Affenpinscher:  Cute as a Monkey

Affenpinscher   By Janice Jones   |Last Updated 05-14-2021

If you're looking for a spunky dog that is totally devoted to you, relatively easy to train, and fun to be with, you may want to consider the Affenpinscher. 

Affenpinscher pronounced, ('Affen-pincher') meaning Monkey Terrier, in German and The French refer to this breed as Diablotin Moustachu which means 'Mustached Little Devil." 

This is a rare breed in the United States, but has come to the attention of many people in the dog world because of the 2013 Westminster Dog Show’s Best of Show, Banana Joe.

Affenpinscher:  The Monkey Dog

Quick Facts

Breed weight icon6.5-13.2 lb
breed height icon9-12 in
breed grouping/classification iconAKC Toys
breed lifespan icon11-14 Years
breed origin iconGermany

Other Names Used:  Monkey Face, Mustached Little Devil

Affiliation:  AKC: Toy Breed, UK: Companion, CKC: Toy

Coat Type:  Wiry

Colors:   Black, grey, silver, red, black and tan, or beige (mixed black, white, brown and red hairs), all with or without black mask

Activity Level:  Moderate

Life Expectancy:  11-14 years

Good with Children: Not recommended for small children

Good with other pets:  Yes

Litter Size: 2-3 Puppies

Average Cost: $1000-2500


Playfulness Paws Ratings
Affection Level Paws Ratings
Friendliness Towards Strangers Paws Ratings
Good with Children Paws Ratings
Good with Other Dogs Paws Ratings
Good for First Time Owners Paws Ratings
Exercise Needed Paws Ratings
Ease of Training Paws Ratings
Watch Dog Ability Paws Ratings
Grooming Requirements Paws Ratings
Shedding Paws Ratings
Cold Tolerant Paws Ratings
Heat Tolerant Paws Ratings

Explanations for At a Glance Ratings 

  • Playfulness:  Most=5   Less=1
  • Affection:  Most=5   Least=1
  • Friendliness Towards Strangers:  Most=5  Least=1
  • Good with Children:  Good=5   Not Good=1
  • Good with Other Dogs:   Good=5   Not Good=1
  • Good for First Time Owners:  Good=5  Not Good=1
  • Amount of Exercise Required:  Much=5  Minimal=1
  • Ease of Training:   Easy=5   Difficult=1
  • Watch Dog Ability:   Excellent=5   Poor=1
  • Grooming Needs:   Extensive=5  Minimal=1
  • Shedding:   Heavy Shedding=5   Minimal Shedding=1
  • Cold Tolerance:   Cold Well Tolerated=5    Poorly Tolerated=1
  • Heat Tolerance:   Heat Well Tolerated=5   Poorly Tolerated=1

The Affenpinscher is a bold, alert, loving and very loyal breed.  Additional words that describe his personality include Fun-loving, Spunky, Curious, Adventurous, Stubborn, Playful, and Active.   

He is inquisitive and intelligent, and generally quiet unless he hears a noise and then you’ll hear a different side to him. He is a companion dogs and need to live indoors near his favorite people.  

He is the quintessential, small dog with a big attitude.  He has no sense of size, so you will need to protect him from himself. 

He is an active breed that enjoys a daily walk, but much of his exercise requirements can be met indoors.  This is one breed that will keep you entertained.   

This breed tends to conform to the activity needs of the people who love him, so in other words, he will be just as content to sit on the couch as you watch television or take a brisk walk outdoors if you are more of the active type. 

He can be a little athlete and does well in agility, obedience or rally.  His tiny size makes it easy to carry him around, but he is happier walking on his own. 

As is the case with many small breed dogs, these dogs are  difficult to housebreak.  Crate training is often recommended for this breed.



This breed originated in Central Europe, most likely Germany and France back in the 17th century. 

He was originally bred to chase rodents in stables, homes, farms, and shops.  The original dogs of this breed were much larger.  Over time, breeders reduced their size and made them companion dogs. 

It is thought that they were crossed with pugs, German Pinschers, and a dog called a German Silky Pincher to get their characteristic look. 

They were later used in the creation of other breeds including the Brussels griffon and Miniature Schnauzer.  They are still known to be good at catching mice and other small pests but are classified as a companion dog.

Coat & Grooming

The Affenpinscher:

These guys need brushing and combing twice a week and plucking a couple times a year.  Many people opt for professional grooming, but it is possible to do-it-yourself.

Brushing is best accomplished using a slicker brush and a greyhound comb; both tools that will help keep any tangles from turning into mats.   

Plucking is usually done by a professional groomer but if you want to do it yourself, there is a very good tutorial at the Affenpinscher Club of America Website. 

The Affenpinscher has a thick, rough coat with a harsh wiry texture that grows to about one inch long on the body but a little shorter on the rump and tail, and lengthier and bushier on the head, neck, chest, stomach, and legs.

The longer fur around the head and shoulders resembles a cape which gives him that characteristic monkey like appearance.

They don't shed much which makes some believe that they are non-shedding.  They do shed but are considered more hypoallergenic than most.

You will want to purchase a slicker brush and greyhound comb for routine brushing and combing.  If you chose to puck hairs, you will also need a medium size raking knife.

Other than coat care, you will not want to neglect your dog's dental needs.  These dogs tend to have teeth issues so brushing their teeth as often as possible is very important.

Nails need to be trimmed or ground down about every two weeks.  

The hair inside of the ear continues to grow and will need to be removed and ears cleaned about once a week.  Use a good quality ear powder and either your fingers or a hemostat to gently remove a few hairs at a time.  Most dogs do not like this procedure but if you only remove a few hairs at a time, they will be more likely to tolerate your efforts.

Health Concerns of the Affenpinscher

While not a health problem in the traditional disease model, Affenpinschers are most susceptible to injury.  Bone fractures are common due to jumping off furniture, falling, or trying to leap out of your arms.  They are fast and can be stepped on easily.  Choking is also a concern even with very tiny objects. 

Since they are so small, they can squeeze through even small openings in a fence and be gone in an instant, sadly ending up in the road.

Other problems include:

  • Heart Problems (patent ductus arteriosus and mitral valve disease)

  • Eye Problems include Cataracts, glaucoma, corneal ulcers, dry eye and tear duct disorders.

If you are working with a breeder it is recommended that you ask about what tests are performed on the parents. 

Excellent breeders will run DNA tests, have eyes checked, and get hips X-rayed before making breeding decisions.

Feeding Your Affenpinschser

A high quality diet that is designed for small breed dogs is the first step towards offering your dog the nutrition he needs to thrive.  Meals should be offered twice a day for adult dogs and 3 times a day for puppies up to 6 months of age.  

A high quality formula will always have a named meat-based protein as the first ingredient such as chicken or lamb.  More than one meat based proteins in the first seven ingredients are highly recommended.  

To prevent obesity, choose your treats wisely.  Tiny bits of commercially available treats can be used for training purposes or make your own using real chicken, turkey or other meat source.  Vegetables and fruits are another good choice of treats, but there are some foods that Affenpinschers should never eat.

Best Owners for Affenpinschers

Affenpinschers do well with calm older children but are not recommended for families with babies, toddlers and young preschool aged children.  Singles and Seniors are also great choices for this breed and these dogs do well for first-time owners because of their ease of training.

They do have a tendency to bark, so take that into consideration if you live in an apartment. A home with a fenced in yard is ideal. They need room to run and play, but can get most of their exercise requirements through a couple daily walks.

Affenpinscher don't do well being left alone for long periods of time, so the ideal owner will have a flexible schedule or arrange for someone to check in a couple times a day to walk and play with their dog.  Separation anxiety is a problem in this breed, so the perfect situation for this breed would be for at least one stay-at-home parent.

Energy Level and Exercise Requirements

Energy Level and Exercise Requirements for the Affenpinscher

This breed is active and needs exercise daily to keep them happy and fit.  Several short walks are preferable than one very long walk.  They enjoy walking but do not have the endurance for rigorous hikes or lengthy walks.

Monitor your dog during exercise for signs of fatigue and difficult breathing.  They are considered to be a brachycephalic breed and all the symptoms that go along with brachycephalic syndrome may become a problem.  Opt for a harness rather than a collar when walking them on a leash.

Some of their exercise needs can be met through active play either indoors or outside in a fenced in area.  If you do take your dog to a dog park, assure that they are up-to-date on all of their vaccinations. 

Training an Affenpinscher

Affenpinschers are very smart and respond well to a positive gentle approach to training manners and basic commands.  Housebreaking, however may be more problematic. 

Just like most small breed dogs, housebreaking takes more time and patience than it would if training a larger dog.

Socialize your puppy from day one to wide variety of people, other dogs and different kinds of animals. Some Affenpinschers are reserved around strangers so introducing him to a diverse group of people will help him become less shy of strangers.   

Some Affenpinschers are more vocal than others, so if you have a barker it is important to address that problem as a puppy.  

     Pros of Living with an Affenpinscher:

  • Good Watch dog
  • more energetic than most dogs his size
  • Minimal shedding
  • Good with older children
  • Playful, fun personality
  • Has not been over bred


  • Can be difficult to housebreak
  • intact males “mark” their territory
  • Regular grooming, including stripping his coat of dead hairs to keep the shaggy but neat appearance
  • Intelligent but may be stubborn, does best with firm, consistent, positive training
  • Expensive to purchase
Affenpinscher or Monkey Dog:  The Complete Breed Profile:  Is the breed right for you?Affenpinscher or Monkey Dog: The Complete Breed Profile: Is the breed right for you?

References and Further Reading

It is always important to do as much research as possible about a breed you are considering.  Here are a few links and books that might help with that decision making.

The American Kennel Club Affenpinscher Breed Profile

Affenpinscher Rescue of America

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About Janice (author and voice behind this site)

Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, Janice served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu, but she has also lived with Poodles, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, Beagles, English Bulldogs, Carin Terriers, and a Cocker Spaniel.

When not writing, reading, and researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, husband, and family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu and Smart-Knit-Crocheting

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