The Breed History
European guarding and herding dogs were used to develop this ancient breed. Originally called Smooth Haired Pinschers, these dogs were involved in German dog breed development for the other Pinschers and the Schnauzers. First records of the German Pinscher were from the mid 1800s. Before the World Wars, the breed contained the Schnauzer colors such as salt and pepper and pure black, colors now extinct and not in the breed standard. One person is credited for single-handedly saving the breed from extinction in the early 1950s. He was required to outcross the remaining few dogs at the start of his efforts in order to regenerate gene diversity. As popularity grew in America in the 1980s, the first national breed club was formed and the AKC accepted the breed.
Breeding for Function
An ancient breed, they are suitable for watchdog and companionship. Considered a very vigilant watch dog, they are suitable for experienced dog owners.
Height at Withers: 17-20" (43-51 cm)
Weight: 25-45 lb (11-20 kg)
Coat: Coat is dense, close lying and short. Texture may be medium to hard, and the hairs should be glossy. Fawn (Isabella) through reds, to reds admixed with black (stag red). Richer full red is preferred in the red coated dogs. Also see black or blue with ideally, sharply demarcated red or tan markings. Marking distribution is specified in the breed standard. Any white is undesirable in this breed.
Longevity: 12-14 years
Points of Conformation: Square in proportion, this medium sized dog is well muscled. They have a blunt wedge-shaped flat skull, cheeks are flat, stop is barely visible. High set ears are sometimes cropped. Uncropped ears are triangular with a fold, though some stand erect. Eyes are oval and do not protrude, and have a piercing expression. Nose and lips are black, bite is a scissors. The neck is arched, and no loose skin should be evident. The topline slopes down slightly towards the rear, with a slight rise over the loin-back is short, abdomen has moderate tuck up. Tail usually docked short and is carried high. Moderately boned long straight limbs, front dewclaws may be removed, round feet are small, well knuckled up with dark nails and pads. The gait is fluid with good reach, and no rolling.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed attributes include: Alert, active, intelligent and loves to learn, loyal, watchful, fearless, determined, high energy. Good endurance and vigilance, courageous when needed. Good alarm barker, but not an excessive barker. Strong chase drive. Obedience training is essential in order to channel a sometimes independent nature and assertive will. Stay playful well into maturity. These dogs may not be suited to be around young children (< 9) without supervision. Moderately active-tend to be dominant. They do best if given activities/work to do.
Normal Physiologic Variations
Dilute coat color is due to the homozygous recessive expression of a mutation in the melanophilin gene (MLPH). This can predispose to color dilution alopecia.
Hip Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing degenerative joint disease and hip arthritis. OFA reports 0.7% affected.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. OFA shows a high frequency, but too few German Pinschers have been screened to determine an accurate frequency.
Patella Luxation: Congenital laxity of patellar ligaments causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treated surgically if causing clinical signs. Too few German Pinschers have been screened to determine an accurate frequency.
von Willebrand's Disease (vWD) Type 1: Autosomal recessive genetic disorder causing a mild bleeding syndrome, usually after trauma or surgery. A genetic test is available, showing 17% testing carrier.
Cataracts: Anterior or posterior intermediate and punctate cataracts occur in the breed. Diagnosed in 6.5% German Pinschers undergoing ophthalmoscopic examination in one survey. Pedigree analysis suggests recessive inheritance. Identified in 13.73% of German Pinschers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding any German Pinscher with a cataract.
Persistent Hyperplastic Tunica Vasculosa Lentis (PHTVL): Presents with posterior polar subcapsular cataracts and pre-retinal glial proliferation. Diagnosed in 8.4% German Pinschers undergoing ophthalmoscopic examination in one survey. Pedigree analysis suggests recessive inheritance. CERF does not recommend breeding any German Pinscher with PHTVL.
Optic Nerve Hypoplasia/Micropapilla: A congenital defect of the optic nerve which causes blindness. CERF does not recommend breeding any German Pinscher with the condition.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. 5.3% positive for thyroid auto-antibodies based on testing at Michigan State University. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%).
Persistent Pupillary Membranes: Strands of fetal remnant connecting; iris to iris, cornea, lens, or involving sheets of tissue. The later three forms can impair vision, and dogs affected with these forms should not be bred. Identified in 3.27% of German Pinschers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Color Dilution Alopecia (CDA): Hair loss syndrome associated with the dilute coat color. Starts as a gradual onset of dry, dull and poor hair coat quality. Progresses to poor hair regrowth, follicular papules and comedomes. Hair loss and comedome formation are usually most severe on the trunk.
Corneal Dystrophy: Causes opacities on the surface of the cornea. Unknown mode of inheritance. Identified in 1.96% of German Pinschers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Persistent Right Aortic Arch (PRAA): Eighteen young German Pinschers in 16 litters from Germany and the Netherlands had megaesophagus secondary to PRAA with an aberrant left subclavian artery. Surgery is corrective. A complex mode of inheritance was suggested.
Isolated Case Studies
XX Sex Reversal: A 5 month-old German Pinscher presented with an enlarged clitoris. Surgery revealed a uterus, and two histologically confirmed ovotestes. The dog had an XX karyotype, and tested negative for the SRY gene, so a diagnosis of XX sex reversal was offered.
Tests of Genotype: Direct test for von Willebrand's Disease (vWD) is available from VetGen.
Tests of Phenotype: CHIC Certification: Required testing includes CERF eye examination, hip radiographs, and genetic test for vWD. Optional recommended test includes cardiac evaluation (echocardiogram). Recommend thyroid profile including autoantibodies, elbow radiographs, and patella examination.
- Breed name synonyms: Standard Pinscher, Historical SYN: Smooth Haired Pinscher.
- Registries: AKC, CKC, FCI, KCGB (Kennel Club of Great Britain), ANKC (Australian National Kennel Club), NKC (National Kennel Club)
- AKC rank (year 2008): 141 (108 dogs registered)
- Breed resources: German Pinscher Club of America: www.german-pinscher.com
German Pinscher Club (UK): www.germanpinscher.org.uk
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