The Miniature Pinscher Is A Small German Breed, Lively And Exuberant

Miniature Pinscher Dog

Miniature Pinschers are bright, active and alert.

Despite it’s shape and colors, the Miniature Pinscher is not a small version of the bigger Doberman Pinscher. It’s easy to see how this misconception comes about, since the 2 breeds have very similar coloring and general shape. In addition, the Doberman was exported to America before the Miniature, and so many people naturally assumed the Miniature was bred from the Doberman. In fact, the Miniature is a much older breed than the Doberman.

Miniature Pinscher
Image courtesy AKC

The misconception is not entirely without foundation, as both breeds have an element of the old original German Pinscher in their ancestry. Read on below to discover the breed history!

Miniature Pinscher – Temperament

This is NOT a breed for a first-time dog owner. They are energetic, and have a strong character. They need a decent sized back yard that is fully fenced to run around in, as well as several walks each day. They are constantly on the go, curiously investigating everything, and don’t seem to spend much time sleeping during the day.

Although this breed is small enough to live in an apartment, it would usually do better in a home that has a securely fenced back yard, so they can run around after a ball to burn off energy. They do not tolerate cold weather, and should have a secure bed or crate indoors.

Descended from rat catching dogs, they keep the instinct to dig after any interesting scents, and chase anything that moves, especially small animals. This means that other small pets in the home may be in danger, such as rabbits, mice, gerbils and guinea pigs. They will also chase birds in the garden.

These dogs can be a bit defensive, and may not do well with very young children who might “play rough” with them- they are liable to snap back at rough play. They do better with older children and teenagers who understand how to play gently with a dog.

Miniature Pinscher
Miniature Pinscher

Miniature Pinchers do not always tolerate other dogs very well, unless they have grown up as puppies in the same house. They try to be the dominant dog, and may be aggressive to prove their point. Rather oddly, they usually tolerate the family cat.

This confident nature is the reason that they are not well suited to first-time dog owners. They will start to exert their authority by pushing their boundaries, for example getting up onto a sofa that was forbidden, or up onto a bed, or into a certain room. They don’t seem to take “no” for an answer very easily, and need constant and consistent instruction.

If you allow the dog up onto the sofa once, just once, it will regard it as a Holy right to get up on the sofa any time it pleases ever after.  So you must decide what the rules are going to be before you bring your puppy home, and stick to the rules like your life depended on it. Be prepared for a lot of challenges!

But if you stick to your guns, the Miniature Pinscher will eventually accept that you mean what you say, and become a well-behaved family member.

Miniature Pinscher – Breed History

This is a German dog breed, originating a long time ago on farms in Germany, and bred to control rodents in and around farmsteads. There is little written evidence regarding the exact origins of the breed, until around 200 years ago.

Most authorities believe that the 3 breeds used to create the Miniature Pinscher were the Dachshund, the small Italian Greyhound, and the German Pinscher. The German Pinscher was also used to develop the Doberman, so these dogs share a bit of common ancestry, but the Miniature Pinscher is a breed in its own right, and not simply a small version of the Doberman.

These dogs are called the ‘Zwergpinscher’ in German, where ‘Zwerg’ means “dwarf’, and ‘pinscher’ can have several meanings, but all revolve around the sense of ‘biter’.

The breed was accepted by the AKC in 1929, under the name “Pinscher”, and the AKC description included the line that the dog should look like a small Doberman, which added to the misconceptions. In 1972 the breed’s name was amended to ‘Miniature Pinscher’.

Vital Statistics;

Height; 10 inches to 12 inches

Weight; 8 lbs to 10 lbs

Life Span; Around 12 years to 16 years.


Red;  Stag Red;  Chocolate and Tan;  Chocolate and Rust;  Black and Tan;  Black and Rust.

Ease of Training

First of all, the Miniature Pinscher is difficult to house train. This is for 2 main reasons;

  • they aren’t really interested in learning where to do their business, and also;
  • they are so small as a puppy that they can relieve themselves quickly and unnoticed around the house.

This means you frequently don’t discover the evidence until later, when it’s too late to correct the dog. The wrong behavior does not get corrected, so it continues.

Most breeders strongly recommend crate training for this breed, to enforce acceptable behavior from an early age.

Early socialization is also essential, to curb this breeds natural suspicion and defensiveness. Puppies must be gradually introduced to new and unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells in a safe environment, to get them used to the outside world.

Puppy training classes are strongly recommended, and then obedience classes when the dog is a little older. Then you need to keep repeating the obedience lessons you have learned, at home on a constant and consistent basis. This will take significant time and test your patience at times, but the results mean a happier dog and a happier you! We have a page on this website about the 7 best dog training books – I recommend that you take a look at that page HERE.

But this is an intelligent, smart breed, and they will learn quickly as long as you use the correct techniques, and apply them in a consistent manner. If you take the time and trouble to train your Miniature Pinscher properly, you will have a well-mannered little dog.

However, no matter how well trained, most Miniature Pinschers cannot be relied upon to return to their owner when off leash. There are simply too many interesting and distracting smells and movements out there! It is best to keep the dog on a leash at all times when out walking.


This breed has a short, hard coat that  needs minimal grooming. Weekly brushing with a soft brush or hound glove will keep them looking good.

As they lack a dense undercoat, they do not shed a lot of hair, but this means that they do not like cold weather. If you live somewhere cool, you need to have somewhere indoors for your dog to sleep.

The claws should be checked each month, and trimmed if they are getting too long to prevent splitting and cracking. The dog’s teeth should be cleaned every day with a small, soft toothbrush, and a dog-specific toothpaste. Do not use human toothpaste as it contains Xylitol.


The miniature Pinscher is territorial and defensive, and is very sensitive to anything approaching its “patch”.  If the dog has not been socialized extensively as a puppy, this natural caution can become extreme suspicion of everything outside its home.

If they detect a strange person or animal approaching their “area” – which is usually where the Miniature Pinscher happens to be standing – they can almost jump out of their skin in an incandescent fit of rage. They will throw an extended episode of ferocious barking. As a watchdog, this breed will certainly let you know if anyone is around.

As a guard dog, they are simply too small to be an effective deterrent to anyone keen to break in. However their berserk behavior towards an intruder may be enough to make the unwanted visitor consider going elsewhere.

Miniature Pinscher
Miniature Pinscher

Health Considerations

This is a generally healthy breed, but responsible breeders should have their dogs checked for the following conditions;

  •  Patellar luxation
  •  Cervical disc
  •  Legg-Calfe-Perthe’s syndrome
  •  Epilepsy
  •  Thyroid conditions
  •  Heart defects
  •  Eye problems.

Famous Miniature Pinschers

I couldn’t find any famous Miniature Pinschers – if you know of one, please let me know via the Contact Me link. Thank you!

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