Introduction to the Miniature Schnauzer

The Miniature Schnauzer is the smallest of the Schnauzer breeds and they are known for being very adaptable. They can easily live in an apartment or enjoy a small yard in the suburbs.

Miniature Schnauzers are considered to be intelligent, easy to train, and cheerful in temperament. They were developed in Germany in the 19th century for use as a ratter on farms. They were probably a cross between the larger Standard Schnauzer and breeds like Poodles and Affenpinschers.

Miniature Schnauzers have a double, wiry coat that doesn’t shed very much but it does require regular trimming. Tails are docked in the United States.

Miniature Schnauzers are often a good dog for people who have allergies to dogs.

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History of the Miniature Schnauzer

Small Schnauzer-type dogs are seen in German paintings as far back as the 15th century so they were not really a new breed when they were developed, but breeders in the 19th century were more precise about recording matings and keeping track of breeds than people had been previously. Starting in the 19th century there were stud books and kennel clubs to help people maintain breeds.

Miniature Schnauzers were developed from their larger relative, the Standard Schnauzer, in Germany in the mid to late 19th century. The Standard Schnauzer was used as a medium-sized farm dog for guarding property, ratting, and herding. In the middle ages Schnauzer-type dogs were even used for pulling carts. Farmers eventually decided they needed a smaller dog especially for ratting (hunting vermin) so they bred Standard Schnauzers with small Poodles and Affenpinschers to produce smaller dogs. Dogs known as Miniature Schnauzers were first recorded in 1888 and first seen at a dog show, separate from Standard Schnauzers, in 1899.

“Schnauzer” in German means “snout” or “muzzle” but it’s a colloquial term for the breed’s beard or “moustache.” The Schnauzer breeds are considered to be similar to terriers, though they do not have the temperament of the typical British terrier.

The breed was first recognized by the AKC in 1926, just two years after they were first brought to the United States. In the United States Miniature Schnauzers are classed in the Terrier Group, though they are classed in different groups in other countries. The modern Miniature Schnauzer is considered to begin with a dog named Ch. Dorem Display, the first Miniature Schnauzer to win Best In Show in the U.S. Born in 1945, he sired 42 champions, and lived to be nearly 14. Virtually all Miniature Schnauzers today trace back to him.

Today Miniature Schnauzers remain one of the most popular breeds in the U.S., ranked 16th in popularity by the AKC. They are the most popular of the three Schnauzer breeds.

Miniature Schnauzer Health-Related Issues

Health studies in the UK have found that the median lifespan of the Miniature Schnauzer is about 12 years and a few months. (One study found 12 years and 1 month; a later study found 12 years and 6 months.) The most common cause of death for Miniature Schnauzers was reported to be cancer. Estimates in the United States also suggest that Miniature Schnauzers live to be around 12 years of age, although some dogs have been reported to live longer than 15 years. Most people agree that this is a hardy breed.

Miniature Schnauzers can have problems related to high levels of fat such as pancreatitis and hyperlipidemia. Bladder stones, diabetes, and eye problems can also be found in the breed. Breeders often recommend a diet that is lower in fat for Miniature Schnauzers. Comedone syndrome is also fairly common in the breed. This condition is unsightly and produces pus-filled bumps on the dog’s back but it is not life-threatening. Some Miniature Schnauzers can also have Von Willebrand’s disease – an inherited bleeding disorder.

You can find more information about Miniature Schnauzer health issues on the parent breed club web site. If you are considering getting a Miniature Schnauzer, you should talk to the breeder about these health issues. Make sure you discuss health testing in puppies and adults. Ask questions about their contract and what health guarantees they provide. No one can guarantee that a dog will never get sick or develop a health problem, even from perfectly healthy parents, especially if the dog lives 12-14 years, but good breeders do health screening and educate buyers about health issues.

Miniature Schnauzer Temperament

Known for being friendly, obedient, and smart, Miniature Schnauzer are great homebodies. They love to be with their family and they enjoy children. They are sweet and affectionate dogs with their families. They make good watch dogs and guard dogs with some territorial instincts but they are more inclined to bark than bite. They should not be aggressive or timid, but somewhere in between. They normally like to avoid a fight if possible but they will defend themselves if necessary.

You can expect a Miniature Schnauzer to give a good alarm if a stranger approaches. They are normally reserved with people they don’t know until they see if they are welcome. They do need regular exercise. They are smart and inquisitive and they can find trouble if they don’t get some exercise. They are considered to be easy to train and they do well with a little obedience training. They are typically alert and spirited and like to have fun with the family. Miniature Schnauzers do have a high prey drive – they were bred to hunt rats and small animals – so you need to take extra care if you have small pets such as hamsters, birds, rabbits, or snakes. Even a cat may not be safe unless the cat is older and was in the house before the Miniature Schnauzer was introduced as a puppy. It often takes persistent training to teach your Miniature Schnauzer to leave cats alone.

As already mentioned, this is an adaptable breed that is able to live in the city or the country. They enjoy having a yard to explore if it’s available. They are intelligent, hardy, and usually healthy. This is also a very loyal and devoted breed. Many people who have a Miniature Schnauzer never want any other kind of dog.

Miniature Schnauzer Grooming

Miniature Schnauzers are typically look very handsome and distinguished with their beard and overhanging eyebrows. Their coat is wiry, they have leg “furnishings,” whiskers, and a somewhat stocky, rectangular build. Some dogs are more streamlined in appearance than others, but there is no mistaking the breed. Standard and Giant Schnauzers look similar but they are much larger. Their coat is a double coat which is hard and wiry on the outside with a soft undercoat to keep the body warm. They commonly come in black, black and silver, and salt and pepper. They are normally 12 to 14 inches tall and weigh 12 to 20 pounds. By comparison, the Standard Schnauzer is 19-20 inches tall at the withers and up to 44 pounds. The Giant Schnauzer is 23-28 inches tall and up to 110 pounds!

If you are interested in showing your Miniature Schnauzer at dog shows you should talk to your dog’s breeder so you can learn how to “hand strip” your dog’s coat. This involves using a stripping knife to pull out the dead hair in the coat. This doesn’t hurt your dog when you pull it. You are only pulling out dead hair. But the coat’s wiry texture means that it doesn’t shed much on its own. Hand stripping is time consuming but it maintains the proper coat texture and keeps the coat wiry.

Most pet owners don’t like to spend hours hand stripping their dog’s coat. Instead they choose to have their Miniature Schnauzer’s coat clipped by a professional groomer every 6-8 weeks. The coat will feel soft instead of wiry, but it will still look nice. You can also buy some good quality clippers and learn to clip your dog’s coat yourself. We recommend that you have someone experienced show you how to clip your dog. It takes a little practice but even if you make a mistake in your dog’s hair cut, hair grows back.

No matter how you groom your dog’s coat, it’s important to brush and comb your dog a couple of times per week, including his “furnishings” – the long hair on his legs, stomach, and face. You also need to trim his nails regularly and keep his ears clean. The Miniature Schnauzer’s ears can get very hairy and dirty if you don’t take care of them, which can lead to ear infections.

Obviously, the Miniature Schnauzer is not the easiest dog to care for in terms of grooming, but they are one of the handsomest and most striking when they are all spiffed up.

Miniature Schnauzers are one of the breeds that are often recommended for people with allergies to dogs. This is because they don’t shed very much. There really aren’t any hypoallergenic dogs and it’s not dog hair that causes allergic reactions. People react to a dog’s dander (skin cells) and their saliva. But dogs that shed less seem to have less dander floating around. If you are allergic to dogs it’s important for you to meet the individual dog and see if you have a reaction to it.

Miniature Schnauzer Fun Facts:

  • In some countries a white version of the Miniature Schnauzer is recognized but the AKC does not officially recognize this color. This is because white was not included in the original German standard and the color does not exist in the other Schnauzer breeds. The origins of the color are considered suspect. Dogs of this color are considered controversial.
  • Miniature Schnauzers are good at flyball, tracking, obedience, agility and other dog sports. They love to do things with their owners.
  • Miniature Schnauzers are one of the few breeds in the AKC’s Terrier Group that doesn’t originate in Great Britain. The AKC places the Standard Schnauzer and the Giant Schnauzer in the Working Group. The Kennel Club in Great Britain places the Miniature Schnauzer in the Utility Group, as does Australia. In Canada they are in the Working Group. The United Kennel Club in the United States also places Miniature Schnauzers in the Terrier Group.
  • There is officially no such thing as a toy Miniature Schnauzer or a teacup Miniature Schnauzer according to the American Miniature Schnauzer Club. If someone is breeding undersized Miniature Schnauzers, it’s not good for the dog’s health. Dogs of substandard size can be prone to health problems and a shorter lifespan. Don’t be fooled by marketing gimmicks.

Common Miniature Schnauzer Mixes:

Here are some Miniature Schnauzer mixes we found online:

  • Bowzer  – Basset Hound x Miniature Schnauzer
  • Carnauzer – Cairn Terrier x Miniature Schnauzer
  • Chizer – Miniature Schnauzer x Chihuahua
  • Chonzer  – Miniature Schnauzer x Bichon Frise
  • Crested Schnauzer – Chinese Crested x Miniature Schnauzer
  • King Schnauzer  – Cavalier King Charles Spaniel x Miniature Schnauzer
  • Mauzer  – Maltese x Miniature Schnauzer
  • Mini Ratzer – Miniature Schnauzer x Rat Terrier
  • Miniature Schnaupin – Miniature Pinscher x Miniature Schnauzer
  • Miniature Schnauzzi  – Australian Shepherd x Miniature Schnauzer
  • Miniature Schnoxie  – Miniature Schnauzer x Dachshund
  • Miniboz  – Miniature Schnauzer x Boston Terrier
  • Minnie Parson – Miniature Schnauzer x Parson Russell Terrier
  • MorkieSchoo  – Maltese x Yorkshire Terrier x Miniature Schnauzer x Poodle
  • Pom-A-Nauze  – Miniature Schnauzer x Pomeranian
  • Schapso  – Miniature Schnauzer x Lhasa Apso
  • Schnau-Tzu –  Shih Tzu x Miniature Schnauzer
  • Schnauffen  – Miniature Schnauzer x Affenpinscher
  • Schneagle  – Miniature Schnauzer x Beagle
  • Schnekingese – Miniature Schnauzer x Pekingese
  • Schnese  – Miniature Schnauzer x Havanese
  • Schnocker  – Cocker Spaniel x Miniature Schnauzer
  • Schnoodle  – Miniature Schnauzer x Poodle
  • Schnorgi  – Miniature Schnauzer x Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Schnu  – Shiba Inu x Miniature Schnauzer
  • Schpit  – Miniature Schnauzer x American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Shnug  – Pug x Miniature Schnauzer
  • Silkzer  – Silky Terrier x Miniature Schnauzer
  • Sniffon  – Brussels Griffon x Miniature Schnauzer
  • Snorkie  – Miniature Schnauzer x Yorkshire Terrier
  • Soft Coated Wheatzer  – Miniature Schnauzer x Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
  • Wauzer  – Miniature Schnauzer x West Highland White Terrier
  • Wowauzer – Miniature Schnauzer x Welsh Terrier

Miniature Schnauzer FAQs:

What is a Miniature Schnauzer’s Life Expectancy?

According to a 2004 health study conducted in the United Kingdom by the Kennel Club, the median age of death for Miniature Schnauzers was 12 years and 1 months. The most common cause of death was cancer. This study was followed up in 2012 with another study that included all three Schnauzer breeds. The median age of death for Miniature Schnauzers in this study was 12 years and 6 months. Cancer was still the leading cause of death. Estimates in the United States tally with these studies, putting the breed’s normal lifespan between 12-14 years.

Are Miniature Schnauzers easy to train?

Miniature Schnauzers are considered to be smart, alert, friendly dogs. Owners, breeders, trainers all report that they are usually easy to train. They are good at obedience, rally, agility, flyball, and other dog sports and they can usually learn anything you take time to teach them. They like pleasing people. Miniature Schnauzers are usually energetic, playful dogs and they have fun taking part in all of these activities. Lots of these dogs are motivated by treats but you should try to remember that this is a breed that can have weight problems. Try to use less fattening rewards whenever possible.

Do Miniature Schnauzers shed a lot of hair?

No, Miniature Schnauzers are known for not shedding much. They have a harsh, wiry coat that needs to be stripped or clipped to remove dead hair. They are often recommended as a good breed for people who have allergies to dogs. They actually do shed a little hair but probably not enough for you to notice.

Do Miniature Schnauzers make good apartment pets?

Yes, Miniature Schnauzers make very good apartment dogs. They are very adaptable. They require regular daily exercise but they can get this exercise with long walks and play in a park. They are small and they typically have good manners, especially with a little training. While they do make good watch dogs and will bark to give an alarm, they are not constant barkers. Nor are they aggressive dogs. Many people enjoy having a Miniature Schnauzer in an apartment.

Are Miniature Schnauzers good with Children?

Most Miniature Schnauzers are fond of children and enjoy spending time with them. This is a family-oriented breed and they have a good temperament for being around kids. They are also a good size for many children. They are not so small that they will be crushed if a child falls on them. They also make a good pet for a teen who wants a pet for comfort and companionship.

It’s always important to teach all children how to play gently with a dog so they don’t pull on tails and ears or do things to provoke a dog into biting. Thousands of children are bitten by dogs every year and most of those cases could be prevented with a little education.

Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta Cooper is a freelance writer and a long-time contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine, Dog News. She is the author of The Dog Adoption Bible, the Dog Writers Association of America Adoptashelter.com award-winner for 2013. Additionally, Carlotta is the author of Canine Cuisine: 101 Natural Dog Food & Treat Recipes to Make Your Dog Health and Happy, as well as other books about pets. She is a guest writer for numerous website and blogs and a frequent pet food reviewer.

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