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Choosing a German Pinscher

The German pinscher is a medium sized dog, in between the miniature pinscher and the Doberman pinscher. One of the stock breeds used in the development of those breeds, the German pinscher is actually more closely related to the standard schnauzer.

History and Origin

The German pinscher originated in Germany several centuries ago as a working dog to hunt vermin and protect his family and livestock. This breed was used in the development of the Doberman pinscher and miniature pinscher but is more closely related to the schnauzer. In the 1800s, litters of German pinschers had both smooth coats and coarse coats. Eventually, the smooth coated dogs became known as German pinschers and the coarse coated dogs became the standard schnauzer, both now distinct breeds.

The German pinscher almost became extinct following World War II and was saved through the efforts of Werner Junghof in the mid 1950s. Today, the German pinscher is a rare breed in the United States and is more of a companion and protector than hunter.

The German pinscher was recognized in 2001 by the American Kennel Club as a member of the working group.

Appearance and Size

The German pinscher is a medium sized well muscled terrier that looks like a smaller version of a Doberman pinscher. The muzzle is straight and the ears are set high. They may be cropped or not. The tail is set high and docked and the feet are small and cat-like.

The coat is smooth, glossy and short. Coat colors can be fawn, referred to as Isabella, various shades of red and black or blue with red or tan markings.

The adult German pinscher stands around 16 to 19 inches at the shoulder and weighs about 25 to 35 pounds.


The German pinscher is a lively and smart dog. He is very playful and fearless but can be headstrong. He tends not to bark as much as other pinscher but will bark when strangers approach.

Home and Family Relations

The German pinscher is a good dog for apartment dwellers. They are quite active inside but don’t require a large yard, leash walks will do. If left alone in the fenced yard, make sure it is secure since this breed may try to escape. They should not be allowed to roam off leash since they tend to chase anything that moves quickly.

This pinscher loves his family but does better with older children. He is loyal and quite possessive of his family, making him a good watchdog. The breed can be aggressive toward strangers if not properly socialized as a puppy. Some can be dog aggressive.


The German pinscher is intelligent and easy to train with patience and persistence. If not obedience trained, the German pinscher can become stubborn and have a problem with dominance.

Special Concerns

The German pinscher does not like to be left alone with nothing to do. They are intelligent dogs and need mental stimulation to prevent destructive behaviors. Because of their small size and short hair coat, the German pinscher should be protected from the cold.

Common Diseases and Disorders

The German pinscher is a healthy breed with few health concerns. Some reported health issues include:

Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that results in pain, lameness and arthritis.

Progressive retinal degeneration is a disease that causes nerve cells at the back of the eye to degenerate. The condition usually begins in older pets and can lead to blindness.

Cataracts cause a loss of the normal transparency of the lens of the eye. You may see a cloudy, white color in the pupil, which is normally black. The problem can occur in one or both eyes and can lead to blindness.

Hernias, either umbilical or inguinal (groin), can occur.

Von Willebrand’s disease is a bleeding disorder.

Cryptorchidism is a disorder in which one or both testicles do not descend into the scrotum.

The average life span of the German pinscher is about 12 to 15 years.

We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only