German Pinscher

Just what exactly is that elegant and strong looking medium size breed with that black coat and tan markings? If you’re guessing the Doberman, strike 1 looking. If your next guess is the Miniature Pinscher, strike two swinging. Before you strike out, that breed is none other than the German Pinscher.

In fact, if not for the GP, you wouldn’t have either the Min Pin or Doberman. This protective and highly energetic breed is a boss at vermin hunting and a sweetheart at home.

So just how good of a fit is this breed for your family?

Here is what you need to know about the German Pinscher.

History

Before the Doberman or the Min Pin, there was one handsome looking breed representing Deutschland and that breed was the German Pinscher. In fact, the GP is among the oldest of all German breeds.

Their story begins in southern Germany. The breed’s very first standard was written by 1884 and a revision made in 1895. However, there are many historians who believe the breed dates further back then the latter end of the 19th century. Evidence suggests that the German Pinscher and its ancestry traces as far back as the middle ages. Moreover, it would make sense since the breed’s history begins in southern Germany, that a fellow south Germany breed, the Biberhund, is a relative.

Biberhunds were a hunting breed that would hunt for beaver, badger and otter. Additionally, there are roots tracing the breed to the smooth coat variety Rattler. The Rattler was prominent during the 15th century as an infamous vermin killer. Furthermore, combining the two breeds together would explain the working ability of the German Pinscher.

Early on, the German Pinscher was bred to be a vermin killing hunting dog. Also, it was the breed’s job to protect or guard as a stable dog. All three of these tasks gave the GP success and a legacy in its home country of Germany.

Yet, at one point, there were two types of a single breed. Both were pinschers but each would differ on texture of the coat. For instance, there was the smooth coat pinscher and the wire haired pinscher. In the early years of the 20th century, the two breeds were given distinction from another.

World War 1 and World War 2 was a hard time for people but also breeds. Many breeds were on the cusp of elimination or extinction. The German Pinscher was one of them. Yet, one man from western Germany would have none of it. Werner Jung gets credit among the breed’s top enthusiasts with saving the breed single handedly. Jung’s smuggling of a black and red female from east Germany into western Germany is exactly how he was able to save the breed.

After smuggling the female German Pinscher, Jung then bred the female with oversized Miniature Pinschers. To this day, most GP’s, if not all, owe their lineage to that litter. At that time, or in the 1940’s, there were few to none of the German Pinscher left in the country. In fact, the last litter to be born in that country was reportedly 1949.

In the United States,  the German Pinscher didn’t arrive until the late 1970’s or early 1980’s. Early on, the breed was popular but the numbers took a slow increase. Moreover, after a decade of exposure and promoting, the United Kennel Club gave the GP recognition in 1991 putting the breed into the Terrier group. The American Kennel Club was next in line for recognition, and in 2003, the German Pinscher was officially a breed.

Today, the breed is still a working dog and a strong companion for families. According to the popularity rankings held by the AKC, the GP is the 146th most popular breed.

Size

The German Pinscher is a medium size breed. According to the American Kennel Club, the standard height for the GP should be 17 to 20 inches.

With regards to weight, the GP can range between 25 to 45 pounds. 

Personality and Temperament

If the GP is barking, there is likely a reason as a protective and alert breed. With a strong history of guarding and protecting family back in Germany during the 19th century, the German Pinscher still carries those traits. In fact, the GP can be a bit possessive as well with either family members or things. They are brave and aren’t afraid of a challenge. The German Pinscher will not back down from some dog if it feels the family is under threat.

Fast, agile, athletic, the German Pinscher loves to play and have a good romp with family and other dogs it grows with. From agility to rally, tracking to obedience, the GP loves plenty of physical and mental stimulation. This breed has a high amount of energy

Couple that with their hunting instincts and ability to track down prey. This breed is a great working dog, that can do a lot of damage to the opposition with its impressive cadence. 

German Pinschers may be stubborn at times during training. This is a dog that doesn’t necessarily enjoy repetitive training but loves to please and learn. They are intelligent and will pick up on mostly anything with positive reinforcement and if they take interest in that task.

Great with children and other pets that they grow up with. That said, the breed will do better with older children, who know how to treat and handle a dog. This is a people dog, that is loving and lovable. They enjoy plenty of time with their people and aren’t big fans of being alone. Colder weather isn’t ideal for this pet either. Although they are small in size, the breed should live somewhere indoors with a big yard or ample space. They shouldn’t be an outdoor dog either. 

In summary, the German Pinscher is enthusiastic, has a ton of energy, and loves to be with their people. They love canine sports, regular exercise, are easy to care for.

Health

Many breeders and clubs regard the German Pinscher as a generally healthy breed. If you buy from a breeder yourself, you should make sure you purchase from someone with a good reputation. This breed should be able to provide you with the proper documents and health clearances. Additionally, you should schedule regular visits with your veterinarian. With that in mind, if you do those two things, your GP should live between 12 to 14 years.

One of the chief concerns facing the breed is von Willebrands. This is the most common bleeding disorder among dogs and humans. It derives from a deficiency of a special protein that dog need to help “platelets” stick together and form clots to help seal up broken blood vessels. The Bernese Mountain Dog and Dobermans are also found to suffer from this bleeding disorder.

Hip Dysplasia can be found with the breed but at a lower level rate. The malformation of the hip joint, which is common with large breeds, is found to affect the breed at only a 1.6% dysplastic rate. This puts the German Pinscher at 183rd on OFA’s survey list. Pugs and Bulldogs suffer from Hip Dysplasia the most. 

Hereditary Cataracts is another big concern for this breed. Cataracts is when there is a cloudiness of the crystalline lens, which can result partial to complete blindness. According to a Finnish study, researchers found that 15 percent of German Pinschers suffer from Cataracts. Cocker Spaniels and Bichon Frise are breeds prone to Cataracts.

The German Pinscher ranks 17th overall in part of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals survey regarding cardiac issues. This ranks them along breeds like Boerboel and Irish Wolfhound. Out of 264 evaluations, 98.1% of German Pinschers were normal, while 1.5% affected. The Norfolk Terrier had the highest rate at 5.3%.

Thyroid issues may be of concern for this  breed and something to keep an eye out for. Veterinarians suggest keeping the GP’s ears moist, clean and soft. According to a health report, there are some concerns regarding the tip of this breed’s ear cracking.

Care

They aren’t the biggest vocalists but the German Pinscher does like to dig and jump around. As a medium breed, you may have to worry about prey drive and wanderlust. It’s best to keep a fence and make sure you keep them on a leash. By no means, is this an outdoor breed. The GP should be inside with its people. In fact, the GP wants to be with their people nearly all of the time. Being alone isn’t ideal for this breed and lead to destructive habits.

You’ll want to socialize the breed early on so that you’re raising a friendly and gentle dog. Supervision around smaller pets, cat, and children is necessary. Especially, if the dog didn’t grow up with any of the above.

Regular exercise is necessary for the German Pinscher. Moreover, most owners recommend about an hour per day.  Either way, one long walk or two short walks should suffice this breed’s energy requirements.

This is a dog that needs a firm and consistent hand. Someone with experience is a plus but not necessary. They need to feel like they are part of the family. The GP does better with positive reinforcement and when they feel like they have a role in the family.

Check those ears and trim the nails monthly to protect the GP from overgrowth or cracking. You won’t have to worry about bathing the German Pinscher often, but once every month or so should suffice.

Feeding

A German Pinscher should do well with a high quality medium size or high energy adult formula food. Meat should be the first ingredient. Throwing in veggies and fruits is never a bad idea. Also, if you supply your GP with Omega 3 and Omega 6, you’ll be promoting better coat and joint health. Glucosamine will also help with that region.

Most breeders recommend feeding the German Pinscher 1 to 2 cups of top quality dry kibble per day. You can break that up into two meals .

A dog between 25 to 45 pounds with average energy should get 780-1200 calories per day. That said, a dog of the same weight but with a moderate working load, should get 1300 to 2000 calories per day to keep them at their healthiest.

As always, you should provide your German Pinscher with the most important nutrient of all, water.

Coat

One the best traits about the German Pinscher is their easy to care for coat. They have a low maintenance coat, that is short and dense. It should run close to the body and feel smooth. The coat will have a glossy finish to it.

According to the American Kennel Club, there are five colors for coat options: Black, blue, brown, fawn and red.

There are three marking that are acceptable: red and tan markings, red markings, tan markings.

Fun German Pinscher Facts

  • The first club saluting the German Pinscher was in 1895 under the Pinscher Club of Germany.
  • The name Pinscher derives from a French word that means to “seize” or “nip.”
  • German Pinschers are the progenitor of the Doberman and Miniature Pinscher and have some contribution with the Rottweiler. 

Closing Words

Thanks to the valiant efforts of one man in the mid 20th century,  many dog lovers can continue to enjoy the loving nature and elegance of the German Pinscher.

Although the breed isn’t as popular as the Doberman, there are so many wonderful traits this breed has of its own, that will make any person happy. 

So, if you want a dog smaller than the Dobe, but bigger than the Min Pin, who has all of the same companion qualities and is easy to care for, the German Pinscher is the breed you’ve been waiting for.