Is That a Miniature Doberman? NO! It’s a Miniature Pinscher

Miniature Pinscher leaping through a meadow

For those of us who live and play with purebred Miniature Pinschers, our first inclination is to holler a great big emphatic “No!”—but we don’t. We gently smile and say, “No, this is a Miniature Pinscher. He is a totally different breed from the Doberman.” Now, let me explain why.

History tells us the Miniature Pinscher breed originated in the far away country of Germany. The breed first appears in a 17th century painting showing a picture of a cat-sized dog resembling the Miniature Pinscher of today. The purebred Miniature Pinscher is, in fact, an older breed than the Doberman Pinscher, which doesn’t come into play until the late 1800s.

The breed was developed in Germany and agreement among dog historians tells us the Miniature Pinscher breed comes from genetic crosses of the German Pinscher, the Dachshund, and the Italian Greyhound. From these ancestors, the Min Pin (as we lovingly call him) gets his feistiness, fearlessness, and his playful speed and grace. By the 19th century, the Reh Pinscher, as he was called in Germany, was developed. The feisty and quick little dogs were used as vermin hunters (rats, mice, moles and such creatures). Their size, 10 to 12-1/2 inches, and speed enabled them to get close to the home threats and keep the pests from eating food and destroying man’s home.

Purebred Miniature Pinscher is a square-proportioned, well-balanced little dog with a level topline. He has a hackney-like gait, with head and tail held high. The Miniature Pinscher Club of America and the American Kennel Club have accepted the colors Red, Stag Red, Black and Rust, Black and Tan, and Chocolate and Rust, in a short, straight, and lustrous coat.

Purebred Miniature Pinschers are versatile and can adapt to just about any situation you put them in. They are small enough to be a portable companion that is able to be a part of your life, no matter what you do. For short, we call him the Min Pin, but in reality, he is the King of Toys. He is fearless, feisty, quick to run after the ball or rabbit. He can be trained to sit quietly in a travel crate, walk politely on the leash, and cuddle with children and friends. Then with a smart bark and a jump, he is off to investigate anything that moves, be it leaf or critter in his yard. The Min Pin is a great dog for small homes and apartments, although he requires exercise to keep his energy level down—or long walks in the park work just as well.

They are protective and will loudly announce company, either good or bad. Until the company has been thoroughly inspected, sniffed, bumped with a quick hop, sniffed again, and barked at again, only then are visitors allowed to stay. The greatest gift you can give your dog is the gift of socialization. Take him everywhere as a puppy. Let him hear cars, horns, trucks, banging pans, and loud noises… and let him smell his environment. Have every stranger you meet, touch him and pet him. Be sure to hold him off the ground so that he is not intimidated. He has to know the world won’t hurt him and that he really is the toughest kid on the block.

Miniature Pinscher
Purebred Miniature Pinschers

You’ll be doing very little grooming to keep him tidy; a good brushing to remove loose hair and a bath on occasion. Be aware he does not like to be cold, and some will bury themselves under the blanket even in the warmest weather.

Do you need a fenced-in yard? Absolutely! A four-foot fence is not too high for a Min Pin looking for adventure. They are a curious little dog and will try something new just to see if they can do it. Chewing is a game that needs watching, as they can choke on small objects that they find in the house or yard.

When training a Min Pin, you must be extremely patient and be able to teach them by using a firm but gentle hand. They bore easily and can be distracted. You must be able to guide them back into their lessons and keep them focused. Once focus is lost, time to do something else!

Many who are owned by a Min Pin will tell you they are flexible and can learn how to do many things. They are excellent at Obedience competition at all levels and will thrill those watching them work through Agility.

Go ahead! Train Basic Obedience and earn your CGC title. This title will help with getting permission for the both of you to go into senior homes and hospitals to visit with folks who just want to hug your Min Pin.

Oh, did you say you wanted to show your Min Pin in the Conformation ring? Standing on his own in the ring and showing off is how it’s done! Don’t get down on your knees to stack or pose; he is only stacked on the table. That’s the rule and we old-timers will tell you right off. The Min Pin is not a one-dimensional breed. Breed type and sound, typical, hackney-like movement are paramount.

Go to the shows, whether it be for Obedience, Agility or Conformation, and meet the folks standing around the ring. Ask questions and watch every dog in the ring. Outside the ring, what you are interested in will be a person who will be your mentor.

Miniature Pinscher
Purebred Miniature Pinschers

Ask questions, spend the time researching, and watch, watch, watch. Learning from a mentor is the best way to get involved in the competitions. A mentor will give you the tool kit to start you on the way to achieving your goals with your Min Pin.

Purebred Miniature Pinschers are a pretty healthy breed. Their life span is 12-15 years. When you bring your puppy home, have a bowl for food, bucket for fresh water, a good hard puppy kibble, sturdy collar and leash, warm blanket, and crate ready. Remember, training begins as soon as you bring him home.

Major issues are patellar luxation, cervical (dry) disc, legg-calve perthes, epilepsy, thyroid, heart defects, and eye problems. Talk to your breeder and ask them what health issues are in the pedigree of your puppy. Keeping your Min Pin in shape and not overweight will help him live a long and busy life.

Mentoring is very important to this sport, and part of the enjoyment of being a mentor is being involved in stories such as this one: He stood outside the ring and watched the dogs move around the ring with their handlers. “I could do that,” he thought. He had been to many shows with his breeder, but had never thought about entering the ring himself. She excitedly came out of the ring with a handful of ribbons and breathlessly said that he could do this. Look how much fun we are having!

The next day, she called and said she needed his help and that it was time he stepped up to the plate and showed his own little dog. He basically understood the workings of the ring, but was he ready? Did he have the “right stuff?” The training?

He dressed in a nice shirt, tie, and slacks, bathed his dog, and headed to the show. He was a bit on edge, and so was his dog, but into the ring they stepped. It was so exciting! He listened to the judge intently, and followed his instructions to the letter… as they started to go around the ring, the lead slipped off his dog’s head! He bent down, called his dog to him, and slipped the lead back on. They finished going around and he hid in the corner for them to relax.

To his surprise, the judge was calling him to the front of the line! He was in the fourth spot! What did that mean? He and his dog were Select Dog! He definitely would have to talk to his mentor; where was she? At the end of the line? Oh, this is really good.

Remember, a mentor can help you understand the competition when you wish to begin. They will teach you how to train, enter the show, and share ideas as to how to succeed and enjoy yourself.

So you say, “What makes us want to believe what you just wrote?” Well, twenty-five years of experience handling, showing, breeding, playing, and just living with purebred Miniature Pinschers. Currently, I write for the American Kennel Club Gazette and prose for many other articles for different magazines.

I have been honored with many champions that have competed to Best in Show, Best in Specialty Show, National Specialty winners, and I have shown all over the world. Most of all, breeding and showing has allowed me to meet wonderful people, enjoy some great times and, most of all, live with some great dogs that will remain in my heart forever. Join us!

For more information on this amazing little breed, please check out the Miniature Pinscher Club of America website,

Is That a Miniature Doberman? NO! It’s a Miniature Pinscher
(A version of this article appeared in the October 2013 edition of SHOWSIGHT.)
By Kim Byrd