What Is the Origin of the Word Pinscher?

by Lee Parker
The smallest pinscher is 10 inches high at the shoulder, while the largest breed of pinscher stands around 28 inches.

The smallest pinscher is 10 inches high at the shoulder, while the largest breed of pinscher stands around 28 inches.

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The pinscher is a type of dog originally bred as a guard dog and fighting dog. Over time, smaller versions of pinschers were developed and kept as ratters to hunt and kill vermin in houses and on farms. According to the Fédération Cynologique Internationale, six pinscher breeds are officially recognized: the Doberman pinscher, the German pinscher, the Affenpinscher, the Austrian pinscher, the miniature pinscher and the Danish-Swedish farmdog.

Origin of the Pinscher Name

Documented as a singular noun in 1926, pinscher is Germanic in origin and refers to a fox-terrier type of dog. Although German, etymologists believe the word was borrowed from the English word pinch and probably refers to the cropping of the ears of most pinschers. Ear cropping has been done since ancient times, mostly on guard and farm dogs, as it was believed that loose ears made for easy targets in a fighting dog. Cropping is becoming banned in many countries as an unnecessary and cruel practice.

Further Etymological Origins

The English word pinch stems from the 13th century Old North French word pinchier, meaning to pinch, squeeze, nip or steal. Believed to originate from the Latin punctiare, meaning to pierce, the word itself may be a blend of the Latin punctum (point) and piccare (pierce). While the most commonly accepted definition of pinscher is the clipping of the dog's ears, an alternative definition could refer to the pinscher's job description as ratter, guard dog and fighting dog, and may loosely mean biter.

Pinscher Dog Origins

The oldest documented pinscher is the German pinscher, established first on farms in the early 15th century. Bred as fighting dogs and ratters, German pinschers have a naturally strong prey drive, and early illustrations show compact, narrow-muzzled and medium-size dogs with tightly cropped ears. in 1890 the Doberman pinscher was bred by Ludwig Dobermann, specifically to serve as a fierce guard dog. It is believed that the Doberman's ancestry includes the German pinscher, the Rottweiler and the Weimaraner.

Origins of the Miniature Pinscher

A common misconception of the miniature pinscher, or "Min Pin," is that it is a scaled-down version of the Doberman pinscher, purposefully bred to be smaller, like the miniature Australian shepherd. The Doberman and the miniature pinscher are actually two distinct breeds, unrelated other than their likely mutual origin from the German pinscher. Miniature pinschers have existed longer than Dobermans and are suspected to be a cross of the German pinscher, the dachshund and the Italian greyhound.

References

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