Affenpinscher: Everything you need to know about the monkey dog

The Affenpinscher is a toy-sized terrier dog known for being one of the world’s oldest toy breeds. It’s also called the Monkey Dog, African Terrier, Ape Terrier, Affens, Affies, and Diablotin Moustachu. 

This article explores what makes this toy breed such a charming first-time pet and lively companion. So you’ll know what to expect from this fun-sized dog breed.

Affenpinscher close-up image looking to the right
Affenpinscher close-up photo

Where does the Affenpinscher come from?

Their breed history begins with terriers who populated Europe in the 17th century and 18th century.

They were initially bred to serve as ratters, capturing rodents and vermin in shops, stables, kitchens, households, and granaries.

By the 1800s, the breed was well-established in southern Germany, especially among the rich and famous.

Its name “Affenpinscher” translates to ‘monkey dog’ or ‘monkey terrier’ in German, where most believe it originates.

They were always small dogs. But they were eventually bred to be even smaller as companion dogs and lapdogs. Some credit a breeder in Lubeck, Germany, for their miniaturization. 

Its French nickname ‘Diablotin Moustachu’ means ‘mustachioed little devils,’ a fitting description for these mischievous, mustached creatures.

Some suspect that they mixed with the smooth-coated German Pinscher, Pugs, and the German Silky Pinscher. 

The American Kennel Club, or AKC, recognized the Affenpinscher in 1936. However, World War II hindered the potential popularity of the breed.

But in 2013, an Affenpinscher by the name of Banana Joe became the first of its kind to win the Best in Show award at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. And this then caused a spike in their popularity. 

Today they’re beloved across the world and are exceptionally comical as much as they are adorable. See the video linked below for more:

What does an Affenpinscher dog look like?

According to the breed standard, the Affenpinscher has a neat but wiry-haired shaggy coat, which gives them their ‘monkey dog’ appearance.

While they are a small breed, they are not delicate. Their height is approximately the same as the length of their body. This gives them a sturdy, square appearance. 

They have round, dark eyes with black rims, which don’t bulge or protrude. Their skulls are rounded and domed with a well-defined stop.

Their heads are in proportion to the body, and they have a curious “monkey-like expression,” which they are famous for. 

Their ears are set high, symmetrical, and cropped to a point. They stand erect, semi-erect, or dropped. Their muzzle is short – the same length as in-between the eyes – and narrows to a blunt black nose. It’s turned neither up nor down. 

a cheery and smiling Affenpinscher wearing new shoes
Meet Gunnar, an Affenpinscher ready for walking with new shoes – Image source

They have either a level or small undershot bite with black lips and a prominent lower lip. Their neck is short and straight with a level topline. The chest is broad, deep, with moderately-sprung ribs and a slight tuck-up.

Their backs are short and level with a firm loin. The tail may either be natural or docked. If natural, it’s set high and gently curves over the back when moving. If docked, it’s between 1 to 2 inches long, set high, and carried erect. 

Their front legs are straight, and elbows are close to the body. Pasterns are short and straight, with dewclaws generally removed.

Their hind legs are straight when viewed from behind but are set under the body to maintain a square appearance. Their hocks are moderately angulated, and their feet are round and compact with black pads and nails. 

The Affenpinscher vs The Brussels Griffon

a Brussels Griffon wearing holiday antlers
Meet the Brussels Griffon – Image source

The Brussels Griffon is another toy dog with striking similarities to the Affenpinscher. Both are small, fluffy, purebred dogs known for their loyalty and playful, high affection levels. 

The Affenpinscher is an ancestor of the miniature Schnauzer and Brussels Griffon, which explains some of their similarities.

However, they are not the same breed. And there are a few key differences you can use to differentiate one from the other. 

The Brussels Griffon is not as bright as the Affenpinscher and is more difficult to train. Compared to their doppelganger, they tend to bark more and are not effective watchdogs.

And while they don’t have a high prey drive, they are more likely to escape home to wander and roam. 

Size: How big do Affenpinschers get?

Affenpinschers have a sturdy stature of 9 to 12 inches (22-30 cm) and weigh 6 to 13 pounds (2-5 kg). In other words, they’re tiny. So they don’t need a large backyard to run around in and can be comfortable living in an apartment. 

However, there are a few details owners will need to keep in mind. They will need access to a backyard or dog park to keep them happy and healthy.

We recommend socializing them early too. You can do this by inviting friends over, going for walks, and visiting dog-friendly spaces. 

a Monkey Dog (Affenpinscher) with a shaggy coat walking on the grass
A Monkey Dog with a shaggy coat walking on the grass

Affenpinscher coat and hair

The Affenpinscher’s coat hair is rough, dense, and can reach up to 1 inch long on the shoulders and body.

Its hair tends to be longer and less harsh around the face, neck, chest, stomach, and legs. The hair is shorter on the ears, rear, and tail. 

Fully-grown Affenpinschers will have a mane of hair blending into the back coat on the withers area.

The longer hair around the head and face, especially the beard and eyebrows, emphasizes their monkey-like expression. 

Their coats come in a variety of colors. And some may have black face masks. These include:

  • Black
  • Beige 
  • Black and silver
  • Black and tan
  • Red

Temperament: Are Affenpinschers good dogs?

Affenpinscher standing on a couch with white blanket
Image source

Best described as a ‘big dog in a small body,’ the Affenpinscher is an alert, intelligent dog with a whole lot of personality. Because of their terrier ancestry, they are territorial and loyal.

So despite their small size, they make excellent watchdogs. However, they often need protection from themselves as they may try to take on those bigger than themselves!

They can get along well with strangers and other pets. But they can also be quite sassy when it suits them. Most tend to be friendly and adaptable, and socializing them early on helps. 

We don’t recommend them for households with small children, but they make great companions for adults and the elderly.

They are loving, playful, and like to cuddle with their loved ones. And while they aren’t particularly loud, they do like to bark occasionally. 

Some like to swim, but they don’t do well in hot weather so they shouldn’t swim in those conditions. Their prey drive is average, so they don’t have a high impulse to chase after smaller animals.

They also don’t tend to want to wander, so you shouldn’t worry too much about them trying to escape. 

It lives up to its name as a monkey terrier in looks, but in actions too. They are comical and very entertaining to watch.

They also have high energy levels, so you’ll never have a dull moment when they’re around. And you should keep them around you, as they tend to experience separation anxiety when left alone. 

They are difficult to housebreak, so obedience training should be early and consistent. Puppy schools are convenient and beneficial for this purpose, and they are quick learners.

Ape Terrier puppies lining up for a photo
Image source

How to take care of your Affenpinscher

As we mentioned before, Affenpinschers don’t need an excessive amount of grooming or bathing. But there’s nothing wrong with a little help from professional groomers.

If you’re not a fan of slobber, Affenpinschers are perfect as they have a low tendency to drool. But due to their furry features, their ears tend to build up hair, so that may need some extra attention. 

They are energetic, playful and need a fair amount of simple daily exercise to keep them happy. They have minimal to moderate maintenance needs, and you don’t need to worry about any special equipment either! 

Affenpinscher dogs can tolerate hot and cold weather, but they’re still heat-sensitive, so keep them cool during warmer days. 

Exercising your Affenpinscher

Affenpinschers are active dogs with high energy levels, so they need at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.

Their high energy comes in short bursts, so you can satisfy their exercise needs with brisk walks, indoor games, romps, and some fresh air. However, they would be more than happy to run and play for much longer if you’re up for it. 

Grooming: Does the Affenpinscher dog breed shed?

an African Terrier having a bath, soaked in soap
Meet Affen, a soaked African Terrier having a bath – Image source

Is the Affenpinscher hypoallergenic? Yes. But, like most other dogs, they still shed. But their rough coats are relatively easy to maintain, so they don’t need excessive grooming.

You should trim and strip them by hand or with a stripping knife regularly – approximately every three to four months. 

Affenpinschers should look ‘neat but shaggy,’ so brushing them weekly is ideal. This helps reduce tangling and removes any dead coat. You shouldn’t bathe them too often as their skin can dry out and become irritated. 

Feeding your Affenpinscher: Food consumption and portion sizes

Your dog’s size, build, metabolism, activity level, and age will determine how much they eat.

But generally, the recommended daily amount is ¼ to ½ cup of high-quality dry dog food. You can split this into two portions, and they’ll greatly appreciate treats in-between! 

Puppies need more protein to grow into healthy adults. Between 8 to 12 weeks old, you need to feed them four bowls a day, divided into two bowls per feeding time.

At six months old, you can reduce this to three bowls. But with an additional cup of puppy food per meal. 

As part of a balanced diet, you could add broth, water, or canned food to your dog’s food. They may occasionally enjoy fruit and vegetables, cottage cheese, and cooked eggs too.

As long as these don’t make up more than ten percent of their daily nutritional intake. 

You should avoid feeding them garlic, cinnamon, almonds, chocolate, and ice-cream. These are poisonous to them, and if your dog accidentally consumes them, you should immediately take them to the vet for treatment. 

Lifespan: How long does an Affenpinscher live?

Affens puppy strutting while walking
Image source

With the proper diet and exercise, Affenpinschers have an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years. The most common cause of death for this breed is old age. 

However, there are still potential health conditions that may affect these dogs throughout their life. And owners need to know the risks to treat or prevent them. That way, your canine companion can live a long and healthy life. 

One of the leading health problems is a collapsed trachea. This usually occurs in middle-aged to older dogs. The ‘windpipe’ may flatten, reducing the amount of oxygen that the dog receives.

The dog may appear to have a dry cough or start wheezing as a result. In more severe cases, they may even lose consciousness. 

Other health concerns to be wary of in the Affenpinscher breed include:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Slipping kneecaps
  • Luxating Patella (also known as Patellar Luxation)
  • Cataracts
  • Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease
  • Dental issues
  • Cardiac issues
  • Brachycephalic Syndrome
  • Lick Granuloma

It’s crucial to ensure that your dog visits the vet for regular health check-ups and medical examinations. 

How much do Affenpinscher puppies cost?

an Affies making an adorable face
Image source

Adopting an Affenpinscher puppy is the most affordable and ethical option for those looking to welcome one into their home. But for those looking to buy, there are a few factors to consider. 

Depending on the breeding, Affenpinscher puppies can cost anywhere between $800 to $2500. So it’s the more expensive option, and that’s even before you bring the puppy home!

You need to factor ownership costs into the equation too. This amount will vary depending on your budget. Some of the expenses involved in raising an Affenpinscher include:

  • Medical costs
  • Neutering/spaying
  • Food and treats
  • Visiting the vet
  • Grooming (especially for professional services)
  • Bathing products and equipment
  • Toys
  • Microchip
  • Puppy school

If these are costs you’re happy to cover, you can go ahead and find the perfect pup to welcome home. 

Affenpinscher breeders

five precious Affenpinscher puppies looking up while sitting on a bench
Image source

When looking for reputable breeders, there are various ways you could track one down.

You could ask your local vet, search for online referrals with good reviews, contact some dog clubs, ask another dog owner, or check out the American Kennel Club or AKC. 

But if you need a bit of a head-start, you could check out some organizations and online platforms listed below:

When choosing an Affenpinscher breeder, look for experienced breeders with good references and reviews.

They should allow you to meet the parents and socialize with the dogs and should provide a contract if you choose to buy an Affenpinscher from them.

The dogs should be healthy and vaccinated and live in good conditions, not chained up outside. 

Affenpinscher rescue and adoption

One of the most ethical approaches to welcoming a dog into your home is to adopt from a shelter or rescue. Here you can find purebred Affenpinschers at a fraction of the price and in need of a loving family. 

Some may have experienced abuse or neglect and might need special medical attention or extra cuddles. But they are still as fun and lovable as any other dog.

Some Affenpinscher shelters and rescue organizations include: 

Curious about an Affenpinscher Mix?

Affenpinschers are adorable in their own right. But a mix of two charming dog breeds is instant heartthrobs. 

The Affenpinscher Chihuahua mix is also known as Affenhuahuas. They’re playful and energetic. But some can also be territorial and yappy. They are cute, petite apartment dogs, which are perfect for city life. 

Affenhuahua smiling and showing teeth while enjoying day-out
Meet Lizzy, an Affenhuahua showcasing his 2 teeth while smiling – Image source

The Affenpinscher Shih Tzu mix – or the Affen Tzu – combines the sweet Shih Tzu with the feisty Affenpinscher. So you’ll end up with a little dog with a big personality! They are fun, spirited, and thrive on human companionship. 

a close-up image of an Affen Tzu puppy
Meet Wookie, an Affen Tzu with an adorable smirk – Image source

The Affenpinscher Yorkie mix is also called the Affenshire. This dog breed has the best of both the Affenpinscher and Yorkshire Terrier. You can expect them to be smart, loving, stubborn, and playful.

They have high trainability and are hypoallergenic, so you don’t need to worry too much about dog allergies.

an Affenyorkie looking sassy and lounging while wearing a blue sweater
Meet Sylas, a sassy Affenyorkie lounging while wearing a blue sweater – Image source

Who should get an Affenpinscher?

Affenpinschers are loving dogs who love to run and play. They are easy to maintain, but you need to train them so they don’t become stubborn and demanding.

This trait also makes them more difficult to housebreak as they have a mind and will of their own. 

As ‘monkey dogs’ they are fun and comical, but they are still sensitive. They don’t like it when you tease them. So they are happiest in a home without young children. 

They can get along well with other pets. But sometimes, they can also become suspicious of strangers, even those you welcome into your home. So socialization is essential to keep them under control. 

a beaming Monkey Dog with front paws on the water bowl
Image source

They make good pets for first-time dog owners, especially if they can get lots of attention. As long as you’re aware of this breed’s characteristics, they can be a good fit.

If you have any thoughts or experiences of your own, feel free to share them with us!

Further reading: Similarly sized breeds to Affenpinscher

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