The German Pinscher
The German Pinscher, formerly referred to as the Pinscher in the UK, is an old breed. True enough, like so many of the great breeds this tough tyke has a history somewhat shrouded in mystery, but there is enough information for us to glean a fair representation of its beginnings in the rough, inclement farmsteads of old Germany.
The breed itself has a strong link to the Standard Schnauzer of the same country, indeed it appears that both breeds sprung from the same root stock. Naturally, the fact that both very short haired and tousled, wiry haired dogs could appear in the same litter raises some interesting questions about the breeds/strains involved in the creation of both, but that is beyond the scope of this description and is merely a conjecture.
The breed that lent itself to the German Pinscher as we know it know became known as the Rattler and looked very much how the Standard Schnauzer looks today- a cobby, square dog, medium in size with a thick, wiry coat and a penchant for vanquishing vermin of any description. From these dogs there appeared occasional puppies with tight, short coats. They were still basically small/medium-sized and had the lithe, lean physique that the Rattler possessed but they looked altogether more graceful and streamlined than the chunkier, hairy siblings that stared at their short-haired brethren in awe.
Well surprisingly things didn't look too good for the Pinscher at the outset, because it was felt that the short coats did not suit the inclement climate, thus the dogs were either given away or at worst culled. In sheer defiance of this ruthless treatment, the German Pinscher demonstrated, however, that they were outstanding vermin hunters and guard dogs for the stables and outhouses of the farms. It was soon realised that far from being a short-haired Rattler the dogs were a breed apart and the locals began breeding them exclusively on their own from that point on.
All this happened about 400 years ago and there is no doubt that the Schnauzer and Pinscher, whilst bearing a superficial conformational aspect, are today very different breeds in their own right. This not least because I feel the German Pinscher received an injection of additional blood, probably from the Old English Black and Tan Terrier. This is supported by the fact that breeds such as the German Hunt Terrier, which is basically a modern incarnation of the Old English Black and Tan, bear a resemblance to the German Pinscher, having the flowing outlines which depart from the square and rigid typical terrier design. This is again a conjecture and some of the history of the breed can only be guessed at. The Schnauzer has suffered far more in terms of temperament as well, having lost a lot of the flare that characterised the breed. Not so the German Pinscher, however.
As recently as 20 years ago the breed had a reputation for extreme ferocity and although a lot of strains have been mellowed, they still retain a lot of the 'hair trigger temper' and as such are not an ideal choice for children. The dogs guard instincts were always fostered and as a result it would be a betrayal to the breed and the likes of Werner Jung, who rescued the breed from extinction in the 1950s, to suppress the trait or worse still remove it. Thankfully there are some devoted breeders, who keep the Pinscher in its original form.
Is the German Pinscher right for you ?
German Pinschers are small/medium sized dogs measuring 17-20" at the withers and weighing about 25-40lbs. Bitches tend to be a fair bit smaller and they should look feminine while the dogs look masculine. If you don't want a guard dog then don't get a German Pinscher, if you don't want a dog that will demonstrate loyalty to you and your family but will remain generally aloof to others then don't get a German Pinscher. If you can't handle a strong-minded temperament and a sense of territoriality that means any strangers or friends entering the house when you are not around will likely be greeted with a bite, then don't get a German Pinscher. There are some strains that betray the true Pinscher nature but these are a blurred transparency of the breed as it should be. The reason Herr Louis Doberman selected the breed as foundation stock for the creation of his eponymous dog was because he admired the loyalty and tough element of this great little breed.