Inviting an Affenpinscher in your home is akin to inviting a willful, intelligent being from another planet to take up permanent residence within your walls, and within your heart. The “Affen” makes his or her needs known from the very beginning of your relationship. You’d better catch on quickly that the Affenpinscher is more humanoid, with more personality, than one would imagine possible from a monkey-like creature that weighs less than ten pounds. Having had the good fortune to own wonderful dogs of all sizes and breeds, I learned within a few days of getting my Chloe that you don’t own an Affenpinscher, he or she owns you. You either relinquish your alpha position for the joy of seeing the pleasure it gives the Affenpinscher to feel in charge, or you resign yourself to a lifetime of power struggles. Regardless of your decision, the Affen will take complete control.
Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs from Psych 101, the motivational theory that is diagrammed like a pyramid with needs (physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization) positioned like rungs on a ladder? The theory was meant to address human needs, but since Affens are the most human dog you’ll ever meet, the pyramid is useful in understanding what matters to them. Almost 12 years of relatively constant contact has taught me a lot about having an Affen in your home, but Chloe still teaches me every day. And she has taught me that for Affens, the Hierarchy of Needs pyramid is completely upside down.
Affenpinscher in Your Home | Self-Actualization
Knowing that its adorableness will ensure that all basic needs are always met, the Affenpinscher is most concerned with self-actualization. The Affenpinscher wants to achieve full potential in everything. This dog doesn’t just want to be the best version of his or herself, but the best dog possible. Such desire doesn’t come across as a wish to please so much as a desire to outshine all other dog relationships you have—or will ever have had.
Affenpinscher in Your Home | Esteem
The Affenpinscher, born with high self-esteem, takes his or herself very seriously. He or she wants to be respected for strength, despite not being exactly strong. Sturdy? Well, that depends. Agile? Oh yes! Stamina and endurance? Yes, depending upon what the situation requires and for how long it is required. But strong? Those little legs are about the size of a thick pencil and the little head slightly larger than a golf ball. I would say an Affen is the opposite of strong—except in personality. However, the Affen is completely unaware of any physical discrepancies in the strength department. With a few well-timed barks, he or she can project an aura of fierceness sufficient to make a dog ten times its size quiver. But barking is reserved only for serious communication alerts such as “Daddy” arriving home, the mailman, the UPS truck whizzing by, a ringing phone or doorbell, and a dog playing in the park across the street. No whining or yipping, ever, but you may find yourself on the receiving end of a scream or two if you are not where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there. Other communications include chortles, baby ground hog noises, a gentle nose knocking at the ankle if lunch is late, a slight cock of the head when trying to understand a word or requesting a run when a good stretch of grass is in sight. Remember how Lassie used to communicate with anyone who would listen? Affens are as communicative and interactive as a trained movie star dog. Maybe more so!
Affenpinscher in Your Home | Love and Belonging
Regarding love, the Affenpinscher doesn’t show the neediness evident in some small dogs, but nevertheless craves love. The sense of connection with the primary caretaker is paramount, but there is plenty of love in an Affen’s heart to dispense to other members of the family. Separation anxiety can arise if everyone in the Affen’s pack, especially the primary caregiver, isn’t visible. Consequently, the primary caretaker can find him or herself reorganizing life so that the Affen is always present. This may be for both the Affen’s and the caretaker’s sense of well-being. This may also be so because life is just more fun and interesting with an Affen by your side. Regardless, the Affen wants to be an active member of the family—included in everything, connected to all. In return, the Affen will keep you entertained with his or her wicked sense of humor and constant antics. As for friendships with other dogs, once Chloe lost contact with her true love, a Chihuahua named Santiago, she was finished with dogs. Other Affens may be able to love again. Not Chloe.
Affenpinscher in Your Home | Safety
Those basic needs that the Affen knows will always be covered? Safety is critical on two levels. Psychologically, the Affenpinscher needs to feel secure at all times. Despite high self-esteem, somewhere in that smart, little brain, the Affen knows he or she is dependent. Highly sensitive to emotionally charged environments, the Affen wants everyone happy all the time. This is impossible to achieve, but knowing how much it matters to your dog can help keep chaos at bay.
If the Affenpinscher is an only dog, he or she may not want to see you petting or even talking to another dog. The Affen may demonstrate jealousy by barking or turning his or her head so that the disloyalty isn’t observed. That’s what Chloe does, knowing full well I will follow up any perceived betrayal with a reminder that she is much cuter than that little puppy or much more beautiful than the perfectly groomed dog we just passed. She knows she is the best and only dog I love. She eventually forgives me.
The Affenpinscher takes the job of guard seriously, but can only do so if he or she already feels protected. It’s not a good idea to have an Affen in a household with small children. As much as the Affen resembles a stuffed toy, a child will soon discover that this isn’t the case. A child wanting to play with a dog’s possessions could be accidentally harmed. An Affen could be accidentally harmed by a child’s attempts at play. The Affen is potentially fragile, as is the child. If the home includes children under age six, it’s better to have a dog that won’t mind if its ears and tail are pulled. Most Affens
The Affenpinscher has relatively few potential health problems of which to be aware. As with all small dogs, protection of the trachea with a soft harness is critical. Luxation of the patella might be a problem, but can be surgically corrected if severe. Dry eyes might require daily Tacrolimus drops. A suspiciously breed-related allergy to chicken may evidence in dry, itchy skin. Vaccines can be tricky. Never, ever bundle them. Never give a leptospirosis vaccine. Chloe had a bad reaction to the rabies vaccine, so those were eliminated early. Even heartworm preventative caused an allergic reaction, so blood tests every six months manage that dreaded possibility. Thankfully, Affens live forever. At least that’s what I tell myself every day.
Affenpinscher in Your Home | Physiological
Finally, the most basic of basic needs, although there is nothing basic about an Affenpinscher that deserves—and will demand—the best. A typical Chloe day includes: Fresh food plated on a snuffle mat to encourage her foraging skills; only Fiji water, ever; thick beds with soft blankets for luxurious sleep; lots of fresh air on long walks under beautiful trees; and other creatures to observe.
Most importantly, all of the Affen’s physiological needs should be provided in a stimulating routine. New streets to explore, new smells, and new people all encased in a familiar schedule. If Chloe’s long morning walk or car ride is postponed for any reason, she isn’t pleased. She knows how things are supposed to go, and if they don’t go in the correct order, she tries to get things back on track with nudges. This, however, doesn’t mean she can’t go with the flow when necessary. She can be flexible. She just likes her routine and doesn’t want to ever be bored.
You won’t be bored, either, if you have an Affen in your home. You will be in for the relationship of a lifetime. Lucky you!