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Choosing a Schnauzer

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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For many people, the schnauzer is considered the perfect family pet. Available in three different sizes, the schnauzer is a tough and hardy companion as well as protector. With their classic beard and long eyebrows, this breed is easily recognizable all over the world.

History and Origin

The schnauzer hails from Germany and is divided into the miniature schnauzer, standard schnauzer and giant schnauzer. Of the three sizes of schnauzer, the standard is considered the prototype and is the oldest. Even though these schnauzers may appear similar, they are all considered separate breeds.

All schnauzers are thought to have developed in the kingdoms of Wurttemberg and Bavaria, and the standard schnauzer has been around since at least 1492. Paintings of that era depict the schnauzer as a household companion. The dog was not only part of the family but was also used to chase rats and guard produce carts in the marketplace.

The giant schnauzer was developed by crossbreeding with larger breeds, such as the Great Dane. The purpose was to produce a larger dog with the schnauzer's love of the family and guarding instincts to drive cattle. Some feel that the giant schnauzer is related to the Bouvier des Flandres.

The miniature schnauzer is the newest breed and was developed as a companion and pet. It is felt that the mini was developed by crossing the standard schnauzer with affenpinschers and poodles.

Prior to 1910, the schnauzer was not known outside of Germany. After World War I, the breed became popular throughout the world. During the war, the giant schnauzer was used in policing and as a messenger.

Today, the giant schnauzer is used in some parts of the world as a police and guard dog. The standard and miniature schnauzers are beloved family pets. Both the giant and standard schnauzers belong to the working group of the American Kennel Club. The miniature schnauzer is listed as a terrier.

Appearance and Size

The schnauzer is a compact sturdy dog. All sizes have a stiff wiry hair coat with arched bristling eyebrows, whiskers and a beard. The most common coat color is salt and pepper but black is also available. In Germany, black is the more common color.

Most schnauzers in Germany have cropped ears but in the United States, cropped and uncropped are seen. Uncropped ears sit high on the head and fold forward.

The miniature schnauzer stands 12 to 14 inches at the shoulder and weighs 13 to 15 pounds. The standard schnauzer stands 17 to 19 inches at the shoulder and weighs around 33 pounds. The giant schnauzer stands 25 to 28 inches at the shoulder and weighs around 70 to 75 pounds.

Personality

All schnauzers are intelligent and reliable dogs. They are very protective of their family and make good watchdogs. The giant schnauzer is an imposing dog but friendly and loving to people he knows.

Home and Family Relations

The schnauzer is a wonderful family pet and is quite tolerant of children. They are often wary of strangers and will protect their family by alerting their owners of the presence of intruders.

Training

Schnauzers tend to be independent dogs and do not tolerate harsh training or reprimand. They are easy to train, as long as positive reinforcement techniques are used. The giant schnauzer is often trained as a guard and watchdog.

Special Concerns

Schnauzers are intelligent dogs and become bored easily. For the standard and giant, if left alone for extended periods of time, destructive behavior may develop. The miniatures seem to tolerate time alone.

The giant schnauzer may become aggressive if not properly socialized early in life.

In order to keep their coat clean and tangle free, frequent grooming and clipping is necessary. Trips to the groomer are also necessary to maintain the classic schnauzer facial appearance.

Common Diseases and Disorders

Schnauzers may acquire or be born with a variety of conditions. The conditions vary depending on the individual type of schnauzer. For more information on possible diseases and conditions, go to the following articles:

  • Miniature Schnauzer

  • Standard Schnauzer

  • Giant Schnauzer

    Life Span

    The average life span of the standard and miniature schnauzer is 14 to 16 years. The giant schnauzer can live 10 to 12 years.


    We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.


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