Harlequin Pinscher Breed Standard



Harlequin Pinscher Breed Standard for the American Canine Registry (*USA)
Approved 11/4/2007  -  Revised 2009 - updated 2017

Other Names: Merle Miniature Pinscher
Merle/Piebald Miniature Pinscher
Piebald Miniature Pinscher
Brindle Miniature Pinscher
Fancy Min-Pin  

Height:  Toy variety - 6-12 inches   Miniature Variety - 13-18 inches     Standard Variety - 19-24 inches 
Group: Terrier 
Weight: Toy  4-12 pounds          Miniature 13-18 pounds          Standard 19-26 pounds 
Coat: Short, Flat, Smooth, And Tight To The Body 
Colors:  Black, Brown, Blue or Fawn with Tan, Rust or Crème points (*ie Black/Tan)
Red, Blue-Fawn or Tan (*solid no points)
Patterns:  Solid, Bi, Tri, Tuxedo, MERLE, Merle/Piebald or Piebald pattern.   Brindle pattern (*added in 2009)
Combination patterns acceptable.
Additional Tweed pattern possible in association with Merle pattern.

Appearance:  Deer like in appearance being smooth-coated, alert, spirited and structurally well balanced, company and square bodied to slightly leggy.
Movement:  Quick, yet well balanced & graceful.

Temperament:  Loyal, and willing to please.  Happy.  Ready to defend family if necessary but eager to make friends.

Uses:  Companion - Ratting & Hunting


Skull:  Elongated, and broad.  Appears flat and tapers forward toward the muzzle. 
Eyes:  Dark, Blue or Green/Gold, bi is acceptable. 
Ears: Cropped, Not cropped, tipped or natural erect.  If cropped must be cropped in proportion to head at 12-16 weeks of age. 
Muzzle: Medium and tapering to an unexaggerated point. 
Nose: Black on Black and Red base coated dogs.  Red dogs may also have self colored brown nose.  Brown on Brown and Fawn.  Blue on Blue.  Blue on Blue/Fawn.  Brown on Tan (*added 2009)
Bite: Scissor 
Teeth:  Clean, of correct number, shape and position. 
Neck: Broad at shoulders, slightly arched. 

Topline: Level or slightly slopping toward the hind quarters. 
Chest: Very deep, slightly barrel shaped, well formed with no exaggeration. 
Body: Well muscled, square in form measuring within 1 inch of height from ground to point of wither as from bend of neck to bend of tail.. 
Legs: Perfectly straight forelegs.  Length being justifiable to length of body to give a square visual appearance.   

Toy: 4-10 inches from ground to point of elbow.  4-12 inches from ground to point of wither. 
Miniature:  11-16 inches from ground to point of elbow.  13-18 inches from ground to point of wither. 
Standard:  17-24 inches from ground to point of elbow.  19-26 inches from ground to point of wither. 

Hind legs are angulated. 

Feet: Compact, arched toes, dewclaws removed on both front and back feet. 

Tail: Docked to be 1 to 2 inches long at maturity, set high.   Undocked tails are acceptable but not preferred and will be placed below same quality dog with properly docked tail in class.  Natural Bobtail is acceptable.  

Proportional Appearance: 
Body: Perfect being 1 pound of body weight per inch of dog in height. 
Ears cut in proportion to head. 
Skull width and nose length in correct proportion for an overall gathered appearance. 
Gait: Deer like 
Any deviation from the breed standard such as but not limited to height/weight ratio, tail length, dewclaws, improper chest formation, unsocial, overly shy, timid.  Dirty teeth heavily penalized.

Not within height standard. 
Not within weight standard. 
Exaggerated difference in height/weight ratio. 
Coat being anything other than short, flat, smooth and tight to body. 
Any color, pattern or markings not listed in breed standard. 
Ears not of same set.  Ears that are not cut in proportion to head - Too short or too long. 
Any over-exaggeration of confirmation as stated by breed standard. 
Dewclaws on any legs. 
Bad Teeth, improperly aligned teeth. 
Tail docked to short.
Bad Temperament, Aggression, Inability to be controlled by owner/handler.  Dogs deemed by Judge or Show Personnel to have such temperaments MUST be removed immediately from the premises. 
Late to or missing pre-inspection, late to or missing registration, late to or missing call of any kind without PRIOR authorization by the Show Director. 


Judges decisions are final and will not be discussed.   A copy of Your score cards will be available to you and can be requested from ACR by fax or email a week after the show.
Judge has the sole discretion to drop placement if he feels there is not an adequate representative of the breed(s) in the class to justify award placement.

Dogs will be judged in a class group and individually.  Scores are accumulated from both for final scoring.  Class Groups may be broken down to Breed Group if deemed necessary by the number of entries present.

Class Group top scorers of 1, 2 and 3 are awarded 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes.  1st place dog in each class goes on to the Superior Dog Class for "Show Awards".  

All dogs are awarded their accumulated scores toward championship title points if the scores are of acceptable total and afforded according to ACR Show Rules/Policies/Standards.  Dogs advancing to advanced classes on same show day will receive ALL of their accumulated points.

Any dog without PRIOR authorization by the Show Director missing or late to their pre-inspection, registration, class call, individual call or award ceremony will be disqualified. 


Only those dogs verified by a Judge, Show Personnel, HPA/ACR representative or licensed veterinarian will be given Size classification as Toy, Miniature or Standard.   All others will be registered as broad category of "Harlequin Pinscher".

Category:  Terrier - Harlequin Pinscher         Date: _________
Dogs Name: _____________________________________

Reg # __________________________________________

Microchip Number: ______________________   DNA: _____

Show: ____________________________________________

Judge(s): __________________________________________
Coat: (*Score 1-5) - Comment goes here if Judge so chooses:
Head/Teeth/Neck (1-10)
  Class Score

42.5 req'd to advance

Torso (1-10)
Legs/Feet (1-5)
Tail/Weight/Height (1-10)
Movement/Overall Appearance (1-7.5)
Temperament (1-2.5)
Total Points:  _________  Advanced: ______   Awarded: _____

42.5+ points in each class for a combined score of 85+ is required to advance points for accumulation toward titles.


All dogs are REQUIRED to be micro chipped PRIOR to submission for registration and microchip number submitted with application for registration. 
All dogs will be DNA swabed at every show for future identification if needed.  HPA/ACR may also request DNA swabs and any person refusing or ignoring request for submission will be denied future 
registration privileges and current dogs owned will be elevated to suspended registrations. 
ALL Males being used for breeding are required to be DNA profiled.
ALL Females whelping 3 litters or more are required to be DNA profiled.
​ALL HPA Breeding Dogs are required to be tested and CLEAR of MPS VI, PLL and Cystinuria.
Registration fees are $25.00 per dog.  $25.00 per litter. 
ALL dogs used must be either ACR or HPA registered.
Any dog submitted for registration MUST have a minimum 3 generation pedigree submitted with application for registration or it will be denied registration.  NO EXCEPTIONS!  Pedigrees MUST be from an established Pedigree Service/Registry recognized by ACR.  
There are NO Membership fees and there are no members of HPA/ACR.  Registers are granted registration privileges only

The HPA is setting the standard for SUPER HIGHWAY BREEDERS.
​The HPA breeders are laying the dirt work for a Sound Foundation of Harlequin Pinschers.



History of the Harlequin Pinscher
By:  Nancy Anderson 

Nancy Anderson - Run-N-Ridge Kennel is the founding breeder of the Harlequin Pinscher.
All rights reserved by copyright law

ONLY current HPA breeders have been given the right to use ANY information from this page with accredited Author recognition.

ALL others using info from this page have committed copyright infringement or plagiarism.

Be careful who you consider buying from!

      The Harlequin Pinscher is one of the original patterns that the Germans had, bred and registered as Miniature Pinschers.  As it goes with most clubs when somebody gets in the position of authority and power and decides they don't like something they change it irregardless of what the eventual outcome will be and the same holds true for the Merle Miniature Pinscher known as the Harlequin Pinscher. 

Let's start at the beginning however and work our way to present day so you will get a complete history on the Harlequin Pinscher, it's life, it's diversity, it's conflicts, it's downfalls and it's long awaited revival.  Of course the Harlequin Miniature Pinscher history will run hand in hand with that of the Miniature Pinscher.

The Harlequin Pinschers native land and place of origin is Germany.  The first German documentation  for the Miniature Pinscher was established in 1880.  The first Breed Standard was established in 1895 by the Germany Pinscher Klub now called the Pinscher-Schnauzer Klub.  The colors listed were Red/Yellow, Gray-Yellow, blue/tan, Black, Gray like iron or Silver Gray, either one color or with yellow-brow or light red marking at the eyes, muzzle and legs.  Of one color, blond, or dirty gray-white or white with black spots.   In my personal opinion of the standard I see this as being, Chocolate/Tan being the Red/Yellow with marking.  Gray-yellow would be Fawn/Tan.  Black is self explanatory, Gray like iron or Silver Gray would most likely be the Blue version.  The blond would be Red, Dirty Gray-White would most likely be Merle/Harlequin and my guess is that the white with black spots was the Double Merle version of the Harlequin or it could be possible that it was actually Piebald in the breed as well.

The Harlequin Pinscher was the merle, merle/piebald, piebald variety of the Miniature Pinscher that first appeared during the late 1800s.  It's true origin is unknown as at that time the merle coloring did not occur in any terrier breeds thus making the Merle Pinscher and later known as the Harlequin Pinscher the first Terrier breed to come in the Merle pattern. It is thought that small sized Pinschers were probably crossed to either some breed of merle hound or merle herding dog resulting in the merle Miniature Pinscher.  The true origin however is unknown, as I previously stated, as little to no documentation was kept on the development of the breed and will assuredly remain that way.  Just as the merle coloring was a variation from the normal Miniature Pinscher so was their temperament as they are more laid back and are not as suitable for use as Ratters as are the other variety of Miniature Pinscher.

In the 1920's the Harlequin version of the Miniature Pinscher became part of a controversial subject in the German Miniature Pinscher Breed Club and was unfortunately removed from the German Breed Standard and was forced to start their own breed which became known as "Harlequin Pinscher".
The Original Harlequin Pinscher breed standard established in 1923 called for it to be 12-14 inches tall being 22-26 pounds in weight.  The color variations were Harlequin on a white, gray or black background having a black or self-colored nose according to coat.

The early breeders of the Harlequin Pinscher however were unaware of the genetic makeup of the Harlequins and the  gorgeous but semi-fatal status of the Merle gene.  Over a period of years the dogs became decreasing in number due to hereditary defects.  

The American Kennel Club allowed the first registration of a Miniature Pinscher on March 31, 1925 which was an imported one from Germany and was listed as being "black, red, brown".

The Miniature Pinscher Club of America, Inc., was formed in 1929 and became the AKC Breed Club for the Miniature Pinscher.  Prior to the formation of the MPCA the Miniature Pinscher was shown in the Miscellaneous class but was changed to the Toy Class.  

The Harlequin description as far as I can find was ALWAYS a breed pattern FAULT in the AKC Breed Standard and then changed to a disqualification in later years.   Prior to them being a Disqualification they were allowed to be shown, only faulted in points.  This in no way meant however that AKC would still not recognize them and register them as "harlequin patterned" Miniature Pinscher. 

The August 1935 AKC Breed Standard allowed Blues, Brown, Yellow, Red and Black and that standard was still in effect up to 1950.  The size was 11.5 inches being 6-10 pounds in weight.  Light color or white, very dark or sooty spots, - in listed markings were considered faults.  The tail was to be 1 to 2 inches in length cropped.

A foursome of Harlequin Pinschers was shown at Crufts in 1938.

One breeder in the United States was known to of bred Harlequin Reh Pinschers in the "Black & White" variety as late as 1940.  

It has been said that there were Harlequin or spotted variety and some Brindles still being bred in or around Karlsbad, Austria, Hannover in North Germany and in Wurttemberg in South Germany as late as the 1950's.

The Blues and fawns became a MPCA FAULT of the breed standard for AKC on February 11, 1950 as they were said to be of poor coat quality and with health issues when the AKC approved the breed standard revisal submitted by the MPCA.   This in no way meant however that AKC would still not recognize them and register them as their actual color as a Miniature Pinscher and even to be shown.  It simply meant they were no longer allowed the privilege of being able to be shown in the sanctioned AKC dog shows without being given Fault Reduction in points.  In 1950 the breed standard called for them to be 10-12.5 inches tall being 6 to 10 pounds in size.  The tail standard was to be docked 1/2 to 1 inch in length.

The AKC approved a revised Breed Standard on May 13, 1958 for the Miniature Pinscher which included only Black, Red and Brown as approved colors by the standard.  Other colors at that time were still listed as FAULTS.  The weight requirements in that revision were removed and it again became only 10-12.5 inches in height with no weight qualifications.   The tail was to be 1/2 to 1 inch in length docked.

The last known Miniature Pinscher registered with the AKC with the Merle pattern is  ???????.

The July 8, 1980 revised Breed Standard for AKC make ALL other colors other than Solid clear red, Stag red, Black/Rust-red, and Chocolate/Rust-red disqualifications.  The tail was to be docked in proportion to the body.  Height was 10-12.5 inches with no weight classification.

American Canine Registry accepted into it's sister registry, American Pedigree Registry, the first documentation to the re-development of the Merle Miniature Pinscher for pedigree documentation only in 2004.  The requirement was that a one time cross could be achieved with a Merle Rat Terrier of superior quality and health and the Merle offspring from that cross was to continue the development by being bred only to Miniature Pinschers and upon 7th generation they would be accepted as purebred Merle Miniature Pinschers with documented lineage.  Many years before 2004 a trio of elderly ladies had already done the Merle Rat Terrier and Miniature Pinscher cross and had already established several generations of Merle Miniature Pinschers that became later classified as F-series (*i.e. F1, F2, F3, F4, F5, F6) Miniature Pinschers in the Merle pattern.  Nancy Anderson was able to trace these dogs lineage back with enough documentation to get them accepted into the foundation lineage and go from that point forward to where we are today with not only MERLE Miniature Pinschers but Harlequin Pinschers in Merle, Brindle, Piebald, Brindle/Merle, Brindle/Piebald, Merle/Piebald and Merle/Brindle/Piebald as well.  Nancy Anderson not being one to stop once one goal is achieved decided to take the next step and petition ACR for a Harlequin Pinscher breed classification.  Due to the limited number of Harlequin Pinschers and the sure re-extinction of the breed associated with the Merle pattern however she was denied the request.  In 2007, Nancy Anderson had worked out what she felt were the objections for the refusal to re-establish the Harlequin Pinscher breed classification and once again petitioned ACR for breed designation approval with the organization of a Harlequin Pinscher Breed Club which would document more of the one time Merle Rat Terrier - Miniature Pinscher crosses and begin a program of documentation for the F-series hybrids.  After much debate and reorganization on both parties a YEA Vote was achieved and the Harlequin Pinscher Association, now known as the HPA was officially formed on October 19, 2007 with the FIRST Harlequin Pinscher officially being registered as "Run-N-Ridges Ole Time Revival N Mayhem" which had already achieved his Grand Championship status earlier in the year as a Merle Miniature Pinscher establishing his Superior Quality for being an excellent representative of the breed in which to continue the production of the Harlequin Pinscher.  The first F1 dam being credited for the beginning of the revival of the Merle Miniature Pinscher or Harlequin Pinscher was appropriately called and registered as "Allie Oops" being a Chocolate/Tan Merle with the registration number of 488-591-0104-F1.
The Brindle Patterned Harlequin Pinscher did not receive recognition until 2 years later in 2009.

The HPA will accept for lineage documentation and registration "FOUNDATION" stock for the advancement of purebred Merle, Brindle and Piebald Miniature Pinschers known as Harlequin Pinschers.  The HPA allows a documented one time cross with a Merle or Brindle Rat Terrier of superior quality and health to be used with a purebred/documented Miniature Pinscher to produce Merle or Brindle offspring which is to be known/documented as F1 Harlequin Pinschers.   Each succeeding MERLE generation becomes F2, F3, F4, F5, F6 and an F7 becomes what is known as a purebred Harlequin Pinscher.  The HPA rules are VERY STRICT and are to be abided by and WILL BE UPHELD WITHOUT EXCEPTION whereas ONLY 1 PARENT may be Merle and ONLY 1 PARENT may be of the F-hybrid Merle variety with the subsequent parent being that of a Purebred Miniature Pinscher of the NON-Merle pattern.  It is important to keep in mind that with this program ALL offspring of Non-Pattern status is lost to the program and is considered a cross-bred animal.  Only those who are genuinely interested in the revival of the Merle Miniature Pinscher or Harlequin Pinscher should take on the endeavor as it is without doubt a very costly and time consuming one. 
THE FOUNDATION STOCK Registry was discontinued January 1, 2017.
ACR will be the parent club for HPA with HPA being the Harlequin Pinscher Breed Club for ACR. 
​ ACR will be responsible for the distribution of Registration papers.

On January 1, 2017 policies were established to preserve the Harlequin Pinscher breed from irresponsible breeding.
The HPA began requiring:
​ DNA profiling of all males used for breeding.  

DNA profiling of Dams having 3 or more litters. (*Dam are now required to be DNA'd as well)
​CLEAR test results for MPS VI, PLL and Cystinuria.

A Merle x Merle breeding is considered unethical.    Litters from Merle x Merle breeding are not eligible for registration.
​Breeders found to be breeding Merle x Merle will be banned from the HPA and ACR.