German Pinscher

Breed Group: Working

Temperament and Behavior

The American Kennel Club breed standard for the German Pinscher states they are “Energetic, watchful, alert, agile, fearless, determined, intelligent and loyal” They are also strong-willed, assertive, even manipulative. Always observant, they seem to be planning to take control of the situation if allowed. They issue a challenge with direct eye contact. Knowing how to respond is key in avoiding a leadership struggle. Those who do find them quite trainable. Like his larger Doberman Pinscher cousin, he usually bonds closely to his family, and although he loves to play, is not very demonstrative of his affection. He accepts older, well-behaved children, especially if raised with them but can be difficult for a child to control and is unaccepting of any abuse, intentional or not, a small child may deliver. Strongly territorial and always alert, he generally challenges strange dogs but accepts canines he is raised with. He has a strong prey drive and, using his lightning quick reflexes, will kill any small animal that runs from him. A superior watchdog, strangers should not expect an inordinate amount of barking to warn them away before they find out the fearless German Pinscher will back up their bark with a bite. The high-energy German Pinscher is equally active inside and out. They require plenty of exercise- they love to roam free in a large securely fenced yard but will settle for long brisk walks. Properly exercised dogs are not hyperactive inside. He can become possessive of objects, no matter if it is yours or his. Some bark excessively.

Physical Characteristics

Medium in size, German Pinschers stand between 17 and 20 inches tall and weigh between 25 and 35 pounds. They are muscular and strong, but also quick and agile. Coat colors include fawn, red, black/tan, blue/tan, and red/tan. Their short, smooth coat needs minimal grooming; occasional brushing suffices to ensure limited shedding. They do well in heat but poorly in the cold. A sweater is suggested in chilly weather.

Trainer's Notes

With their strongly independent and spirited personalities, German Pinschers need patient, firm training. Without it, they have a tendency to use their natural leadership ability to exert their dominance over their house and family. They have a strong sense of self-respect and will become resistive with someone who treats them roughly or unfairly. Expect to invest time learning how to train them properly. They have too many challenges to recommend them to a first-time dog owner.

Photo © by Stesi-cliff available under the GNUFDL
German Pinscher

German Pinscher


Only a few health problems are associated with German Pinschers. Although none of these diseases affect a large percentage of dogs, Hip Dysplasia, Cataracts, and Von Willebrand’s Disease are sometimes seen. German Pinschers live into their early to mid-teens.


A rare breed, less than 100 German Pinschers are registered with the Amerian Kennel Club in a typical year. They are ranked 142nd on the AKC’s list of most popular dogs. If you have an interest in a puppy, be prepared to search for a breeder and be put on a waiting list to get your pup.

Breed History

Originally used for ratting, guarding, and herding, the German Pinscher originated in 17th century Germany. Smaller Miniature Pinschers and larger Doberman Pinschers were bred from the medium-sized German Pinscher. They are also related to the Schnauzers, which were once called Wirehaired Pinschers. The breed nearly went extinct after World War II with not a single dog registered in West Germany between 1949 and 1958. Almost all of today’s German Pinschers descend from four oversized Miniature Pinschers and a single German Pinscher smuggled out of East Germany. The breed did not arrive in the U.S. until the late 1970s and was not fully recognized by the AKC until 2003.

Additional Information

Sight and motion oriented, most people are unprepared for the lightning fast speed of the German Pinscher. New owners are usually surprised by their instinctive reflexes and instantaneous reactions. Leashes and secure fences are an absolute requirement for their safety. The national (US) breed club is the German Pinscher Club of America.

Is A German Pinscher THE BEST Dog For YOU?

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