Despite the breed's name, Giant Schnauzers aren't giant; they are simply larger than Standard Schnauzers. These dogs have a dense, wiry, weather-resistant coat with a harsh outer coat and soft undercoat. The breed's coat, distinctive beard, and eyebrows come in solid black or salt and pepper. When uncropped, the ears are V-shaped and set high on the head, and the eyes are dark, oval, medium sized, and deep-set. Giant Schnauzers measure 23.5 to 27.5 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 65 to 90 pounds.
To prevent boredom and destructive behaviors, these dogs should be exercise regularly and given tasks to do. They also benefit from puzzle toys and plenty of human interaction.
Giant Schnauzers are active and spirited dogs that love their human families and are very protective of them. The breed is even-tempered and intelligent, and they get along with just about everyone. These dogs need a lot of exercise, however, and might not be a good choice for very busy or sedentary families.
These dogs are known for their messiness. Giant Schnauzers generally end up with half the contents of their food bowl in their beards after meals, and they seem to enjoy shaking their wet or dirty coats to spray walls, furniture, floors, and family.
A playful, intelligent, and fun breed, Giant Schnauzers make good companions for families with older children. They get along well with other dogs, but they may be too rambunctious and boisterous for small children. They do best in homes with yards and with families who enjoy participating in active adventures.
Giant Schnauzers need a lot of exercise. Daily walks, combined with frequent playtime and free time in an enclosed yard, should keep these dogs healthy and happy. This breed also enjoys having a task to do. Without physical and mental stimulation, Giant Schnauzers will become restless, depressed, or destructive.
These dogs need a lot of attention. They thrive in homes with other playful dogs and when their human families devote time to them every day. Ideally, they should spend most of their time indoors, cuddling and playing with their family. They are very loyal and make excellent watchdogs.
Giant Schnauzers are known to suffer from a variety of health conditions that can negatively affect quality or length of life. Congenital hip dysplasia, OCD, gastric torsion, and certain eye conditions, including progressive retinal atrophy, are more common in this breed than in some others. Another serious condition known to affect Giant Schnauzers is vitamin B-12 (cobalamin) malabsorption. This condition can lead to chronic anemia.
Autoimmune thyroiditis, the most common cause of hypothyroidism in dogs, is also a concern. This condition generally develops during middle age and causes hair loss, skin changes, weight gain, cold intolerance, and lethargy. Treatment is available to help manage the disease.
With routine veterinary care, timely canine vaccinations, proper nutrition, regular exercise, and attention to dental health, Giant Schnauzers generally live 12 years or longer.
Giant Schnauzers are loyal, watchful, composed, and easily trained, and they are never normally aggressive or shy. These dogs are very headstrong as puppies, and training must begin early in life to prevent problems later. If not taught otherwise, these dogs will consider themselves the ruler of their home and they will not develop respect for their human family members.
Socialization is important to ensure these dogs are able to develop healthy relationships with other animals and with people. Their hunting instincts are strong, however, and no amount of training can completely prevent this breed from chasing small animals when outside. For this reason, Giant Schnauzers should be kept on a leash when they are outside and not in a securely fenced yard.
Giant Schnauzers are very clever and learn quickly. This means they also bore easily. To prevent boredom and destructive behaviors, these dogs should be exercise regularly and given tasks to do. They also benefit from puzzle toys and plenty of human interaction.
Anyone desiring a low-maintenance breed should think twice before purchasing or adopting a Giant Schnauzer. These dogs require regular grooming, which includes frequent brushing and stripping, and they are prone to matting and other problems. Combing a few times each week and shaping the coat every few months will keep these dogs looking neat and feeling great. Shaping, which involves scissoring and hand-stripping, is best done by a professional groomer, but home clipping may be sufficient for pets. It's essential to make sure any groomer has experience working with the Giant Schnauzer breed before using his or her services. These dogs have very specific grooming needs.
Bathing is necessary before showing or when the Giant Schnauzer gets something sticky or toxic on the coat. It is also important to clean the beard and face regularly, as these dogs tend to collect food in their coat after eating.
The nails should be trimmed every few weeks, or as needed to prevent snagging. The teeth require regular brushing and routine dental examinations to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Additionally, these dogs benefit from regular ear cleaning to remove excessive wax and to check for signs of infection, such as odor, discharge, pain, or redness.
The Giant Schnauzer breed was developed in the Wurttenberg and Bavaria areas of Germany to work as farm dogs. They helped shepherds drive livestock to market and also functioned as guard dogs for breweries and butchers. The breed's trainability and intelligence was recognized during World War I, and the dogs became increasingly popular as police dogs. Although they excelled in their new role, they have not been widely used as police dogs outside of Germany.
The breed was likely developed from crossing Standard Schnauzers with larger sheepdogs and Great Danes. These crossings produced a larger and more powerful version of the Standard Schnauzers, without sacrificing the positive personality traits common in the Schnauzer breeds.
In recent years, Giant Schnauzers have been very popular companion animals. They still find work helping police or working as herding dogs in Europe, but they are primarily kept as pets in the United States.
The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Giant Schnauzer in 1930.