Origins of the Affenpinscher About the origin of the name An odd name for such a singular breed of dog. The name of a breed normally gives us a clue as to the appearance or the work carried out by the breed, but the name of the Affenpinscher means nothing unless you have some knowledge of German. And even for the Germans, as far as we can tell, the meaning is unclear. In German the verb “affen” means something like “to imitate”, “to trick”, even “to deceive”. The adjective “affenartig” means “monkey-like” or “simian”. “Affenschande” means “great shame (ashamed)” and perhaps we could remember the terms “shameless”, “ daring” or “bold” to the character of the breed. At times it has been called “monkey terrier”. Those who first gave rise to the breed in Germany gave the early examples the name ( according to them very descriptive) “little monkey dog”: “zwerg” which means “small”, “affen” means “monkey” and “pinscher” which was the name gave for German people to a type of dog who "pinchs" rats and mice in the stables. It is often said that it looks like a monkey. This is said largely because it has a prominent underjaw and a moustache. However, monkeys do not have such prominent underjaws, and even fewer have a moustache. Maybe its expression could remind us, a little, of a macaque. But even so, the Affenpinscher has undeniable comic expressions, and people everywhere associate a comic and mischievous expression with monkeys. In France the breed is called “Diablotin Mostachu”, little devil (fig. monkey) with whisker. Dogs of the Affenpinscher type have been known since at least 1600. They were larger, someone about 18” (45,7cm). There was a great variety of colours: grey, black, cinnamon, black and tan, grey and tan, even red. They tended to have white patches on the chest and legs. They were well known as ratting dogs, they lived on farms and in granaries, running at large and sleeping in the stables. Their principal mission in life: catch rats.
Digging around the roots Back in the 13th century the black rat had established itself in the rafters and thatched roofs of homes in Europe. It fed upon whatever it found on the river banks, granaries, and sewers. The rat is omnivorous, a breeder in all seasons, and is capable of carrying a variety of lethal diseases to mankind. The streets of century XVII were full of them and in fact, in this century, already Rembrandt van Rijn [1606-1669], newly relocated to Amsterdam, was 26 when he completed a small etching called "The Rat Poison Peddler". In terms of size-it is somewhat smaller than a postcard- it is a modest work; but yet it is a wondrous distillation of Rembrandt's etching skills, a vivid recreation of what was then a common street vending craft, the selling of rat poisons. The dogs of the period had few problems in making a living, being “a ratter”, in any country, was good business for them, and frequently a wellpaid one! The Affenpinscher may well be a descendant of those dogs, ratters that later, sometimes by chance mating and some by selective breeding, gave rise to the different breeds within the group of Pinschers-Schnauzers in Germany. Taking into account some sources about the lineage of the Affenpinscher, we can trace things back to a dog found in the 7 th century called the Bibarhund. This “earth dog” type dog goes back to before the middle ages, around 635 AD. We read about him in the "Lex Baiuvariorum" which King Dagobert I gave to the Merovingian tribes. This early attempt at legislation for the Germanic tribes makes reference to the penalties which are to be imposed on those who kill “burrow dogs”, named “bibarhund” (“bibar” meaning beaver and “hund” meaning dog). It is clear that these dogs were much valued by the tribes that live by the Rhine. The “bibarhund” was in its turn the ancestor of a type of dog, seen in the 14th century, called Tanner. Gaston Phoebus, Count of la Foix, in his book “Le Livre de chasse” begun in 1387, mentions it. It seems to have been a rough-haired “earth dog”. It is though that this type of dog was crossed with the English terrier black and tan, giving rise to the “bentchur” or Rattenfanger, a fine ratter and guard dog. This dog was a specialist in catching all types of rodent, both within stables and storehouses, and in other places. The oldest known book on dogs written in German, in 1832, describes it as follows: “ the dog has a snout covered with rough haired whiskers. Its body is short and his tail usually docked. The topcoat is not too long but wiry”. 2
Regarding the word “bentchur”, it was probably the start of the term “pinscher”, however, when in 1852, C.F.H. Weiss used the nomenclature “pinscher” to translate the English word “terrier” this gave rise to some confusion. The Pinscher became very popular when the first dog shows began around 1800. However, it was not a favourite of many dog lovers and numbers reduced dramatically. Max Camp, one of the presidents of the Pinscher Schnauzer club, wrote in his book “Standard-Buch der Schnauzer und Pinscherrassen”, published in 1959, “The German Pinscher, be it of smooth hair or long was preserved most tenaciously in southern Germany, especially in Württemberg. In this region it was the dog of the common man, preserved for its merits and prerogatives.” It is thought that the Schnauzer is closely linked with this Pinscher, which had almost disappeared in its country of origin, Germany, during the 1st World War. And, in fact, it was possible to find smooth haired pups, “pinschers”, and rough haired pups, “Affen-Schnauzer”, both produced in the same litter. Returning to the book by Max Camp we read “ The pinscher both rough haired and smooth, were recognised as breeds in Germany in 1880. The breed characteristics were established in the first German book of origins. But it was Josef Berta, in 1895, founder of the German Pinscher/Schnauzer Club, who took upon himself, with varying degrees of success, all the Pinschers. According to the book (Raspuntenboek van de meest bekende hondenrassen - Cynophilia Standard Book of Purebred Dogs. Maarssen: Cynophilia, 1894) “The Breeds of Dogs” by Count Henry van Bylandt (1860-1943) there were this kind of dog of different sizes. The smallest were used as ratters, and the bigger dogs used to herd pigs and cattle, and also for driving wild boar. Anther source in 1876 regarding the different varieties of pinscher is Austrian zoologist Fitzinger who tells us there were several varieties of “pinscher”: miniature (Kleinen pintsch), rough haired (rauhen pintsch), large (grossen pintsch), smooth coated (glatten pintsch) and the so called ”silken pinscher” (seiden pintsch), the closest ancestor of the Affenpinscher. Until 1870, in the southern part of Russia, a small dog similar to the Schnauzer was to be found. It was some 15” (35cm) high, steel grey in colour and was used to hunt squirrels and martens. It was thought that, given the overhunting by the Czars, this dog was left without its principal utility. It is believed that a man from Lubeck, Germany, was the first to take 3
seriously the breeding of small ratters, basing the breeding on these Russian dogs which had in turn been crossed with other dogs. Soon the breeding became focussed on a smaller dog better able to live in the home. Its speciality was this time to catch mice that plagued the skirts of women. Most of these (ratters/lapdogs) dogs were salt and pepper, dark red or solid black in colour. Around 1750 one Hans Jochen Kossman, by crossing a mini Schnauzer and a German Pinscher, produced a small dog. Other fans had also created the same “breed type” and by adding other breeds produced certain differences. From the cross with the Pug we see a shorter muzzle and so we see the emergence of the Griffon Bruxellois. Many and varied crosses were made by these early breeders of the breed. When they finally reached agreement they comcentrated their efforts on producing the original prototype, smaller and with more style and type. These would become the ancestors of today’s Affenpinscher. In the Germany of the 17th and 18th centuries there existed a popular type of dog called “SchoosHundrassen” (translated as skirt dog, after “Schoßhunde" the small lapdog seen in the arms of women of the higher social classes) which bore some similarity to the Affenpinscher of today. In some reports and letters of the English international judge, Mrs Woods we can read paragraphs describing these small, black dogs. The characteristics, actions, coat and other features are all reminiscent of the modern Affenpinscher. These letters date from 1720, and from them we learn that there were two sizes with slight differences. The larger would become the Schnauzer, the smaller the Affenpinscher. ©By Pilar Hannan. 2009 ©Translated by Chris Hannan ©<www.affens.es>
Sources & Credits 4
*The Modern Dog Encyclopedia. Henry P. Davis. US 1965. *The International Encyclopedia of Dogs. Stanley Dangerfield & Elsworth Howell. UK 1971. *Hutchinson´s Dog Encyclopaedia, UK 1934. *Medicine and Health Rhode Island 2004 M. Stanley Aronson. *Los Schnauzer. Fiorenzo Fiorone. 1978. *The Dog in Health and Disease. By Stonehenge. London, 1887. *Dogs: their History and Development. Edward Ash. London, 1927. *Wood engraving after Friedrich Specht. Published by Brehm. Ca. 1885. *The Observer´s Book of Dogs. Clifford L.B.Hubbard. London&NY, 1945. Special help with Old German and breed information: Gabriele Trosbach. http://www.affenpinscher.de.tl/ *Affenpinscher Club of America http://www.affenpinscher.org/ *The Miniature Schnauzer http://schnauzerweb.com/hf.html *Deutschen Pinscher http://www.wallenfels-pinscher.de/ *Black Forest Affenpinscher http://affenpinscher.com/Early%20Affen%20History.html *Max The Schnauzer http://www.max-the-schnauzer.com/schnauzer-history.html *Rembrandt van Rijn "http://www.rembrandtpainting.net/index.htm" http://www.rembrandtpainting.net/index.htm *Rehs Galleries, INC. http://www.rehs.com/george_armfield_virtex.htm