Dog Breeds

6 Best Pinscher Dog Breeds – The Complete Guide to All Pinscher Dogs

A Pinscher-type dog waiting patiently for his owner.
Written by Richard Jeng

When picking out the perfect dog breed to bring home, the options are endless. Dogs can come in all shapes and sizes, in many colors and coat types. However, one of the underrated types of dog is arguably the pinscher dogs.

While we have popular pinscher dogs, such as the Doberman and Affenpinscher, there are also the less-popular German Pinscher or Austrian Pinscher. In this guide, we’ll cover all the various pinscher dogs, including the ones you’ve probably never heard of.

In addition, we’ll cover dog breeds that technically are pinscher dogs, but don’t have the title of the pinscher in their names. They’re some of the least expected dog breeds despite having the pinschers’ DNA in their bloodline.

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What’s a Pinscher Dog?

A Pinscher dog is a type of dog with a long working history. Although they’re all mainly family dogs today, they were once skilled ratters, multi-purpose farm dogs and guardians. They did it all and as a result, were very popular breeds in their heyday.

The first pinscher dog breed is believed to be the German Pinscher. They’re often called the “prototypical pinscher” because they’re the ancestors of the pinscher dogs you see today – even the wildly popular Doberman Pinscher.

But what exactly defines a pinscher? For example, the Standard Schnauzer is technically part of the schnauzer family. Even so, the dog breed originated from the German Pinscher. And by extension, the mini and giant variations too.

To be comprehensive, we count these dogs as pinscher dogs too. And to be fair, the German Pinscher is more closely related to the Standard Schnauzer than with the Doberman Pinscher. In fact, the former was once called the Wire Haired Pinscher.

The “Pinscher” Name

Pinscher dog breeds are clearly the products of Germany. However, they’ve had their influence from the neighboring France. According to the AKC, the word “pinscher” is the Germanic form of the French word for “nip” or “seize” – pincer.

This was how the original pinschers made their name. These dogs would nip and seize rats as a formidable vermin exterminator, thus continuing their popularity in the 19th century. And in time, crossbreeding led to the many pinschers we have today.

However, the French word pincer derives from the English “pincher” and refers to the infamous clipped (or cropped) ears seen in the pinscher breeds. Not all pinscher dog breeds retained the pinscher name and title, though.

Pinscher Dog Temperament

Many pinscher dogs have similar temperaments and personalities. Originally bred to be world-class working dogs, pinschers will be energetic and lively. It’s because of their high energy that they’re able to perform their work at a high level.

In addition, pinschers tend to have a high prey drive. That is, a tendency or eagerness to work by chasing and capturing smaller prey. After all, many of the original pinschers were bred to be skilled rat hunters. They needed this instinct for success.

Doberman Pinschers do need to be constantly near you. All of them have been the same way, all day, all night.

– Rodyboy (Doberman Chat)

Loyalty is no stranger to the pinscher group, especially with the Doberman. In fact, the steady devotion is one of the main selling points of the Dobe. Though, the other pinschers are just as loving and thus, loyal to their owners.

With a pinscher dog breed, you’ll likely have a highly intelligent and obedient dog. In fact, the Doberman Pinscher is regarded as one of the 10 smartest dogs. Plus, the other pinschers are well within the top 60, giving them above-average dog IQ.

However, the spectrum of playfulness may vary with pinschers. For example, the Affenpinscher is known for their fun-loving temperaments. On the other hand, Dobermans are more serious dogs. It doesn’t mean Dobes are great for older kids though.

All Pinscher Dog Breeds

Given the wide range of pinschers, we’ve decided to include them all. We’ve found every breed, ranging from the Schnauzer to the Doberman. Have a favorite pinscher breed? Let us know in the comments section below!

1. German Pinscher

Highlights: Lively, Affectionate, Even-tempered

The German Pinscher was the foundation for popular pinscher breeds, including the Miniature and Doberman Pinscher. It’s why you can easily make out the eerie resemblance in the three separate breeds. They’re regarded as the “medium” variation.

The first German Pinscher was bred in the 1800s. These dogs were developed with a top work ethics and a high prey drive to eradicate vermin, specifically rats. Even so, historians still don’t know exactly when they first appeared.

Given the effectiveness of the German Pinscher, they inevitably became popular working dogs. As such, these dogs were further crossbred with other dogs to create some of the most well-known pinscher-type dog breeds today.

Despite the rapid fall of the need for ratting dogs, the German Pinscher still exists today as top companion dogs. Because of their highly adaptive nature, they’re able to seamlessly fit into any family or living conditions. They just need plenty of exercise.

German Pinscher Temperament

Thanks to the ingrained prey-drive of the German Pinscher, we don’t recommend them for small kids. Rather, here are 50 perfect dogs for children. They may view kids as “prey,” especially if the kids are running away from the dog.

German Pinschers will be energetic and active dogs. They were, after all, bred to chase rats in large factories. Thus, they needed first-class stamina to keep up. It’s also recommended that a German Pinscher has a large backyard to expend energy in.

On the bright side, you’ll get a loyal dog with a German Pinscher. In fact, they’re naturally very protective of the family – making them excellent watchdogs. These dogs are also intelligent and tend to get along with other people and dogs with training.

2. Doberman Pinscher

Highlights: Loyal, Intelligent, Courageous

The black and rust (tan) color Doberman Pinscher is the most popular and common variation.

As the most popular pinscher-type dogs, the Doberman Pinscher has become one of America’s most popular breeds. Given the brains and brawn of this massive dog, it’s easy to see why the Doberman is regarded as a top guardian.

These dogs were first bred by a tax collector from the 19th century, named Louis Dobermann. In those days, tax collecting was a dangerous job. Not everyone was ecstatic about giving away their hard-earned money to the government.

As a result, Louis developed these dogs (from the German Pinscher and other local breeds) to be a canine bodyguard on his collection runs. Needless to say, it was effective. And soon enough, many others inquired about this breed for various work.

Today, the Doberman Pinscher has evolved into more than just a personal guard dog. They can thrive as a family companion, but also be versatile police and military dogs. Their intelligence and 90-pound muscular frame offer endless options.

Doberman Pinscher Temperament

The ideal Doberman is neither too shy nor aggressive. In fact, most dogs tend to be brave and calm. But at the same time, a Doberman will always be alert and vigilant. When the situation calls for it, you can count on them being there.

Few dogs are as loyal and the Doberman Pinscher. And according to Woman’s Day, they’re one of the 17 most loyal breeds you can find. This makes them highly protective of the pack, though not overly possessive with the right training.

Doberman Pinschers are adaptive dogs, making them great for all types of families – even if you live in an apartment. However, they are going to be energetic and active. So make sure they get the minimum 1-2 hours exercise a day.

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3. Miniature Pinscher

Highlights: Energetic, Clever, Outgoing

Also derived from the German Pinscher, the Miniature Pinscher is essentially a smaller version of the original pinscher. Weighing just under 10 pounds and standing no more than 12 inches, a Mini Pin isn’t your average “lap dog.”

And like the German Pinscher, the origins of the Miniature Pinscher is a bit murky. Though, few historians believe they were bred from the Dachshund and Italian Greyhound. As such, they’re not miniature Dobermans as so many believe.

Like other pinscher dogs, the Min Pin was originally bred in Germany to hunt down vermin in both homes and stables. They were the most popular toy dogs from the start of the 20th century to World War I. But even until today, they’ve retained popularity.

Miniature Pinschers are frequently found in homes all across the world today. In fact, they’re aptly nicknamed the “King of Toys” for a reason. Their personality perfectly meshed with active and responsible kids, making them top family pets.

Mini Pinscher Temperament

The Miniature Pinscher is a large dog in a small body. They probably don’t even realize just how small they are. Often called “Mr. Personality,” the Miniature Pin gets along with everyone, whether you’re a dog, cat or stranger.

They love to play, and can play for as long as you’re willing. The outgoing personalities can be a bit contagious, though children will be entertained and happy for hours. That said, the Min Pin will make a terrible watchdog – they just want to be friends.

While they’re one of the more intelligent dogs, they can get easily distracted due to their care-free and spirited nature. They will have wanderlust, so make sure to keep an eye out on them at all times. Don’t be surprised if they start chasing small animals.

4. Affenpinscher

Highlights: Playful, Inquisitive, Clever

The Affenpinscher is often called the “monkey terrier” because of their terrier-like personalities and the fact that they look like, well, monkeys. And in a way, they kind of act like monkeys with their humorous and fun-loving nature.

These dogs are pinschers, though they were originally bred to work like a terrier. Some of the top ratters in the 1600s were terriers (think, Rat Terrier). As a result, breeders tried to breed this quality into these petite pinscher-type dogs.

However, the Affenpinscher specialized in vermin extermination of the kitchen – not in factories or stables, as with the bigger pinscher dogs. Simply put, Affenpinschers were developed to be ratting dogs in an urban setting.

Unlike other popular pinscher-types, the Affenpinscher wasn’t directly derived from the German Pinscher. Rather, they are believed to have been bred from the Mini Schnauzer and Brussels Griffon. Both of which, were highly skilled ratters of their days.

Affenpinscher Temperament

The Affenpinscher is always willing to play. They’re naturally fun dogs that enjoy every moment with their owners. However, they can be mischievous. In fact, they’re often called the “diablotin moustachu” in French, which means mustached little devil.

But if you can handle their sense of humor, the Affenpinscher is a fantastic companion for all types of people. These pinschers will have an insatiable curiosity that needs to be kept in check. They’re very loyal dogs, but need human interaction.

Affenpinschers are once again, small dogs with big personalities. Despite their small size, an Affenpinscher will back down to few threats. Even so, they’re probably not good guard dogs. When they’re with the people they love, they’re also quite excitable.

5. Austrian Pinscher

Highlights: Loyal, Confident, Friendly

The Austrian Pinscher is the one dog breed with the pinscher title few have heard of. In fact, the Australian Pinscher doesn’t even look like your typical pinscher dog. Nonetheless, these dogs originated from the German Pinschers.

According to Wag Walking, the Austrian Pinscher was developed from a mix of Austrian farm dogs and the German Pinscher. While they do have the pinscher prey-drive, don’t expect the Austrian Pinscher to be as obsessed with catching animals.

They were first developed in the second half of the 19th century. When local farm dogs started to die off, farmers looked for alternatives for a multi-purpose farm dog. Not only did they need a ratting dog, but also a fierce guardian.

These pinscher types will still be very active. Because they were originally bred on farms in the rural regions, they’re not suited for apartment or urban life. Rather, Austrian Pinschers are far more ideal for families that live on farms.

Austrian Pinscher Temperament

Austrian Pinschers are vibrant dogs with a personality that’s hard to resist. They’re naturally playful and show a great deal of affection towards their owners, including children of the family. It’s why they make such fantastic family pets.

As these dogs were developed for guarding, they’re going to have a protective side. With an alertness and vigilance, Austrian Pinschers make premier watchdogs at the least. Even so, they’ll need plenty of socializing for them to thrive as family pets.

Off the field, Austrian Pinschers are affectionate and sweet-natured. Some owners say they’re a great balance of work and play. However, it’s worth noting that Austrian Pinschers will need space to roam around and run free.

6. Standard Schnauzer

Highlights: Loyal, Obedient, Good-natured

A smart Schnauzer means they need more mental stimulation.

Officially known as the Wire Haired Schnauzer prior to 1879, the Standard Schnauzer is one of the more surprising pinscher-type dogs. But despite their new names, they are certainly pinschers dogs. In fact, some would argue more so than Dobermans.

Back in the 19th century, the German Pinscher and Standard Schnauzer were considered to be the same breed with different coats. The former was called the Smooth Coated Pinscher and the latter, the Wire Haired. Both were often born in the same litter.

Standard Schnauzers were bred to be multi-purpose farm dogs. And with their athletic build and sneaky agility, they had the versatility that made them great ratters and guard dogs. Plus, the rough coats made them perfectly suited for the rural.

Of course, the Standard Schnauzer was ultimately used to create the giant and mini versions of this breed. Though they didn’t arrive into the USA until the 20th century, it took a while for the dogs to gain the recognition and popularity they see today.

Schnauzer Temperament

The Standard Schnauzer has all the best qualities of a pinscher dog: intelligent, dependable and lively. They’re a highly versatile dog breed that thrives as a working farm dog or as a family pet. Either way, the good-natured temperaments are refreshing.

Bred to handle guard dog duties, you can expect the Schnauzer to watch over your home. They will be naturally alert, meaning few things can get past this dog. Combined with their bravery and protectiveness, Schnauzers will be formidable guardians.

Schnauzers, no matter what size variation, are intelligent dogs. In fact, according to Stanley Coren, standards are the 22nd smartest dogs (out of 138 breeds). Not only do they learn with ease, but they’re also very responsive to obedience training.


Which pinscher dog breed was your favorite? And do you own any of these dogs? let us know in the comments section below.

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About the author

Richard Jeng

Richard has been raising dogs his whole life, including a Poodle, Pomeranian, Corgi and Australian Shepherd. He's always working with animal shelters and dog rescues because of his passion for all dogs. Fun fact: his all time favorite breed is the German Shepherd. Read More.

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