Breed-related disease: Affenpinscher

John K. Rosembert


The Affenpinscher also known as the “monkey dogs,” could be described as cheeky little monkeys. That isn’t to say that they’re naughty but a comical little dog with bags of personality.

He is a small, compact terrier-type dog with bushy eyebrows and a mischievous monkey-like expression. The coat is rough and of uneven length over the body adding to their somewhat comical appearance. They have a lively, strutting movement. He is one of the oldest breeds, known to have been in existence in the 17th century and similar dogs appear in paintings of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

The Affenpinscher adores his family and is fine with other family pets, especially when raised with them. In the home, he is an inquisitive busybody who must check out new sights and sounds. His playful antics are delightfully entertaining as he bats toys around with his agile paws.

Affenpinschers do have a mind of their own, and without a firm hand can be obstinate and demanding, tossing tantrums or sulking when they don’t get their own way.

It might make you laugh, but spoiling is not recommended for this breed, especially since he is so bright and does respond well to calm, patient training, like most terrier-type dogs, the Affenpinscher is proud and sensitive and does not take kindly to being teased. This breed is happiest in a home without young children.


According to dog experts, Affenpinscher Dogs score 3 out of 5 in the scale of breeds that are considered the most healthy dog breeds. They are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they’re prone to certain health conditions. Not all Affens will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed.

  1. Patellar Luxation: Also known as “slipped stifles,” this is a common problem in small dogs. It is caused when the patella, which has three parts-the femur (thigh bone), patella (knee cap), and tibia (calf)–is not properly lined up. This causes lameness in the leg or an abnormal gait, sort of like a skip or a hop.


  1. Legg-Perthes Disease: Generally a disease of small breeds, this condition–a deformity of the ball of the hip joint–usually appears at 6 to 9 months of age and can be confused with hip dysplasia. It causes wearing and arthritis. It can be repaired surgically, and the prognosis is good with the help of rehabilitation therapy afterward.


  1. Hip Dysplasia: This is a heritable condition in which the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred. If you’re buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems.


  1. Heart Murmurs: Heart murmurs are caused by a disturbance in the blood flow through the chambers of the heart. They’re an indicator that there may be a disease or condition of the heart that will need to be monitored and treated.



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