February 7, 2013 PetGuide
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Miniature Pinscher

  • Height: 10-13 inches
  • Weight: 8-10 lb
  • Lifespan: 14-17 years
  • Group: AKC Toy
  • Best Suited For: Singles, seniors, apartments, houses with/without yards
  • Temperament: High energy, bold, stubborn, independent
  • Comparable Breeds: Cairn Terrier, Chihuahua

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When you think of the word “Pinscher” and associate it with a dog, there’s a good chance that you immediately think of the Doberman Pinscher. To many people, the Doberman is an especially intimidating type of dog and it takes some real knowledge about the breed to understand that it can be friendly and loyal with the right kind of ownership and training. But we’re not talking about Dobermans: we’re talking about the Miniature Pinscher.

What separates Miniature Pinschers from other breeds? For one, as you might imagine, the size is quite different. The Miniature Pinscher might have a lot of coloring like a Doberman, but the size is totally different and, unsurprisingly, the personality correlates with this difference in size.

The Miniature Pinscher is a feisty, friendly dog sometimes known as the “King of the Toy Dogs.” Given its relation to Doberman Pinschers, Miniature Pinschers also hail from Germany but have achieved an international following and popularity across a variety of countries and breed tastes. Today, the Miniature Pinscher is perhaps one of the most loveable and personable dogs out there. Even if you’re a little unsure about dogs in the first place, getting yourself a Miniature Pinscher can be a highly rewarding experience.

The Miniature Pinscher is a feisty, friendly dog sometimes known as the King of the Toy Dogs.

Like Doberman Pinschers, Miniatures come from Germany. Believe it or not, however, the Miniature Pinscher is not a miniature Doberman – in fact, it predates the Doberman Pinscher by some 50 years. Like so many other breeds, the Miniature Pinscher first gained recognition during the 20th century where it began to be officially classified by formal dog organizations.

Although Miniature Pinschers are miniature, they’re not quite the toy dogs you might expect them to be. Sure, they might resemble a toy dog, but their personality has been altered by a more blue collar background, making them more independent and giving them a generally feistier personality. Many people might attribute this personality difference to their relation to the Doberman Pinscher, but in reality the Miniature Pinscher has developed and carved a niche all its own.

miniature-pinscher-1The word “Pinscher” refers to a terrier breed in German. But if Doberman Pinschers aren’t the ancestors to the Miniature Pinscher, then who is? Well, both breeds are actually descended from the German Pinscher, which explains the fact that all three of these Pinscher groups come from that section of Northern Europe. There has been some confusion about the classification of the Miniature Pinscher for a while, and only as recently as the 1970s have the rules been changed to reflect the fact that the Miniature Pinscher is not a Miniature Doberman Pinscher but rather a Pinscher breed all its own.

A small breed with plenty of capacity for exercise given its farmhand roots, the Miniature Pinscher can eat plenty but this diet should only correspond to a regular exercise regimen. The normal dog foods are encouraged as well as whole, natural ingredients when possible.

Remember that the Miniature Pinscher should maintain a low weight of around 10 pounds and that each pound to a Pinscher is approximately 10 percent of its weight. Gaining a pound as a human is not a big deal but for a Miniature Pinscher, it can be.

The Miniature Pinscher should not really be treated like a toy dog.

The Miniature Pinscher should not really be treated like a toy dog – it’s not a great socializer and will have a high tolerance for work and exercise. Consequently, if you want to make sure that your dog is properly raised according to the breed’s characteristics, it’s a good idea to make sure that your Miniature Pinscher has plenty of outdoor exercise on a regular basis. Miniature Pinschers aren’t ideal for large families and are generally regarded as a dog for one or two people.

Miniature Pinschers should only weigh around 8-10 pounds. Hey, they’re called “miniature” for a reason.

miniature-pinscher-2As mentioned, the Miniature Pinscher is more of a working-class personality than many other toy breeds, which breeds independence and feistiness that you wouldn’t recognize in other small dogs. Making sure that your Miniature Pinscher has plenty of exercise is important, as it can become a destructive breed if left to its own boredom. Remember also that Miniature Pinschers are not always great socializers and generally won’t make a fantastic pet for a large family with other dogs present. Miniature Pinschers not brought up with children, in particular, can be bad to have around children. Miniature Pinschers are better suited for experienced dog owners or at least someone who has free time around the house for plenty of training and patience.

Miniature Pinschers will have the typical health problems associated with smaller dogs, including some potential risk for leg injuries given how much they run around and change direction. Legg’s Perthes Disease is an affliction that can harm these dogs and often will have results similar to the hip dysplasia in larger dogs.

A long-lived dog, the Miniature Pinscher can live around 14-17 years.

Regular exercise is a big priority in the world of the “Min Pin,” so make sure that it gets plenty of opportunities to roam. Having your own land or at least a larger-spaced neighborhood will give your Miniature Pinscher more opportunities to exercise without the prospect of having to bark at other dogs.

Miniature Pinschers aren’t ideal for large families and are generally regarded as a dog for one or two people.

The American Kennel Club puts it accurately: “The Miniature Pinscher can really spice up a person’s life. This dog is small, but he doesn’t know it! He’s quick and active, with a lively curiosity.”

A short coat means minimal grooming, except for occasional brushing and shampooing. The dog’s coats are often darker and uniform in color.

Rambunctious especially as puppies, raising a Miniature Pinscher with children is a key distinction in this breed. If a dog is not raised with children, you’ll want to be very wary about bringing your children around one. Raising a Miniature Pinscher around children should be undertaken by an experienced dog owner.

Photo credit: Jagodka/Shutterstock

Comparable Breeds

Go to Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terrier

  • Height: 9-13 inches
  • Weight: 13-18 lb
  • Lifespan: 12-15 years
  • Group: AKC Terrier
  • Best Suited For: Families with children, active singles and seniors, apartments, houses with/without yards
  • Temperament: Clever, stubborn, scrappy, bold
  • Comparable Breeds: Norfolk Terrier, Norwich Terrier
Go to Chihuahua


  • Height: 6-9 inches
  • Weight: 2-6 lb
  • Lifespan: 14-18 years
  • Group: AKC Toy
  • Best Suited For: Families with children, singles, seniors, apartments, houses with/without yards
  • Temperament: Lively, timid, affectionate, devoted
  • Comparable Breeds: Papillon, Pekingese