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With a name derived from the German word for 'ape', the little Affenpinscher does have a monkey like face and cheeky, confident temperament to match! This breeds has, allegedly, a coat that does not shed but it is likely that the hairs on the coat simply last longer on the body giving the appearance of a non shedding coat.
This little breed started life as a much larger version that the dog we know today. Originally bred in Germany, it is thought that this breed contributed to the development of the Schnauzer, amongst other breeds of dog. The earliest known woodcutting and drawings show a, 'little dog with a wire coat and a monkey face' as it is often described, are from the early 16th century. It is also thought that the famous artist Renoir was a fan of this breed, as a number of his paintings appear to depict a dog with similar features.
This dog soon became established and very popular in Southern Germany with records from 19th century German dog shows having records of the 'Monkey Pinshcer' being shown. They were a popular companion for well heeled ladies of the time and by the early 1900's, one Mrs Evelyn Walsh McLean (who at the time owned the famously large Hope Diamond), was their most famous fan. She was photographed on a regular basis with one or two of these little dogs as her companions, indeed on some occasions, (it is reputed), with one of them even wearing the Hope Diamond on its collar!
In the 1950's the Affenpischer gained further popularity outside of Germany, mainly in the UK and the US
Average height to withers: Males and females are between 8-12 inches.
Average weight: Both males and females between 3-6kg.
This is a sturdy and compact little dog with its famously typical 'monkey' features. This gives the dog an overall impression of being an alert dog with a very expressive face. This is highlighted by its wiry, shaggy coat which can be reasonably soft with regular grooming. The coat is thicker around the head and shoulders making a 'mane' around the face and neck further enhancing its monkey face. The coat is shorter and quite wiry over the back and hindquarters. The coat its self is usually dark in colour being mainly black, but some Clubs outside the UK allow other variants of colour including red, silver, brown and grey.
The face of this little dog is topped off with small, triangular and pointed ears which make the alert appearance even stronger, especially when coupled with the dark, intelligent eyes.
Adventurous, active, fun and self reliant - the Affenpinscher is a confident character and can be very strong willed on occasion. True to its terrier roots, it does have a considerable amount of energy for a small dog, and as such does require a regular routine of exercise and stimulation. Due to its stubborn, some say independent, streak, any training and socialisation needs to be firm and consistent. It has retained some of its hunting behaviour. Bred as a ratter, this dog may chase small animals but if introduced to them from a young age, they can live quite happily with other animals. With this in mind, if they are to live with children, it is worth making sure that both the dog and child know what the limits are - not all Affenpinschers are suitable to live with children as they will not always tolerate excessive playing or rough housing.
This is the perfect dog for someone who wants a big personality in a small package but who still has the time to devote making this breed into a fun and loyal companion with a soft side.
For a smaller dog, the Affenpinscher does seem to have a slighter lower lifespan than other small breeds living an average life to around 11-12 years of age.
On the whole, they are healthy dogs but are prone to fractures and breaks of their bones. There is no clear answer as to why but if the owner suspects this has occurred, immediate veterinary treatment must be sought. This dog can also suffer in warmer weather due to its shorter and quite stubby nose. The owner of an Affenpinscher must take care when exercising this dog in warmer weather to avoid overheating and breathing issues and exercise in the middle of the day when the weather may be hotter is probably best avoided in the summer months because of this.
Reputedly, this breed does not shed; however, it is more likely that the coat of this dog is simply longer lasting giving rise to the appearance of it being a non shedder. Because of the wiry and tough coat, regular grooming is advised as is occasional strapping or pulling of the coat. A professional dog groomer can do this for you if you are not confident to do this yourself.
The Affenpinscher will need at least one good walk per day as it can become quite hyperactive without - do not make this mistake of thinking that a little dog requires no walking!