Miniature Schnauzers are small dogs characterized by their wiry, double coat and whiskers. They come in black and silver, salt and pepper, and solid black. Their outer coat is hard and wiry, while their undercoat is soft and close. These dogs have small, dark eyes, rectangular heads, and strong muzzles. Miniature Schnauzers measure 12 to 14 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 11 to 20 pounds.
The breed's protective nature and loud voice make it a very effective watchdog, but generally, these dogs are friendly and companionable.
Miniature Schnauzers are a smart, active, and cheerful breed. They are also highly adaptable and do well in city apartments or in rural areas. The breed's protective nature and loud voice make it a very effective watchdog, but generally, these dogs are friendly and companionable. They get along decently with other pets and very well with children.
All Schnauzers get their name from a single dog that was named Schnauzer. This dog was exhibited around 1879. The name stuck because the word schnauzer means "walrus mustache" in German.
Miniature Schnauzers are friendly, intelligent, and playful dogs that love attention. In fact, the more attention they get, the better they tend to behave. If they feel ignored or neglected, they may begin acting out. These dogs get along well with other dogs, but they may chase small animals, including hamsters, small birds, and even kittens. They also get along well with children.
The breed is very energetic and needs lots of exercise. Without regular walks and playtime outdoors, Miniature Schnauzers will go stir crazy and become destructive. These dogs have a fearless streak and they often try to boss around larger dogs. For this reason, they should always be supervised when around unfamiliar or aggressive dogs. This breed is not generally aggressive or timid.
This is not a breed that can be left along for long periods. Active and lively, Miniature Schnauzers are known for their larger than life personalities. They crave attention and love to participate in any and every activity with their human family members, whether it's watching TV, going for a hike, or washing the car.
Miniature Schnauzers are genetically predisposed to a number of diseases that can reduce length or quality of life. Many of these diseases are manageable, and routine veterinary checks are important. The breed is known to be affected by follicular dermatitis, esophageal achalasia, diabetes, and Legg-Calve-Perthes, and a canine version of muscular dystrophy is also seen in Miniature Schnauzers. Additionally, these dogs are at increased risk for osteochondrosis and urolithiasis, a condition that causes urinary stones to form, and for numerous heart conditions, such as mitral valve disease, sick sinus syndrome, and pulmonic stenosis.
A number of eye conditions are more common in Miniature Schnauzers than in some other breeds, including cataracts, entropion, and progressive retinal atrophy, which is an inherited condition that leads to blindness in both eyes. Congenital megaesophagus, which affects the function of the esophagus and causes regurgitation and sometimes aspiration pneumonia, is also seen in this breed, and comedone syndrome is so common in these dogs that it is often referred to as Schnauzer bumps. Also, the blood clotting disorders von Willebrand's disease and Factor VII deficiency are other concerns.
With routine veterinary care, timely vaccinations, a healthy diet, and daily exercise, Miniature Schnauzers can live a full life of up to 14 years.
Although Miniature Schnauzers are highly spirited, they are obedient to command and easy to train. They are eager to please and respond very well to positive reinforcement techniques, especially praise and play rewards. Training should focus on teaching these dogs manners and on preventing overly territorial behavior and excessive barking.
Unfortunately, these dogs are hard-wired to hunt small animals, and no amount of training will make them safe around gerbils and other rodents. Even if the Miniature Schnauzer appears tolerant of a small animal in the house, it is important that all interactions be fully supervised.
Early socialization will help ensure these dogs grow into friendly and accepting adults. Puppies should be introduced to a variety of sights, sounds, and smells starting very early in life, and socialization should continue through adulthood with visits to neighbors and to the dog park.
Miniature Schnauzers shed very little, but they must be brushed regularly to avoid mats and tangles. A good combing or brushing every three days is usually sufficient to manage the coat. Trimming their beards is also important, and these dogs must be scissored and shaped every other month. Show dogs should be hand stripped; this is best done by a professional groomer or experienced owner.
Bathing is only necessary should the Miniature Schnauzer become dirty, sticky, or stinky. A gentle, pH-balanced canine shampoo will clean the coat without drying out the skin. Thorough rinsing is essential. Coat conditioners may cause softening of the coat and should be avoided.
The nails need trimming every couple of weeks to prevent snagging, and the ears should be checked at least weekly for signs of infection or excess wax accumulation. Like other small dogs, the Miniature Schnauzer is at increased risk for periodontal disease and other dental problems. It is crucial to brush the teeth regularly with a canine toothpaste and to use dental treats and drinking water additives between brushings. Regular dental checkups can detect problems early to improve treatment success.
Miniature Schnauzers were derived from Standard Schnauzers and hail from Germany, where they were considered a distinct breed as far back as 1899. These dogs were bred to keep away rats and other vermin and worked primarily on farms.
The Miniature Schnauzer's image, or at least a dog closely resembling the breed, can be seen in German paintings dating back to the 15th century. The breed was developed from crossing Standard Schnauzers with Affenpinschers. Other breeds, such as the poodle, may also have been used.
Miniature Schnauzers came to America long after the other Schnauzers and were not bred in the United States until 1925. In the years following World War II, the Miniature surpassed the Standard and Giant Schnauzers in popularity, eventually becoming the third-most popular breed in America at one point. Today, these dogs are kept primarily as companion animals, but they are also popular in the show ring.
The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Miniature Schnauzer in 1926.