How to Train a German Pinscher

The sleek, no-frills German Pinscher is among Germany’s oldest and the prototype of other pinscher breeds. This energetic, super-intelligent dog was initially used as a rat catcher but can be trained for all types of canine work.

Sleek, shiny, and streamlined, GPs are a true dog lover’s delight. They’re eye-catching and elegant, but in all ways, honestly, doggy’s nothing fussy or exaggerated. They’ll stand about knee-high to the average adult. Muscles ripple beneath a shimmering coat of red, black or blue with red accents. There’s nobility in the elongated, wedge-shaped head, and the dark eyes are alert and eager. GPs move with the kind of robust and free-and-easy gait that tells you this is a confident companion, up for anything the day might bring.


The German Pinscher is among its homeland’s oldest breeds. As the progenitor of the Miniature Pinscher and the ever-popular Doberman, among other German breeds, it can be said to be the prototypical pinscher. (A helpful historian tells us that ‘ pinscher’ appears to be a Germanic form of the French word ‘pincer,’ meaning to seize or to nip.’) And seizing and nipping are apt descriptions of how GPs originally earned a living: rat killing. Today’s GPs are excellent watchdogs and vigilant family guardians.


German Pinschers are typically robust, healthy dogs, although there are a few conditions that the breed can be prone to. These include hip dysplasia, eye disease, and von Willebrand’s disease. There is a small incidence of heart problems, and some delayed post-vaccine complications have also been reported within the breed. Responsible breeders test all breeding stock for conditions that can affect the breed. The teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs. Regular visits to the vet for checkups and parasite control help to ensure the dog has a long, healthy life.


The German Pinscher’s short, dense coat needs little maintenance. Weekly grooming with a brush and an occasional bath will keep him shiny and looking his best. As with all breeds, his nails should be trimmed monthly if not worn down naturally, as overly long nails can be painful and cause problems walking and running. His ears should be checked weekly and cleaned of any dirt or excess wax if needed.


The German Pinscher is an agile and athletic, high-energy breed who requires ample daily exercise for his physical and mental well-being. The breed is medium sized and robust, with a strong prey drive. Alert and intelligent, they are outstanding performance dogs as well as companions. They excel at anything challenging their considerable physical and mental abilities, including canine sports such as obedience, agility, rally, tracking, and barn hunts.


German Pinschers are highly intelligent, so much so that they can be manipulative. They require a firm and knowledgeable owner with previous experience with other working dogs. This willful, mischievous breed requires lots of early socialization and obedience training. The main challenge is to keep the German Pinscher interested and engaged. He is a high-energy dog who is alert to his surroundings; he is inquisitive and will explore whatever is new and interesting. They are not ideal as a first breed for inexperienced dog owners.


The German Pinscher should be fed a high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) and activity level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet or the dog’s breeder if you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should always be available.

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