Austrian Pinscher

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Austrian Pinscher

A medium-sized Austrian dog, the Austrian Pinscher should be robustly built with a well-muscled body and good athletic capability. While similar type dogs have been around for many years, it was only at the beginning of the 20th century that pedigree breeding of the Austrian Pinscher began and a breed standard was written.

Few make better watch dogs than the Austrian Pinscher, whose distrust of strangers, endless energy, alert nature and desire to bark make him the perfect candidate for the job. Thorough socialisation from puppyhood is needed to ensure the Austrian Pinscher becomes tolerant of people other than its family.

About & History

The Austrian Pinscher, or Österreichischer Pinscher, was originally kept as a farm dog, controlling vermin levels and patrolling the land. Versatile dogs, they would also work with livestock, rounding them up and guarding them from predators.

It is believed that the Austrian Pinscher was derived from the German Pinscher and local Austrian breeds. Pinscher type dogs are thought to have been in existence for many centuries and are believed to be truly ancient dogs. However, when it comes to the antiquity of the Austrian Pinscher, records are lacking and the breed was only officially recognised in 1928.

The breed was developed to be a multi-purpose and useful dog, helping farmers work their land. The actual physical appearance of the breed was never a priority and, in the past, breed members would have varied quite a lot in their looks. Austrian farmers required a loyal dog that would willingly protect their land and livestock. As well as this, they bred them to be sociable with people and tolerant of other animals.

A notable figure in the history of the breed is a man named Emil Hauck who believed that the Austrian Pinscher was the closest living relative of the ‘Canis Palustris’, an ancient dog. In the early 1920s, he took it upon himself to create a breeding programme to include those that most closely resembled the ancient breed, and in doing so, creating a uniform breed that would become known as the Austrian Pinscher.

As with a great number of other European dogs, the World Wars were challenging for the Austrian Pinscher, though they were ultimately saved from extinction, likely thanks to their versatility and the fact that they lived in more rural areas. Those farmyard dogs that survived were not the same purebred animals participating in Emil Hauck’s breeding programme but were true to form and while sometimes referred to as ‘land Austrian Pinschers’ could perhaps better be described as ‘traditional Austrian Pinschers’. The few remaining ‘purebred’ Austrian Pinschers were bred with these farm dogs in order to ensure the survival of the breed.

In recent years, the ‘Klub fur Osterreichishe Pinscher’ (KOP) has been instrumental in the survival of the breed, as well as in increasing its popularity locally. Despite their best efforts, the Austrian Pinscher remains a rare breed and is seldom heard of outside of Austria today.


Austrian Pinscher Large Photo

A stocky dog of relatively short stature, none of the features of the Austrian Pinscher should be exaggerated, ensuring it can continue to perform he variety of tasks it was bred for. It is built more robustly than the closely related German Pinscher.

The head of the Austrian Pinscher is typically described as ‘pear-shaped’ with a broad skull that is slightly longer than their muzzle. Regardless of fur colour, their eyes are dark and their nose must be black. Their small ears are set high on their head and are described as ‘button ears', which are semi-erect with the tips folding over. They have a rectangular shaped body that should be well-defined and muscular. Their barrel-shaped chest is deep, supported by strong legs. Their tail should not be overly long and is carried high over the body when moving.

The thick double-coat of the Austrian Pinscher should be short or medium in length and may be gold, yellow, red or black. Most dogs have white markings, which can appear in a variety of locations, including the face, feet and tip of the tail.

Dogs stand at 42cm to 50cm at the withers. While weight varies between breed members, most Austrian Pinschers weigh between 11kg and 18kg.

Character & Temperament

Despite its background as a working dog, the Austrian Pinscher is very much suited to family life and makes a great companion for children of all ages. They bond strongly with their family, showing them great devotion and demonstrating their affection at any opportunity. They are so well suited to life with children because of their playful and gentle nature.

A wonderful watch dog, the ever-alert Austrian Pinscher will never miss a beat and is always ‘on duty’. You can rest assured that your home is being protected at all times when there is an Austrian Pinscher around. While the Austrian Pinscher will be more likely to bark to scare away an intruder rather than actually causing them any harm, they have been known to become physical if pressed. The suspicion of strangers that is innate in the breed can be a double-edged sword, however, as the Austrian Pinscher is known to be suspicious of any new people outside of its inner circle.

Traditionally used as ratters, small vermin are under threat in the presence of the Austrian Pinscher. Larger animals should be tolerated well, as farmers ensured the breed was safe to keep on the farm with all of their other farmyard critters. Dog-to-dog aggression can be an issue in some individuals, so they require early socialisation with other canines to ensure their acceptance.

Barking can be excessive in some Austrian Pinschers and needs to be trained out of them from a young age, particularly if living in close proximity to neighbours.


The versatility of the Austrian Pinscher should speak for itself – this is one smart cookie. They can master most tasks set to them and do so with ease. Despite their undeniable ability, trainers can still face some challenges.

The Austrian Pinscher is a breed that likes to dominate and will regularly question what is being asked of them if they don’t think it necessary or interesting. A trainer is required to be consistent and authoritative, not allowing the Austrian Pinscher to get its own way if it acts out.


Health information is limited when it comes to the Austrian Pinscher. They tend to live to their early teens and are not thought to suffer from extensive health issues. A couple of disorders that may be worth monitoring for include:

Hip Dysplasia

A common problem in the dog, hips that are not formed correctly will cause issues for life. Individuals are affected to different extents with some having mild arthritis, while others will become so incapacitated that they may not be able to have a good quality of life, even with medication.

Cardiac Disease

Several sources state that the Austrian Pinscher may be more prone to developing heart failure than other breeds, though there is no health study available that confirms this. A variety of tests can be performed to check the health of a dog’s heart, including an echocardiogram.

Exercise and Activity Levels

As this is a breed of dog that has been used to its freedom running around farmyards, it is not advisable to keep the Austrian Pinscher within an apartment or small home. They require outdoor access and plenty of space to run around in. Even when tired out, they don’t tend to sit still, instead wandering around their home, investigating the vicinity.

Though quite small in size, the Austrian Pinscher needs a large amount of exercise to keep it satisfied. A minimum of an hour a day should be spent taking them on a hike or jog, and they should also be kept entertained with training, canine activities and games. They are by no means a lazy dog and will almost certainly develop destructive habits if their energy is left unspent.


The grooming requirements of the Austrian Pinscher are minimal. A light brush every week, a monthly nail trim and infrequent ear cleanings should be all the intervention they require.

On top of their routine grooming, a responsible owner should also brush the teeth of their Austrian Pinscher as often as possible; ideally once a day. Owners should attempt to make this a fun task, treating the dog with praise and food afterwards so it becomes an activity they learn to look forward to.

Famous Austrian Pinschers

A female of named Diocles of Angern is touted as being the only purebred survivor in the 1970s that was capable of breeding. As such, she was used to ensure the continuity of the Austrian Pinscher breed.


There are no well-established cross-breeds of the Austrian Pinscher.

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