Affenpinschers are depicted in paintings that date back to the 15th and 16th centuries which means they are one of the oldest toy breeds on the planet. They originate from Germany and translated their name means “mock terriers” or some people believe the rough translation should be “Monkey Mutt”. These little dogs boast being the very first of the “monkey-faced” toy breeds to be developed and are responsible for the development of other breeds like the Griffon Bruxellois as well as the Griffon Belge. These extraordinary looking dogs were also used to create the Miniature Schnauzer. It is thought that at one time there were two sizes of Affens, but the larger of them no longer exists today.
These little dogs were originally bred to chase down vermin and proved themselves to be extremely good “ratters” and as such the breed soon became popular in Southern Germany during the 19th century. There are records of a ‘Monkey Pinscher’ dog being exhibited at dog shows in their native Germany and pretty soon well-heeled ladies of the day all had an Affen as their companion, but by the turn of the 19th Century and from then onwards, these little monkey-faced dogs were being exhibited in many dog shows across Germany and as a result they became popular with many German film stars back in the day. One of the most famous ladies being Mrs. Evelyn Walsh McLean, owner of the large Hope Diamond. They were also depicted on postcards.
At the time in Germany, Affenpinschers were classed in the same group as Pinscher Schnauzers with the first stud book listing 14 Affens in 1902 and their numbers continued to rise. Sadly, their numbers declined over the ensuing years and still remain quite low even today in their native Germany.
It is worth noting that the Affenpinscher played an important part in the development of another much-loved breed, namely the Miniature Schnauzer, but they were also used to create the Brussels Griffon too which was fortunate because after the World Wars, Griffons were used to rescue the breed from vanishing altogether. Griffons also helped develop Affens with shorter muzzles and prominent chins that we see in the breed today.
By the 1950’s the Affenpinscher became a popular choice outside of Germany, mainly in the UK and the US where the breed gained a large fan base. Although, Affens were bred to have all the usual “terrier” traits due to their small size they were mainly kept as companion dogs and are still as popular today with people the world over thanks to their unique monkey-like faces and disarmingly comical personalities.
With this said, the breed’s popularity was a little slower to take off than in the United States with the first Affen being registered with the Kennel Club in 1987. After this, as further three dogs were imported to the country by a lady called Mrs. Wood who set about promoting the breed in the UK.
Over the ensuing years, more Affens were imported into the country and the breed’s popularity began to grow across the land. The Affenpinscher Club was later founded in 1982. Today, these charming little monkey-faced dogs have earned the reputation of being loyal and comical companions to share a home with and their popularity is gaining momentum from year to year.
Interesting facts about the breed
Is the Affenpinscher a vulnerable breed? No, they have consistently been a popular choice both as a family pet and companion
They have always been known for the cute “monkey-like” faces and their name Affenpinscher translated from German roughly means “Monkey Mutt”
Affens only come in one colour which is black although dogs can have grey flecks in their coats too under the Kennel Club breed standard
The famous painter “Renoir” was a big fan of the breed
In 1886, a Monkey Pinscher was exhibited at the Kennel Club Dog Show that was held at the Royal Aquarium.