The High-Stepping Miniature Pinscher

Bold, saucy, alert and with a distinctive style of moving, the Miniature Pinscher is unique in the dog world. Here are seven fun facts about the Miniature Pinscher.

Miniature Pinscher dog breed
Louis Dobermann did not breed his first true Doberman Pinscher until 1890. Photography ©Lois_McCleary | Getty Images

1. Dispelling the biggest myth
Despite the “Miniature” in his name, the Min Pin is not a scaled-down version of anything, most particularly the Doberman Pinscher. Both the Doberman and the Min Pin probably descended from the old German Standard Pinscher, which is believed by many to be the ancestor of several German breeds. But there the relationship ends. The Miniature Pinscher significantly predates the Doberman. While dogs similar in appearance to the Min Pin are seen in some artwork dating back to the 1700s, Herr Louis Dobermann did not breed his first true Doberman Pinscher until 1890.

Miniature Pinscher puppy
Photography ©alexkich | Getty Images

2. The Min Pin’s roots
Historians concur that the Miniature Pinscher originated in Germany as an effective barnyard ratter. The German Kennel Club calls the “Zwerg or Dwarf Pinscher … a pure German breed from olden times that has nothing to do with the Doberman or the Manchester Terrier.” In 1836 Dr. H.G. Reichenbach, a German writer, stated that the breed was a cross between the Dachshund and the Italian Greyhound. Many historians agree that the Min Pin’s ancestors most likely include a combination of the smaller, German Smooth-haired Pinschers, the Italian Greyhound and the Smooth Dachshund. The breed was popular in Europe until World War I, when numbers began to decline. Fortunately for the breed, it was imported into the United States around 1919. The first one was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1925 under the breed name Pinscher (Toy).

Miniature Pinscher dog
No one would call the diminutive, curious, spirited and funny Min Pin a mild-mannered lap dog. Photography ©GlobalP | Getty Images

3. The Pinscher puzzle
Part of the confusion surrounding the breed’s origin comes from the word “pinscher,” which is a descriptive term for a family of related dogs, like “setter” or “terrier,” and denotes a method of working. “Pinscher” refers to a dog’s habit of jumping on and fiercely biting its quarry. A definition in Henne’s Dictionary of the German Language says that Pinscher is “borrowed from the English word ‘pincher,’ meaning one who pinches, nips or tweaks.”

Miniature Pinscher with black coat
Photography ©GlobalP | Getty Images

4. Min Pin moxy
The AKC standard describes the breed’s character using terms like “… sturdy… proud, vigorous, and alert… [with] fearless animation, complete self-possession, and… spirited presence.” These traits have earned the Min Pin his nickname the “King of the Toys.” Despite his diminutive size (10 to 12½ inches in height at the top of the shoulders), he is no mild-mannered lap dog. He is a keen watchdog, strong-willed, ready to take on anything he perceives as a threat and given to barking, which new owners need to be prepared for. Of course, he is also curious and funny, and the perfect companion for dog lovers who have thoroughly researched the breed.

5. Hackney-like action
The Miniature Pinscher moves out like no other breed. It is a “hackney-like action,” resembling that of the Hackney pony. The AKC breed standard describes it as a “high-stepping, reaching, free and easy gait in which the front leg moves straight forward and in front of the body and the foot bends at the wrist. The dog drives smoothly and strongly from the rear. The head and tail are carried high.”

brown Miniature Pinscher
Photography ©inga | Getty Images

6. Min Pin color palette
While solid, clear red is the color we see most frequently in the breed, Min Pins can also come in stag red (red with an intermingling of black hairs, named for the deer or “stag”); black with sharply defined rust-red markings on the cheeks, twin spots above the eyes and on the legs; and chocolate with rust-red markings as specified for the blacks. At one time, blue-gray Min Pins with rust-red markings were permitted in the breed standard but no longer. The color is a dilute and can be genetically linked to skin issues in some dogs. Blue puppies do occasionally pop up in litters, and there are a few breeders who would like to see the color reinstated in the standard.

7. Easy-peasy grooming
While training this energetic and territorial little breed can be a challenge, grooming the Min Pin is a breeze. The breed’s coat is smooth, hard and short, straight and lustrous, and tightly covers the body. An occasional brushing to remove loose hair, as well as frequent toenail trimming, will keep the high stepper looking shiny and sleek.

Thumbnail: ©Lois_McCleary | Getty Images

About the author:

Allan Reznik is a journalist, editor and broadcaster who specializes in dog-related subjects. He is the former editor-in-chief of Dogs in Review and former editor of Dog Fancy magazine. A city dweller all his life, on both coasts, he now enjoys the rural South with his Afghan Hounds, Tibetan Spaniels and assorted rescues.

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11 thoughts on “The High-Stepping Miniature Pinscher”

  1. No i dont know what i will do without my minpin. Im 60 and hes 9. We have been together for 9 years. I know your pain must be aweful.but you gave your best friend a good life. Thats a great thing.

  2. I am looking for a Black and Tan male min pin puppy and would prefer his ears and tail fixed. I had 2 for 13 years and still miss them.

  3. We adopted ours when he was full grown from an owner that seemed to keep him kenneled way too much. He had some bad habits which we were able to break over time. He was very willing to learn and be trained, it was so sweet. He also loved cuddling a lot, he would lay next to us for hours and hours on the couch. He was extremely friendly with everyone he met, including kids but too friendly where he was licking faces. He rarely barked and seemed to always have a loving and open demeanor. We loved him so much! I’ve had many pets through out my life but I’ve never got so attached to a pet like I did with him. He ended up dying of kidney failure a couple weeks ago. We still really miss him. I made a tribute to him here:

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  7. Thank you for all your supportive stories. September 26th 2019 I had to be very brave and let my beautiful spaniel (Jessemay) be put to sleep. She was 11 and had developed cancer. Our last night together, curled up around her on my bed , comforting her was very hard to bare. We went through all the devastating Christchurch earthquakes together and I would not have made it through the injuries without her. She was my soul mate , my best friend and was always with me. I loved her so much and the tears just dont stop. She loved vegetables and mid afternoon she would be down at the vege garden sniffing out the biggest carrots and potatoes then very carefully she would pluck them out of the patch to take on the lawn to eat. She also loved peas and radish and was always so carefull not to devastate the garden. She also loved to go and get the mail and take it inside for me.
    Does the grief get easier?

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