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Miniature Pinscher

The Miniature Pinscher dog breed was originally bred in Germany to hunt vermin, primarily rats, in homes and stables. Many people think that the Miniature Pinscher was developed by breeding Dobermans to progressively smaller sizes, and indeed, the Miniature Pinscher looks similar to a Doberman. However, the Min Pin is a distinct and much older breed. Known as the “King of Toys” for his stately appearance and self-assured attitude, the Miniature Pinscher is a fearless, energetic, and alert companion dog who enjoys the company of his family.

“Min Pins rule” — that’s the attitude you’ll discover when you get acquainted with the Miniature Pinscher, a small, elegant dog with an arched neck and well-muscled body. Weighing in at a dainty 8 to 11 pounds, this toy breed is a tough little dog with a lot of attitude.

While the Min Pin looks like a smaller version of a Doberman, he’s a completely separate breed. It’s speculated that both the Min Pin and the Doberman descended from the German Pinscher, but that the Doberman’s other ancestors were dogs such as the Rottweiler, while the Min Pin’s were Dachshunds and Italian Greyhounds.

Another misconception is that the Min Pin is related to the Manchester Terrier. While these two breeds resemble each other, there is no relation between them.

First bred to hunt rats, this breed is called Zwergpinscher in Germany, his country of origin. In German, pinscher refers to dogs who were bred as guardians or to hunt vermin, and zwerg means “dwarf” or “midget.”

Although he’s a rather delicate-looking toy breed, the Min Pin is a sturdy dog with a dynamite personality. If given the chance, this King of Toys will rule you and your household. If you’re considering owning one, you must be willing and able to be a strong yet kind pack leader. Training and socialization are essential. It’s safe to say the Min Pin is his own dog, both in breeding and attitude.

The Min Pin is also an elegant-looking dog. His arched neck and muscular body gives him a confident air. His sleek, easy-care coat of red, black and rust, or chocolate and rust glistens. Min Pin ears often are cropped, but they can be left natural; the tail is usually docked. He is known for his high-stepping gait.

The diminutive Min Pin is a bundle of energy, full of vigor. He’s highly curious and tends to investigate — and possibly eat — everything. He must be watched closely so he doesn’t get into something he shouldn’t. He’s a skilled escape artist and should never be outside off-leash — in fact, you’ll have to make sure he doesn’t dart out whenever you answer the front door.

For these reasons, the Min Pin is not the dog for everyone, especially first-time dog owners. His energy and intelligence can catch his owner off guard. Without proper training and supervision, he can quickly become a tyrant in the household.

Not surprisingly, the self-assured Min Pin is a great watchdog. He’s suspicious of strangers and is typically fearless when faced with a threat, be it real or imagined.

As tough and active as a Min Pin is, he’s not big or sturdy enough to withstand the accidental rough handling associated with very small children. He’s an excellent pet for older children (ages 10 and up) who know how to treat a small dog with respect and care.

The Min Pin’s small size makes him a good pet for apartment dwellers. If socialized with other dogs from an early age, he gets along well with other canines in the household, and with other types of pets.

Because of his energy and tendency to escape, it’s important that you enroll your Min Pin in training classes. Don’t be surprised, however, if he becomes the class clown. He loves attention and may act up to elicit a response. Training should be persistent, positive, and gentle.

If you have a good sense of humor, appreciate an elegant-looking dog with attitude, and are willing to be the “alpha” dog in your household, the Miniature Pinscher may be the dog for you.

Highlights

Miniature Pinschers are hardy little dogs, but they can be easily injured by roughhousing. Because of this, they’re better suited as pets for older children who have learned how to care for a dog properly.

The Min Pin is sensitive to cold. Be sure to put a sweater or coat on him when you take him outside in really cold weather.

Because they were originally bred to hunt vermin, Min Pins may attack small objects (such as bottle caps), which can be a choking hazard. He may also take off after small pets that he perceives as prey.

Min Pins have a lot of energy — probably more than you have. They’re also very curious. You must supervise your Min Pin constantly, and if you can’t, put him in a crate.

You must be willing to take the position of “alpha” in your household. If you don’t, the Min Pin will gladly assume the role.

To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they’re free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.

History

The Miniature Pinscher is thought to be an old breed, but documentation can only trace it reliably back several hundred years. It was developed in Germany to kill rats in homes and stables.

There it was first called the Reh Pinscher because of its supposed similarity to the reh, or small deer, that used to inhabit Germany’s forests. Many people think that the Miniature Pinscher was developed as a mini Doberman, but though he looks similar, he’s a distinct and much older breed.

Development of the Miniature Pinscher took off in 1895 when German breeders formed the Pinscher Klub, later renamed the Pinscher-Schnauzer Klub. It was then that the first breed standard was written. Miniature Pinschers were first shown at the Stuttgart Dog Show in Germany in 1900, at which time they were virtually unknown outside of their homeland.

From 1905 until World War I, the Miniature Pinscher rapidly grew in popularity in Germany. After World War I, breeders in Germany and also in the Scandinavian countries worked to improve the line. Around 1919, the first Miniature Pinschers were imported in the United States. Only a few were shown in American Kennel Club dog shows at first. But by 1929, the Miniature Pinscher Club of America, Inc., was formed.

Also in 1929, the AKC recognized the breed. At that time Min Pins were shown in the Terrier group. In 1930, they were reclassified as Toys and called Pinscher (Miniature). They were renamed Miniature Pinscher in 1972.

Coat Color And Grooming

The Min Pin is extremely handsome in his short, sleek coat. Colors include red, black and rust, and chocolate and rust.

Grooming doesn’t get much easier than this. The Min Pin needs brushing every few days to keep his sleek coat shiny; a soft bristle brush or grooming mitt works well. Frequent bathing is not recommended because it dries the skin, though it’s okay to bath the Min Pin when he rolls in something smelly or is very dirty.

 

Instead of bathing, many owners simply wet a washcloth with warm water and wipe the Min Pin’s coat. Begin with the face, paying particular attention to the area under the eyes, and work back toward the tail. If you do this every few days, the Min Pin will stay clean and healthy.

Brush your Min Pin’s teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.

Trim his nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn’t wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they’re too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you’re not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers.

His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog’s ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don’t insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear.

Begin accustoming your Min Pin to being brushed and examined when he’s a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you’ll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he’s an adult.

As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

Children And Other Pets

If a Miniature Pinscher is raised with children who treat him carefully and kindly, he will adore them and be a trustworthy companion. However, if children are allowed to grab or treat him roughly, even accidentally, he may develop a bad attitude toward kids, or at least want to avoid them as much as possible. The Min Pin is best suited for children age 10 and older.

As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.

Many owners have more than one Min Pin; properly socialized and trained, these dogs get along with other dogs just fine (expect some bossiness as they work out who’s top dog). As far as other pets are concerned, the Min Pin’s instinct is to chase, so he isn’t well suited to homes with small mammals.

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