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|Origin and History
by Lisa Smart
The German Pinscher is believed to be a breed in excess of 400 years old but, as with a number
of breeds, was not recognised as a pure breed until the 1880's when it became 'fashionable' to
register them against a standard.
Pinscher is translated as 'terrier' in German, but other references to the name come from a
description of the way the GP catches his prey - by 'pinching' it between their front paws.
Although kept and bred as farm dogs for centuries, the breed standard was not published in Germany until
1884, followed by an update in 1923. Once the standard was accepted, the German Pinscher really
started to evolve. The 'pinscher Klub' was foundered in Germany in 1895 by Josef Bertha to assist all GP
breeders, and also included Schnauzers.
Historical references to the breed tell us that they initially appeared in the standard Schnauzer litters.
Smooth coated 'schnauzers' were born that were initially culled possibly due to the belief that with no coat,
they would not cope with the cold winter temperatures. A few puppies were kept and bought inside and it
was then noticed what natural ratters and guards they seemed to be.
A breeding program began to develop both strains and by breeding rough coats with rough and smooth to
smooth, the German Pinscher and Standard Schnauzer, as we kniow them today, evolved. It is believed
that both GPs and Schnauzers are descendents of the Rat Catcher, Great Ratter or Rat Pinscher, all of
which are now extinct. It is likely that these breeds were used to further evolve the GP.
The colour that were so common then in the breed have also unfortunately died out. These included the
Harlequin Pinscher - not unlike the Blue Heeler in coat appearance - solid black and of course the Salt &
Pepper colouring inherited from the Schnauzer ancestry. It is interesting to not that the Solid Black and
Salt and Pepper colouring appeared quite regularly in the litters in the early part of the 1900's. In the 12
years between 1911 and 1923, 305 Pinschers were registered of which 88 were Salt & Pepper and 43
were solid black. Between 1924 and 1949, 728 Pinschers were registered of which 86 were Salt and
Pepper and 135 solid black. As the Reds and the Black and Tans became more dominant, the Salt &
Pepper and Solid Black colouring has been bred out completely, and both are now not accepted colours.
As the colours developed so too did the coat, developing into a softer smoother coat. Some puppies are
still born with a slightly wire coat that throws back to the Schnauzer and Ratter heritage but this usually
softens with age.
Dr Reichenbach, in his book "Der Hund in Seinin Haupt - und Nebenarten" (published 1836) believed that
the German Pinscher actually developed in England, where the Manchester Terrier was used to refine and
improve the breed.
They were certainly used extensively in England as many references are made to German Pinschers being
used in Rat Hunts. Rat hunts and fights were common in England in the late 1880's and drew large crowds
of paying spectators. The owners were paid a set fee at the end of the hunt for each rat's head. One
German Pinscher was noted at the time to have caught (and killed) 50 rats in 28 minutes!
Being a very versatile breed, farmers throughout Europe also used these alert and watchful dogs to guard
their wagons when at market and they were generally locked in the stables at night to protect the farmers
horses from thieves. Their loud baying bark would have easily alerted the owner of any intruder! They still
make excellent guards and have the same high prey drive that made them such excellent ratters.
After the breed standard was published the breed became very popular throughout Europe but during WWl
and WWll the German Pinscher began to lose their popularity and not a single litter was registered during
1950 - 1957. After believed to be nearing extinction during this period, the breed warden at the time, Karl
Werner Jung, started a serious breeding program. Jung was not prepared to see a breed become extinct
while he was in this role.
Previously a Giant Schnauzer breeder, Jung bought his first GP bitch 'Kitti V Bodestand', in 1957. Kitti's
conformation was far from perfect, having splayed feet, sloppy movement and straight shoulders as some
of her faults. However, her temperament was outstanding and as other bitches were not available Jung
accepted her faults. A second bitch Jutta was also used. Although too lean and small, Jutta was used for
his second blood-line. Kitti and Jutta thus became the foundation for all future breedings.
It is only thanks to the devotion of Jung and many loyal breeders throughout the world, that we are lucky
enough to enjoy this breed today.