Affenpinschers originated in Germany and their name means monkey dog. Affe is German for monkey. They are thought to be one of the oldest toy dog breeds going back to the 16th century or earlier. Affenpinscher type dogs can be seen in many paintings by artists such as Renoir, and Van Eyck. Affens were originally used as ratters and some retain a fierce hunting instinct for small prey such as birds and mice. However over the years they established themselves as primarily companion dogs, loved for their comic antics.

Crybbe is typical of affens in his behaviour. Quick to learn and good at training but also quick to choose not to obey if he finds his twirls and bows and comic expressions are getting more attention and laughter from his audience. He has achieved his Silver Kennel Club Good Citizen award and has done well in the show ring but, if he doesn't feel like doing what is expected there is no point in persisting.

Affenpinschers can have pricked ears, like Crybbe, or drop ears, like Aoife, and it is hard to tell as puppies which they will have. A litter can have some of each.

Affenpinschers are not a common breed, even in Germany. The highest number of dogs today is probably in the USA. Affenpinschers were introduced into the UK first in the 1890s but only in ones and twos. The breed was not really established until the 1970s and even now there are only about 100 puppies registered a year with the Kennel Club in Britain. It is thought that the affenpinscher was used in the 'breeding down' of the standard schnauzer to produce the miniature schnauzer as a small companion dog more suited to city life than his standard ancestor.

Affenpinschers are intelligent dogs and can be trained to work as medical alert dogs and therapy dogs. Crybbe worked as a Pets As Therapy dog for a while, visiting elderly residents in nursing homes.:

Affenpinschers are usually between 10"-11" tall(24-28cm) and weigh between 9lbs-11lbs (4-5kgs). The coat colour is generally black although many affens do develop grey hairs at quite an early age, however they can have a variety of coat colours quite naturally from red to silver and black and tan. Occasionally an affen can be born with a brindle and tan coat (even from 2 black coated parents). These are known as Belge or 'wild boar' affens and (like affens born with coats of other colours mentioned above) cannot currently be shown in the UK where black is the only accepted colour. Affenpinschers are exhibited in the Toy group at dog shows. Although generally a healthy breed, affens can suffer with patella subluxation which is a hereditary ailment which, if severe, can lead to arthritis and even lameness in affected dogs. When looking to obtain a puppy always check that the parents have been patella tested. Full details of this and other health issues can be found on the Affenpinscher Club UK website.

We became smitten with the breed after obtaining our first affen in 2007, Ingerdorm Crybbe (Crybbe). However the breed is not for everyone. They are small in size and therefore vulnerable but also huge in personality and can be stubborn. They will protect their toys, bed and food firecely at times and may nip if they feel provoked. They can be a wonderful companion dog but may not be ideal for families with young children.

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