German Pinscher

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Check out the information you need to know about the German Pinscher breed and see if you're a match in our complete guide.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:
12 to 14 years
Size:

Medium

Maintenance Level:

Medium

Shed Level:

Low

Temperament:
EnergeticStrongTough Guy
Coat Color:
IsabellaRedBlackBlue

Best For

German Pinschers are best for experienced and active dog parents. These pups get along with older kids and other dogs when properly socialized and can be a good choice for apartment-dwellers.

German Pinscher Traits

What makes the German Pinscher a German Pinscher? Let's find out how they stack up.

German Pinscher Temperament

The German Pinscher is an energetic and intelligent dog who is loyal and protective of their families. Their personality can include a strong-willed and assertive streak, and some say they’re even a bit manipulative. (That’s why they’re not a good choice for first-time pup parents—you’ll likely need experience to teach them how to live in harmony with you.)

These dogs like to be busy, so plan to keep them occupied with exercise, puzzle toys and training. If you don’t give them something to do, they’ll find their own entertainment—and your shoes and your furniture may become unwilling participants.

German Pinschers were originally bred to hunt small critters, but now they focus their efforts on being a loving companion to their families and guardian of their home. These pups can do well with other dogs or older kids, but early socialization and training are important. German Pinschers may do OK with a cat they’ve been raised with since puppyhood; otherwise, they’ll always give chase. They tend to like a more peaceful home, which is why they may get along better with older kids who won’t startle them.

How to Care for a German Pinscher

German Pinschers have moderate maintenance needs. Their sleek, shiny coat needs minimal grooming and won’t shed excessively. Instead, the bulk of your time will be spent in exercising and training this active, intelligent pup.

German Pinscher Health

German Pinschers have a lifespan of 12 to 14 years, and there are several health concerns associated with the breed. With knowledge, proper care and routine vet checkups, you can help your pup live the healthiest life possible.

  • Hip Dysplasia: This often genetic condition occurs when the ball and socket of the hip is malformed and grinds instead of sliding smoothly, causing your pup pain. Treatment options include weight reduction, exercise restriction, physical therapy, joint supplements and medications.
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease: This is a hereditary disease that causes the blood not to clot properly. Treatment may include blood transfusions, but dogs don’t usually need treatment unless they’re having surgery or are severely injured. Management usually involves a change in activity to prevent injury.
  • Heart Problems: There is a small incidence of heart problems in German Pinschers, often caused by the weakening of a valve that is detected as a heart murmur. If caught early enough, it can be managed with medication.
  • Eye Problems: German Pinschers may be at risk for cataracts and corneal dystrophy, an inherited condition in which crystals form on the cornea, leading to vision loss. Cataracts may be corrected with surgery; there is no treatment for corneal dystrophy. However, dogs with vision loss can still lead happy lives.

German Pinscher History

Originating in southern Germany, the German Pinscher is one of that country’s oldest breeds. It was a foundation breed for the Doberman Pinscher and Miniature Pinscher, and in 1885, the dog was first listed in German records as a smooth-coated Pinscher. Originally, there were two types in the breed: smooth-coated and wire-coated. In the 1900s, the two types were split into two breeds: German Pinscher and Standard Schnauzer.

The German Pinscher dog almost went extinct after both World War I and World War II, with no litters registered in West Germany from 1949 to 1958. But Werner Jung, a breed enthusiast in Germany, saved the day—and the breed—when he smuggled a female out of East Germany and bred her with several Miniature Pinschers.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, German Pinschers began to show up in the United States and were bred in small numbers. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 2003.

Do you want to add a German Pinscher to your family? You can find a reputable breeder at the AKC’s website; a puppy will cost between $650 and $1,000, and some as much as $2,500. For that price, you’re likely getting a puppy who’s been screened for health and temperament issues and may come with pedigree papers. You can also contact German Pinscher rescues to adopt a pup or keep an eye out for the breed at a local rescue.

FAQs

Do German Pinschers shed?

German Pinschers don’t shed much since the dog is short-coated. They do shed occasionally, but you won’t be sweeping up piles of fluff or contending with hair all over the couch.

Are German Pinschers good family dogs?

German Pinschers can be good family dogs in the right setting. These are very energetic dogs who don’t like chaotic homes, so they do better in families with older kids. With proper socialization, these dogs can be good members of the family.

Are German Pinschers aggressive?

German Pinschers can be aggressive towards people and dogs they don’t know. If the dog isn’t socialized from puppyhood, they may aggressively react when meeting new people or dogs for the first time.

How big do German Pinschers get?

German Pinschers are medium-sized dogs. They can get up to 20 inches tall at the shoulder and can weigh up to 45 pounds.

How long do German Pinschers live?

German Pinschers live for about 12 to 14 years, giving you a lot of time to make wonderful memories with this dog.

Do German Pinschers bark a lot?

German Pinschers do bark, but not as much as, say, a Silky Terrier. German Pinschers take their guard-dog duties seriously, so they will bark to alert you when something’s amiss or when new people or dogs come to your door.

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Top Takeaways

It would be hard to find a more loyal, dedicated protector than the German Pinscher. These smart and stubborn dogs need an experienced pet parent who understands what they need—a confident, calm and patient leader. German Pinschers are active pets who need a family willing to include them on all their adventures.

Expert input provided by Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM and veterinary consultant for DogLab.com, and trainer Amber Walker, KPA-CTP, zoologist and owner of Animal Intuitions.

Photo credit for “How do I look?” American Kennel Club

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