What kind of dog is that?" "Look at him prancing around, just like a little old man!" People who own, exhibit and breed the Affenpinscher hear these kinds of comments all the time.
This relatively uncommon, but old, breed is slowly gaining respect by the dog fancy and the public as well.
One experienced dog enthusiast, after living with and showing his first Affenpinscher, was heard to say, "This breed is the best-kept secret in the dog world, and I hope it stays that way.
" The Affenpinscher has a small but loyal following in North America and Europe.
Its history and development as a respected member of the canine community is an interesting but unfamiliar story.
This German tot is a clever, sturdy little dog who loves to frolic with his master in almost any kind of environment.
The Affen, which is the nickname that many friends of the breed use, adapts well to a variety of living arrangements, from small city apartments to lavish homes with acres of land in which to romp.
The word Affen, in the German language, means to ape or to mock.
From this it came to mean monkey-like behavior or appearance.
Therefore, the name is often translated as "monkey terrier.
" Interestingly, both its looks and actions are reflected in this name.
The viewer quickly gets a decidedly "simian" impression from his scruffy whiskers and eyebrows, which frame the full, dark and intense eyes.
The image is reinforced by an Affen's willingness to walk or hop on his hind legs and bat the air with his front paws in a comical dance.
The inquisitive tilting head and the devilish stare, followed by a sudden dashing off in a playful gallop, can't help but bring a smile to an observer's face.
Because of the penetrating stare and these mischievous antics, the breed is called the "Diablotin Moustachu" or the "mustached little devil" in France.
The distinctive round head with full, dark eyes, short muzzle, slightly undershot lower teeth, pouting mouth and hard shaggy coat are important characteristics for the typical "monkey-like terrier.
" The Affenpinscher is a toy breed ranging in height from 9 to 12 inches at the shoulder, ideally 10.
The body is moderately thick and square.
The rib cage is generally more egg-shaped than barrel-shaped.
The mature dog will weigh between 7 and 12 pounds.
The back is short and level.
The lengths of the upper and lower front legs are equal, and the legs are straight, not bowed or out at the elbows.
The rear legs are straight, not cow-hocked, with moderate angulation.
One health problem that affects many toy breeds is the luxation of the patella or the slipping of the kneecaps.
This is a concern for some Affenpinscher breeders, and one needs to be aware that lameness in the rear legs may occur as a result of this genetic weakness.
In North America the colors of the coat include black, black and tan, gray, red, wild boar or belge, and all of these colors may have various shadings from light tan to dark red.
The lighter-colored dogs may have black or dark gray masks.
Generally, there are more black Affenpinschers than any other color.
These black dogs often develop mixtures of while, reddish brown or gray hairs in their adult coats.
The coat quality has varying degrees of coarseness, depending upon the type of hair, its color and its care.
Some coats are of a very hard texture, without much undercoat and with sparse furnishings.
Some may have an abundance of undercoat and thick furnishings on the legs and head.
Correct grooming and coat care will keep each of the extremes more suitable for the breed.
Preference is for the hard coat with an undercoat that allows for full furnishings on the head and legs.
The ears, which are set high, may be cropped to a point or left natural.
The natural or uncropped ears usually tip forward but may also stand up erect.
The tail can be docked or left long or natural.
The docked tail on an adult is about 1-2 inches long, set and carried high.
The undocked tail is carried curved, gaily up over the back when the dog is moving or is happy and attentive.
The undocked and uncropped Affenpinscher presents a different overall image of the breed, but it should not be penalized in the show ring.
In most of Europe the breed is required to be natural.
Today more than three-quarters of the Affenpinschers in America have natural or uncropped ears.
Still, in the US and Canada one will see the majority of Affenpinschers in the show ring with docked tails.
Even so, one of the breed's top bitches has both natural ears and tail.
Yarrow's Lucy in the Sky, "Moraina," as she is called, has a famous brother with natural ears (but a docked tail).
He is "Cosmos," the number-one Affenpinscher, formally Ch.
Yarrow's Super Nova.
The all-natural Affenpinscher is steadily gaining popularity in America.
Large or small, black or red, cropped and docked or natural, the Affenpinscher is a distinct and delightful breed.