A Brief History of the Affenpinscher
“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 Dog” 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.
The breed became a favourite with German film stars and fashionable ladies, and can be found on postcards dating from the late 1800’s onwards.
Mrs Evalyn Walsh McLean who between 1911 and 1947 owned the famous Hope Diamond, was photographed with a couple of affenpinschers tucked under her arm with the magnificent diamond around her neck. Rumour has it that she regularly attached the diamond to her Affenpinscher’s collar and on a couple of occasions large searches of the grounds had to be undertaken to find it!!
In Germany the Affenpinscher is in the Pinscher Schnauzer group. The first Stud Book of he Pinscher Schnauzer Klub was issued in 1902 and listed 14 Affenpinschers, in the following years registrations stadily increased with fifty six being registered annually. Sadly Affenpinscher numbers in Germany are now very low.
The Affenpinscher played a part in the development of the Minature Schnauzer and was also used in the creation of the Brussels Griffon. The Griffon was then able to return the favour, when Affenpinscher numbers were decimated during WW1:this resulted in a shorter muzzle and the ow desired prominent chin.
In 1950 Evelyn Brody imported three Affenpinschers into the U.S.A., where the breed rapidly gained in popularity, with more Affenpinschers in America today, than the rest of the world put together.
Things were a little slower in the U.K. with the first Affenpinscher registered with the Kennel Club in 1897; three more were imported to Britain by Mrs. Wood of the Tallwood Affix in the late 1950’s, this was an unsuccessful attempt to establish the breed here.
In 1972 Dicki Maskotchen was registered with the Kennel Club by Mr. & Mrs. Gengemi, although nothing more is known about this dog.
Some 20 years later, Wendy Boorer, Toni Teasdale, Jeni Wiggins and Betty Hargrave pooled their resources and set about the challenge of bringing the Affenpinscher to Britain. This proved to be very difficult as breeders would not export dogs to a country which required them to spend six months in quarantine. Then there was a breakthrough when U.S. breeder Lucille Meystedt sent a list of Affenpinschers she was prepared to sell, they ranged from juniors to Champions, and from this list the bitch Am.
Ch. Balu’s Schwarz Furstin (Fanny), arrived in 1975.
It had been hoped that she would be imported in whelp. Unfortunately this was not the case. As there was no male Affenpinscher in the country, The Kennel Club gave permission for Fanny to be mated to the black and tan Miniature Pinscher, Ch. Lionlike Black Reno. Sadly Fanny died the day after having a caesarean. With Jeni Wiggins hard work, devotion and hand rearing skills, one puppy survived, this was the bitch Paraphernalia of Furstin (Dottie).
In 1976 two more Affenpinschers were imported from Mrs. Meystedt, they were the dog Balu’s Schwarz Gaba (Gaba), and the bitch Ch. Balu’s Schwarz Liebchen (Wenig). Gaba went to live with Toni and through his success in the show ring a great deal of interest was taken in the breed.
I hope these early pioneers of the breed feel that their efforts are being rewarded, as the Affenpinscher goes from strength to strength.
The Affenpinscher Club was formed in 1982 and now has members in Britain, America, Europe, Australia New Zealand and Zambia.
There have been 50+ Champions since Challenge Certificate status was gained at Crufts in 1992, currently Championship show entries have dropped a little from the 60-70 mark, to around 50 or so but Club shows are well supported with well over 100 entries.
The Affenpinscher is a loyal companion that keeps its owner entertained with its comic self-important attitude. This is reflected in the growing band of devoted Affenpinscher enthusiasts.