“A small rough coated monkey like dog”, this is the common description of one of the toy group’s earliest breeds. The name Affenpinscher roughly translates to “Monkey Mutt” and they were originally used as ratters. Known in Europe since at least the sixteenth century, it is thought that the dogs portrayed in the woodcuts of Durer and Van Eyck’s paintings are early examples of this entertaining breed. Charles Verlat painted a portrait of a French Affenpinscher sometime in the 1890’s and Renoir obviously admired the breed as several of his paintings depict these little dogs. Perhaps Affenpinschers were as highly thought of by their owners then as they are now.
By the nineteenth century, when people had begun to show recognisable breeds, the Affenpinscher was already well established in Southern Germany as shown in records taken from early German dog shows. A Monkey Pinscher was at The Kennel Club Dog Show, held at The Royal Aquarium in 1886, and is depicted in The Illustrated London News.
Left is Van Eyck’s painting with the painting by Renoir along side.