Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Affenpug
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Picture an Ewok from Star Wars and you have a good idea of what an Affenpug looks like! With their scruffy dark hair, black lips and soulful eyes, these little guys wouldn’t be out of place as extras in Return of the Jedi! Usually a good mix of their Pug and Affenpinscher parent, this is one unique looking canine.

A fun-loving dog who likes to be around people, the Affenpug does not do well when left alone for prolonged periods. Their exercise requirements are moderate and some breed members can be particularly lazy. Their charming nature and the devotion that they show their owners makes them an attractive cross-breed.

About & History

As with many of the newer designer dog breeds, little is known about when and in which country the Affenpug came to be. While a large number of the new hybrids were initially created in America between the 1970s and 1990s, there is no way of telling if this is the case for the Affenpug, as there are no available records. Despite this lack of history, each of their parents have well-documented histories that can give us a good insight into the more distant history of the Affenpug.

The Affenpinscher

Affenpinschers are not particularly well-known pedigrees and have never graced the ‘top ten’ dog breed lists. This may have something to do with their rather unusual appearance and scruffy coat. The name Affenpinscher is a nod to their appearance being somewhat monkey-like as ‘Affe’ means ‘monkey’ in German.

As with other small terriers of the time, they were used to hunt vermin. Through the years, this dog has been bred to be smaller than its ancestors and breeders have focused more on its appearance and temperament than working ability. Interestingly, the Affenpinscher was used to develop the Griffon Bruxellois and, when Affenpinscher numbers dropped dangerously low, they were bred back to them to bolster numbers.

The Pug

The Pug's history goes far further back than that of the Affenpinscher and they are thought to have existed for several thousand years. Originally from China, it was the royals and aristocrats that would have kept the dogs and they were seen as status symbols. Over time, the Pug spread throughout Asia and it was in around the 1500s that they first came to Europe, imported by employees of the Dutch East India Company.

The breed flourished within Holland and became the official dog of the House of Orange. As was the case in the past, Pugs are kept today as companion animals and show dogs and have never really been bred for a specific working purpose.


In many ways, the Pug and Affenpinscher are similar in appearance. Both are small and brachycephalic with expressive dark eyes. Of course, the Affenpug has inherited these shared traits though there is still some variability within the breed and some will bear closer resemblance to their Pug parents, while others will look more like Affenpinschers.

Affenpugs are known for their ‘squished’, flat faces with shortened muzzles. Many have an over-bite – though the fur on their face may hide this. Their eyes are dark brown and always animated, forming the focal point of their face. Ears are floppy and small, hanging to the side of their head. Their body is short and relatively compact, supported by solid legs. Breed members tend to have the short and straight tail of the Affenpinscher, though some will have the curled tail of the Pug.

Adults will measure between 30cm to 40cm and weigh about 4kg to 6kg, making them notably smaller than the Pug. It’s actually quite rare for the Affenpug to inherit the short coat of the Pug and most will have a medium-length wiry coat the looks unkempt. Most individuals will have a black or grey coat but they can also be fawn or red.

Character & Temperament

With two parents that have larger than life personalities, it is no surprise that the Affenpug is a force to be reckoned with. Most will be brave and bold, with a temperament that would be more suited to a German Shepherd or Rottweiler! Though small, these dogs seem to make up for their lack of height with their confident nature.

The Affenpug enjoys being the center of attention and can sometimes play up in order to be noticed. They crave human companionship and do not like to be left out of anything. Most will bond very closely with their family and can be quite protective of them. They make very successful little watch dogs and will immediately bark to inform their owner if someone new has arrived.

If the Affenpug takes more after their Affenpinscher parent in the personality department, they will likely be less laid-back than the typical Pug. In fact, some can be belligerent, particularly if protecting their resources. Due to this, they require very firm training and may not be suitable in households with young children, as they can sometimes be snappy and possessive.


On the whole, the Affenpug is quite smart and has the ability to do well in their basic training. Some, however, will be held back by their naturally stubborn streak. While they may understand what is wanted of them and how to do it, they do not have a natural inclination to please at all times. Positive reinforcement that uses food treats tends to yield the best results and keeps the Affenpug on side.

Extensive socialisation from a very early age and ensuring the Affenpug has been taught that they are not ‘the boss’ can help to prevent any dominance issues in later life. As some individuals exhibit dog-to-dog aggression, it is important to provide them with plenty of positive canine experiences as they mature.


Small, brachycephalic dogs are very changed from their wolf ancestors and this has caused a myriad of health issues. Owners and breeders should be aware of the array of health conditions that the Affenpug can suffer from.

Brachycephalic Syndrome

Any dog that has a ‘squished’ face is likely to suffer from some degree of BOAS (Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome). These dogs have too much soft tissue for their small skeleton, meaning there is not enough room for adequate airflow and they can struggle to breathe. Dogs are affected to varying degrees and some will require surgery to enable them to live a normal life.

Hip Dysplasia

Poorly formed hips can be a genetic issue and it is important that breeders screen their dogs for hip dysplasia before using them to breed. Those with high hip scores should be neutered and should not be bred from, as there is a strong chance that their offspring will suffer from hip dysplasia, as well.

Patellar Luxation

Smaller breeds are more likely to suffer from knee caps that pop in and out of place, though any dog can be affected. There are four grades of patellar luxation and those with a high grade may experience significant lameness. If a dog’s mobility is negatively impacted, surgery may be advised. Dogs with low grade luxation tend to cope well and do not always require intervention.

Eye Problems

Dry eye, proptosis and entropion are just some of the ocular conditions experienced by the Affenpug. This is mainly to do with the fact that their head is small and their eyes are quite bulbous.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The small Affenpug needs about 30 to 45 minutes of exercise each day, which should be varied to avoid boredom. While some dogs will do well off lead and in dog parks, not every Affenpug is a social butterfly and some will need to be kept on their lead at all times to prevent any canine conflict.

The Affenpug enjoys the opportunity to goof about in the garden and will never refuse a game of fetch or Frisbee. While they like to play, some will struggle to exercise in hot weather and owners should be mindful of this, limiting their activity when required.


While the grooming needs of the Affenpug will depend entirely on which type of fur type the inherit, the average Affenpug should be brushed at least every other day to prevent tangles and keep their wiry coat tamed. Fur should be trimmed routinely and many will benefit from professional grooming a few times a year.

Those with facial skin folds should have them cleaned out ritually, preventing any local dermatitis from developing. Similarly, those prone to ear infections will need to have their ear cleaned out several times a month.

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