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A medium sized dog, the Pinscher originated in Germany and is prominent in the lines of the Doberman, the Affenpinscher, the Miniature Pinscher and the Standard Schnauzer, as well as the Miniature and Giant Schnauzers.
Originally bred to control vermin, the Pinscher is growing in popularity across the globe – particularly in the US and Australia where the breed is well established.
Developed to control rats and other vermin, the Pinschers that eventually became the Standard Schnauzer and the German Pinscher were originally known as Smooth Haired and Wire Haired Pinschers. The breed is likely to have its origins in the various types of ratters kept on German farms as far back as the 15th Century and it’s thought that the larger Pinschers also share some ancestry with European herding and guarding animals. Drawings of an identifiable German Pinscher appeared in the late 18th Century.
By the mid 19th Century the Pinscher had overtaken the Mops – the Pug – in popularity. The dogs were used as guardians for coaches and as a means of controlling pests on farms and homesteads, a job they did by instinct without needing to be trained. Indeed, Pinschers can still be observed tracking and hunting down prey in open areas and this high prey drive means this is not a dog to be left off lead in any area that’s not secure.
Standard Schnauzers – then called Wire Haired Pinschers – were originally born into the same litters as Smooth Haired Pinschers and at some point in the Pinscher’s history breeders made the decision to separate the strains and develop two distinct breeds. After three generations of the same coat were born they were considered a distinct breed.
Between the years 1950 – 1958 no Pinscher litters were registered and if it hadn’t been for the work of Werner Jung to resurrect the Pinscher, then the breed would have died out completely.
Average height to withers: 17” – 20”
Average weight: 11 – 15kg
The Pinscher is a relatively small dog with very smooth, short hair. Accepted colourways include red, fawn, black and tan and blue, however in countries where the Fédération Cynologique Internationale standard is followed, only black and tan and red are accepted. Interestingly, the solid black, salt and pepper and harlequin colours became extinct during WWII.
The Pinscher usually has its tail docked and ears trimmed in countries where this is permitted. Tail docking was thought to reduce the risk of rabies, increase speed, make the back stronger and also reduce the likelihood of injuries sustained while working. The ears were cropped to reduce the risk of injuries but also for cosmetic reasons – to make the dogs look more utilitarian and prevent them looking too much like puppies. According to Kennel Club rules Pinschers can be shown docked and cropped or as nature intended and this should not affect the outcome of the show. However prejudices do exist and many judges – particularly in Europe – prefer a dog with a docked tail and cropped ears. The docking of tails and copping of ears is now banned in the UK.
A well-bred Pinscher will display a calm even temper and will be a very loving companion. The temperament is hereditary and anyone considering bringing a Pinscher into the family should visit the mother and touch her. She should be friendly and open to interaction with humans. If she isn’t, the chances are the puppies will reflect her personality.
Pinschers are alert and extremely intelligent. They should be trained from an early age, although they will not enjoy repetition in training. Again, a well-bred example of the breed should be well behaved around smaller animals and children, but as with any dog, the Pinscher should not be left unsupervised with children or other pets. Wariness around strangers is often seen as a result of poor breeding in the Pinscher.
The breed was developed to be active and as such the Pinscher requires lots of exercise and a large, secure yard in which to play during the day.
As the Pinscher has a small gene pool there are some hereditary conditions that affect the breed. All puppies should be tested for cataracts as well as hip and elbow dysplasia, where a malformed joint allows dislocation and leads to lameness. The breed is also susceptible to the blood clotting disorder von Willebrand’s disease, and all puppies should be tested for this as it’s a distressing and potentially fatal illness.
The Pinscher can also suffer with thyroid problems and some believe irresponsible breeding practises have led to increased incidences of cardiac problems. It is recommended that any examples of the breed that present with heart problems should be removed from any breeding programme.
The Pinscher makes a great family pet and is loving, loyal and intelligent. They have tendency to take advantage of meek or weak-willed owners and should be in no doubt whatsoever about their place in the pack. Although this breed is generally very good with children, even they should be taught to display correct pack leader skills in order to keep the Pinscher in check. They can get along with other pets, but they are perhaps not the best dog to live alongside smaller animals such as cats, as their strong prey drive means they will chase smaller creatures and could cause injuries.
The breed should be given plenty of fresh air and exercise and a daily, brisk walk or jog is an absolute must. Their coat, being short and smooth, requires minimal attention – a brush every now and again to remove dead skin and hair is all that’s required. The Pinscher will live in an apartment or smaller house providing he has access to plenty of exercise and a fenced off garden or yard. However this breed will chase anything and will disappear quickly if something takes their eye or nose, with no thought for its owner or its own safety.