The German Pinscher is a lean, muscular dog of medium size. It has a short coat that is most commonly black with tan markings, although red, blue and fawn varieties exist. The breed is thought to be a descendant of early European herding and guard dogs, and shares a common lineage with other Pinscher types breeds such as the Doberman. Also, common to Pinscher breeds, is the practise of cropping the dog’s ears and docking its tail. The resulting pointed ears and stubby tail are supposed to improve the dog’s localized hearing, and prevent the tail from interfering with the dog’s work. However, the discomfort caused by such procedures has caused these practises to be banned in some countries. Dogs with cropped ears or a docked tail are also sometimes barred from participating in dog shows.
Traditionally, the breed’s primary working role was to hunt rats and vermin on German farms. Some German Pinschers are still kept as ratters today, but most are simply house pets. Owners keeping them as house pets should keep in mind that they retain the instinct to hunt vermin, and will attempt to do so if left off-lead. German Pinschers are also very watchful and somewhat territorial. They often make good watch dogs. However, their temperament and size prevent them from becoming effective protection dogs or security dogs.
The German Pinscher was a rare breed outside of Europe. Following the Second World War, the breed nearly vanished as many German dogs succumbed to famine in the years following the war. In the 1950s, Werner Jung, the supervisor of the Pinscher and Schnauzer Club in Germany, revived the breed from its few remaining survivors. Unfortunately, due to the limited gene pool from which the breed was revived, many German Pinschers suffer from a variety of hereditary diseases such as cataracts, hip and elbow displaysia, and cardiac disease. Today, the breed is uncommon in North America, but is slowly gaining in popularity. Many German Pinschers are now bred in Australia, and exported to kennels around the world.