What to Know About German Pinschers

Medically Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on June 07, 2024
7 min read

The German Pinscher is one of the oldest dog breeds from Germany. These energetic dogs are ready to get out and work.

Their energy can be challenging, so German Pinschers are best suited for an experienced dog owner. If you’re eager to get outside with your dog, a German Pinscher may be right for you!  

German Pinscher size and shape. German Pinschers are medium-sized pinschers that fall between miniature pinschers and doberman pinschers. They have the typical pinscher build, with long legs and a muscular body.

German Pinschers are 17 to 20 inches tall. They weigh between 25 and 45 pounds. 

Coat length and quality. German Pinschers have a low-maintenance coat. Their coat is short, shiny, and smooth, adding to their sleek elegance.

Their coats come in a variety of colors. The most common base coat colors are black, blue, fawn, and red. They also have markings that are red, tan, or a mixture of the two colors. 

German Pinscher lifespan. German Pinschers have a lifespan comparable to similar-sized dogs. They generally live between 12 and 14 years. 

German Pinscher temperament. Many German Pinschers are kind-hearted, energetic, and intelligent. They have the drive to work, no matter the job.

German Pinschers have a long history of catching rats and protecting property. They tend to stay vigilant and protective over what’s theirs.

German Pinscher personality. These dogs' protective nature allows them to be affectionate to their loved ones. If they’re properly socialized, they can be loving to newcomers too. 

You can train a German Pinscher to do almost anything. They love to learn and be useful.

Coat care. German Pinschers have a low-maintenance coat. They’re moderate shedders and need weekly brushing to remove dead hair and dander.

German Pinschers need baths every four to six weeks. If they spend a lot of time outside and in the dirt, they may need baths more frequently.

Feeding and nutrition. You should feed your German Pinscher twice a day. The amount depends on your dog's size, age, and health conditions. 

Many dogs do well with commercially available wet and dry foods with high-quality ingredients.

You can also give your dog an all-natural fresh-food diet. These diets require careful planning, so talk to your vet to make sure your Pinscher is getting their necessary nutrients. 

You may need to change your German pinscher’s diet as they get older. Talk to your vet before changing your dog’s eating habits.

Exercise and activity. German Pinschers are athletic and energetic. They need plenty of daily exercise that’s physically and mentally engaging.

One way to engage your pinscher is through training and canine sports. Consider training classes like:

  • Obedience training
  • Agility training
  • Rally training
  • Tracking classes

Another way to engage a German Pinscher is with a variety of toys and activities. If they get bored with one activity, they should have something else to occupy them — or they may get into trouble!

Their intelligence can also be their downfall. German Pinschers can be manipulative and mischievous, making them challenging to train. 

Training them is possible, though. You’ll need to be firm, keep them engaged, and be patient. 

If you use treats to train your German Pinscher, too many can cause weight gain and potential health problems. Treats shouldn’t make up more than 10% of their daily caloric intake.

Flea, tick, and heartworm prevention. Dogs need parasite prevention their entire life regardless of their lifestyle. Parasites can lead to deadly diseases, some of which don’t have vaccines, so preventatives are the only way to keep your dog safe.

There are many medications available. You and your vet can determine which is best for your German Pinscher. The frequency of the dose will depend on the type of medication

Your German Pinscher also needs protection from heartworms. Infected mosquitoes transfer heartworm larvae through their bites.

Even if you live in an area with few mosquitoes, your dog still needs protection year round. There are reports of infected mosquitoes and cases of heartworms in all 50 states in the United States. 

Most heartworm treatments are affordable and easy to give. You and your vet can figure out which treatment option is best. 

Your vet should also test for heartworms at your dog’s annual vet visit. Heartworms can be deadly, so there’s no harm in taking extra preventive steps.

Tooth and nail care. Most German Pinschers need their nails trimmed monthly. Long nails lead to discomfort and can hurt you during playtime.

Your dog's nails may wear down naturally through frequent playing and running on rough surfaces. Otherwise, you can trim your pup’s nails yourself or have your groomer trim them.

Your German Pinscher also needs their teeth cleaned to prevent bad breath and periodontal disease. You can clean your pinscher’s teeth by:

  • Brushing their teeth daily with dog friendly toothpaste
  • Giving them dental treats and chews
  • Asking your vet to clean their teeth professionally

Vet visits. Puppies younger than 6 months need a monthly vet visit. Your vet will monitor their development and give vaccines once they’re old enough.

German Pinschers older than 6 months should visit the vet once a year for an annual checkup. An annual checkup consists of monitoring their weight, giving vaccines, and checking changes in health. Updating their health records will help catch health conditions as they age.

All dogs should have the following core vaccines (unless there’s a medical reason not to vaccinate):

  • Distemper
  • Adenovirus
  • Parvovirus
  • +/- Parainfluenza
  • Rabies

In addition to these, other vaccines are just as essential for some dogs based on their lifestyle and risk.

Senior German Pinschers need a checkup every 6 months to monitor signs of age and any developing health conditions. Your vet will tell you when your dog needs twice-yearly visits.

German Pinschers are generally healthy dogs. They’re genetically predisposed to some conditions, but they aren’t guaranteed to develop those diseases.

You can’t always prevent genetic diseases. Lifestyle habits may change the likelihood of developing a disease, but they aren't always preventable.

Hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a skeletal condition that causes the hip joint to deteriorate. It’s more common in larger dogs, but German Pinschers are also susceptible to the disease.

Many cases of hip dysplasia are genetic. You can help prevent hip dysplasia through a proper diet. Adequate nutrients can support your Pinscher’s skeletal system. 

Obesity can also put stress on your Pinscher’s joints. Proper diet and exercise can prevent obesity, a common cause of hip dysplasia. 

Symptoms of hip dysplasia depend on the severity of the condition. Common symptoms include:

  • Decreased mobility
  • Difficulty or pain moving
  • Swaying or “bunny-hopping” walk 

Treatment will vary depending on the severity of your dog’s hip dysplasia. You can treat mild dysplasia with lifestyle changes, physical therapy, and medications.

Severe hip dysplasia may call for surgery. There are a few types of surgical options, and your vet can help you determine which option is best for your pinscher.

Eye problems. German Pinschers are at risk of developing eye conditions. They have a genetic predisposition for cataracts.

Genetics, environment, and age can all play a part in developing an eye problem. They can also result from conditions like cancer, diabetes, or high blood pressure.

Symptoms of eye conditions are usually obvious. They include:

  • Excessively rubbing their eyes or face
  • Cloudiness
  • Discharge
  • Eye redness
  • Excessively blinking
  • Squinting

It’s vital to treat eye problems early, although sometimes blindness will occur despite treatment.

Von Willebrand’s disease (vWD). This genetic bleeding disease is common in humans and dogs. Dobermans are the most affected by vWD, but German Pinschers are also at risk.

Von Willebrand’s disease is a deficiency in a protein that helps blood clot. Dogs with vWD tend to bleed more since their blood doesn’t clot well.

Your dog may not show signs of vWD. Symptoms often appear as uncontrollable bleeding from broken membranes in the nose, vagina, and bladder. If your dog does show symptoms, they likely won’t appear until later in life.  

There are no prevention or treatment methods for vWD. If your dog starts to bleed excessively due to vWD, your vet may use blood transfusions to stabilize your pet.

Are they good with other pets? German Pinschers have a prey drive that may lead them to chase smaller animals. Otherwise, they can get along with other pets if they’re appropriately socialized.

Are they good with children? They’re energetic and loving, which may cause them to be a little rough with young children. You can train Pinschers to be gentle and calm around kids but should always supervise them.

Are they allergenic? German Pinschers shed regularly. Even with proper grooming, German Pinschers will bother people who are sensitive to dog hair and dander.

Do they bark a lot? These dogs don’t bark at everything they see. German Pinschers bark for a reason, typically to warn you of potential danger.

Do they drool? German Pinschers rarely drool, so you don’t have to worry about getting slobber on your clothes.

The medium-sized German Pinscher is one of Germany’s oldest dog breeds. They’re the predecessor to miniature pinschers, Dobermans, and even schnauzers. 

Despite their ancient lineage, German Pinschers weren’t recognized as a breed in Germany until 1885. They were initially bred as herding and guarding dogs, but their hardworking nature made them suitable for all types of work.

Like many breeds, German Pinschers lost popularity throughout the World Wars. The American Kennel Club finally recognized them in 2003.