Breed Profile: Affenpinscher

The Affenpinscher is a toy breed of dog with a lot of spunk and a monkey-like facial expression. Learn more in our Affenpinscher breed profile.

Affenpinschers are one of the oldest toy breeds. By: Ger Dekker/Flickr





Physical Description

The Affenpinscher is a small dog often called a monkey dog or monkey terrier for its hair-shaped facial appearance. The name means monkey terrier in German.

A protruding jaw gives the Affenpinscher a pouting look. It has round, dark eyes and small, compact feet. The life expectancy is 10 to 12-plus years. Colors include black, gray, silver, red, beige, and black and tan. They are usually between 9 and 11 inches tall and weigh around 8 pounds.


The Affenpinscher’s roots trace back to Munich, Germany and France. The dog, nicknamed “little devil with a mustache” in France, was bred down in size and used to control rat problems in homes, mills and on farms in the 17th century. The breed is one of the oldest in the toy group and was used to create the Brussels Griffon and miniature schnauzer. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1936. An Affenpinscher won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2013.


Although previously used to keep mice away, Affenpinschers are companion animals, competitive show dogs and watchdogs.


Affenpinschers are small dogs with playful and fearless personalities. They are also described as mischievous, intelligent, confident, inquisitive, loyal and affectionate. These spunky dogs may be difficult to housebreak and need consistent training or will take on a leadership role.

This video sums up the Affenpinscher and provides several examples of the breed:

Exercise Needs

Affenpinschers are very active indoors and do well without a yard. They are great for apartment living, but they should still have a daily walk.

Grooming Requirements

Brushing should be done twice per week and the coat trimmed twice per year. The coat has dense, rough hairs. Longer hairs frame the face to give the dog the monkey appearance. Clip the dog’s nails regularly, brush the teeth and clean the ears. The Affenpinscher can be prone to dental problems, so pay special attention to the teeth.

Common Health Problems

There are a few genetic and common health problems for the affenspinscher. The toy breed is prone to fractures, luxated patellas (displaced knees or slipped knee cap), patent ductus arteriosus (common heart disease) and open fontanels (soft or open spot 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.

Is the Affenpinscher the Right Dog for You?

Affenpinscher dog photo

This small, spunky dog is great for any size of home and does well in apartments. Grooming is not too time-consuming at twice per week for brushing, but special attention needs to be given to dental health.

These toy dogs are small and prone to injury, so they’re not recommended for homes with small children. They can be difficult to housebreak and may have high veterinary costs because of their common health conditions. They’re also incredibly cute and loyal pets, and they would easily become your best friend.

Adopt, Don’t Buy

If you consider getting a Affenpinscher, please check rescues and adoption resources. Even purebred animals can end up in shelters. Try Petful’s adoptable pet search.

Finding an Affenpinscher through adoption resources may be difficult. You can also check with rescue groups and breeders. If you do choose to go to a breeder, make sure the breeder is reputable and doesn’t exhibit any of the puppy mill warnings.

Additional Resources

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