The Miniature Pinscher, the King of the Toys
The Min Pin
Miniature Pinschers, or Min Pins, also called Zwergpinscher, are a toy breed given the nickname "The King of the Toys." This is a well-deserved title. They have the biggest personalities packed into a small package. They have the word Pinscher in their name, and look just like a miniature Doberman Pinscher, but they are completely unrelated, contrary to what most people think.
The Min was actually around long before the Doberman. The breed was originally bred for ratting, or flushing out rats and other small rodents from holes and tunnels. Traditionally, the ears were cropped and the tails docked in order to keep them short in an effort to keep those parts from being bit by a rodent or small animal. It's a practice that is still done today, though ear-cropping is less common than tail-docking, and also is a controversial practice.
Here's my personal opinion: While none of my Pins have their ears cropped, I'm not against the practice of ear-cropping; I simply prefer the natural ear look, and in my breeding line, the ears stand up naturally. If they don't stand up, I prefer cropped. My Pins tails are all docked, except for one, my male, which I wanted to keep natural at the time. But ultimately, I prefer the tail docked, and all of my puppies (litters), have their tails docked. It just looks more "Min Pin-y" to me, and I like to follow the breed standard. Min Pins have a gait referred to as a "hackney" gait, where they lift their front legs high, but extended, almost fully. It's simply the most charming and regal gait on any dog breed.
Coloring, Coat, and Size
The Miniature Pinscher has a short, smooth coat. It comes in the following colors:
- Black and tan
- Chocolate and tan
- Solid red
- Stag red
- Blue stag red
- Chocolate stag red
Other color variations are not accepted in the AKC show ring and are usually a sign of another breed being mixed in.
They are a toy breed, and generally weigh between 7–12 lbs, though the AKC calls for an 8–10 lb weight. But a Min Pin can easily weigh 20 lbs, even more. 3 of my Min Pins are between 8 and 12 lbs, but one, Josephine, weighs 19 lbs. About 2–3 lbs of that is her being overweight. She's a larger-stature Min Pin in general. They can be prone to extra weight, which isn't good for their smaller frames. That being said, so-called "Teacup Min Pins" are not an accepted size for the breed, and usually (usually not always), have poorer health, weighing as little as 2–4 lbs.
Temperament: Not Just a Cute Little Face
While this is a wonderful breed, it's definitely not for everyone. I recommend it for experienced dog owners. They are extremely stubborn and notorious for being difficult to housebreak. If not socialized early on, they can be aggressive at times.
They are also big-time barkers. They bark if the wind blows past their butt. They just love to bark. So while their size makes them ideal for apartments, your neighbors may not appreciate their sometimes incessant barking. Their barking can be curtailed to a certain degree, with training, but stopping them from barking altogether isn't going to happen—it's just part of their breed. Training them and housebreaking them early is essential if you do not want a tyrant on your hands (I personally have 4 little tyrants on my hands).
Min Pins are very spry and have larger-than-life personalities. They act as though they are a 100 lb dog, and generally have a lot of bravado. Pins can be very territorial, most especially when it comes to food, treats, and toys. So again, early socialization and training is key.
They are extremely loving and will do well in a family atmosphere, though can sometimes attach more to just one or two people. They are in the Terrier family, so they have a lot of energy. However, being smaller, they can get pretty good exercise running about inside the house, and in the backyard. Walking them daily is a great thing, and gets rid of pent-up energy, though as long as they are getting moderate exercise, a daily walk is not a must. But they do love going on walks, and checking everything out. They think they own the neighborhood, and they make sure everyone knows that.
They are bursting with personality and are really quite the little characters. Many Pin owners will tell you they would much rather turn off the TV and watch the antics of their Pins instead, which can provide hours of entertainment. They will jump, "dance", "talk" and "sing". If they want your attention, they will stop at nothing to get it. Mine will firmly nudge my arm while I'm on the computer, over and over, until they get my attention. And they really will keep at it until they get what they want. They are a type-A personality, and when other dogs live in the house, are almost always the alpha-dog.
When there's more than one Pin living in the house, the pecking order usually follows the order in which they came into the family. They are good with children if socialized early and properly. Though because of their smaller size, can get injured more easily than most breeds. They are, however, not quite as delicate as a Chihuahua or an Italian Greyhound for instance. Their bones aren't built as slight as those breeds. Children should be supervised when around the breed, both for the children's safety, and the dogs' safety.
Min Pins and Other Animals
Min Pins do well in groups, having more than one Min Pin, or any other breed for that matter, as long as they are socialized with other dogs early and often. Because of their barking and fast-paced energy level, they can annoy cats very easily, and while some Pins may chase cats, most of the time they are more interested in playing with them, so it can depend more upon your cats personality, whether they can put up with the perceived "annoyance" that Pins can be to the cat.
As for small animals, like rats, rabbits and guinea pigs, because of their original breed purpose, you need to be very careful. In my household, it's quite the paradox, as I am an avid rat lover and owner, and have been for over 15 years. Min Pins were bred to "rat", flush them out and kill them if caught. But I've never once had an issue with my rats and Pins in that sense. Never once. In fact, my Pins seem to almost know that the rats rule the school in my house. They will step aside for the rats and know under no uncertain terms, that the rats are off-limits for them to haggle or chase. Yet they will hunt down and kill a wild house mouse, in a millisecond. The dogs have grown up with the rats and supervised intensively until I knew there was not any kind of potential issue. All that being said, my experience is NOT the norm. Pins can have a very high prey drive, and despite my experience with my rats and Pins, I do not recommend this breed for a household with small animals like rats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits (especially). Again, it's not impossible, but not advised either. It's hard to rid them of that prey drive for small animals.
Burrowing and Snuggling
A charming habit of the Min Pin, which stems from their ratting heritage, is loving to burrow under blankets, pillows, anything they get into, and "hide" under. If your Pin is allowed to sleep in the bed, they will almost certainly sleep under the covers, as opposed to on top of them. Special "sack-like" beds for dogs that like to burrow, are a great idea, and becoming more popular, easier to find. They like to snuggle, and many Pin owners (including myself), will happily report that when sleeping, they just have to be touching some part of your body (though waking up in the middle of the night, with them somehow taking up most of the queen-sized bed, and me having the very smallest few inches of the bed to lay on). They really are a sweet dog, and a LOT of fun to have. They love to make you laugh and entertain you.
Health and Happiness
The health of the breed is generally good. They can live to be around 16 years old, but usually live to be around 13 or so. I've seen some that have lived to be 19 though! They can be prone to patellar luxation (slipping of the kneecap), and certain types of cancers. A yearly checkup at your vet is recommended, but beyond that, won't require frequent veterinary visits, barring any emergencies or accidents (God forbid). After the age of 6 or so, a professional teeth cleaning is recommended, and then every couple years thereafter, though this is the case for pretty much any breed, all dogs (and cats).
Grooming-wise they require very little. Their short coats require only a brief brush with a soft-bristled brush once a week or so, especially during shedding season. They do shed, and you'll see tiny little short hairs on your furniture and clothing sometimes. But it's nothing like a longer-coated dog or a dog with double and triple coats.
Pins are not hypoallergenic (and contrary to popular belief, NO dog is hypoallergenic, though some are better for allergy sufferers in general). Min Pins, though they have short hair, are not one of those dogs, which is commonly true in terriers. Because of their short fur, they should be kept warm in the cold winter months, a sweater when going for a walk, and NOT left outside for any real length of time. They are NOT outdoor dogs. Conversely, in the hot summer months, they should be kept out of the sun for long periods of time, and using some sunscreen for dogs is never a bad idea.
Keeping them on a quality diet is important, and really keeping an eye on their weight is important as well. Like I said earlier, one of mine is overweight by a couple pounds. And a couple pounds on a toy breed dog is a much bigger deal than a couple pounds on a larger breed dog. My 3 other Pins are of normal weight, which can also make it difficult to get weight off of your Pin, depending upon how you feed all of your dogs.
All of my dogs have a semi-dry "moist" food down 24/7 next to their water bowl, and they get canned "wet" food 4 times a week. The wet food is a nice thing to add because it really help with their coat, which can have a tendency to get dull. Moist and wet food can add sheen and brightness to their coat.
Min Pins are pretty easy to care for, and make for a good choice in dog for those who don't want to soak a ton of money into frequent vet visits because of lots of hereditary conditions and illnesses (such as the Pekingese and Bulldog). And, for those who do not enjoy lots of grooming. They do need to keep their nails trimmed, and this is something that Min Pins are not known to be good with having done. A groomer is a good choice if possible, to have their nails trimmed.
Like Potato Chips
Again, the Miniature Pinscher is not for everyone, and not for novice dog owners. Too often, people get a Pin puppy solely based upon their small size, and cute as hell face. Only to quickly realize that they don't have the time, patience, or experience to properly train and socialize their new pup, which in turn ends them up in shelters and on Craigslist, looking for a new home, which I'm seeing more and more, as the breed becomes more popular and commonplace.
But, if the breed works well with your schedule, family type, and preference in breed type, they are one hell of a dog. You won't find a more entertaining, loving, and loyal companion, and each one has it's very own LOUD personality, which you'll love! Often said by Min Pin owners; "You can NEVER have just one!"