The Miniature Pinscher is the smallest of a variety of interesting Pinscher breeds. The Standard Pinscher – the largest of the Pinschers – with its terrier instincts is popular in Germany and Switzerland. The Harlequin Pinscher, mainly a companion dog, is also popular in Germany and is particularly admired for its beautiful coat – black and grey or tan spotted markings on a white or pale background. The least well known of the Pinschers is the Glattharidge. This breed, salt and pepper in colouring, although favoured in Switzerland, is not yet a recognised breed and is seldom seen outside continental Europe.

The Miniature Pinscher, known as the "King of the Toys" is a compact little dog and, like its relations, is of German origin.

Making acquaintance with the Min Pin – as its dedicated admirers call it – for the first time can be confusing. In appearance it looks like a miniature version of the Dobermann, and people therefore presume that it must be closely related – though this is not so.

The Min Pin was in existence a long time before the development of the Dobermann. It is, in fact, descended from an old breed, the German Smooth-haired Pinscher, although at some time in its history strains of the Dachshund and the Italian Greyhound were introduced into the breed prior to its recognition by the German Pinscher-Schnauzer Club in 1895. This is clearly evident, as characteristics from both of these breeds can be seen in today's Min Pins – it has inherited its elegance and high-stepping gait from the Italian Greyhound.

In the United States and Continental Europe it has always been the custom for the Min Pin to have erect ears. Owners who want dogs with erect ears have to have the dogs ears cut in order to maintain the right shape and give an aristocratic appearance. Although the Kennel Club states in its descriptive standard of the Min Pin that its ears should be erect or dropped, in practice all Min Pin ears in Britain have been kept in their natural state for many years.

Breeders in Britain are now producing Min Pins with naturally erect ears, which eliminates all cruelty associated with artificial ear-cropping.

King Edward VII was directly responsible for ending the cruel practice of cutting – or cropping – dog's ears. The cruelty which was imposed on so many dogs so appalled him that as patron of the Kennel Club he wrote to the Secretary stating that in his view the custom of cropping had to stop. As a result, cropping was abolished in Britain in 1895.

The breed make ideal show dogs – as they are natural performers – and excellent pets. They have plenty of spirit, are robust and demand attention at all times.

Min Pins were taken to the United States in the early 1920's but were not introduced into Britain until 1938. It lost its popularity during the Second World War, but since then has built up a following in a number of countries around the world.

Rosamund Walters.

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