Affen Tzu

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Affen Tzu
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Affen Tzus are a charming mix of the proud Shih Tzu and the charming Affenpinscher – two small dogs that have large personalities. As both parent breeds share a lot of physical characteristics, the Affen Tzu bears close resemblance to both the Shih Tzu and the Affenpinscher. Sociable, intelligent and very loyal to their masters, the Affen Tzu may not be a common hybrid breed just yet, but they are sure to make their mark sometime in the near future.

As these dogs are quite content with short walks and get most of the exercise they need when running about indoors, they do not necessarily need a yard and only need a few short walks a day to 'do their business'. Some can possess a stubborn streak and owners need to nip any cheeky behaviour in the bud from day one to prevent these dogs from developing 'small dog syndrome' as they get older.

About & History

While the Affenpinscher and the Shih Tzu have remarkably different histories, they are not too different when it comes to their appearance and their temperament. It became 'trendy' to develop designer dogs in the 1970s and, since then, practically every pedigree has been bred together to create a new cross-breed.

When exactly this first happened for the Affen Tzu is open to debate but it likely occurred sometime within the last couple of decades. To get a deeper understanding of this newly-established breed, we should take the time to learn a little about their parents.

The Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is one of the most ancient dog breeds and has been in existence for around 3,000 years (meaning the Affen Tzu has some catching up to do!). While some think that the first Shih Tzu came from Tibet, others argue their country of origin is more likely China. There is even a story that suggests a Shih Tzu was once given as a gift by the Dalai Lama to the Emperor of China.

Whatever their origin, we know that the Shih Tzu has always been a revered individual and would appear frequently in artwork and sculptures of the time. Despite their long history, it was not until the 1930s that the first Shih Tzus were brought to Europe, where they quickly became a popular companion animal choice thanks to their loving and loyal personalities.

The Affenpinscher

The Affenpinscher is sometimes called the 'monkey dog' thanks to its beautiful brown eyes and cheeky little face. Dogs similar to the Affenpinscher have been kept as vermin hunters within central Europe for several centuries but it was not until the 1800s that the breed began to truly form. It is closely related to both the German Pinscher and the Schnauzer. The Affenpinscher also shares close ties with the similar looking Griffon Bruxellois.

As well as being one of the main breeds used to create the Griffon Bruxellois, the Affenpinscher was the grateful recipient of their DNA when they were bred back to the Affenpinscher population after the Second World War. This 'back-breeding' was necessary as the Affenpinscher population size had become so small that they were at real risk of becoming extinct. Nowadays, the Affenpinscher is still not a particularly popular Pedigree and is actually one of the rarest breeds about. Why this is, we’re not too sure as they are undeniably sweet and have a real charm to them.


Though perhaps not to everyone’s taste thanks to their 'squished' face that always seems to look a little grumpy, the Affen Tzu is adored by many, who claim it is 'so ugly it’s cute!'. They have a round, little skull with a short muzzle and large, brown eyes that somehow seem to manage to give the impression of being both aloof and interested at the same time. While their ears will never stand fully erect, those that take after their Affenpinscher parent may have ears that are somewhat raised, while others may have pendulous ears that frame their face, more like the Shih Tzu. Their bodies are square in shape and rather elegant, never being overly-muscled. Their limbs are short and they have a medium length tail that curls gradually over the back.

The fur of the Affen Tzu may be straight or slightly wavy and will usually grow quite long if not clipped too often. As their fur can be dense, some are prone to tangling, particularly under their armpits and on their ears. The most common coat colour is black but it is quite possible for individuals to also have white, grey and brown fur, with a black and white coat being seen often. Once fully grown, an adult Affen Tzu will weigh from 3kg to 7kg and measure between just 18cm and 28cm at the withers, making them a 'Toy' sized dog by some standards.

Character & Temperament

A high-spirited, good-tempered little soul, the Affen Tzu is happiest when around people and can be a real lap dog when it feels like it. To ensure the Affen Tzu is as tolerant of new people as it is of its family, early socialisation should form an integral part of their puppy training. Indeed, it would not be unheard of for a poorly socialised Affen Tzu to be fawningly affectionate and placid with its family, only to turn into a snappy, yappy guard dog when the postman arrives.

Practically all Affen Tzus will have a stubborn streak and owners need to try and address this from a young age to prevent it from becoming an issue. Similarly, some are overly possessive of their toys and bedding and can become grumpy when others are around them. In the worst cases, Affen Tzus can go on to develop 'small dog syndrome', a behavioural complex that makes for a poorly-adjusted dog that struggles to cope with day-to-day life.

Affen Tzus make very good watch dogs and will alert their family when someone new is about or when they hear an unexpected sound. However, sometimes their barking can become excessive, particularly if they live in a noisy, urban environment or in an apartment with poor sound insulation.


Training of the Affen Tzu needs to start from a young age and to be continued on consistently throughout their life. The whole family must get involved, especially the children who should not allow the Affen Tzu to dominate or control them. Stubbornness can be largely overcome with interesting training sessions and a large stash of yummy treats!


There are a number of health issues beginning to show up in the Affen Tzu population and as there are still so few breed members, we need to be vigilant of them and breed responsibly.

BUAS (Brachycephalic Upper Airway Syndrome)

Whether or not an Affen Tzu is affected by BUAS will depend on which genes they have inherited and their facial conformation. Those breed members who do suffer with it will typically have noisy breathing and will struggle to keep up when exercising in warm and humid weather. Specialised surgeries can help to enable easier breathing and improve their quality of life.

Tracheal Collapse

Those with a 'weak windpipe' may exhibit a honking cough, inability to exercise for long periods and difficulty breathing. The extent of their symptoms will depend on how severe the grade of their collapse is. Most patients can be diagnosed with a simple X-ray.

Those that are over-weight will need to slim down and owners are advised to use body harnesses. In many cases, medications such as cough suppressants and bronchodilators can help dramatically. When medical therapy is not successful, there is a specialised surgery available which may be suitable for some.

Exercise and Activity Levels

While a lively breed, the Affen Tzu does not have high exercise requirements and only needs a couple of strolls outside each day to get some fresh air and stretch its legs. On top of this, owners should be sure to play with them regularly and to stimulate their mind with puzzle toys and interactive games.


The dense coat of the Affen Tzu should be brushed out thoroughly two to three times a week, focusing on the areas where the fur is longer, such as the ears and tail. Those with floppier ears may be prone to waxy build-ups and infections so should have their ear canals cleaned out regularly. Some will experience impacted anal glands, which can be emptied routinely by a veterinarian.

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