Vital Stats:Dog Breed Group: Companion Dogs
Height: 10 inches to 1 foot tall at the shoulder
Weight: 8 to 11 pounds
Life Span: 10 to 14 years
"Min Pins rule" — that's the attitude you'll discover when you get acquainted with the Miniature Pinscher, a small, elegant dog with an arched neck and well-muscled body. Weighing in at a dainty 8 to 11 pounds, this toy breed is a tough little dog with a lot of attitude.
While the Min Pin looks like a smaller version of a Doberman, he's a completely separate breed. It's speculated that both the Min Pin and the Doberman descended from the German Pinscher, but that the Doberman's other ancestors were dogs such as the Rottweiler, while the Min Pin's were Dachshunds and Italian Greyhounds.
Another misconception is that the Min Pin is related to the Manchester Terrier. While these two breeds resemble each other, there is no relation between them.
First bred to hunt rats, this breed is called Zwergpinscher in Germany, his country of origin. In German, pinscher refers to dogs who were bred as guardians or to hunt vermin, and zwerg means "dwarf" or "midget."
Although he's a rather delicate-looking toy breed, the Min Pin is a sturdy dog with a dynamite personality. If given the chance, this King of Toys will rule you and your household. If you're considering owning one, you must be willing and able to be a strong yet kind pack leader. Training and socialization are essential. It's safe to say the Min Pin is his own dog, both in breeding and attitude.
The Min Pin is also an elegant-looking dog. His arched neck and muscular body gives him a confident air. His sleek, easy-care coat of red, black and rust, or chocolate and rust glistens. Min Pin ears often are cropped, but they can be left natural; the tail is usually docked. He is known for his high-stepping gait.
The diminutive Min Pin is a bundle of energy, full of vigor. He's highly curious and tends to investigate — and possibly eat — everything. He must be watched closely so he doesn't get into something he shouldn't. He's a skilled escape artist and should never be outside off-leash — in fact, you'll have to make sure he doesn't dart out whenever you answer the front door.
For these reasons, the Min Pin is not the dog for everyone, especially first-time dog owners. His energy and intelligence can catch his owner off guard. Without proper training and supervision, he can quickly become a tyrant in the household.
Not surprisingly, the self-assured Min Pin is a great watchdog. He's suspicious of strangers and is typically fearless when faced with a threat, be it real or imagined.
As tough and active as a Min Pin is, he's not big or sturdy enough to withstand the accidental rough handling associated with very small children. He's an excellent pet for older children (ages 10 and up) who know how to treat a small dog with respect and care.
The Min Pin's small size makes him a good pet for apartment dwellers. If socialized with other dogs from an early age, he gets along well with other canines in the household, and with other types of pets.
Because of his energy and tendency to escape, it's important that you enroll your Min Pin in training classes. Don't be surprised, however, if he becomes the class clown. He loves attention and may act up to elicit a response. Training should be persistent, positive, and gentle.
If you have a good sense of humor, appreciate an elegant-looking dog with attitude, and are willing to be the "alpha" dog in your household, the Miniature Pinscher may be the dog for you.
- Miniature Pinschers are hardy little dogs, but they can be easily injured by roughhousing. Because of this, they're better suited as pets for older children who have learned how to care for a dog properly.
- The Min Pin is sensitive to cold. Be sure to put a sweater or coat on him when you take him outside in really cold weather.
- Because they were originally bred to hunt vermin, Min Pins may attack small objects (such as bottle caps), which can be a choking hazard. He may also take off after small pets that he perceives as prey.
- Min Pins have a lot of energy — probably more than you have. They're also very curious. You must supervise your Min Pin constantly, and if you can't, put him in a crate.
- You must be willing to take the position of "alpha" in your household. If you don't, the Min Pin will gladly assume the role.
- To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
The Miniature Pinscher is thought to be an old breed, but documentation can only trace it reliably back several hundred years. It was developed in Germany to kill rats in homes and stables.
There it was first called the Reh Pinscher because of its supposed similarity to the reh, or small deer, that used to inhabit Germany's forests. Many people think that the Miniature Pinscher was developed as a mini Doberman, but though he looks similar, he's a distinct and much older breed.
Development of the Miniature Pinscher took off in 1895 when German breeders formed the Pinscher Klub, later renamed the Pinscher-Schnauzer Klub. It was then that the first breed standard was written. Miniature Pinschers were first shown at the Stuttgart Dog Show in Germany in 1900, at which time they were virtually unknown outside of their homeland.
From 1905 until World War I, the Miniature Pinscher rapidly grew in popularity in Germany. After World War I, breeders in Germany and also in the Scandinavian countries worked to improve the line. Around 1919, the first Miniature Pinschers were imported in the United States. Only a few were shown in American Kennel Club dog shows at first. But by 1929, the Miniature Pinscher Club of America, Inc., was formed.
Also in 1929, the AKC recognized the breed. At that time Min Pins were shown in the Terrier group. In 1930, they were reclassified as Toys and called Pinscher (Miniature). They were renamed Miniature Pinscher in 1972.
Males and females stand 10 to 12.5 inches high and weigh 8 to 11 pounds.
There's good reason the Min Pin is called the King of Toys. He has a spirited, confident personality that both delights and exasperates his owners. He's fearless, intensely curious, and always ready for action. He's got nonstop energy and is intelligent and vigorous. He's an excellent watchdog.
The Min Pin might as well be a detective. He wants to investigate everything and, if he isn't watched closely, he'll get himself into trouble. Living with a Min Pin is similar to living with a toddler who needs constant supervision. When you aren't supervising, he should be securely tucked away in a crate. Obviously, crate training is highly recommended.
Don't forget the Min Pin's penchant for escaping. He'll find weak places in the fencing or dash out the front door while you sign for a package. You have to be on your guard to keep this breed safe.
The Min Pin doesn't lounge about — he's too busy for that — but he is affectionate and loving with his family. He loves to entertain, and he'll often play the class clown in order to get the attention he craves.
Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who's beating up his littermates or the one who's hiding in the corner.
Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who's available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you're comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.
Like every dog, the Min Pin needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they're young. Socialization helps ensure that your Min Pin puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.
Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.
Min Pins are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Min Pins will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.
If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.
In Min Pins, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This is a family of eye diseases that involves the gradual deterioration of the retina. Early in the disease, affected dogs become night-blind; they lose sight during the day as the disease progresses. Many affected dogs adapt well to their limited or lost vision, as long as their surroundings remain the same.
- Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease: This malady involves the hip joint, and many toy breeds are prone. If your Miniature Pinscher has Legg-Perthes, the blood supply to the head of the femur (the large rear leg bone) is decreased, and the head of the femur that connects to the pelvis begins to disintegrate. The first symptoms, limping and atrophy of the leg muscle, usually occur when puppies are four to six months old. Surgery can correct the condition, usually resulting in a pain-free puppy.
- Epilepsy: This is a neurological condition that's often, but not always, inherited. It can cause mild or severe seizures that may show themselves as unusual behavior (such as running frantically as if being chased, staggering, or hiding) or even by falling down, limbs rigid, and losing consciousness. Seizures are frightening to watch, but the long-term prognosis for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy is generally very good. It's important to take your dog to the vet for proper diagnosis (especially since seizures can have other causes) and treatment.
- Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is a disorder of the thyroid gland. It's thought to be responsible for conditions such as epilepsy, alopecia (hair loss), obesity, lethargy, hyperpigmentation, pyoderma, and other skin conditions. It is treated with medication and diet.
- Patellar Luxation: Also known as slipped stifles, this is a common problem in small dogs. The patella is the kneecap. Luxation means dislocation of an anatomical part (as a bone at a joint). Patellar luxation is when the knee joint (often of a hind leg) slides in and out of place, causing pain. This can be crippling, although many dogs lead relatively normal lives with this condition.
It is absolutely essential to set up safeguards to protect the curious Min Pin. You'll need to "baby-proof" the house just as you would for a crawling baby or a toddler.
Make sure all small objects (keys, coins, kids' toys, and so forth) stay out of his reach. Medication can be a serious issue, because the Min Pin will find and ingest any pills that you chance to drop on the floor; be sure to put those away after every use.
Go over your yard and fencing with a fine-toothed comb. Look for and fix any hole or opening, because if your hand can fit through it, somehow your Min Pin can too. Make sure all doors and windows, and their screens, are sturdy and secure as well.
The Min Pin needs early socialization and training. Like any dog, he can become timid or quarrelsome if he is not properly socialized when young. Early socialization helps ensure that your Min Pin puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.
Because he really thinks he's a king, you must be a strong pack leader with the Min Pin. He's not a good breed for first-time dog owners; even if you're an experienced dog owner but you're new to the breed, it's helpful to work with a trainer who has experience teaching these vivacious dogs. The Min Pin can quickly get the upper hand. While you certainly don't want to rule with an iron fist, you must establish firm leadership.
The Min Pin doesn't have a lot of fur, which means he's sensitive to cold. Buy him a doggie sweater he can wear during cold winter months.
Recommended daily amount: 1/2 to 1 cup of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.
Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.
Keep your Min Pin in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test.
First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise.
For more on feeding your Min Pin, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.
Coat Color And Grooming
The Min Pin is extremely handsome in his short, sleek coat. Colors include red, black and rust, and chocolate and rust.
Grooming doesn't get much easier than this. The Min Pin needs brushing every few days to keep his sleek coat shiny; a soft bristle brush or grooming mitt works well. Frequent bathing is not recommended because it dries the skin, though it's okay to bath the Min Pin when he rolls in something smelly or is very dirty.
Instead of bathing, many owners simply wet a washcloth with warm water and wipe the Min Pin's coat. Begin with the face, paying particular attention to the area under the eyes, and work back toward the tail. If you do this every few days, the Min Pin will stay clean and healthy.
Brush your Min Pin's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.
Trim his nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you're not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers.
His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog's ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don't insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear.
Begin accustoming your Min Pin to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.
As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.
Children And Other Pets
If a Miniature Pinscher is raised with children who treat him carefully and kindly, he will adore them and be a trustworthy companion. However, if children are allowed to grab or treat him roughly, even accidentally, he may develop a bad attitude toward kids, or at least want to avoid them as much as possible. The Min Pin is best suited for children age 10 and older.
As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he's eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog's food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
Many owners have more than one Min Pin; properly socialized and trained, these dogs get along with other dogs just fine (expect some bossiness as they work out who's top dog). As far as other pets are concerned, the Min Pin's instinct is to chase, so he isn't well suited to homes with small mammals.
Miniature Pinschers are often obtained without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Miniature Pinschers in need of adoption and/or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don't see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club, and they can point you toward a Miniature Pinscher rescue organization.