The new star of the Westminster dog show, an obscure breed called an Affenpincher, has become an overnight success with dog lovers. But good luck trying to find one.
Just within the past 24 hours, Nancy Baybutt says that she has received 25 emails and nine phone calls asking her how they can purchase an Affenpincher just like Banana Joe, the toy dog who won the Westminster dog show Tuesday.
Banana Joe has become star of the uncommon breed, which hails from Germany. The Affenpinscher was not recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1936 and was unpopular after World War Two, because many people did not want German dogs, said Baybutt, the Affenpinscher Breeder Referral Chair.
However, the breed's popularity has risen and now spiked since Banana Joe's win, making it difficult for people to find. According to the Affenpinscher Club of America, which is recognized by the American Kennel Club, there are only 12 reputable Affenpinscher breeders, two of which currently have Affenpinscher puppies.
This is due to the breed's small litters and whelping issues. Most female Affenpinschers cannot deliver naturally and must have a Caesarian section. Once Affenpinschers are born, they are in a fragile state during their first two weeks of life, weighing only three to four ounces.
If you want an Affenpinscher, expect to wait a while. Baybutt says, "It's been my experience that a lot of people won't wait and right now I can tell you that there are eight Affenpinschers [currently being sold] in the whole country." Although you may find the breed online cheaper than what breeders are asking for, puppies not from the reputable breeders list are often from puppy mills, where the dogs are a much larger size and are less healthy, according to Baybutt.
"I'd say first to buy from a reputable breeder. They should try to meet the mother dog and father dog, because what you see is what you get. I wouldn't recommend buying over the Internet without seeing the dogs first," says Baybutt.
Sheila Wymore from Cornville, Ariz., is one of the two Affenpinscher breeders who currently has puppies. She says that since Banana Joe was visible at the Eukanuba Dog show, requests for the breed have gone up and although she currently has five of the eight Affenpinscher puppies in America, they were all sold in December.
Baybutt and Wymore say they have long waiting lists for people wanting an Affenpinscher puppy. According to Wymore, the puppies range in price from $2,000 for "pet puppies" to $3,500 for "show puppies."