Monday, 30 January 2017

Miniature Pinscher

Most American Miniature Pinscher owners know that their breed got its start in Germany. But few may realize that the Miniature Pinscher in Germany, and most of Europe, is very different from what they know and love as the "Min Pin."

In Germany, where the breed dates back centuries, the Miniature Pinscher is under the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) standard, and is called a "reduced image" of the medium-sized German Pinscher. It ideally has a sturdy body, a prominent, elongated muzzle, and a trotting gait. A hackney-like gait--the defining characteristic of the breed's American cousin--is a fault. A light build is also a fault. The most descriptive word for the breed in the FCI standard is kräftig, meaning, strong.

In the U.S., the Miniature Pinscher has been developed with a different emphasis. The hackney-like gait is sought after, along with the svelte body to go with it. Although the AKC breed standard does promote a level of strength, the dog tends to have thinner bones than its European counterpart, and a smaller head.

One reason for the difference is the group classification. The AKC places the breed in the Toy Group, alongside Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and all the smallest of the small dogs. By contrast, the FCI places the Miniature Pinscher in Group 2, the Pinscher-Schnauzer group, to compete against the larger dogs of that class.

Over time, a breed will tend to adapt to the group in which it is placed, no matter its breed standard. For the company they keep, it can truly be said today that the American Min Pin is a Toy, and the European Miniature Pinscher is a Pinscher.

History Miniature Pinscher

But it was not always so. The breed has gone through many changes since its primitive days, between extremes.

At times in the 18th century, the highest ideal German breeders sought was "smallness, for which they sacrificed everything else."1 The breed was tiny, frail, and was judged sitting on pillows or in cages, as little more than a lapdog without strength. The original breed standard of 1880 said very little about body structure, and focused mostly on head and color.

hings began to change after the breed got its official start in 1895, at the founding of the Pinscher-Schnauzer Klub of Germany (PSK). One founder of the PSK, Joseph Berta, had the most influence on the development of the early Miniature Pinscher.

Mr. Berta, also a judge, guided the breed away from the tiny, unsound dogs favored by the public, and brought them toward their stronger ideal. At shows, Mr. Berta required that the breed be exhibited walking. He rewarded the dogs most solidly developed, and these stronger dogs were selected for breeding.

His demand for quality met resistance, but Mr. Berta held firm. He stated that the breed should be "healthy, well-balanced, tightly-knit specimens with good gait, uniformity in neck and head, correct color markings, and, least of all, diminutiveness."

Diminutiveness--meaning, exceptionally small size--was the least important trait of all. Berta believed breeders should seek overall soundness in type. Said Berta:

I consider as ideal the Miniature Pinscher head which fits with the four-square body, with the strong, upright forequarters, with the sinewy back, with the neck which flows alert and sinewy out of the shoulder and which carries the lines of breeding art; which, as a whole, fits in harmoniously and presents a fitting and aesthetic effect . . . I want a whole head and not merely a skull with a pair of ugly eyes; I want a head with a well-developed muzzle which works itself strongly out of beautiful lines, then a uniform and harmonious unity is formed, a perfect picture of breeding created.2To fit that ideal, the standard was updated to emphasize the "compact and muscular" body, with a straight topline and deep chest. Thin bones became a fault, along with apple-shaped heads. The idea of the breed as a small Pinscher became elevated over the tiny lapdog. That mental picture led the FCI to require that "the Miniature Pinscher is a reduced image of the German Pinscher, without the drawbacks of a dwarfed appearance." This remains today as the ideal in continental Europe and Scandinavia.

In the U.S., where the German standard was shared for a few years, the "pinscherness" never really caught on. Although there are tales of oversized American Miniature Pinschers with hunting skills, these had no place under the standard, and were sought in South America to hunt rabbits.

Early confusion over where to place the American Miniature Pinscher is evident in the shuffling around the breed underwent in its early days. As the breed was introduced to the AKC in the 1920s, the problem arose of which group to place him in. The AKC did not have a Pinscher-Schnauzer group.

The AKC decided to place him in the Terrier Group in 1925, under the name "Pinscher (Toy)." This reflected two things: the breed was too pinscher-like to belong in the Toy Group, yet held enough Toy characteristics to be called a Toy pinscher.

But he was still out of place. Five years later, the AKC moved him to the Toy Group and changed the name to "Pinscher (Miniature)." Perhaps the name change was a compromise, to retain something above the Toy idea, and to discourage the diminutive breeding shunned by Mr. Berta.

Old American Ideal

The American and European Miniature Pinschers did not become what they are today overnight. The breed could have gone in a number of directions. Both strength and frailness were available in the early German Miniature Pinscher and old American Min Pins. Over time, diversity of styles was naturally phased out to unify the breed according to standard and category. As the breed advanced in Europe, stricter attention was given to the development of strong bodies, while in the U.S., the greatest focus was given to creating and accommodating the hackney-like gait.

Prior to the 1980s, the ideal was Rebel Roc's Casanova Von Kurt, known as "Little Daddy," born Sept. 11, 1958. He has been called "the greatest American-bred toy dog of all time."3 His image continues to be used everywhere, on websites, books, logos, to represent "the" American Miniature Pinscher

Ironically, Little Daddy did not have a hackney-like gait,4 which is considered an American Min Pin's distinguishing characteristic. Today, without a proper hackney, this most famous of American Miniature Pinschers would not qualify under the AKC standard, despite his many appealing qualities.

Min pin

When persons outside the United States say "Min Pin," they undoubtedly think of the breed they know in their own country, even though "Min Pin" originated in America as a shorthand name for its own particular style of dog. For those inside the United States, the nickname "Min Pin"--and recently, "Mini Pin"--brings to mind the common American version of the breed. The nickname is attached to such a strong image, any American familiar with the Min Pin would quickly doubt that something stronger and un-toylike can be called by this name. The American Min Pin is a charming, most popularly black/tan, high-stepping, entertaining, tiny toy. Naturally, there is an assumption that miniature means "as small as possible," and that if it's mini, it must be better the smaller it gets. The undersize, so-called "teacup" is now quite common.

In America, the last thing "Min Pin" brings to mind is Miniature Pinscher.

By entitling this essay Miniature Pinscher vs. "Min Pin," we intended to broaden everyone's thinking about the breed, and give more emphasis to the Pinscher that lies within it. We hope we have done that, and helped others think outside the box for ways to improve the breed toward its fullest beauty.