An Affenpinscher generally weighs 6.5 to 13.2 pounds (2.9 to 6.0 kg) and stands 9 to 12 inches (23 to 30 cm) tall at the withers. It has a harsh rough coat when it is not clippered and if clippered it can be softer and fluffier. It has a notable monkey-like expression (Affe means monkey in German). Its coat is shaggier over the head and shoulders forming a mane, with shorter coat over the back and hind quarters. It is harsh and wiry in texture when properly maintained. The FCI and Kennel Club breed standards specifies that the coat must be black, but the AKC also allows grey, silver, red, black and tan, and beige (a mixture of red, brown, black and white hairs); other clubs have their own lists of acceptable colours, with black being the preference.
Affenpinschers have a distinct appearance that some associate with terriers. They are different from terriers, however, in that they are actually part of the pinscher-schnauzer of group 2 in the FCI classification and so often get along with other dogs and pets. They are active, adventurous, curious, and stubborn, but they are also fun-loving and playful. The breed is confident, lively, affectionate towards family members and is also very protective of them. This loyal little dog enjoys being with its family. It needs consistent, firm training since some can be quite difficult to housebreak. This type of dog easily becomes bored, so training should be varied. The affenpinscher has a terrier-like personality.
Affenpinschers are somewhat territorial when it comes to their toys and food, so they are not recommended for homes with very small children. This dog is mostly quiet, but can become very excited if attacked or threatened, and shows no fear toward any aggressor.
A small sample (N=21) of affenpinschers in a UK survey had a median lifespan of 11.4 years, which is a typical lifespan for a purebred dog, but a bit lower than most breeds of their size. The most common causes of death were old age (24%), urologic (19%), and "combinations" (14%). Some are prone to fractures, slipped stifle, pda, open fontanel and respiratory problems in hot weather. The affenpinscher is prone to hip dysplasia. As with many small breeds of dog, they are prone to collapsed trachea and luxating patella(floating knee cap). Cataracts are occasionally reported. An emerging concern is syringomyelia, although the incidence is currently unknown.
Affenpinschers often appear on lists of dogs that allegedly do not shed. Every hair in the dog coat grows from a hair follicle , which has a three phase cycle, as do most mammals. These cycles are: anagen, growth of normal hair; catagen, growth slows, and hair shaft thins; telegen, hair growth stops, follicle rests, and old hair falls off—is shed. At the end of the telegen phase, the follicle begins the cycle again. The length of time of the growing and shedding cycle varies by breed, age, and by whether the dog is an inside or outside dog.
Frequent grooming reduces the amount of loose fur in the environment.