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German Pinscher


The German Pinscher, also known at various times as the Deutscher Pinscher, the Reh Pinscher, the Medium Pinscher and the Standard Pinscher, is a medium-sized, energetic and watchful dog that makes an excellent guardian and family companion. The breed originated in Germany, where it was first recognized as a distinct breed in 1879. The first formal breed standard for the German Pinscher was written in 1884. Its name derives from the Germanic form of the French word "pincer," which means "to seize" or "to nip". The German Pinscher is an intense and proficient vermin-controller and rodent-killer. It was admitted into the American Kennel Club as a member of the Working Group in 2001.
The mature male or female German Pinscher ideally stands 17 to 20 inches high at the highest point of the withers and weighs between 25 and 40 pounds. Thd breed is easy to care for, as its short coat requires minimal grooming. Acceptable colors include red, black with red markings, blue with tan markings and fawn (called "Isabella").

History & Health


The German Pinscher has existed for centuries but was not subjected to managed breeding programs in Germany until the 1800s, where it was one of the foundation breeds in the development of the Doberman Pinscher and the Miniature Pinscher. Despite its name and appearance, the German Pinscher is actually closely related to the Standard Schnauzer, both of which descend from the now-extinct Rat Pinscher. The German Pinscher was selectively bred to seek out and kill rats and other rodents, working independently of its owners. It also was bred to be bold, protective and territorial. The German Pinscher came close to extinction after World War II. In 1949, only one German Pinscher litter was whelped in all of West Germany, and no litters were born in that country for the next nine years. The breed was saved through the dedicated breeding program of Herr Werner Jung, beginning in 1958. The German Pinscher is still considered a rare breed, kept today more as a companion than a working ratter. Its size and disposition make it an ideal urban pet and family guardian, although it has never achieved the popularity of its direct descendants, the Miniature Pinscher and the Doberman Pinscher.


The average life expectancy of the German Pinscher is between 12 and 14 years. This is a hardy, healthy breed with few breed health concerns, which may include cataracts, hip dysplasia and von Willebrand disease.

Temperament & Personality


Halfway in size between a Miniature Pinscher and a Doberman Pinscher, the German Pinscher is a medium-sized powerhouse – fearless, imposing, and completely devoted to the family he loves. German Pinschers have big personalities and tend to believe the world revolves around them. They are fiercely protective of their territory and family, and despite their medium size make excellent guard dogs and can be counted on to take down an intruder with shocking efficiency. This breed is quite dependent upon human companionship and will want to be included in every aspect of home life, from work to play to sharing the bed. German Pinschers are an excellent choice for experienced dog owners and for people who lead an active lifestyle.

Activity Requirements

Their medium size makes the Pinscher appealing to apartment dwellers, but this is not their ideal living situation. Pinschers need room to romp and play, and their daily activity should involve running whenever possible. People who love the outdoors make excellent matches for this breed. They can keep up on jogs or bike rides, love hiking and can make an entire afternoon out of playing ball or frisbee. About an hour of exercise every day should keep a Pinscher physically and mentally fit. If he starts developing destructive or anxious behaviors, this is a red flag that that he's not getting enough exercise.


Pinschers have an independent streak in them, but are generally easy to train. They possess a strong desire to please and pick up on new tasks quickly when rewarded with affection and treats. Consistency is important, as their independent side makes them prone to testing boundaries. Pinschers can be incredibly manipulative, their faces often look like they are smiling, and their eyes are quite expressive. The soft at heart can be easily walked all over by a Pinscher. But once leadership is established and basic obedience is mastered, however, German Pinschers can excel in advanced obedience, tracking and agility activities.
German Pinschers, despite their imposing look, make excellent service and therapy dogs. Individual dogs with steady temperaments enjoy working with the elderly and infirm, especially if it involves having lots of attention and treats lavished upon them.

Behavioral Traits

German Pinschers are not an ideal breed for families with small children. This breed is highly possessive of food, toys and even their favorite people, and a toddler with no sense of a dog's boundaries could get snapped at or even bitten.
This breed barks at just about everything, which makes them excellent watchdogs, but not so excellent housemates. Early training to obey commands to stop barking is essential for household sanity.
Pinschers were designed to hunt small vermin, and this hunting instinct is still present in the modern breed. They should not be raised alongside cats or other small animals, and when outdoors, Pinschers should always be on a leash or in an enclosed area.

Breed Standard

General Appearance
The German Pinscher is a medium size, short coated dog, elegant in appearance with a strong square build and moderate body structure, muscular and powerful for endurance and agility. Energetic, watchful, alert, agile, fearless, determined, intelligent and loyal, the German Pinscher has the prerequisites to be an excellent watchdog and companion. The German Pinscher is examined on the ground.

Size, Proportion, Substance
Size- the ideal height at the highest point of the withers for a dog or bitch is 17 - 20 inches. Size should be penalized in accordance with the degree it deviates from the ideal. Quality should always take precedence over size. Faults- under 17 inches or over 20 inches. Proportion- squarely built in proportion of body length to height. The height at the highest point of the withers equals the length of the body from the prosternum to the rump. Substance- muscular with moderate bone.

Head and Skull
Powerful, elongated without the occiput being too pronounced and resembles a blunt wedge in both frontal and profile views. The total length of the head from the tip of the nose to the occiput is one half the length from the withers to the base of the tail resulting in a ratio of approximately 1:2. Expression- sharp, alert and responsive. Eyes- medium size, dark, oval in shape without the appearance of bulging. The eyelid should be tight and the eyeball non-protruding. Ears- set high, symmetrical, and carried erect when cropped. If uncropped, they are V-shaped with a folding pleat, or small standing ears carried evenly upright. Skull- flat, unwrinkled from occiput to stop when in repose. The stop is slight but distinct. Muzzle- parallel and equal in length to the topskull and ends in a blunt wedge. The cheeks are muscled and flat. Nose- full, and black. Lips- black, close fitting. Bite- strong, scissors bite with complete dentition and white teeth. Faults- overshot or undershot bites, absence of primary molars.

Neck, Topline, Body
Neck- elegant and strong, of moderate thickness and length, nape elegantly arched. The skin is tight, closely fitting to the dry throat without wrinkles, sagging, or dewlaps. Topline- the withers form the highest point of the topline, which slopes slightly toward the rear, extending in a straight line from behind the withers, through the well-muscled loin to the faintly curved croup. Back- short, firm, and level, muscular at the loins. Faults- long back, not giving the appearance of squarely built, roach back, sway back. Body- compact and strong, so as to permit greater flexibility and agility, with the length of leg being equal to the depth of body. Loin- is well muscled. The distance from the last rib to the hip is short. Chest- moderately wide with well-sprung ribs, and when viewed from the front, appears to be oval. The forechest is distinctly marked by the prosternum. The brisket descends to the elbows and ascends gradually to the rear with the belly moderately drawn up. Fault- excessive tuck up. Tail- moderately set and carried above the horizontal. Customarily docked between the second and third joints.

The sloping shoulder blades are strongly muscled, yet flat and well laid back, forming an angle of approximately 45 degrees to the horizontal. They are well angled and slope forward, forming an approximately 90 degree angle to the upper arm, which is equal in length to the shoulder blade. Such angulation permits the maximum forward extension of the forelegs without binding or effort. Forelegs- straight and well boned, perfectly vertical when viewed from all sides, set moderately apart with elbows set close to the body. Dewclaws on the forelegs may be removed. Pasterns- firm and almost perpendicular to the ground. Feet- short, round, compact with firm dark pads and dark nails. The toes are well closed and arched like cat feet.

The thighs are strongly muscled and in balance with forequarters. The stifles are well bent and well boned, with good angulation. When viewed from the rear, the hocks are parallel to each other.

Short and dense, smooth and close lying. Shiny and covers the body without bald spots. A hard coat should not be penalized.

Isabella (fawn), to red in various shades to stag red (red with intermingling of black hairs), black and blues with red/tan markings. In the reds, a rich vibrant medium to dark shade is preferred. In bi-colored dogs, sharply marked dark and rich red/tan markings are desirable. Markings distributed as follows: at cheeks, lips, lower jaw, above eyes, at throat, on forechest as two triangles distinctly separated from each other, at metatarsus or pasterns, forelegs, feet, inner side of hind legs and below tail. Pencil marks on the toes are acceptable. Any white markings on the dog are undesirable. A few white hairs do not constitute a marking. Disqualification: Dogs not of an allowable color.

The ground covering trot is relaxed, well balanced, powerful and uninhibited with good length of stride, strong drive and free front extension. At the trot the back remains firm and level, without swaying, rolling or roaching. When viewed from the front and rear, the feet must not cross or strike each other. Fault- hackney gait.

The German Pinscher has highly developed senses, intelligence, aptitude for training, fearlessness, and endurance. He is alert, vigilant, deliberate and watchful of strangers. He has fearless courage and tenacity if threatened. A very vivacious dog, but not an excessive barker. He should not show viciousness by unwarranted or unprovoked attacks.
*Note- Great consideration should be given to a dog giving the desired alert, highly intelligent, vivacious character of the German Pinscher. Aggressive behavior towards another dog is not deemed viciousness. Fault- shy.
The foregoing description is that of the ideal German Pinscher. Any deviation from this is to be penalized to the extent of the deviation.

Disqualification: Dogs not of an allowable color.

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Sources: American Kennel Club


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