The name “Affenpinscher” is German for “monkey dog” or “ape dog” in reference to the unique facial features of the affenpinscher dog. Bred originally to work like a terror in the German stables eradicating rats, they breed was later preferred for work as indoor mousers and foot warmers for the humans at night. Affenpinschers were first recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1936, and Star Wars fans have long debated whether these dogs look more like Wookies or Ewoks.
This intelligent breed can be stubborn and independent-minded when it comes to training, but their affectionate nature and eagerness to please make them worth the extra effort. And low grooming maintenance is another bonus!
How to Train Affenpinscher Dogs
Affenpinschers are smart and they do enjoy praise and treats, but they also get bored easily with long training sessions. More frequent, shorter sessions with breaks in between work best for this breed.
Keep in mind that all dogs respond better to positive reinforcement than to negative punishment. This means that rewarding good behavior with treats, verbal praise, and petting tends to be more effective than punishing bad behavior with spankings or yelling. When using treats for training, consider using either kibbles from your dog’s food bag or small training treats instead of larger treats. You’ll need to reward your dog frequently as it learns the appropriate behaviors, and too many large treats will take your dog longer to eat, slowing down training, and can cause obesity.
Since this can be a more challenging breed to train, consider hiring a trainer to help get training started and to help you learn how to keep up training regimens effectively.
For potty training tips, check out our [How to Potty Train Your Dog] article.
Affenpinscher Dogs with Kids and Other Dogs
The AKC ranks Affenpinschers at 3/5 for being affectionate with family, good with children, and good with other dogs. As with all breeds, it really depends on the specific dog, how it has been raised, and what it has been exposed to throughout its life, regardless of breed tendency. Since Affenpinschers are right in the middle for each of these categories, this is truer than ever for dogs of their breed.
Training and Socializing
Training and socializing will usually be easier with a puppy than with an older dog, but any dog can be trained to change a behavior. If you start with an Affenpinscher puppy, allow it to play with your kids under supervision as much as possible. Take him or her outside for walks, especially at dog parks and other places where he or she can meet lots of other people and dogs. The more and the earlier in its life your dog is exposed to these situations and has positive experiences, the better he or she will be with kids and dogs throughout life.
If introducing a new dog to your kids, make sure to supervise at all times. Have the kids sit still so that the Affenpinscher can come to them when he or she feels ready to investigate them. Have the kids offer treats to the dog as it approaches to help him or her associate the kids with good things. Avoid sudden movements and loud noises to help this introduction go smoothly.
To introduce your new Affenpinscher to other furbabies, start in a neutral place that isn’t anyone’s territory, such as a part of the yard the dogs aren’t usually allowed in or an upstairs bathroom they never have reason to visit. Allow them to meet on neutral ground like this so that it’s not like the newbie is encroaching on their land. Start with everyone on leashes or with a fence in between for protection. Once ears are all up and happy and tails are wagging, you can let them free to sniff each other and then explore your home together.
It’s possible that intros like these may need to be done a few times before all parties are comfortable with the new situation. Just remember to be patient and let the process take the time it needs.
Affenpinscher Dog Exercise and Space Requirements
Affenpinschers are the perfect size and energy level for apartment life. While they would love the chance to run around in a backyard or take daily walks, they are well suited to indoor life and can get a good amount of exercise with daily playtime with you as with some extra time between them and their toys.
The Best Food for Affenpinschers
Affenpinschers have different nutritional needs throughout each life stage. As your dog grows, you may need to change the food type they eat. Here’s a breakdown of how this works.
The Puppy Stage
At the puppy stage, your dog’s body needs plenty of calories because it’s working hard to grow. Large breed dogs and small breed dogs have different puppy nutrition requirements, so make sure you pick a small breed puppy food for this life stage.
To determine how much your puppy needs at each meal, take a look at the back of the food bag. There should be a chart for how much food to feed based on weight or age. Double-check whether the chart says how much food to feed per meal or per day. If it goes by daily amounts, you’ll need to divide that by two if you plan to feed twice a day.
The Adult Stage
This is the longest stage of your Affenpinscher’s life. A good adult maintenance food will keep your Affen happy and healthy throughout their life. Check the back of the bag for a food chart and make sure to feed your dog accordingly. If your dog is overweight, feed according to the weight your vet recommends you try to get him or her down to rather than their current weight.
For pregnant and lactating females, extra nutrients are needed. A momma dog’s body will steal nutrients from her bones and tissues to nourish the puppies if needed, so it is vitally important that a female in this condition has access to extra nutrients. One way to provide these nutrients is through feeding senior dog food to your female temporarily. Senior dog food is loaded with extra nutrients to promote good health even during old age, and those extra nutrients would likely cause weight gain in regular adults. But a breeding female will put those extra nutrients to use.
You can also consider providing your pregnant female with a prenatal supplement, and post-natal supplement during lactation.
The Senior Stage
In the senior stage, your dog may develop some aches and pains and may start losing weight. A senior diet will provide him or her with extra nutrients to promote joint health and a healthy weight. If you suspect your dog may have arthritis, a joint support supplement may also help. But you should consult your vet as soon as possible in case your dog has a health problem that requires pain medicine.
Affenpinscher Grooming Requirements
Affenpinschers have continuously growing hair, so you won’t have to lint roll your clothes every time you leave the house. Their coat is also slow-growing, so your Affenpinscher will only need occasional clipping every few weeks.
The Best Climate for Affenpinschers
Affenpinschers are small dogs whose bodies don’t hold heat in really well in the cold. If your Affenpinscher will be exposed to freezing temperatures, consider providing him or her with a doggie jacket and booties to stay warm, and never leave your dog outside in the cold for long periods of time.
Because Affens are short-faced dogs, they can also have respiratory difficulties in hot weather. Dog’s can’t sweat to cool off, so they pant to let out excess heat from their bodies. And it’s harder for this process to work like it’s supposed to in short-faced dogs.
So take care never to leave your Affenpinscher in the car or outside in the heat without supervision. Always provide shade and water to your Affenpinscher outside. And if you’ll be traveling with your dog, consider bringing a portable water bottle/bowl along so that you can help keep your Affen hydrated during the trip.
Common Health Problems for Affenpinscher Dogs
This disease is when the kneecap gets loose and slides in and out of place. Besides being painful, the dog will lose normal control of its leg while the kneecap is out of place because the joint no longer works properly. This disease is a genetic predisposition, which means that it’s passed down from a patent dog to its puppies. You can avoid the likelihood of dealing with this disease by purchasing your Affenpinscher from a reputable breeder with certificates to prove that the parent dogs have good genes and do not have patellar luxation themselves.
If you suspect that your dog has a luxating patella, have him or her examined by a vet. Because this disease ranges from being mildly uncomfortable to extremely painful, your vet can evaluate whether or not your dog will need surgery to correct the problem. It is possible that it can be managed without surgery, but radiographs will probably be needed to determine the severity of the disease in your dog.
This disease goes by many names, including “Legg-Calve-Perthes disease,” “avascular necrosis of the femoral head,” and “aseptic necrosis of the femoral head.” What that means is that the ball part of the ball-and-socket hip joint starts to deteriorate, whether due to poor circulation in the area or a genetic predisposition.
The dying bone tissue could become infected, but whether it does or not, as the bone decomposes, its shape changes, making it no longer fit into the socket well. This is all very painful for a dog and usually requires surgery.
If you suspect that your dog has a hip or leg problem, take him or her to the vet so they can be evaluated and can receive treatment and pain control.
Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome
This is a disease of all short-faced breeds. As cute as the short face is, it comes with a shortened and sometimes cramped airway. With all the same bones and tissues of a normal dog trying to fit into the short face, there’s less room for air to get through as it should.
If your Affenpinscher has a hard time breathing, especially if it is overweight, make an appointment with your vet to see if your dog may be suffering from this disease and find out how you can help him or her feel better.
The Shedding and Drooling Tendencies of Affenpinschers
You don’t have to worry about these guys shedding much since their coats grow continuously. And they don’t tend to drool. The only time you may see some slobber is when they hear you getting their food. Otherwise, there will be no need to keep a drool towel on hand.
The Ideal Affenpinscher Owner
Affenpinschers are great for families or singles living in an apartment with limited yard space. The more opportunities to play, the better, so they like living with other dogs, too, once they get to know them. They’re intelligent and get bored easily, so they may get into trouble just for something to do if left alone all day. They’ll need a patient owner to stick to training them regularly and for small bits at a time. With that goofy, lovable face, an Affenpinscher is sure to bring joy to the ideal owner’s life.
Do you love the idea of an affenpinscher, but can’t find one available in your area? Check out the Affenhuahua mixed breed. It’s really similar and has some other good qualities!