Affenpinscher: Your Ultimate Breed Info Guide to the Monkey Dog

Last Updated on April 25, 2023

Called by different nicknames such as African Terrier, Ape Terrier, and Affens, the Affenpinscher is a terrier dog known for being one of the world’s oldest toy breeds.

In this article, we’ll explore what makes this toy dog such a charming first-time pet and lively companion.

Affenpinscher close-up image looking to the right

If you want to know more about what to expect from this fun-sized dog breed, keep scrolling.

Where do Affenpinschers come from?

Affenpinscher translates to “monkey dog” or “monkey terrier” in German, where this breed is believed to originate from.

What’s known is that their breed history started in the 17th century, when terriers populated Europe.

They were bred to serve as ratters to get rid of vermin in shops, stables, kitchens, households, and granaries.

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

And if you thought Affenpinschers are small dogs, a breeder in Lubeck, Germany, thought of making a more miniature version of them to serve as companions and lapdogs.

They were also given a French nickname – Diablotin Moustachu, which translates to “mustachioed little devils” – a fitting description for these mischievous, mustached doggos.

And with their physical traits, some suspect that the smooth-coated German Pinscher, Pug, and the German Silky Pinscher are the breeds that make this canine.

In 1936, the Affenpinscher breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). But World War II hindered the potential of Affens to be popular.

Not until 2013 did an Affenpinscher named Banana Joe win Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club, which spiked their popularity.

Today, they’re beloved across the world and are exceptionally comical as much as they are adorable.

What does an Affenpinscher dog look like?

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

Given its background, this fido has a sturdy, square build and isn’t delicate like its fellow small breeds.

It has round, dark eyes that don’t protrude or bulge, have black rims, and its head is in proportion to the body. It has a curious monkey-like expression, which the breed is famous for.

The ears are set high, symmetrical, and cropped to a point. They can stand erect, semi-erect, or dropped.

Its blunt black nose is turned neither up nor down.

Want to see how uniquely cute Affenpinschers are? Watch this video compilation of charming Affens:

Tails may be left long or docked. If natural, it’s set high and gently curves over the back. Docked tails are around 1 to 2 inches long.

The Affenpinscher VS. The Brussels Griffon

Brussels Griffon dog sitting and waiting her owner
Source: @adathegriffon / IG

Brussels Griffons are also toy dogs with striking similarities to Affenpinschers. 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 their likeness. However, they’re not the same breed. And there are a few distinctions between the two. 

The Brussels Griffon is not as bright as the Affenpinscher and is more difficult to train. They also 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 height of 9 to 11.5 inches (23 to 29 cm) and can weigh between 7 to 10 pounds (3 to 4.5 kg). With their size, they belong to the Toy Group. 

It also means they don’t need a large backyard to run around in and can be comfortable living in small houses, like an apartment.

A Monkey Affenpinscher dog walking on the grass
A Monkey Affenpinscher dog with shaggy coat walking on the grass

What type of coat & colors do Affenpinschers have?

The Affenpinscher dog breed has a single-layered coat that’s thick and has a rough texture.

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

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

Is the Affenpinscher a good family dog?

Affenpinscher dog sitting on a beautiful lawn
Source: @buffythevampirepooch / IG

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 its terrier ancestry, aspiring owners of this breed can expect a territorial yet loyal canine companion.

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

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.

Their prey drive is average, so they don’t have a high impulse to chase after smaller animals. They also don’t tend to wander, so you shouldn’t worry too much about them trying to escape.

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

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

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

How to take care of your Affenpinscher

Ape Terrier puppies sitting in line

Even if this pooch looks scruffy, the Affenpinscher is not a high-maintenance dog. They don’t drool and don’t require excessive grooming.

And besides being heat-sensitive, they require little exercise. Here’s what else to keep in mind when caring for this breed.

Energetic yet tolerable

Despite having high energy levels, these active dogs only need at least 30 minutes of daily exercise.

And they only have short bursts of energy, so their exercise needs can be satisfied from taking neighborhood strolls, a game of fetch, and even as simple as romps in the yard.

If you want to take it up a notch by having your fido join dog shows, that’ll be a good bonding experience, too!

Do you live near a lake, beach or have a pool? Some Affenpinschers like to swim, but since they don’t do well in hot weather, they shouldn’t swim when it’s really hot out.

While we’re thinking of doing activities with our Affens, it’s best to know that they suffer from separation anxiety. So while they can keep you entertained with their comical behavior, they need your companionship, too.

Grooming: Do Affenpinschers shed?

An African Terrier having a bath
Source: @affenpinscherlenny / IG

The Affenpinscher dog breed is considered hypoallergenic, but they still shed a little.

Its rough coat is relatively easy to maintain, and like other terriers, their hair only requires trimming and stripping every 3 to 4 months.

Affenpinschers should look ‘neat but shaggy,’ so brushing them once a week 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.

Going to the groomers can also help keep that fur in beautiful shape, especially if your pooch is often strutting on conformation events.

Feeding your Affen dog

Your dog’s breed size, weight, metabolism, and age will determine what and how much they eat. But generally, the recommended daily amount for Affenpinschers 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!

Highly active dogs require more protein in their diet, not just to refill their energy but to help their body keep up with their pace.

If your fur baby tends to gobble up his food, feed him on a schedule or routine. Some pet parents opt to serve their fidos’ meals using a slow feeder.

Health: How long does an Affenpinscher live?

Affens puppy strutting while walking
Source: @dicasboaspracachorro / IG

Affenpinschers have an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years, but they’re generally healthy dogs, so the most common cause of death for this breed is old age.

However, there are still potential health conditions that may affect them throughout their life, like genetic disorders.

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.

Canines who have this 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:

  1. Hip Dysplasia
  2. Slipping kneecaps
  3. Luxating Patella (also known as Patellar Luxation)
  4. Cataracts
  5. Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease
  6. Dental issues
  7. Cardiac issues
  8. Brachycephalic Syndrome
  9. Lick Granuloma

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

How much does an Affenpinscher puppy cost?

Lovely Affenpinscher dog being cuddled by the owner
An adorable Affenpinscher dog being cuddle by the owner

Affenpinscher puppies can cost as low as $500 each. But depending on certain factors, like the gender of the pup, the breeder’s location, the kennel’s popularity, lineage, and so on, it can exceed $1,000.

Other than the purchasing price of one puppy, you need to consider the expenses of owning a pet and raising one.

These include microchipping, food and treats, neutering or spaying, vet visits, emergency medical costs, toys and bathing equipment, puppy school, and paying for professional groomers.

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
Source: @affenpinscher_cute03 / IG

When looking for reputable breeders, there are various ways you could track one down. You could ask your local vet, contact some dog clubs, ask another dog owner, or check out the AKC Marketplace

You can also download the breeder referral list from The Affenpinscher Club of America.

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

They should allow you to meet the parents, socialize with the dogs, and 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 dogs for adoption

Adopting an Affenpinscher puppy is the most affordable and ethical option for those looking to welcome one into their home. It’s only around $300!

Choosing to adopt is also best for those who aren’t a fan of dealing with puppyhood and would prefer to rescue an adult dog.

Try your local shelter to look for an Affen in need of a new loving home. 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 pet.

The Affenpinscher Club of America Rescue Network may have available dogs. They may have purebred Affenpinschers and mixes that you might like to add to your family.

Would you prefer getting an Affenpinscher mix?

Affenpinschers are adorable in their own right. But combining two dog breeds to create a designer pooch can result in an instant heartthrob of a pet. Here are some of the undeniably charming Affenpinscher mixes:

Chihuahua Affenpinscher mix

Affenhuahua smiling and enjoying the day-out
Source: @affenhuahua / IG

Also known as Affenhuahuas, this hybrid is just like its Chihuahua and Affen parents – playful, energetic, but some can be territorial and yappy. They are cute, petite apartment dogs, which are perfect for city life.

Shih Tzu Affenpinscher mix

A close-up portrait of an Affen Tzu puppy
Source: @go.for.james / IG

The Affen Tzu combines the sweetness of Shih Tzus and the feistiness of Affenpinschers.

It really is one of those little dogs with a big personality! It’s a crossbreed that’s spirited, fun, and thrives on human companionship.

Yorkie Affenpinscher mix

An Affenyorkie looking sassy with the blue sweater
Source: @sylas_grabrielle / IG

This mixed dog breed, also called Affenshire, has the best of the Yorkie and Affen.

You can expect a smart, loving, playful, and quite stubborn pet in this fido. It has high trainability and is a hypoallergenic canine.

Who should get an Affenpinscher?

If you’re looking for a terrier dog that’s easy to maintain and you have experience training pets not to be stubborn or demanding, then the Affenpinscher might be the right choice for you.

These monkey dogs are fun and comical, but they have a sensitive side. They even don’t like it when they get teased. So they’re best for homes without young children.

Multiple pet households are okay, too, as long as they get early socialization as they can be suspicious of strangers, regardless if it’s another person or dog.

First-time dog owners would love this breed as well, especially if you can give them a lot of attention. As long as you’re aware of this breed’s characteristics and needs, they can be a good fit.

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

Further reading: Similarly sized breeds to Affenpinscher

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