Wrap Up

affenpinscher puppies with ribbons


The Affenpinscher is a strong-minded, loyal dog. They stick closely to their family. They love to spend time hanging out with their family members while running around the backyard, chasing balls, and barking at flying birds or squirrels.

Though they’re friendly and protective towards their family, they’re highly cautious of new people. Also, do not socialize well with extremely young children as their “on-guard” attitude makes them defensive towards aggressive behavior such as hair-pulling. Although, through training and adapting, your Affenpinscher will learn to socialize with children.

Do you think the Affenpinscher is the breed for you? Let us know what you think in the comment section below! If you already have an Affenpinscher, we’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences about this breed! Want to know which other breeds you should avoid if you have young kids? Visit this page about worst dogs for kids.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.