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Why I Love our Min-Pin

Updated on December 7, 2011

His Real Name Is...


In German this means "Dwarf Pinscher." I'm convinced that "pinscher" means nibbler. These dogs were developed in Germany from the larger German-Pinscher. The Min-Pin were originally bred as "barn dogs" to hunt mice, rats, and other small vermin. Though most kennel clubs classify them as "toy dogs" they aren't; they are working dogs.

Even though the Min-Pin looks a lot like the Doberman-Pinscher they actually predate that breed. In fact the man who bred the Doberman, Karl Frederich Louis Dobermann, stated that he wanted his dog to resemble the Zwergpinscher, only fifteen (15) times larger. No one is really sure how the Min-Pin was bred to be so small. What is certain is that they are not a terrier. Some believe that they are cross between Italian Greyhound and Dachshund. This may just be German humor. In fact there is supporting evidence that the Min-Pin has German Pinscher in them; perhaps crossed with the Dachshund and Greyhound. Whatever they are it's a much older breed than many realize.

When I first met him I wasn't terribly impressed. I was over to visit my fiancé and there was a blanket on her couch. I didn't notice the lump in the blanket. As I sat down near it I heard a growl; a warning that he was there. It was quite a shock to hear the blanket growl, but once I moved he stopped.

Little did I know that "Barkey*" loves to hide under blankets, sheets, towels, and clean clothes. He especially loves stuff right out of the dryer. I read somewhere that Min Pin's are the "Houdini of dogs."

The next time I visited I volunteered to take him for a walk. Beside chasing and barking at every dog that came along he decided to "do his thing" under a bunch of bushes. Good deal; this is why we were out in the first place.

First he circled the chosen spot about ten times very quickly. I'd never seen a dog do this quite this way. Once he decided to "go" he walked along, hunched over, as he went. "Boy, this is one strange dog" I think. This particular spot had no grass growing under it or mulch scattered underneath. There was just dried dirt.

Once he got done "doing his business" he promptly turned his backside to me and started shuffling all four feet on the ground vigorously. This is a dog's way of saying "Hey, I'm a tough guy." He sprayed me from the waist down with loose dirt.

I was wondering what I might have gotten myself into.

* Name changed to protect the guilty

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Original Min-Pin from a woodcut featuring the German PinscherHe looks like this.And this.
Original Min-Pin from a woodcut featuring the German Pinscher
Original Min-Pin from a woodcut featuring the German Pinscher
He looks like this.
He looks like this.
And this.
And this.

He's Really Smart

My impression of Barkey changed quite a bit when I taught him to sit in half a day. He had associated the word with the action after only three tries. He's really good at it too. He's also quite enthusiastic. You can literally hear a "thump" when his bum hits the floor. In fact he does pretty much everything fast.

This is a great thing for a dog to know. It makes it that much easier to leash him, take the leash off, and he knows he has to sit in order to get a treat.


Every so often he gets so excited about food we are about to give him that his little ears turn into tuning forks. Vibrating away out of shear excitement at the idea of "treat." It's really funny to watch.

Every time we get something to eat, from a snack to a full blown meal, he somehow hears the sounds associated with food and comes running. In fact, this is the only time either of us are in danger of injury from claws. He has been known to leave claw marks in flesh in his nearly rabid desire to get to the source of the food.

Sometimes I think he has a sixth sense when it comes to eating.

Just sitting there staring at me. And yes, he's smiling.
Just sitting there staring at me. And yes, he's smiling.

He Really is Quite Bright

He's very good about coming when called. Very good until, that is, he decides not to come.

He'll sit there, ears straight up, and stare at me no matter how many times I call him. If he came every time I called him it would be downright boring. But because he comes most of the time, but not all of the time, I've come to appreciate his quirks. It truly is amusing to see him sitting there stock-still staring at me with his ears straight up. He knows I'm calling him; what the heck is he doing?

So I get up to go get him and he bounds off at a fast gallop. "Ah, he want's to play."

By the way, when he "gallops" he looks and sounds just like a small horse.

Keep Away

Steph and I got him a stuffed toy. It's pink and fuzzy. It's also just a bit smaller than he is, but not by much. It is absolutely a riot to watch him try to keep this toy away from me while holding his head high to keep from tripping over it at the same time. Eventually I'll catch up with him and "keep away" becomes "tug of war."

I always let him win.

"Blanket Monster"

Another favorite game of his we call "blanket monster."

It's very simple. I find a sheet or blanket, put my hand under it and start wiggling it around. He instantly leaps on my hand and tries to pin it down so it won't move anymore. If I move my hand toward him he'll jump back to keep up with it. If I move my hand back away from him he'll leap forward to pin it down.

If I stop moving my hand he'll start nibbling on whatever part he has under his paws. When I move my hand just a bit after it was "dead" he'll renew his efforts to pin it. Sometimes, when I'm especially vigorous with my hand he'll sit on it to pin it down.

As we are playing this game he is barking, howling, and growling at the "blanket monster."

We love this game. Of course this behavior makes perfect sense for a "barn dog."

Paper Towel Tubes and Grabbit and Electric Razor

Some Things Set Him Off

One of them, an empty paper towel tube, will drive him nuts if I purse my lips and blow into one end of it. I guess it sounds like a growl to him. When I do that he'll bark, yank it out of my hand, and then step on it. As if to say "there, now shut up!" Once he's pinned it he is quite happy to walk away from it.

I also have a grabbit for reaching things high up. It beats dragging out a stepladder for most things. Just for fun I got it down one day and showed it to him. He didn't seem to care, until that is, I grabbed him with it. Now all I have to do is bring it down and he goes ballistic.

We also have a small travel sized electric razor. The first time I used it near him he started barking and growling at it. He constantly keeps me laughing.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Right at home. After all he's a big dog in a small body.Tan and Chocolate Brown MinPins
Right at home. After all he's a big dog in a small body.
Right at home. After all he's a big dog in a small body.
Tan and Chocolate Brown MinPins
Tan and Chocolate Brown MinPins

Favorite Passtimes On a Walk

When I walk him he has two favorite things to do. Chase cats and rile up other dogs.

If he sees a cat he immediately tries to catch up with it to bark at it; possibly even to bite it. Naturally, we have a harness not a collar, because we learned long ago that he is so enthusiastic about catching up to cats or dogs, that the harness is much easier on him than a collar. To date, he has not succeeded in catching a cat, but he always tries anyway. I'm not sure what he'd do if he caught one, unlikely as it is, but I really don't want to know.

If he's around other dogs he'll stir them up and then calmly walk away.

It's almost as if he's thinking "my work here is done." You can always tell when we are coming down the block; just listen for a chorus of barking dogs.

Doggy Pirouette

Every so often when we are playing he'll stop, spin around, and be facing me again in a fraction of a second. He's so fast I can't quite make out the "footwork" he uses to accomplish this. He'll do a complete 360° in the time it takes to blink.

I'm not even sure why he does this, but it is very funny to watch. If he's feeling really spunky he'll do a number of these spins. He should be on "Dancing with the Stars."

He also makes it very hard to pick him up. He'll spin, leap away, and just generally make it really hard to catch him. Once in our arms though he's quite still and seems to enjoy being there.

Drops in His Ears

Of course we try to take really good care of him. One of the important places for good doggy health are his ears. From time to time we need to put drops in there to prevent mites.

It takes two of us to accomplish this. One to hold him down and the other to administer the drops. If you were passing by during this process you'd think we were murdering him slowly with sharp objects. He'll cry, howl, bark, and whine. Even though he weighs about nine pounds the two of us very nearly can't pull this off.

Oddly, if I put my finger in either of his ears and he'll lean onto it in order to "scratch" the inside.

Opera Star

I've never known a dog that could make so many sounds. If he's happy and cuddled up to either of us he coos like a bird. If he wants to play it's a sharp, short, high-pitched bark. If he want's a handout while we are eating it's a "silent" bark; more a rush of air than anything else. He sighs, yowls, cries, and whines at all the appropriate times.

He has an amazing range. I've recorded some of his vocalizations, but there's no way to put just audio on here. Oh well.

Butt Licking

OK. I know that sounds gross, but let me explain.

For whatever reason he can't quite reach back there, so he never actually gets to that nether region. Still it's amusing as heck to watch him try.

I've actually seen him do a back-flip trying to reach his bum. Very funny.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Under a towel.......with his snout sticking out.
Under a towel....
Under a towel....
...with his snout sticking out.
...with his snout sticking out.

"Off" and Doggy Bed Leap

He also knows "off" and "go to bed."

Off is if we want him off of the couch, chair, or bed. He's pretty good about it, but not quite as good as "sit." He never really wants to leave one of those comfortable areas if we are on it. But he also knows he can't eat on the couch, bed, or chair. So these days he usually knows that "off" might be followed by "sit" which means a treat.

I told you he was smart.

If my wife and I want to be "close" and not share our space with him one of us will tell him "go to bed." We have his doggy bed in a white laundry basket. It's rim is about as high off of the floor as he is tall. So to get in there he has to leap over the rim.

He looks just like a deer jumping over a fence. Really funny to watch.

Every week, we clean his bedding. it's interesting what we find in there. Single socks, toys,  maybe even a dirty washcloth. All we have to do is drop something and in short order it will disappear.

He doesn't take those things in there to chew them up. He steals them just so he'll have them close by. I think he likes stuff around him that smells like us. We also keep a clean towel in there so he can get under it; he really loves to go "subterranean." It's endearing to look over at his bed, see a lumpy towel, with just the tip of his snout sticking out of it.

Licking and Cuddling

He's not a face licker. He'd much rather be licking his paws or fabrics. I have no idea why he like to lick cloth, but he does it a lot. it's kind of sad in a way that he won't lick faces since he can't reach his butt (see above), but there you are.

He loves to cuddle though and can often be found curled up next to either Steph or myself, of course under a throw, blanket, or sheet. He's warm too.

"I've Gotta Go!" & "I'm Outta Water"

Every so often Barkey will really need to "go" beyond his normal "business" hours. When he's "really gotta go" he'll do something I've never seen another dog do.

He'll go into the bathroom, sit on the bath mat, and stare. At first I had no idea what he was trying to communicate, but it didn't take long to figure it out. I'm still working out how he associated "bathroom" with "go out." Maybe because that's where we "go?"

Even more rarely his water bowl will be empty and we won't notice right away. When that happens he'll go into the bathroom and jump into the tub. Of course he'll stare at us from the bathtub. Naturally, I'm also trying to figure out how he associated "bathtub" with "empty water bowl."

These are the only two times he'll go into the bathroom at all.

Did I mention that he's smart?

Taking a Bath

He hates taking a bath, especially if it involves soap, water, or either of those things going into his ears.

Once done though he loves being wrapped up in a towel and being dried off. He likes being blow-dried too.

Hair Brushing

About three times a week one of us give will give him a good brushing. He's got a beautiful black shiny coat and a good brushing keeps it that way.

We'll show him the brush, he'll sniff it, and then immediately lay down, back to us, so he can get the maximum benefit of those bristles. He never seems to tire of a good brushing and likes it on his back, head, haunches, and neck.

Computer Barkey

Not all that often, but often enough, he'll be sitting in my lap (as he is now) as I write these hubs. I'll look down as I'm thinking about what to say next and see his paws outstretched with his head nestled in between them. With his eyes closed I can hear him cooing too. It's comforting to know he likes laying in my lap.

Love is a Warm Dog

To say I've fallen in love with him is an understatement. No matter what my mood I know all I have to do is spend a little time with him and I'm smiling again.

He's always happy to see us even if we've been "gone" no more than five minutes.

He's a clown and loves to entertain us.

Min Pin Determination

A Novel Way to Get a Treat

Clowning Min Pin


Submit a Comment

  • tillsontitan profile image

    Mary Craig 

    3 years ago from New York

    Though this was written five years ago, it is an evergreen hub as these wonderful dogs never change! Buzz is my second min pin and I couldn't love him more. Everything you've said is true of every min pin....crazy and cute. Lovable and loving. Definitely a handful but the best dog ever! I've written a few hubs about him too, they just beg to be shared.

    Voted up, useful, and interesting.

  • LiamBean profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia

    Libby: Your comment is a very entertaining read. I hope you copy this comment and make a hub of it where more in the community can read it and enjoy it as much as I did. Thank you!!!

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    I really enjoyed reading your story. I laughed a lot.

    Min pins are just amazing, intelligent, strange little creatures. They just don't act like most dogs.

    You can't help but love their quirkiness.

    I have a 6 year old red female MinPin named Cleo. She got the name for how she laid down, front and back paws crossed, and for her regal attitude.

    She's always so proud of herself.

    Some things she has in common with Barkey.

    the blanket lump, warm laundry, cuddling

    blanket monster - I do this I just never called it anything.

    Not being able to lick her butt. I think it's because MinPins are such square dogs. Cleo is on the small side and 10 inches tall and ten inches long (haunch to back).

    Being so square it makes it hard for them to reach. It's funny though because they are such problem solvers and she often tries to use leverage to reach sometimes she'll use my leg or something to help prop herself up.

    MinPins are extremely intelligent but not super obedient. If they were more obedient I think they would be recognized in par with the intelligence of a border collie, maybe even higher. I'm constantly trying to figure out how she knows so many words. It's not that I try to teach her, it's just that she picks up on it.

    Time for bed, get off, treat, walk, she knows that the phrase "Do you wanna" means she is getting something or getting to do something. Do you wanna treat, walk, belly rub.

    I was out walking her once and saw a larger dog she has a problem with walking toward us. I wasn't in the mood to deal with it so I said, oh cleo we should turn around. Not actually expecting her to turn around. But she did. That is when I realized she knew the word "Turn around".

    Some of her toys we named weird names, pinky, franklin, and leopard boney. She knows them by name. It just amazes me because every day I seem to find more words that she understands.

    If only she didn't have selective hearing. She only does things when she wants to. :)

    They are amazing problem solvers. I would put one of my stuffed animals I didn't want her playing with on a shelf and no matter how high up the shelf I moved it, it would always be on the floor when I came home from work.

    Recently we moved to a house that is fenced in on all three sides by neighbors, but also gated. the back fence is the only chain link fence, there is a gate door in the middle on one side the pools aren't very close together but she couldn't get through because her barrel chest was too big.

    We've lived there 2 months now and a few weeks ago we noticed she had gotten through and into the neighbors yard trying to get at a squirrel in the tree.

    I said how the heck did she do that? So I watched her the second time and noticed that the poles as they go up get a little wider. She had been inspecting it for weeks and found that the solution was to stand on her hind legs and walk through, her chest would fit since the pole got wider as it went up.

    It's funny how serious she can be though. I laugh at her for being such a serious little dog. She takes her watch dog job very seriously. She likes to sit on the back of the couch and look at the front window, barking at cats or squirrels or anything that looks suspicious.

    Some neighborhood kids nicknamed her the doggy in the window. Also one kid thought she was a mini pit bull because she has a lot of muscle definition. MinPins are such sturdy compact dogs. I held my brother in laws yorkie and I was afraid I was going to break the poor thing.

    Cleo also sighs at all of the right times, sometimes her noises are right in line with our conversation. It's pretty comical and her ears, even though they are cut are so expressive.

    She likes to stretch in the morning and she does what I call the soldier crawl, she learned the crawl from my sisters 2 minpins when she was a puppy. She realized that she could then crawl under the futon, she was so proud of her self that for awhile this was her favorite thing to do.

    She also learned the pretty girl, begging thing from them. where she sits on her hind legs and puts her arms in up with her paws bending down. She'll do sit, stay, roll over, and pretty girl on command but only for a treat.

    She's independent and is on her own schedule. If we stay up late she will simply just go to bed. She sleeps with us, she'll just jump up and go underneath the blankets.

    She will also wake me up in the morning by tapping her paw on me.

    She's finicky she won't go out in the rain, she does not like swimming or baths or wet grass. She doesn't like to lay on tile floor and when she likes to lay outside she prefers that a towel be placed down. Sometimes she just doesn't really act like a dog.

    She also likes socks, she likes them right off the feet, balled up. Her joy is in shaking them to unmate them. This makes laundry a joy as I am constantly searching to make sure she hasn't hid anything.

    She doesn't rip up toys or chew really. We have one of those tennis ball covers and her favorite thing to do is to get the tennis ball cover off of the ball. On occasion when she does rip of the ear of a toy, she is proud of her self and prances around with it in her mouth. She also has a stockpile of parts she has ripped off of stuffed animals. An ear, a tail, a plush heart that was once in a the hand of a monkey stuffed animal.

    She hides these things and then when company comes over she brings them out to show off to our guest.

    She also does this thing with bones, baby carrots, and cherry tomatoes. She likes to find a spot to hide them. She kind of whines when she isn't happy with the spot and moves it around a few times. When she is happy with the spot, and sometimes a very obvious hiding spot like in the middle of the room, she will get proud of herself and run around.

    My husband doesn't let me give her cherry tomatoes anymore because once her hiding spot was our bed, where he was still sleeping and he rolled over on it.

    There is always a toy in our bed, once I rolled over on a dental bone, ouch. I stopped tucking in the bottom of the bed because once I came home and she was stuck, she went to get off the bed from under the sheet and fell into a little pouch and couldn't get out.

    Recently during a thunderstorm she dragged some toys under a quilt on the couch and crawled in. Lilke she was protecting them.

    When she was a 5 months old we lived in a townhouse where the room was on the top floor and the living room was on the bottom. One night my husband, then boyfriend, had got snacky hungry and pulled out a large bag of Munchies. The one that's a mix of different snack food like pretzles, dorritos, check mix, etc. We went to bed and he had rolled up the last of the bag and left it on the end table.

    In the morning Cleo was energized and ready to go but we wanted to sleep in. She went down stairs to play. She came back up stairs a several minutes later and she got close to me and her breath smelled like dorritos. She ran back down stairs and a few minutes later I got up to see what she was up to.

    When I walked down stairs I All I see is a little nub of a wagging tail sticking out of the munchies bag. She had opened it up and crawled inside. Funny thing though, she only ate the dorritos. After I grabbed the back I looked inside and there was plenty of the other but no dorritos left.

    Also a note about dog licking and kissing. Cleo does lick from time to time, but her actually dog kisses are closed mouth. she just puts the side of her snout up against your lips. Most people wished that is how their dogs showed

    She's a spunky dog but she can be very sweet and affectionate. She just constantly makes me laugh. I don't know what I'd do without her.

  • LiamBean profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia

    it's just me: I hope your little hero returns and soon. I can't imagine "barkey" going missing. I hope you write a hub about your experiences with him. I'd love to read it.

  • It's just me profile image

    It's just me 

    8 years ago from Alaska

    We really miss our minpin he was stolen 3 times the third time we couldn't find him.

    One of the things that amazed me was he was beautiful and extremely graceful when he ran.We once clocked him running at 25 miles per hour uphill.

    He was my boys (they have asperger's syndrome)magical therapy be taught them how to laugh, how to be gentle and how to care for another living being. He was their constant companion he skatedboarded, played tag, chased rabbits and played hide and go seek with them.Twice he escaped from the house through an open window and ran all the way to the boys school, the teacher called laughing saying that our dog ran into class when the bell rang and sat at a desk like one of the kids. When she told him to go home he just looked at her like she was nuts and when she tried to lift him away from the desk he growled at her so I had to go pick him up.

    One day when he and the boys were playing outside a bigger dog came around the corner with a baby kitten in his mouth my son got it away from the dog and brought it home. We cleaned it's wounds and our minpin adopted it he was the kitties Daddy and curled up around it in it's box at night like he was protecting it.

    During the spring storms he would start to get anxious to play outside and the second the sun peeked out he would start jumping all over the living room from the backs of chairs to the sofa to the floor and back again until someone took him out.

    My daughter made him a little army uniform out of some camo cloth and he would go with her to pick up her fiancé from his two week trainings he was a big hit with all the other G.I.s and they called him Sarge.

    He would bring us his dishes if he was hungry or thisty and thought that he could go shopping with us and try to sneak into stores we would find him in the pet isle just sitting there looking at all the goodies.

    They really are amazing little things.

  • LiamBean profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia

    Thanks Skif!

  • Skif profile image


    9 years ago

    I have, what I believe to be, a rat-terrier, chihuahua, min-pin, mix. His name is Tito Taquito Johnson, but we call him Quito (key-toe). His personality is much like that of "Barkey." Quito is constantly under a blanket or towel, loves to spin on his hind legs, and thinks he weighs 70 lbs, instead of his 15 lbs. All of my dogs do the "dance" after they go out, too. I think it's actually more like a cat covering their "business" though. Also, trying to lick his rear end could just be a sign that he needs to release his anal glands. All dogs have them and most release when they go out, but others need to stimulate the area. It's a rather unpleasant smell, but it's normal for dogs. By the way, I saw on "Dogs 101" that "Pinscher" actually translates into "biter."

  • LiamBean profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia

    Thanks Immartin. I constantly have to watch "Barkey" because I never know when he's going to throw his considerable nine pounds around. Beside his "warrior" attitude he's one great dog though. Great entertainment and very loyal.

    Dick looks like a champion to me.

  • lmmartin profile image


    9 years ago from Alberta and Florida

    Hi liambean. I have a min-pin story for you. Dick and I were at a dog show some years back -- Dick is my male mastiff, 235 pounds in his prime and the most cowardly creature you'd ever meet -- and he knocked over his ex-pen, unbeknownst to me and wandered off down the exhibit hall. When I went back to the pen to find him missing, of course I panicked but then I heard laughter, loads of laughter further down the aisle. I look up to see my mastiff walking back to me, with a min-pin hanging from his jowels. The min-pin had attacked Dick, and wouldn't let go. Dick of course, with all the dignity of the mastiff breed, pretended nothing was going on. The min-pin's owner came up right away, full of apologies and laughter. The little guy had no idea how small he was. In his mind, he was a great warrior.

    And Dick? He was okay, just a little embarrassed. I cleaned up the four tiny puncture marks on his lips. By the way, that's Dick beside me in my logo.


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