Three separate Schnauzer breeds exist in the world today: the Giant Schnauzer, the Standard Schnauzer and the Miniature Schnauzer. Of the three, the miniature version is the most popular.
These bold little dogs originated in Germany. Small dogs were always useful on farms to kill vermin, so the Miniature Schnauzer was developed from the Standard Schnauzer by carefully crossing them with smaller breeds, possibly the Affenpinscher and the Poodle. The Miniature Schnauzer has been regarded as a separate breed since the late 1800′s.
Today’s Miniature Schnauzers are still very good ratters, but their main role is as a companion dog. They were recognized by the AKC in 1926.
The Miniature Schnauzer has a pretty face, which is usually clipped into their characteristic bushy moustache, beard and long eyebrows. Their outer coat is coarse and wiry, and it covers a soft dense undercoat. They are available in only three colors: salt and pepper, silver and black, and solid black. Some countries accept white Miniature Schnauzers but this coat color isn’t acceptable in the show ring in the United States.
Their ears may be cropped in those countries where it is allowed, but if not, they are small and triangular, and folded close to their head. Similarly, where it is legal, the Miniature Schnauzer’s tail is docked.
They are not a big dog, growing to only 14 inches, or 36 cm. They are also not a heavyweight with adult male dogs not weighing more than 15lbs (7kg).
The Miniature Schnauzer tends to be mostly bark with no bite. They are reserved with people they don’t know, and are quite protective of their loved ones; they will tell you when strangers are about. However, they are not aggressive, and when they get to know someone, they will welcome them with open paws.
They are docile and affectionate little dogs, with lots of energy. This makes them an ideal dog for children, as they love a game, and will play for hours. Because they were bred to hunt rats and other vermin, they have a very strong prey drive. They may not be the ideal breed for you if you own other small pets.
These dogs are very clever, and learn quickly. They excel at obedience and agility competitions, and it won’t take long for them to learn the rules of your house.
The Miniature Schnauzer is a sturdy, sound dog, with only a few health issues to keep an eye out for.
Hip dysplasia can occur in this breed, but the chances of buying a pup with this problem can be reduced by carefully researching different breeders and their dogs. Potential parents should have their hips x-rayed and only those with low hip scores should be bred.
Miniature Schnauzers are one of around 20 breeds of dog that suffer from juvenile kidney disease. This is a hereditary illness that causes kidney failure, and is often fatal. The only way to eliminate this disease from a breed is to carefully select breeding stock to prevent passing it on to their offspring.
Von Willebrand’s Disease is another hereditary disorder in the Miniature Schnauzer. Dogs with this disease have problems with blood clotting. They can have bleeding in their urine or feces, or little hemorrhages in their skin or on the whites of their eyes. In most cases, affected dogs cope well with it on a daily basis, but they do need a transfusion of blood before any elective surgery to prevent serious bleeding.
Schnauzer skin may be affected by a condition known as Schnauzer Comedone Syndrome. This is thought to be hereditary, and results in the formation of blackheads – little plugs of keratin that block up the hair follicles. Blackheads appear mostly on a dog’s back, and in many cases, they just look unsightly. However, if they become infected they form little pustules, and are very itchy. Treatment can be ongoing – the hair over the affected area should be clipped, and medicated shampoos are used to clear out the hair follicles. If infection is present, antibiotics will be needed.
Most Miniature Schnauzer owners love their dog’s eyebrows and whiskers, but they need regular trims to keep them looking good. Factor this into your dog care budget if you decide to buy one of these dogs. Also, their long facial hair can get in the way at dinner time, so they usually need their face washed after they have finished eating.
Pet Miniature Schnauzers are easier to care for if their coat is clipped short, and this can be done twice yearly. Show dogs should have their coats hand stripped. This can be done by a professional groomer, or you can learn to do it yourself.
These dogs are very energetic, and need a moderate amount of exercise. If they don’t get enough activity, they will turn their clever mind to making their own entertainment. This may not make them popular with their owners.
This is an excellent choice of dog for many people. They are active enough to accompany their owner on a jog or walk every day, yet are also happy enough to cuddle up calmly with them at the end of the day. Because they love a game, they are well suited to families with children. They don’t shed much and if their coat is kept trimmed, they may be an appropriate choice for those with allergies.
The Miniature Schnauzer is equally happy in an apartment as in a home with a back yard, providing they have their exercise needs met.
If you choose a Miniature Schnauzer to share your home and life, your whiskered companion will be with you for up to 15 years.