Miniature Pinscher

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

Developed several hundred years ago in Germany, this small, short-haired dog looks like a miniature Doberman Pinscher. With its sturdy and muscular body, the Miniature Pinscher is a fine example of a toy dog. Their coat may be a number of colours, including rust red and black with rust markings.

This assertive, energetic breed requires a firm hand when it comes to training and should not be allowed to get away with bad behaviour, which can quickly become a habit. Suited to apartment living, the Miniature Pinscher should be kept entertained with plenty of stimulating games and puzzles, as well as lots of human interaction.

About & History

Many people mistakenly believe that the Miniature Pinscher (or ‘Min Pin’) is a smaller version of the Doberman Pinscher. In fact, this is far from the truth, as the Miniature Pinscher existed before its larger look-a-like! This breed is thought to originate from the German Pinscher and several smaller dogs, such as the Dachshund and Italian Greyhound. While the Miniature Pinscher bears a very close resemblance to the English Manchester Terrier, they are not thought to be closely related. The term ‘Pinscher’ is thought to relate to the ‘pinching’ way in which they quickly snap and bite.

The Miniature Pinscher comes from Germany where it is though thought to have been bred for several hundred years. Originally, they would have been used as ratters, keeping the local wild rat and mouse population under control. Nowadays, however, this dog is not typically used for working, instead spending its time indoors in the company of their family.

The AKC officially accepted the Miniature Pinscher as a breed as early as 1925 and, not long after, the UKC recognised the Miniature Pinscher in their Companion Group in 1936. This breed has been in the USA for over 100 years and, with its big personality, is a firm favourite as a family pet.


Miniature Pinscher Large Photo

A robust, little dog that is built in good proportion, the Miniature Pinscher should be well-balanced with clean outlines. The flat head of this breed is comprised of a muzzle and skull that are of similar lengths and a stop that is not too abrupt. Their tight lips house a full set of teeth that form a scissors bite. Their round eyes are dark and animated. Their prick ears stand tall and proud, though may be cropped in some individuals (a practice that is largely falling out of favour). Their body is wedge-shaped with well-sprung ribs and a moderate abdominal tuck-up. Their legs are straight, parallel and strong with thick bones. Their ‘cat-like’ feet are closely-knit and allow for a high-stepping, graceful gait. The standard suggests removal of all dew claws, though this is not essential. Traditionally, their tail has been docked, though it should naturally stand erect.

Their coat is straight, smooth and short. The following fur colours are acceptable within their standard:

  • Red
  • Red with black (known as ‘stag’); The red colour should be rich and vibrant
  • Black with rust markings
  • Chocolate brown with rust markings
  • Blue with rust markings
  • Fawn with rust markings

Dogs measure from 25.5cm to 32cm and their weight should reflect their height, though most dogs weigh around 4kg.

Character & Temperament

What this breed lacks in stature they more than make up for with their vibrant character. Some breed fanciers use the term ‘King of Toys’ to describe this noble dog that likes to be in charge. The phrase ‘big dog stuck in a small dog’s body’ is particularly fitting for the Miniature Pinscher. This is a dog that seems to have no idea that it is short and light, acting as if it has the strength and physical presence of its taller doppelganger, the Doberman Pinscher.

A proud and high-spirited dog, the Miniature Pinscher loves to play around with the children of the family and get up to all sorts of mischief. Due to their small size, roughhousing should be avoided and younger children should be supervised to ensure they do not injure these small dogs.

They form strong attachments with all of their family and enjoy being in human company. Anecdotally, they are slightly less affectionate than other small dogs, possibly due to their independent and confident nature. Having said this, they will happily show affection when they feel like it.

Ever alert, the Miniature Pinscher tends to be on the lookout for intruders at all times and will act reserved in the company of strangers. They have a bad reputation for being hostile with those they don’t know, particularly if they feel the need to defend their family and property. Their dominance can be a challenge and may result in episodes of snappiness and aggression, so needs to be avoided. They have a tendency to bark excessively, particularly when guarding their territory.

When it comes to socialising with other dogs, caution is advised. A dog that will never back down from a challenge, even if their opponent may weigh 10 times more than them, the courageous Miniature Pinscher can be prone to canine aggression. Lead-walking outside of the home is advised for this reason. Inside the home, Miniature Pinschers are happy to co-exist with other dogs as long as they are allowed to be in charge. With regards to smaller pets, such as cats and rabbits, it is rare that they will be accepted, and they will likely be chased and provoked relentlessly.


Photo of Miniature Pinscher puppy

Not lacking in intelligence, the Miniature Pinscher has the ability to shine when it comes to tasks, such as canine obedience. The issues arise when this breed tries to be the ‘alpha’ in the relationship with their trainer, as they may refuse to do tasks asked of them, even if they understand what they are meant to do. Their pig-headedness poses a challenge but can be overcome with firm training and plenty of positive reinforcement.

Best results are achieved when training is introduced at a young age and is kept consistent throughout the lifetime of the dog. Equally, socialisation must start early to avoid excessively hostile behavior.

‘Small Dog Syndrome’ is a real risk in this breed, and trainers should focus on preventing this behavioural disorder from occurring. Once a dog has developed ‘Small Dog Syndrome’ it can be incredibly difficult to reverse. Treating your Miniature Pinscher as the dog that it is will go a long way towards preventing negative behaviours. While small, this breed should not be coddled, picked up often, allowed to be aggressive / destructive and maybe even kept off the furniture to establish boundaries. Unfortunately, some owners do not see the harm in a small dog growling territorially or bearing their teeth, thinking that it is ‘cute’ or ‘funny’. A dog suffering from ‘small dog syndrome’ is frequently anxious and unhappy, despite what some owners may think.


The Miniature Pinscher enjoys quite good health and can live well into their teens, with many individuals reaching the age of 14 or 15. Be aware of the following health disorders:

Luxating Patellae

It tends to be the little dogs that are afflicted with this condition in which the knee caps pop out of place from time to time. An owner may notice that a dog picks their back leg up sporadically and skips for a few steps, before returning the paw to the ground as if nothing has happened.

Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease

This painful condition will result in muscle wasting and lameness of the hind limbs and occurs because the top of the leg bone degenerates. Most dogs are diagnosed before the age of one.

Mitral Valve Disease

The mitral valve of the heart sits in between the left atrium and ventricle. A mitral valve that does not function correctly will allow blood to flow in the wrong direction, ultimately resulting in heart failure. Luckily, this condition tends to progress slowly and can be managed with medication.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Though small, the Miniature Pinscher requires a moderate amount of exercise and enjoys keeping active. They should be given access to a moderately sized garden which must be secure to avoid any chance of them escaping. A newly manicured lawn is unlikely to last long with this breed around, as they enjoy digging and getting messy.

Off-lead walking away from home is not advised, as the Miniature Pinscher enjoys chasing small creatures and cannot be trusted with other dogs. On-lead walks should last a good 30 to 60-minutes and should be supplemented with plenty of play time and interactive activities. An under-stimulated or under-exercised Miniature Pinscher will inevitably acquire negative behaviours, such as constant yapping or digging.


The short coat of the Miniature Pinscher should be groomed weekly with a soft brush or mitt. Care should be taken in cold weather to protect the Miniature Pinscher from the elements, as their fur does not offer much in the way of warmth or protection. Dog sweaters and coats should be utilised when outdoors.

With their fiery personality, it is essential to get the Miniature Pinscher used to routine grooming tasks, such as claw clipping and tooth brushing from a very young age to avoid confrontation.

Famous Miniature Pinschers

Paris Hilton owns a Min Pin called Dollar.


There are actually a huge number of Miniature Pinscher crosses in existence today, with some of the more interesting and popular ones including:

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