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Everything You Need To Know About German Pinscher

Dog Breeds, Dogs

Last Updated - May 30, 2023

If you are looking for an active, alert, and loving pup companion to bring on your many adventures, it may be that you are considering the German Pinscher dog. This medium-sized dog breed is full of energy and has seemingly endless stamina, making them perfect for active owners who need a dog who can keep up with them.

So is the German Pinscher right for you? Let's take a look.

Breed Characteristics


Apartment Living

How easily a dog deals with living in an apartment. Despite the dog's size, you should also consider energy level, calmness, and friendliness.

Being Alone

Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to panic and separation anxiety when left alone. When left alone, they can become very destructive, bark, whine, chew and cause mayhem. These breeds do best in a home with a family member around during the day, can go to work with their owner, or recommend attending doggy day care if the owner is not home during the day.

Sensitivity Level

Low sensitivity dogs are easygoing, tolerant, and resilient. They can handle a noisy and chaotic household, a loud or assertive owner, and tolerate an inconsistent or variable routine.

Tolerate Cold Climate

Short coat and little to no coat breeds are vulnerable to cold climates. These breeds will have a low cold tolerance and need to live inside in a cool climate and should have a jacket or sweater on for chilly walks.

Tolerate Warm Climate

Breeds with a thick and double coat are vulnerable to overheating. Breeds with a short nose and flat face are also vulnerable as they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If these breeds of dog live in a warm and humid environment, you will need to be extra cautious about taking them outdoor in the heat.


Cat Friendly

Friendliness towards cats and humans is very different. Some breeds are gentle and accept cats readily as part of the family. Some breeds will chase, fight, or rough play with a cat and cause severe injury. However, no matter the breed, proper socialization, and training can improve the situation.

Dog Friendly

Friendliness towards other dogs. Some dogs may try to dominate other dogs and attack and fight, while others would rather play. However, no matter the breed, proper socialization, and training can improve the situation.

Family Friendly

How affectionate a breed is likely to be with family members or other people he knows well. Some breeds are independent, some breeds can be aloof with everyone but their owner, while others treat everyone they know like it's their best friend.
Breed, however, isn't the only factor affecting affection levels. Proper socialization and training can improve the situation.

Kid Friendly

Kid-friendly dogs should be gentle with children, be more tolerant of screaming and running children as well as other children's behavior.

Openness To Strangers

How welcoming a breed is likely to be towards strangers. Some dogs will greet a stranger with wagging tails, while others are shy, reserved, cautious, or aggressive. However, no matter the breed, proper socialization, and training can improve the situation. 

Health And Grooming

Coat Grooming Frequency

Amount of bathing, brushing, trimming, and professional grooming needs. Consider how much time, patience, and budget you have for this type of care when looking at the grooming effort needed. All breeds require regular nail trimming.

Drooling Level

Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm or wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine. But if you are a neat freak, dogs that are drool prone may not be the right choice for you.

General Health

Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems. However, this doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases, and it just means that they're at an increased risk.
If you're adopting or rescuing a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in. You may also want to ask if your shelter or rescue has information about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.
If you are purchasing from a breeder, be sure to do your research. Purchase from a reputable breeder and ask for the parent's health records to understand what potential health issue your pup may have.

Shedding Level

Amount and frequency of dog hair shedding.

If you are getting a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds. Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally, some do both, and some shed hardly at all. 


Easy To Train

Easy-to-train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt, an action, and a reward (such as treats, appraise, or toys). Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training.


Dogs bred for jobs requiring decision-making, intelligence, and concentration, need to exercise their brains. Such as, dogs bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they can become destructive and exhibit behaviors such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

Potential To Mouthiness

Common in most breeds during the puppy stage. Mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need the training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy squeaky toys, as well as a good chew on a toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.

Prey Drive

Dogs who were bred to hunt have an inborn desire to chase--and sometimes kill. Anything whizzing by, such as cats, squirrels, or rabbits, can trigger that instinct. Dogs who like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small animals. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase. But you'll probably have difficulty getting their attention when birds fly by.

Bark Or Howl Tendencies

Some breeds are more vocal than others. When choosing a breed, think about how often the dog vocalizes with barks or howls. While some breeds will bark at every passing bird, some may use other sounds to express themselves.

Physical And Mental Needs

Energy Level

The amount of physical and mental stimulation a breed needs. High-energy breeds are ready to go and eager for their next adventure. Low-energy breeds are like couch potatoes - they're happy to lay around and sleep.

Exercise Needs

Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise, especially those originally bred for physically demanding jobs, like herding or hunting.

Mental Stimulation

How much mental stimulation a breed needs to stay happy and healthy. Purpose-bred dogs can have jobs that require decision-making, problem-solving, concentration, or other qualities. Without the brain exercise they need, they can be destructive and have unwanted behavior issues.


A dog's inclination to be protective of his family members, home, yard, or even car.

Watchdog Ability

A breed's tendency to alert you that strangers are around. These breeds are more likely to react to any potential threat, whether it's the mailman or a squirrel outside the window.

Origin of German Pinschers

The German Pinscher originated in Germany and began development in the 1800s and is generally believed to be the result of breeding various European farm dogs that were used to guard and herd. These multi-purpose farm dogs were very valuable on German farms, and their name, coming from a word that means to nip or seize, described their function well since they were partially useful in ridding farms of small pests like rats and mice.

The German Pinscher is among Germany's oldest breeds of many pinscher breeds. For a long time, German Pinschers and Schnauzers were categorized as the same breed, the German Pinscher being the short-haired version of the more long, wiry coat of the Schnauzer. After World War II, these breeds became on the verge of extinction.

However, as the German Pinscher was used to develop other dog breeds like the Doberman Pinscher, the Rottweiler, and the Miniature Pinscher, it began to be recognized by breed clubs as a unique breed. Founded in 1985, the German Pinscher Club of America is the official AKC National Breed Club for the German Pinscher. In 2003, the American Kennel Club recognized the breed as its own distinct breed.


Height: 17-20"

Weight: 25-45 lbs


Height: 17-20"

Weight: 25-45 lbs

Life Span: 12-14

Breed Group: Working


The German Pinscher is a medium-sized breed. Adult dogs grow to be between 17 and 20 inches tall and weigh anywhere from 25 to 45 pounds. 


The personality of a German Pinscher is fairly intense, given their high energy levels. They are very affectionate and incredibly intelligent dogs and make loyal and loving companions. 


German Pinschers have medium-sized bodies that are lean and muscular. Their coats consist of short, smooth fur that can be black, fawn, or red, with tan or red markings. Sometimes you will see blue German Pinschers, but these are much rarer.


German Pinschers have relatively intense temperaments, which don't make them the ideal dog for every situation. They are incredibly energetic and affectionate, so if they are trained early and socialized well, they can make good family dogs. However, their watchful nature can make them overly protective and even aggressive towards strangers. Socializing a German Pinscher puppy early on will be incredibly important to keep negative behaviors under control. 

The German Pinscher temperament does not do great with small children or other pets due to their excessive energy, so they are better in families with older children. Due to a high prey drive, they are also not trustworthy dogs to have around other small animal pets since they may attempt to hunt them. If they are raised with other dogs, they may learn to get along well with additional dogs, but in general, they do best as single household pets. Recommend to be cautious when going to the dog park or walking with another dog.

Socializing your puppy early and consistently will go a long way to boosting these dogs' confidence and lessening their hyperactive vigilance, making them a bit more mellow and manageable socially.

Diet/Nutritional Needs

As with all dogs, German Pinschers need a diet of well-balanced and quality dog food. Most German Pinscher owners give their dogs two measured meals a day, but you should consult with your vet as to the quantity of food and type of food for your dog's specific age, size, and activity levels. Typically a growing Puppy needs more nutrition than an adult dog. It would be best if you were careful not to overfeed your dog with treats or human food since obesity can lead to a number of other health issues.

Activity/Exercise Needs

German Pinscher dogs are incredibly high energy and have pretty substantial exercise needs if they are going to remain happy and manageable. This dog breed should get at least an hour or two of vigorous exercise like running, jogging, long walks, biking, or hiking. Also, strive to stimulate your dog's mind with games like fetch or by involving your German Pinscher in dog sports and competitions like agility.

With their high prey drive and seemingly endless energy, these dogs easily become bored and quickly resort to troublesome behaviors like destructive chewing, whining, and pacing. Due to these very high energy levels and extensive exercise needs, they will not be a good fit for you if you lead a sedentary or relaxed lifestyle or can't provide lots of fenced and open space for a German Pinscher to run around in. 

Grooming Needs

German Pinschers are very easy to groom and maintain. Their short coats are low shedding and only need to be brushed once a week. Even though they are low shedding, you still will need to deal with some level of dog hair. Seasonally you may notice more shedding, but adding an additional brushing day will help keep the mess under control. Depending on how dirty your pup gets, they can be bathed as needed or once a month. 

Nails will be naturally worn down due to the high activity this breed requires, but they should still be checked once a month or so and trimmed as needed. The German Pinschers' ears should be examined weekly to check for irrational debris buildup or excessive wax. Aim to brush your dog's teeth once a day. 

German pinscher showing its tongue

Source: Pexels


German Pinschers can be pretty flexible and adaptable dogs if they are trained thoroughly and socialized properly as puppies. They require active owners to thrive but otherwise are pretty easy to care for. Training is a must, however, since these dogs can be suspicious and even aggressive towards strangers and other animals.

German Pinschers do best when they are with their people and are the only pets in the home. This dog breed may thrive in apartment settings provided all their energy needs are being met but ideally have an enclosed space to explore and play in. 


German Pinschers must be trained if they are going to be polite socially. They are very intelligent dogs and are pretty easy to train, though they can be stubborn and cunning. It is important to be consistent with obedience training and not let your puppy get by with bad behavior. It would help if you established yourself as the leader without being cruel or harsh. Use positive training methods for the best results. 

Starting your puppy as early as possible helps establish good habits that will make your dog better behaved as an adult. Be sure to start socializing as soon as your puppy is safe since this breed can be a bit antisocial and aggressive if not socialized fully early on. Putting your German Pinscher in a puppy kindergarten class and early socialization are recommended.

Life Expectancy

A healthy, well-cared-for German Pinscher can be expected to have a lifespan of about 12-14 years. 

Potential Health Issues

When it comes to health, German Pinschers are pretty healthy. Like most pure breeds, however, it is subject to a few possible hereditary issues. 

Hip dysplasia 

Hip dysplasia is a relatively common genetic issue that results in the malformation of a dog's joints. 

Von Willebrand's Disease

Von Willebrand's disease is a hereditary disease that affects the blood's ability to clot properly. This disease can be managed, but the condition is lifelong.

Eye Disease

Eye issues include problems like infection, allergy sensitivity, glaucoma, corneal ulcers, and cataracts. 

Adverse Vaccine Reactions

Another possible issue to look for is negative responses to vaccines. This can include symptoms like lethargy, fever, change in eating habits, diarrhea, vomiting, facial swelling, itching, seizures, and more. 

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About the Author

Doctor of veterinary medicine with extensive experience in animal welfare with a strong interest in feline medicine and plans to pursue ABVP-Feline specialty board certification. A key member of many local veterinary associations and avid reader of animal related science journals and studies.

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