Whilst no detailed records exist of the exact origins of the German Pinscher, it is generally accepted that the foundations of the breed were the farm dogs common throughout Germany in the 15th century. These dogs were commonly known as Rattler, a name still used throughout Europe, and were used to guard farms and kill vermin. There were originally two varieties of Pinscher – the rough coated and the smooth coated. The smooth coat is believed to have been one of the founder dogs of the Dobermann, and the rough coated variety eventually developed into the Standard Schnauzer. In 1880, the first breed standard for the Pinscher was written, with many different colours included in the standard such as rust-yellow, grey-yellow, black, iron-grey, silver-grey, flax-blonde, dim grey-white and white with grey dappling.
In 1895 Josef Berta founded the first Pinscher Club in Germany to encompass both coated varieties of Pinscher. Meanwhile a Dr Zurhellen founded the Bayrischen Schnauzerklub in Munich, and in 1918 he and Josef Berta merged the two clubs to form the Pinscher-Schnauzer Klub (PSK) which exists today. Within the PSK were six distinct breeds – the Affenpinscher, Miniature Pinscher, German Pinscher, Miniature Schnauzer, Standard Schnauzer and Giant Schnauzer. It was agreed at this time that only smooth coated German Pinschers would be bred, which became the main aim for the breeders at that time. By separating the long & short-haired specimens in the same litters, and by selective breeding, the “PSK” produced the origins of the breed.
The first German Pinscher registered by name in the PSK was Alexius Schnauzerlust born in 1917. Although he was smooth coated, his colour was salt and pepper as were many others subsequently registered. In the first stud book – only 8 smooth haired Pinschers were registered: 4 bitches from wire haired parents, and 2 dogs, of which two had wire haired parents.
Only in the Edition 2 stud book is there a black bitch with traidional rust brown markings. In 1923, the breed standard was amended to encourage the breeding of German Pinschers. Permitted colours were bright red, red-brown to dark red/brown, black with red markings, yellow or red/yellow in various tones and salt and pepper in various tones without rust markings. Up to the 1930’s a number of Pinschers registered were salt and pepper in colour, but gradually most breeders avoided these colours finding them too close to the Schnauzer.
During the World Wars, Pinscher breeding suffered greatly as did many other breeds, and it was solely due to the great efforts of Director and Breed Warden of the Pinscher and Schnauzer club Germany (‘Hauptzuchtwart’) Werner Jung, who single handedly saved the breed from extinction. At that time there were barely any Pinschers in East Germany, but Jung risked his life to get into Eastern Germany where more Pinschers were living, obtaining and subsequently smuggling a black and rust German Pinscher female Kitti v Bodestrand back to West Germany.Kitti’s grandparents came from the Walrabsburg en Sybillenburg kennel and were offspring from Champions in the 1920’s & 1930’s. With Kitti and a Miniature Pinscher female Jutta (black and tan), of Jung’s own breeding under his kennel name of ‘v.d. Birkenheide’ in 1956 he started breeding German Pinschers himself.
Jung mated these two females with different oversized (at 40 cm instead of 25-30 cm) Miniature Pinscher males – males Fürst (red), Illo (black and tan) and Onzo (chocolate), and these five dogs were used fourteen times for breeding giving the foundation of 60 black and rust, red coloured and dark red German Pinschers.
From these dogs, the best German Pinschers were selected to re-construct the breed. Werner Jung created a solid build-up in a very short time on which other breeders could also found their kennels. The number of Pinscher breeders increased annually and within ten years over 500 Pinschers were bred.
Two particular dogs that dated back prior to the First World War, had a significant influence on the breed. A Black-Brown dog ‘Max v. Goppingen 2187″ whelped in 1910, and the same coloured bitch “Belia Von der Staufenburg 2013″ whelped in 1909, and two others worth mentioning were ‘Mechlins Max” (breeding unknown) and “Flock 71” whelped in 1921. All successful dogs in later years had these two dogs in their pedigrees.
At this time most kennels were located mainly, in Wuttemberg, Southern Germany in the 1920’s and 30’s; others were located in Western and Central Germany. Edition 1 of the Pinscher- Schnauzer Club studbook for the year 1923 has 185 Pinschers registered.
The Breed Standard was rewritten in 1923 and helped greatly in the purification of the breed at that time. The Standard described the Pinscher as flashy, but strong and sinewy-muscular. Height 43-48 cm. at the shoulder. There was a great similarity in anatomy with the Schnauzer, with the only significant difference being the short hair and colour. The permitted colours were: Shiny black, with markings from rusty red to yellow; Dark Brown with yellow markings and uni-coloured in different shades. But not pale yellow or Isabella, or without white markings was permitted.
A concession was made for the salt and pepper colour due to the ancestry of the Schnauzer. The Pinscher Breeders of those years put a lot of effort into the breeding and managed to produce some very top dogs, but they still could not be compared with the success of other breed clubs. Unfortunately at that time the otherwise very respected breeder Strebel persevered in breeding his favourite idea, a salt and pepper coloured ‘Silver Pinscher’.
Dr. Dauber from Kaiserslauter, SW Germany, put much energy and patience into his dream of a “Silver Pinscher”, but with very little success. During the 30’s and 40’s Dauber also bred some solid black German Pinschers, but they remain the only ones ever entered into the stud book of the club. Very little progress was made with the breed until 1941 when the breeder Retter, from Bartenbach finally made the breakthrough. All the judges reports from that time spoke very highly about the quality of his dogs. 16 Pinschers were entered at the National Champion Exhibition in Stuttgart. Top wins amongst others, went to the black and red dog ‘Arko von Barbarossa 654″, the black and red bitch “Dorle von Barbarossa 671 ‘ and the red dog “Arno von Barbarossa 656’.
Pinschers in UK
The German Pinscher is a relatively new introduction to the UK only arriving here in 1980. Many Pinscher kennels send dogs to each other worldwide to keep the gene pool diverse, and naturally imports have shaped the UK Pinscher of today.
The first German Pinscher to the UK came about from a trip undertaken to see Miniature Pinschers at the Amsterdam Winners Show 1979 in Holland.
The group were not particularly impressed with the Min Pins but in the adjacent ring, they all noticed another breed and thought ‘what are they? we like them!’ They began talking to a Herr van Ginnekin of the famous von Werner Junghof kennels, who was delighted to show off his dogs, and invited them to make a detour on the way home from Amsterdam down to Eindhoven to see his dogs which they did (left). Thus began the story of the Pinscher to the UK.
There was a long period of success for the breed in terms of numbers – there were at one time 40 dogs in the show-ring (the usual barometer of success within a breed and from where people interested in the breed will usually see them), and club shows were well supported. Unfortunately a variety of setbacks occurred – some dogs were too sharp for most pet owners, one bitch was spayed due to pyometra, and fewer dogs were bred.
The breed declined to single figures in the show-ring in the last 10 years, and there were no litters in the UK for 3 years prior to 2009 when Aritaur kennels in Staffordshire imported the first imports for many years. These were Ceriinan Pandora to Aritaur (Fin Imp), Ceriinan Quiero to Aritaur (Fin Imp) (with Dave Clarke), Duffyco’s Va Bene to Aritaur (Ger Imp) (with Dave Clarke), Legacy’s Wishful Thinking via Aritaur (with Karen Wakefield), and Legacy’s Heart of Gold for Hickson (from Laura Mills/Joanna Maard).
These dogs have given the UK breed a new foundation of diverse bloodlines from around the world, and from this new start other new breeders are now enjoying the companionship of the breed. We have re-started with a wide gene pool and numbers are rising steadily.
At the last UK show where Pinschers had classes, entries were back up to 19 dogs, and Crufts which had fallen to just 14 dogs, is back up to around 24 dogs.
As with all things, differences of opinions occur which sometimes cannot be overcome, and a large number of the new breeder/owners felt that the views of the first club did not reflect the way many of us wanted to take the breed forward either in terms of breeding and predominantly health.
In early 2014 we launched our new club with 38 members and we are all looking forward to continued success and most of all enjoyment with friends and our Pinschers.