5 Things to Know About Affenpinschers

The Affenpinscher is a toy breed with a lot of spunk and a monkey-like face.

These dogs were used to control rat populations in 17th-century Europe. By: Sharon Housley

1. Key Characteristics

  • AKC Group: Toy
  • Height: 9–11 inches
  • Weight: 8 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 10–12 or more years

The Affenpinscher is a small dog often called a monkey dog or monkey terrier (see the dog’s face above). The name actually means monkey terrier in German.

A protruding jaw gives the Affenpinscher a pouting look. They have round, dark eyes and small, compact feet.

2. Where They Came From

The Affenpinscher’s roots trace back to Germany and France. The dog, nicknamed “little devil with a mustache” in France, was bred down in size and used to control rats in homes, mills and farms in the 17th century.

These dogs are some of the oldest toy breeds and were used to create the Brussels Griffon and Miniature Schnauzer. The AKC recognized the breed in 1936. An Affenpinscher won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2013.

Affenpinschers are fearless. By: Kristy May/Petful

3. How Friendly Are They?

Affenpinschers are small dogs with playful and fearless personalities. They’re also mischievous, intelligent, confident, inquisitive, loyal and affectionate.

These spunky dogs may be difficult to house-train and need consistent training. Note that Affenpinschers are small and prone to injury, so if you have small children, perhaps these dogs aren’t for you.

4. Is This the Right Dog for You?

Exercise Needs


LOW: Affenpinschers are very active indoors and do well without a yard. They’re great for apartment living, but they still need a daily walk.

Grooming Needs


MEDIUM: Brush your Affenpinscher twice a week and trim the coat twice a year. The coat has dense, rough hairs.

Clip the dog’s nails regularly, brush the teeth and clean the ears. The Affenpinscher is prone to having dental problems, so pay special attention to the teeth.

Health Problems


MEDIUM: There are a few genetic and common health problems for the Affenpinscher, including:

  • Fractures
  • Luxated patellas (displaced knees or slipped knee cap)
  • Patent ductus arteriosus (common heart disease)
  • Open fontanels (soft or open spots on the skull)

They are sensitive to extreme temperatures and can experience breathing problems in hot weather. Hairs can grow in eye corners and cause irritation. Teeth, thyroid and joint problems are also common in this breed.

Watch this spunky breed in the following video:

5. How to Adopt One

Want an Affenpinscher? Check rescues and adoption resources — even purebred animals can end up in shelters. Try Petful’s adoptable pet search.

If you choose to go to a breeder, make sure the breeder is reputable and doesn’t exhibit any of the puppy mill warnings.

Additional Resources

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, has been researching dog and cat breeds for nearly a decade and has observed the animals up close at dog shows in both the United States and the United Kingdom. She is the author of the book One Unforgettable Journey, which was nominated for a Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers Association of America, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. In addition, she was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. Kristine has researched and written about pet behaviors and care for many years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, another bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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