The Schnauzer is a medium-size dog of German heritage whose popularity led to the development of two more breeds – the Miniature Schnauzer and the Giant Schnauzer.
Schnauzers have a double coat and distinctively long facial hair, giving it the appearance of a beard. Its coat is wiry and can become shaggy without frequent grooming. They are usually either salt-and-pepper or black in colour, and they shed very little.
Healthy male Schnauzers weigh around 16 – 23 kg and stand at 46 – 51 cm tall and females are usually 14 – 20 kg and stand at about 43 – 48 cm tall. The life expectancy of the Schnauzer is between 12 and 14 years.
Schnauzers have lots of energy and therefore require adequate amounts of exercise to keep them both mentally and physically satisfied. A long walk once a day should be sufficient as long as the dog has enough room at home to run around and play.
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Due to their genetic tendency towards hunting, alertness, focus and independence, Schnauzers make great service dogs.
Training and socialising should begin from the age of about 8 weeks in order to become a well-rounded and confident dog. Though they can be quite stubborn, Schnauzers possess above-average intelligence and need to be stimulated mentally as well as physically.
Schnauzers are very sturdy and patient dogs and therefore can make great companions for children of all ages. Schnauzers also get along quite well with other dogs and cats, but they should be kept away from small pets such as rats, mice and guinea pigs as they were bred originally to hunt rats. Schnauzers are not particularly fond of unknown dogs and may show aggression towards them.
Schnauzers are very loyal and affectionate towards their owners and can be territorial and protective. They will alert their humans to visitors with a bark, but once properly introduced will be very friendly to the new guest.
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Schnauzers are a very old breed of dog, and while their origin remains mostly unknown, it is believed that the breed came into existence in 15th century Germany. Their role was to hunt rats, guard horses and stables, which required them to be persistent, energetic, defensive and hardy.
The first Schnauzer breeding standards were established in 1880. Today’s Schnauzer comes in three varieties: miniature, standard, and giant. The Giant Schnauzer came out of interbreeding with the Standard Poodle and Great Dane, though this was banned in 1925. The miniature Schnauzer originated from breeding with smaller standard Schnauzers and small Pinschers.
It is named after the German word for “snout”, referring to its distinctive bearded appearance.
They were first recognised by the AKC in 1933. According to the AKC’s 2013 registration statistics, Miniature Schnauzers were the 17th most popular breed in the USA, with Giants at 83rd position and Standards at 90th.