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Miniature Pinscher

Dog Breeds

Miniature pinschers are tiny dogs with huge personalities. Affectionate, loyal, and adorable, they make great companions. Learn more about living with miniature pinschers.

Miniature Pinscher Overview

OFFICIAL NAME Miniature Pinscher
COMMON NAME Miniature Pinscher
PET HEIGHT 10 to 12 inches
PET WEIGHT 8 to 10 pounds
LIFESPAN 12 to 16 years
GOOD WITH cats, dogs, families, seniors
TEMPERAMENT friendly, outgoing, playful
VOCAL LEVEL frequent
BREED SIZE small (0-25 lbs.)
COLORS black, brown / chocolate / liver, fawn, red
PATTERNS bicolor, black and tan, tricolor
OTHER TRAITS apartment-friendly, easy to groom, easy to train, good for first-time pet owners, high prey drive, hot weather tolerant, strong loyalty tendencies

Known as the "King of Toys," the miniature pinscher dog packs a whole lot of personality into his tiny frame. Standing just 12.5-inches tall at most and weighing in at around 10 pounds, it would be fair to say the min pin (as the breed is often referred to) has no idea he is a little dog, or perhaps he simply doesn't care.

Affectionate, smart, and loyal, the min pin makes a wonderful companion and family pet (though care needs to be taken around younger children), who will watch over his home and people until the end. This popular breed is easy to care for, has few health issues, and is lots of fun to be around.


Miniature pinscher colors range from black, chocolate, tan, fawn, red, rust, and combinations of all of the above. They have dark eyes that are almost oval-shaped and high, perky ears that add to their alert stature. Their short, hard coat requires little maintenance, and they are infrequent shedders.

The min pin's ears are sometimes cropped, but this is a controversial practice; according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, cropping is typically done for cosmetic reasons and has no proven health benefits.

Miniature pinschers have a very unique style of movement that is almost a prance and is referred to as their "hackney gait" by breeders and those who show the breed. It is one of many things that helps the min pin to be so charming and attract so many fans.


There is a lot to love about the miniature pinscher temperament. They definitely have personality plus and make smart and loyal companions who are perfectly sized for lap snuggles (they only weigh around 10 pounds). Tiny as they are, the min pin is no pushover and makes for a surprisingly great little alert system for anything from pizza deliveries to the passing neighborhood rabbit.

"Miniature pinschers are feisty little dogs who don't care how big the dog or person is who [they're alerted by]" says Kim Babineau, DVM, of Central Nova Animal Hospital in Truro, Nova Scotia.

Cathy Beasley of Shadowmist Miniature Pinschers, an American Kennel Club breeder of merit, says, "Even large dogs will probably be more afraid of the min pin than the min pin is of them. They're called the 'King of Toys' for a reason: They're fearless to a fault."

Miniature pinschers make great family pets, but more so in families with older children. They might not be very patient with young kiddos pulling their tails or picking them up, so interactions with small children need to be supervised and kids need to be taught how to properly interact with pets. And, because they're so small, they can be accidentally hurt if a little kid grabs them too roughly.

Whether your min pin gets on well with other pets likely depends on how well he is socialized. "If they are brought into a house where there are already other pets, they will likely be fine, and a min pin isn't going to be intimidated by bigger dogs in any way so will likely stand up for themselves and hold their own with rough play," Babineau says. "But bringing other pets into their household may not work out so well."

Though the miniature pinscher is energetic, he has low needs in terms of how much effort you need to put into exercising him. "They're small, and so are their exercise requirements. You can take them on a short walk to the park and let them run a bit, and that's ample," Babineau says.

A miniature pinscher's barking can be an issue, so if you're looking for a quiet breed, this vocal little dog probably isn't for you. "They're going to want to alert you to everything, all the time," Beasley warns. This can be especially true if they are bored, and it is worth remembering a tired dog is a good dog, so putting in more time to play can help with the issue.

Living Needs

Miniature pinschers can adapt to all kinds of living situations, and they make great apartment dogs. Beasley says they can easily be trained to do their business on potty pads, though they may chew them up when they are very young.

As mentioned, they can get on well with other cats and dogs in their household so long as they grew up with those animals, and depending on how socialized they are—your individual dog's temperament is going to play a part in that, too.

Min pins are not the kind of dogs who do well left alone all day, as they want to be around you all the time. They're social dogs who want to be part of the action, especially when that involves playing fetch or other games with their people.

Despite the fact min pins don't actually need tons of exercise, they, like most dogs, love going out for a good romp and can make excellent hiking companions (though you might need to carry them after a few miles). They are also perfect snugglers and will happily vegetate on the sofa with you to catch up on your soaps or favorite reality TV shows. Miniature pinschers are a versatile little dog and are happy doing whatever you are doing. Really, they want to be your BFF and will adore their number one person above all others.


Caring for a miniature pinscher is easy—their short coats need little maintenance besides a weekly going over with a soft brush or grooming glove. If their nails get too long, that can be uncomfortable, so trim them regularly (or take them to your vet or groomer to get it done).

Regular teeth brushing is advised with toothpaste formulated for dogs, as dental issues can happen in many toy and small dog breeds (and these can be expensive to address).

As energetic dogs, min pins love to go out for walks but don't have huge requirements in terms of exercise. They are very playful, and Beasley says they love to play with their toys. "Tug of war is a firm favorite with my dogs, and they can get lots of exercise in the home through play," she says.

As smart little dogs, min pins are considered easy to train, but they can have an independent mind. As always, it is advised you start young (you can't go wrong with puppy kindergarten), and be consistent in order to help your puppy learn how they are expected to behave. "They can be tiny terrors if you don't put the time in to train them," Beasley warns. Signing up for obedience training classes is a really good idea with min pins, especially if you're a first-time dog owner.

Training should be consistent, and with plenty of positive reinforcement. You should have realistic expectations in terms of what they can manage at what age. For example, in Beasley's experience, you really can't start trying to house train them until they are three months old. "They have such tiny bladders," she says. "As a rule of thumb, when you wake up, let 'em out. After you feed 'em, let 'em out; after they play hard, let 'em out."


Generally considered to be robust little dogs, the miniature pinscher lifespan can reach up to 16 years, and they stay fun and energetic for much of their long lives.

According to the Miniature Pinscher Club of America (MPCA), these petite pups can be susceptible to health conditions including patellar luxation, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, epilepsy, thyroid issues, and heart defects.

Babineau says the majority of times she sees them in her office is due to the fact they are so small and fine-boned. "They're fearless, and especially when they're younger they can break their leg just by falling off a couch," she says.

This is one reason why Beasley says it is a good idea to give your miniature pinscher a little gated-off area—she calls it her "puppy condo"—where they have their bed, toys, and a safe space to run around in. "You can't keep your eye on them every second, and by doing this you don't have to worry," Beasley says, adding that her dogs will retreat in there even when they have run of the house. "They love going in and burying themselves into their beds to feel secure."

As always, it is a good idea to ask your miniature pinscher breeder about any health issues they have screened for, and check with your vet for suggestions on how to best look after your min pin as part of your pet's routine medical care.


The miniature pinscher has been around for centuries, originally hailing from Germany, where the dogs were first bred by farmers to be rat catchers, according to the MPCA. Although documentation only states the breed has been around for 200 years or so, you'll find images of min pins in far older artworks and it is likely the breed has been around far longer.

In the late 1800s, min pins became popular as pets in Germany and were first exhibited at a 1900 dog show in Stuttgart. Almost 20 years later, in 1919, the first min pin was brought to the U.S. The breed was first registered with the AKC in 1925.

Fun Facts

Country star Natalie Stovall has a miniature pinscher named Cinnamon, whom she constantly declares her love for all over her social media channels.
The Marmaduke movie features two min pins named Thunder and Lightning.
Despite the similar name and appearance, the miniature pinscher is a completely different breed than the much-larger Doberman pinscher.