Showsight Presents The Affenpinscher

As in so many things in life, getting our first Affen ten years ago was a com- bination of planning and sheer luck. Monkey dogs are relatively uncommon and getting one usually means going on a waiting list of a somewhat limited field of breeders. So, we were thrilled when our long-time handler friends, Jorge and Susie Olivera, contacted us to ask if we would be interested in adopting a stun- ning little Champion, Tamarin Tequila. She certainly wasn’t perfect, but she was perfect for us. Comical, fearless, adorable and eager to insert herself into our pack of Bouvs; she became our introduction to the breed that has slow- ly taken over our lives. Compared to most of the AKC breeds, there are only 500 or so Affen- pinschers in the United States. This rarity presents its own set of challeng- es for judges, breeders and pet fanci- ers because it can be difficult to get hands-on experience getting to know their unique set of traits, correct pheno- type, temperament and attitude. As pre- viously mentioned there are profound differences in the standard between the United States and international stan- dards regarding dentition and color. So, what a judge may see at Crufts may not correlate to what is seen in the Unit- ed States. A strong judges’ education

program helps develop competent, objective evaluations of our breed. In our opinion, one of the developing threats to the quality of purebred Affen- pinschers stems from their scarcity and the unscrupulous cashing in by com- mercial breeders not interested in the show ring, improving the breed or care- ful attention to maintaining a relatively healthy breed. Specifically, reputable breeders of Affens have an almost mani- acal attention to avoiding eye and joint problems. Many years ago, a friend of ours fell in love with Tequila and want- ed an Affen of her own. She wasn’t will- ing to wait, so found several breeders selling ‘Quality Affenpinschers’ online for a fraction of the cost of a monkey dog from health-tested, AKC Champion Dam and Sire. She purchased a female that grew to be nearly four inches over the height standard and almost unrec- ognizable in facial expression, coat and temperament relative to the standard and Affenpinschers seen on the show circuit. To a great extent, there is truth and danger in the adage about getting what you pay for! Because of the Affen’s small size, it isn’t uncommon for litters to be as few as one puppy, but more typically in the 3-5 range. Survivability can sometimes be an issue with any litter, but as lit- ters get larger, so does the probability of mortality. We’ve had our share of heartache so having a strong genetic foundation can’t be overstated. Know- ing this, breeders are always scouring the country and the world for genetic compatibilities to strengthen the breed. This is a sturdy little breed, but genetic weakness can be an insidious threat if not managed proactively. For the new breeder, it can truly be daunting to enter the world of Affens. Start with love of the breed and add in healthy doses of education, diligence, willingness to listen and hard work;

it pays off. Reputation is hard fought and hard won. There aren’t any short- cuts, but it helps to latch on to a will- ing mentor and listen religiously to what they offer in terms of developing a sound-breeding program. Everyone has misses in judgment, but a good mentor can help keep those to a minimum. At some point, breeders will likely want to develop a relationship with another breeder who may have a puppy, bitch or sire to incorporate into their breeding program. Remember, they are guarding their reputation as well, so respect that and go into the relationship educated and aware of potential pitfalls. As in most purebred breeds, amateur handlers can feel disadvantaged and dis- couraged from venturing into showing their own dogs. One of the reasons we love breeding and showing Affens is the camaraderie that develops between other owners, handlers, pet owners and breeders. Fortunately, there are many long time breeders and handlers who are more than willing and generous in helpful hints to improve grooming and handling. We have always maintained that, outside the ring, we absolutely enjoy our relationships with other Affen fanciers and are quick to share a glass of wine or a story. But, in the ring, the gloves come off and we compete the best way we know how. Is it all serious competition? Hardly! This is a comical breed, so we learn to laugh at ourselves and our little dogs and those we encounter along the way. Who hasn’t missed a ring call or been caught snoozing when supposed to be in the ring? Oh, and did we mention how notoriously unpredictable Toy Dogs can be? It only takes a time or two of not realizing that your dog has decided it’s time for a break and you just have to acknowledge the applause until they’re done. After all, they’re only human!


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