The words Dog Breed Info with the letter D inside of a black paw print

Harlequin Pinscher

Information and Pictures

A tan, gray and black dog with large perk ears inside the front seat of a car with its paws on the dashboard looking out the window.

Hermes the Harlequin Pinscher at 10 months old "Hermes is a high strung Harlequin Pinscher who never gets tired! He loves to run and play fetch and tug-o-war with his brother Hendrix (Jack Russell)"

Other Names
  • Harlequin Min Pin
  • Merle Miniature Pinscher
  • Merle Pinscher
  • Spotted Pinscher



The Harlequin Pinscher is a small, compact, square dog. The head is in proportion to the body. The skull appears flat, tapering forward toward the muzzle. The muzzle is strong and in proportion to the head. The teeth should meet in a scissor bite. The topline is level or slightly sloping toward the rear. The slightly oval eyes are dark. The ears are set high and either cropped or left natural. Natural ears should be rose prick ears, erect with the top half folding forward. The front legs are straight. Dewclaws are usually removed. The small feet are cat-like in shape. The tail can be cropped or left long, however cropping is illegal in most European countries. The short, smooth, hard coat lies close to the body. Coat colors include blue or red merle.


The Harlequin Pinscher is a hardy little fellow who is proud, courageous and fearless. He is loyal to his master, spirited and alert with high energy and an inquisitive expression. Intelligent, lively and brave. Generally good with other pets and children so long as the humans provide proper leadership toward the dog. Its behavior depends entirely upon how you treat the dog. Do not let this sweet little dog fall into the Small Dog Syndrome, human induced behaviors where he believes he is pack leader to humans. That is when problems start to arise. The dog will become demanding, headstrong and will begin to bark more than you wish. If you allow this, the dog may become a tyrant. If you are not this dog’s pack leader, it will become protective and may become very aggressive with other dogs. It can also become rather suspicious towards strangers. The Harlequin Pinscher can learn extremely well and wants very much to do so. It is certainly beneficial for its socialization to take the dog to puppy courses where it can meet other dogs and people. You will be amazed at how fast the Harlequin Pinscher understands and obeys you. Pay particular attention when housebreaking this little Pinscher, since a little puddle from such a small dog can easily be overlooked; the dog may get the idea that you are happy to accept it fulfilling its natural needs indoors. Beware, this little dog will chew small objects and may choke on them. Do not overfeed this breed. A balanced Harlequin Pinscher will not have the behavior problems listed above. If it truly has rules, boundaries, limitations, a true pack leader and a daily pack walk, it will be a wonderful family companion.

Height, Weight

Height: 10 - 12 inches (25 - 30 cm)
Weight: 8 - 10 pounds (4 - 5 kg)

Health Problems

This breed is prone to food and skin allergies, patellar luxation, cryptorchidism, hypoglycemia, epilepsy, hearing loss and glaucoma.

Living Conditions

The Harlequin Pinscher is good for apartment life. It is very active indoors and will do okay without a yard. This little dog should be protected from the cold.


Harlequin Pinschers need a daily walk. Play will take care of a lot of their exercise needs, however, as with all breeds, play will not fulfill their primal instinct to walk. Dogs that do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display behavior problems. They will also enjoy a good romp in a safe, open area off lead, such as a large, fenced-in yard. Make sure any yard in which they can run loose has a fence high enough to prevent their determined efforts to escape and explore.

Life Expectancy

About 15 or more years

Litter Size

About 2 to 6 puppies


The Harlequin Pinscher's smooth, shorthaired, hard coat is easy to groom. Comb and brush with a firm bristle brush, and shampoo only when necessary. You can remove loose hair by wiping the coat with a warm, damp cloth. This breed is an average shedder.


The Harlequin Pinscher was created in Germany in the late 18th century by crossing the Miniature Pinscher with various other small terrier breeds such as the Rat Terrier and the Toy Fox Terrier. After World War II the breed was almost extinct, but a group of breed fanciers are working hard at establishing this rare breed as a registered purebred.

  • ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
  • DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
A colorful black, gray and tan dog with large perk ears, big round brown eyes and a small cropped tail standing inside of a living room wearing a collar with a big gold dog tag hanging from it.

French the Harlequin Min Pin at 1 year old