Monday, February 18, 2013

What is an Affenpinscher Anyway?

It's President's Day, and though the Portuguese Water Dog didn't take the top honor at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (sorry, Bo Obama!), the breed did score Best of Breed and competed with six other contenders for the top title. It was Banana Joe, the Affenpinscher, who took the top prize in the famed Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show last week, and now you may be wondering, “What is an Affenpinscher anyway?”

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), this small breed of dog (it stands only 9 ½ to 11 inches tall at the shoulder) came from a larger terrier-type of dog that was used on farms as a ratter. They were later bred down in size and used to control mice in homes. The name means “monkey terrier” in German, a nod to the facial features of the breed. The Affenpinscher weighs only 7 to 10 pounds. The coat, usually black, gray, silver, or black and tan, is wiry and requires regular brushing.

They are alert, active, independent-spirited little dogs that bond well with their people, and because of their small size, they make great dogs for apartment-dwellers.

They were recognized by the AKC in 1936, but have been around for centuries, most notably in Germany and France. This was the first year an Affenpinscher won Best in Show at Westminster.

In the recent AKC ranking of mostpopular dogs, the Affenpinscher came in at #138. The other breeds competing in last week's Best in Show were the Old English Sheepdog (which placed as the runner-up), German Wire-haired Pointer, American Foxhound, Portuguese Water Dog, Smooth-coated Fox Terrier, and Bichon Frise. Of all, the later ranks highest on the popularity chart, at #38.

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is the second longest continuously held sporting event in the United States. The Kentucky Derby is the longest running, but only by one year. Millions watch the dog show on TV or online. More than 185 different dog breeds and varieties competed in this year's show, including two newly recognized breeds: the Russell Terrier (once called the Jack Russell Terrier) and the Treeing Walker Coonhound.

Just as the monkey-faced Affenpinscher took top honors for the first time this year, perhaps one of these newly-recognized breeds will receive Best in Show in the not so distant future.

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