Monkey Dog Makes an Impression

In February 2013, Banana Joe became the first affenpinscher to win Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, increasing the popularity of the breed and bringing renewed attention to the “monkey faced” dog.

The affenpinscher, however, isn’t the new kid in school; the breed can trace its roots back several hundred years, when it was popular for another reason.

Affenpinscher photo copyright Michael M Trafford

During the 1600s, the affenpinscher gained its social status as a ratter—a dog used specifically to chase and catch rodents that had infiltrated kitchens, stables and barns storing fresh grain.

The breed was in high demand for its rat-chasing skills, and became known for its unusual looking face which appeared to resemble that of a monkey. Hence, the breed was named “affen,” which means “monkey” in German.

Banana Joe, Best in Show, Westminster Kennel Club

The affenpinscher, also called the “little devil with a mustache,” is known to be a curious—sometimes mischievous, adventurous and active dog that usually gets along well with other dogs and pets.

Loyal to its family, the breed is very affectionate, with a lively and confident disposition, eager to please and protect those it loves.

The affenpinscher can also display a stubbornness that should be managed with routine training, something that will also keep the dog from becoming bored.

It should be noted that affenpinschers are territorial dogs, and can be very protective of its toys and food, showing no fear when approached by those it considers an “aggressor.” Caution should be used if raising an affenpinscher alongside small children.

Activities and daily exercise will benefit your affenpinscher; this highly intelligent breed thrives on attention and tasks.

Along with its unusual facial expression, affenpinschers are known for its shaggy coat which some describe as “mane like.”

The dog’s short, wiry fur coat that can be coarse if not groomed regularly or soft and fluffy if groomed weekly. An Affenpinscher is usually black in color, but can be gray, silver, red, beige or black and tan.

A small-breed dog, the Affenpinscher weighs between six and 14 pounds and stands between nine to 12 inches tall.

While these may be common medical conditions, your Affenpinscher—considered to be a sturdy breed with few genetic disorders—will not necessarily develop any of those listed below.

Affenpinscher, photo copyright Michael M Trafford
  • Canine epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. The symptoms vary in severity but the dog usually foams at the mouth and appears to be chewing on something. Then he will have violent muscle contractions, lose bladder or bowel control and faint.
  • Heart murmurs, which may be caused by Patent Ductus Arteriosis (PDA) or a variety of other cardiac anomalies that are inherited. If diagnosed early enough, PDA can be corrected through surgery and likely lead to a long and healthy life.
  • Hip dysplasia, usually noted in large breeds of dogs, is a malformation of the hip joints that causes arthritis and is especially crippling. The affenpinscher, albeit a small-sized breed, may also be affected by the condition.
  • Legg–Calve-Perthes disease is a disorder of the hip joint of small breeds characterized by deformity of the ball that makes up the ball and socket joint of the hip. The disease is typically seen in dogs less than one year of age and is characterized by acute pain and lameness of the rear leg. It will cause severe arthritis of the hip if not treated. Surgical treatment involves removal of the deformed femoral head (ball) of the hip joint. Prognosis is good with rehabilitation therapy after surgery.
  • Patellar luxation is caused by anatomical defects of the bones that make up the knee joint. It is manifested by the kneecap (patella) slipping in and out of its normal location in the knee. Mildly affected dogs may carry the leg for 2 or 3 steps while walking. Severely affected dogs may become severely lame and refuse to use their rear legs. Surgical correction of this condition is very rewarding.

As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your four-legged friend.