Posted: Thu Mar 6 00:00:00 PST 2003
By Susan Bertram
Spirit doesn't walk. He struts. Despite his knee-high size, the 5-year-old German Pinscher has a large dog's spirit - which raises the question: "When is he going to grow up?" Owners Charlie and Patsy Hardin of Kissimmee, Fla., have answered that one again and again.
The German Pinscher looks like a half-grown Doberman Pinscher (or a large Miniature Pinscher), but it actually provided foundation stock for those breeds. Once called Smooth-coated Pinschers, GPs often were born in the same litter as Wire-Haired Pinschers. In the late 1800s, the two varieties were separated into German Pinschers and Standard Schnauzers, respectively. Ever since, German Pinschers have embodied a breed apart -with attitude.
To a German Pinscher, "everything is mine," says Robin Vuillermet, breed education chair for the German Pinscher Club of America and owner of DesCharmettes German Pinschers kennel in Killingworth, Conn.
Little Mickey always tried to intimidate visitors, and he often succeeded, say Rhonda and Daniel Parks, owners of DanRhon German Pinschers kennel in James Creek, Pa. Now 10, Mickey picks only on mice invading his house (emphasis on "his").
Originally bred to hunt vermin, German Pinschers have an intense prey drive and independent spirit. "They think on their own," says Joy LaCaille, rescue coordinator for the American German Pinscher Breeder's Association and owner of LaKai German Pinschers kennel in Fruitland Park, Fla. "They don't always look to you for direction."
Recognition at last
Though both the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club agree that ears may be cropped or left natural and tails usually are docked, the clubs register GPs in different groups. The United Kennel Club registers GPs in the Terrier Group. German Pinschers have many Terrier qualities, including unyielding determination, tendency to spar with other dogs, and a desire to dominate the household.
The American Kennel Club did not officially recognize the breed until 2001 - 20 years after the first German Pinscher arrived in the United States. The decision followed a campaign by Vuillermet and her club. In 2001, the AKC registered 89 German Pinschers, ranking the breed 139th of 150 recognized breeds. It is registered in the Working Group with its sister breed, the Standard Schnauzer.
Not all U.S. breeders think the breed was ready for AKC recognition, which could lead to a spike in popularity. Low breed numbers and limited genetic diversity in the United States make the breed susceptible to genetic problems from increased breeding.
Another controversy surrounds the breed's temperament. Some fanciers believe it should be toned down - or Americanized - as few people in the United States purchase dogs to rid their homes of vermin. Others find the more aggressive European Terrier spirit an essential quality worthy of preservation.
All about attitude
Owners often surrender GPs to rescue groups due to dominance problems, LaCaille says. "If someone is afraid of dogs or intimidated, [German Pinschers] may take advantage of that," says Rhonda Parks, AGPBA secretary. Prospective owners - particularly those with children - should research this mid-sized dog before adopting one.
Begin socialization and obedience training early, and continue through what Vuillermet calls "the teen-age months" (about 9 to 15 months) - an age where GPs "want to run the house," she says. "Owners must be able to say no and mean it."
High-energy German Pinschers need active owners with the time and desire to exercise, train, and play. For safety, provide a fenced yard, and keep the dog onleash when outside the yard. "You might think you've taught a German Pinscher to come, but if something else is more interesting [such as a squirrel or neighbor's cat] their attitude is, 'I'll come, but a little later,'" Vuillermet says.< /P>
Why put up with all this attitude? Fanciers say this intelligent breed offers unsurpassed devotion. "German Pinschers are the most loyal and loving breed I've ever known," LaCaille says.
Susan H. Bertram, DVM, is a DOG FANCY contributing editor and lives in Bend, Ore.
Give us your opinion on German Pinscher
Login to get points for commenting or write your comment below
Get New Captcha