Miniature Pinscher

Breed At A Glance


Fiesty, proud and faithful

Life Expectancy
13-15 years

Average Height
10-13 inches

Average Weight
8-10 lbs

Coat Color
Red, black and tan, or chocolate

Coat Length/Texture
Short smooth coat (no undercoat)

Shedding Propensity
Consistent year-round

Also known as Zwergpinscher, Min Pin

General Temperament

Like many other small breeds, the Miniature Pinscher is sometimes described as a big dog in a little dog’s body. Proud and courageous with a high level of energy, this breed is often a fun-filled addition to an active household, but can also rule the house if you let it. They are fairly territorial and protective and love to bark, and will do so vigorously to announce the arrival of visitors. As such, they make excellent watchdogs, but are generally too diminutive for guarding. They also often excel at obedience and agility competitions.

A Miniature Pinscher can be an excellent companion for children, as they love to be in the middle of the action, but children should be taught to not pester or tease the dog. This breed can sometimes be dog aggressive, so early socialization with other canines is key to minimize this tendency later in life. This breed is very adaptable, and it’s temperament and amiability depends largely on what it is exposed to in puppyhood.

Housetraining this breed can be tough, as it can with many toy breeds. In addition to being somewhat proud and willful, the little puddles left behind by the tiny Min Pin can be easy to miss, giving the dog the impression that you don’t mind if they relieve themselves indoors. Crate training may be the best option for this breed, along with consistency of daily routine (i.e. always take the dog outdoors through the same door and at similar times each day). Miniature Pinschers are intelligent and eager to please, so obedience training can be a fun-filled activity for dog and handler alike. Provide this dog with plenty of toys and rawhides to satisfy their need to chew.

The Miniature Pinscher is very active indoors and will be happy living in an apartment, although as with all breeds, they will benefit from a daily walk. They are curious and love to explore and are well-known escape artists. They will enjoy playtime in a large open space, but if allowed off leash, be sure that they are in a securely-fenced area. The Min Pin will appreciate a sweater when outdoors in colder temperatures.

Breed History

Contrary to popular belief, the Miniature Pinscher is not a smaller version of a Doberman Pinscher; in fact, it believed that the Min Pin is a much older breed than the Doberman. This misconception has proliferated in the United States because the Doberman was introduced to this country prior to the Miniature Pinscher, and is also a bit more common. It is likely that both breeds carry blood from the German Pinscher, but the Miniature Pinscher also counts the Dachshund, Italian Greyhound, and possibly various Terriers as it’s ancestors. Although images of dogs resembling this breed date back many centuries, official records have only existed for approximately the last two hundred years. Prior to their introduction to the show ring, Min Pins functioned as efficient ratters on German farms and ranches.

The first Miniature Pinschers were introduced to the United States around 1919, and the breed was accepted for registration with the American Kennel Club in 1925.

Body Structure and Composition

The Miniature Pinscher is a well-proportioned dog, usually as long as it is tall (females may be a bit longer). The flat skull tapers forward to the muzzle, which is strong rather than delicate – the word “pinscher” refers to the breed’s method of biting prey. The ears are set high and carried erect, and are sometimes cropped for cosmetic purposes. The topline of this dog can either be level or slightly sloping towards the hindquarters. Although they may appear delicate, this breed’s legs are strong-boned and the hind legs are well-muscled. The Min Pin is a deep-chested breed, with the depth of the ribs reaching the elbow. This breed has a high-stepping gait, possibly a remnant of the inclusion of Italian Greyhound blood. The tail is carried high and is often docked for show purposes in the United States, although tail docking has been banned in many other countries.

Medical Information

Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease (LCP) exists with a particularly high propensity in Miniature Pinscher lines. This disease causes a degeneration of the bone mass in the hip, which can lead to deformity or collapse of the hip bone and/or hip joint. (This should not be confused with Hip Dysplasia.) Early symptoms include hip pain and lameness, and surgery is often required to correct this condition. LCP is thought to be an inherited disease, although the mode of transfer from parent to puppy is unclear. Nevertheless, it is recommended that dogs with this disease be excluded from breeding programs.

Patellar Luxation (also known as “slipped stifle” or “trick knee”) has also been seen in the Miniature Pinscher, and occurs when the kneelike joint above the hock slips out of place, often requiring surgery. Responsible breeder will have their breeding stock certified by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) prior to producing a litter to help prevent the spread of this painful disease. (Testing is also available from the OFA to confirm the presence of Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease.)

The Miniature Pinscher is also somewhat prone to a condition called Megaesophagus, which describes a number of esophageal malformations and disorders, but literally means “enlarged esophagus.” In addition to being abnormally large, the esophagus lacks peristaltic function, and thus can be unable to propel food into the stomach. This can leave food trapped in the throat for minutes, hours, or even days, or can cause the dog to regurgitate. This condition can be confused with a number of other disorders, including acid reflux, so present as much information to the veterinarian as possible when investigating this problem (including bringing a sample of the “vomit” or videotaping the incident).

Other problems facing the Miniature Pinscher include epilepsy (recurring seizures) and demodectic mange. This form of mange is caused by a microscopic parasitic mite that lives in the hair follicles of most normal dogs. But in certain situations, such as a compromised immune system, malnutrition, or intense stress, the mites can overpopulate and cause hair loss, itching, enlarged lymph nodes, or pustules, redness or scaling on the dog’s skin. Transmission of these mites generally only occurs in the first few days after birth from the mother to the puppy. This is one of the many reasons to be sure to find a reputable breeder with the best interests of the proliferation of the Miniature Pinscher in mind.

Miniature Pinscher are easy dogs to care for and groom. Although they shed lightly throughout the year, a nice rub down with a warm, damp washcloth or a quick brushing with a bristle brush is all that is needed to keep the coat shiny and smooth. Min Pins have exceptionally clean personal habits.

Anecdotal Information

The Miniature Pinscher is known as the “King of the Toys” (referring to it’s status as a member of the toy group in various kennel clubs).

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