Affenpinschers are charming toy dogs full of feistiness and energy. The affen's unkempt appearance and fearless attitude have given the dog many nicknames. Two of the most popular are "Monkey Dog" (which is affenpinscher directly translated from German) and "Mustached Little Devil" or "Diablotin Moustachu" in French.
Originally bred to be a smaller ratting dog (whose job is to rid homes of mice), they became sought after by women as the breed's average size decreased. Eventually the breed's intelligence and charm made the dog more popular as a companion dog and by the 18-19th centuries the dog was mostly used for companionship.
Affenpinschers have a clownlike personality with a fearless attitude and are often described as thinking they're a bigger dog than they really are. Sometimes their bold attitude may be too much, so they need to be monitored when around larger dogs so they don't over provoke the bigger dog. These characteristics oftentimes make affens charming and entertaining to watch.
Affens are alert and fearless which makes them excellent watch dogs. While they aren't necessarily loud dogs, they can get excited easily and it can take a while for them to calm down. This may be an issue in smaller high-traffic apartments since the dog will alert you (and everyone else) to any unexpected visitors approaching the affen's territory.
Although intelligent, Affenpinschers are often described as being stubborn and will need consistent training to reach their full potential. They learn best through praise and positive reinforcement, so training shouldn't be a major concern as the breed is eager to please their master. It is also recommended to socialize the breed with other dogs and people so they can grow up well rounded.
Despite the breed's intelligence and charming behavior, they are not too fond of smaller children. Because of this, they are not recommended for families with children as the affen won't hesitate to bite if provoked. Generally, this behavior is mostly seen when the dog is over-provoked, cornered, or teased so the affen shouldn't be an issue in a household with children who are aware of this.
Overall, the affenpinscher is full of stamina, courage, and humor. They are surprisingly intelligent and are quick to learn with the right training methods. Their small size and quick adaptation to change makes them an ideal traveling companion for people on the go or for those who want a dog they can take with them everywhere.