German Pinscher

Guard Dog and Loving Family Companion Needs Firm Guidance

German Pinscher

A Smaller Rendition of a Doberman Pinscher with Similar Traits, This Excellent Guard Dog and Loving Family Companion Needs Firm Guidance

The German Pinscher: Although You Might Think This Is a Type of Doberman Pinscher, It's Actually an Older, Related Breed

Smaller than the Doberman Pinscher, the German Pinscher is related to the Doberman Pinscher but is a separate breed. The German Pinscher is actually an older breed that was used as a farm dog and vermin hunter. It nearly disappeared after World War II and only was restored thanks to the true descendant breed, the Miniature Pinscher. Today, the German Pinscher is a family dog and companion, popular because of its relatively small size of 25 to 45 pounds.


Originating in Germany, the German Pinscher is related to the Miniature Pinscher, Affenpinscher, Doberman Pinscher, and all three sizes of the Schnauzer – Giant, Standard, and Miniature. These dogs appear in a photograph dating to 1780, with similar-looking dogs. Books dating to 1884 also reference dogs with comparable characteristics, calling them "Smooth Haired Pinschers." One of its ancestor dogs was the now-extinct Rat Catcher, also known as the Great Ratter.

The German Pinscher was first recognized as its own breed in 1895 and became nearly extinct after the World Wars. Two of the breed's colors did become extinct, the salt-and-pepper and the pure black German Pinscher. After World War II, a Werner Jung, of West Germany, began to breed the German Pinscher and saved the breed from extinction. German Pinschers first came to the United States in the late 1970s. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 2003.

Today, it is a member of the AKC’s Working Group and remains relatively rare in the United States.


Also known as the Standard Pinscher, this is a square, muscular, medium-sized dog with symmetrical ears that can be cropped or kept natural. The tail can be docked too, although this is usually illegal in Europe. The most common color is black with tan markings, although it can also be reddish fawn, or dark brown with yellow markings. The coat is hard, smooth, and glossy. In adulthood, the German Pinscher stands 16 to 19 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 25 and 45 pounds.


Energetic and driven, the German Pinscher is a true working dog but a great companion dog as well. Despite your pet's interest in performing a useful function, it can also be very playful – and that trait will stay prevalent well into adulthood. Make sure you give this dog plenty of chew toys well past puppyhood, because the chewing instinct will also remain strong well past the teething stage.

Although this is a loving, lovely, and cheerful dog, the German Pinscher can be hard to control and can become very domineering if not handled properly. Firm and gentle but consistent discipline is a must; take care to enroll your pet in puppy kindergarten as soon as you first bring it home.

Finally, although the German Pinscher is great with older children, you should not get the German Pinscher if you share your home with children who are younger than about nine years of age. You should also not get this breed as a pet if you want a placid, agreeable, self-effacing dog. The German Pinscher is very intelligent and can be willful, and you need to be able to handle that without showing any indecisiveness whatsoever.

Once you socialize your pet and have no doubt that it knows that you're the boss – or the "alpha" dog, as it’s known – you will have a devoted, loving, extremely protective dog. Although independent, this dog will want to be with you at all times and should be in the middle of the action, not left off in a corner by itself.

The protective instinct of this breed gives this dog very good guard-dog abilities. The German Pinscher has a strong, loud bark and will absolutely stand up to any intruder or danger. Have no fear that this dog can handle an intruder, despite its relatively small size.

This breed may make some people nervous, since the German Pinscher looks like a very large Miniature Pinscher or small Doberman Pinscher. Indeed, the German Pinscher was a foundation breed for both of these breeds, so the resemblance can be striking. However, as long as you have socialized your pet appropriately so that it is relatively obedient rather than overbearing, your friends have nothing to worry about. (Unwelcome strangers, however, do.)

Proper Environment

Surprisingly, German Pinschers can tolerate life in an apartment as long as you provide plenty of exercise. However, it's really best to have at least a fenced-in yard with plenty of room to run safely. A couple of brisk, lengthy walks every day, or the freedom to run in a dog park can be excellent alternatives if you can't provide a proper yard with a strong, sturdy fence. In addition, because your dog is a vermin hunter by nature, the "chase of prey" will be a very strong instinct. Keep your pet on leash at all times when you are out and about.


Generally healthy, the German Pinscher is prone to some breed-specific health conditions. Your breeder should be able to show you health clearances for your puppy's parents from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals in regard to hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, von Willebrand's disease and thrombopathia, (both of the latter two conditions similar to hemophilia in humans). The breeder should also be able to show certification that your puppy's eyes are normal from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation.

German Pinschers can be prone to cataracts in old age. Life expectancy is 12 to 14 years.


An average shedder, the German Pinscher requires little grooming. Simply brush the smooth coat once a week or use a rubber mitt to get rid of excess hair. Brush teeth two to three times a week with vet-approved toothpaste, or daily if your pet will allow it. Dental hygiene is essential to protecting your pet for long-term health and vitality. Trim nails once to twice a month if they are not worn down naturally.


German Pinscher.

Retrieved October 27, 2015.

German Pinscher.

Retrieved October 27, 2015.

German Pinscher.

Retrieved October 27, 2015.

German Pinscher.

Retrieved October 27, 2015.

Meet the German Pinscher.

Retrieved October 27, 2015.

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