After two days of frenzied canine competition, a five year-old black-and-tan Affenpinscher named Banana Joe was crowned champion at the Westminster Dog Show on Tuesday night. But for those dog enthusiasts captivated by the dog’s Wookiee-ish countenance and shock of black hair—and hoping to snatch up one of their very own—we say: Good luck.
The breed’s official site, recognized by the American Kennel Club, lists only 12 active breeders in all of North America. “The reason they’re rare,” says Nancy Baybutt, the Affenpinscher Club’s Breeder Referral Chair, “is they have small litters—some of them as small as a single puppy—and the dogs are so small themselves that they have whelping problems. If they don’t thrive, there’s not a lot of them to save.” She also credits history for their rarity. “It was a German dog [that] was decimated during World War II,” she says. “Afterwards people didn’t want a German breed. It just never had the popularity.” The gene pool for Affens is so small that one of Baybutt’s dogs is a relative of Banana Joe.
Right now, seven puppy Affenpinschers are available for sale in the United States, according to Baybutt. Two, both males, are located in Tallahassee, Fla., and five can be found in Cornville, Ariz. Of the latter litter, only one of the dogs will look like Banana Joe. “The rest are red,” says Baybutt, who notes that the breed comes in several colors. The dogs sell for around $2,500.
If that’s a little steep for you, larger Affenpinschers are bred “by the puppy mills,” says Baybutt, and can be purchased online. But these dogs aren’t recognized by the breed’s official standard. They go for about $400.