The Affenpinscher is square-proportioned, compact and sturdy, with medium bone. This breed is a smaller version of a working terrier, and as such is not a delicate dog. This is an active, tough dog that is agile enough to catch and dispatch rodents. The gait is light, sound, and confident. The Affenpinscher has a monkey-like facial expression with long eyebrows and beard, which lends an air of comic seriousness. The rough coat is about 1 inch long on the body, somewhat longer on the head, neck, chest, stomach and legs. This coat type provided protection from pests and harsh conditions.
The Affenpinscher’s name describes it well: Affen meaning monkey and Pinscher meaning terrier. In France the Affenpinscher is known as the “diablotin moustachu”—moustached little devil, which also aptly describes it! As one of the oldest toy breeds, the Affenpinscher’s origins are obscure. Paintings by the old Dutch Masters from the fifteenth century often included dogs resembling Affenpinschers, but more definite evidence of the breed is absent. Small terriers adept at dispatching rats were abundant in central Europe by the seventeenth century. In Germany, they were used to rid stables and kitchens of rodents. Even smaller versions of these dogs were preferred for lady’s lap dogs, able to protect the home from rodents, warm their mistress’ lap, and amuse the entire household with their antics. This small version eventually became the Affenpinscher, which was later refined by occasional crosses with the Pug, German Pinscher, and German Silky Pinscher. The Affenpinscher in turn became the progenitor of other wire-coated toys, most notably the Brussels Griffon. The breed was most popular in Germany, which can lay claim as its homeland. In 1936 the AKC recognized the Affenpinscher, but World War II slowed any momentum in popularity the breed had gained. Since then, the breed has remained extremely rare even in America and Germany, its comparative strongholds.
The Affenpinscher lives up to its name monkey terrier in both looks and actions. They are terriers at heart, busy, inquisitive, bold, and stubborn, but also love to monkey around, being playful and mischievous. This breed tends to bark and even climb. Unlike most terriers, they are fairly good with other dogs and pets. This little dog is best with a family that likes entertainment and has a very good sense of humor.
Although an energetic and active dog, the exercise needs of the Affenpinscher can be met with vigorous indoor games or romps in the yard, or with short walks on leash. The harsh coat needs combing two or three times weekly, plus shaping every three months. Shaping should be handled by a professional groomer.