The Miniature Schnauzer is a small-sized dog breed that also originated in Germany during the mid-1800s but the original Schnauzer has been existing in Germany since at least the 1300s. The Miniature is a product of the Standard Schnauzer and the smaller Poodle and Affenpinscher. It is a sturdy-built dog, robust with an alert attitude. Its height nearly equals its length. The head is characterized by a blunt muzzle with stubby moustache and thick whiskers. It also has small dark-brown eyes, prominent eyebrows, black nose, flat, creaseless forehead and highly-set v-shaped ears that drop forward to temple. In the US, the ears are customarily cropped with pointed tips. The tail is either docked or undocked, where it is carried high, thick at the base and tapering to the tip and carried cheerfully. The teeth form complete scissors bite. The head is supported by a moderately long and slightly arched neck. The straight forelegs are straight and muscular. The topline is slightly higher at the shoulder than the hindquarters. The hindlegs are equally muscled with slanting thighs. All four feet are cat-like, short and round and cushioned by firm black pads. The double coat is made of dense undercoat and harsh, wiry topcoat. Coat colours are pure black, black and silver, white, and pepper and salt. The typical height of an adult Miniature Schnauzer is 36 cm and 33 cm for males and females respectively.
The origin of the Schnauzer (schnauze means muzzle in German) is thought to be that of a cross between the Wurttenberg cattle dog, the Spitz or the Standard Poodle. Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528), a painter and printmaker during the German Renaissance depicted a Schnauzer in one of his paintings in 1492. However, the Standard Schnauzer came into prominence only in the late 19th century where it was used as a herder, ratter, and guard dog. These wirehaired Pinschers of German origin were originally displayed in 1891 at the German International Show in Hanover where a dog named “Schnauzer” won top prize. The need for a much smaller Schnauzer aroused when farmers needed a much agile and compact ratting companion. They bred the large Schnauzer with the Affenpinscher and Miniature Poodle to come up with a breed that we know today. The first recorded Zwergschnauzer (as it is called in German) was in 1888. It was officially recognized by the Kennel Club in the mid-1930s just before the Second World War.
The Miniature Schnauzer is described as an alert and spirited breed, friendly and intelligent, always willing to please its master and members of the family. It is an excellent watchdog with an intuitive territorial instinct – traits that it inherited from its ancestors. It will typically bark when it sees unfamiliar faces. It is a family-oriented dog who is always craving for attention. It has a very high level of energy and needs a lot of mental and physical exercises to keep it healthy.
This dog is intelligent and highly trainable but it can also be really stubborn at times. It can compete in dog agility trials, obedience competitions, showmanship contests, flyball and tracking events. It is highly suspicious of strangers and will bark non-stop when someone rings the doorbell. Training him not to do so will be beneficial particularly if the owner lives in a neighbourhood where it can disturb others with his loud barks. Training and socialising the breed to coexists with other dogs and/or pets inside the house early on in its life is also highly recommended.
The Miniature Schnauzer’s coat requires regular grooming. Stripping is highly required for show dogs which removes the loose, dead coat. Clipping is suggested for family pets using an electric clipper or shaver to produce a soft, silky and tightly-fit trim. If the coat is not regularly stripped or clipped, it will form tangles and mats which can irritate the dog’s skin and turn into allergies. The ears should also be regularly cleaned and always kept dry particularly after bathing to prevent any types of infection.
It is generally a healthy breed, but just like other dogs, it is not without a health problem. Chief among these is that they have a tendency to have hyperlipidemia or abnormal levels of lipids and/or lipoproteins in the blood. It is also prone to pancreatitis. Other health issues include diabetes, bladder stones and eye diseases. A diet that is low in fat and sugar may help curtail these health problems. It is also prone to von Willebrand disease (vWD). A survey by the Kennel Club found that the average lifespan of the Miniature Schnauzer is a little over 12 years but there are known dogs to have lived up to 15 years.
This is a highly playful breed which requires plenty of exercise or it will channel its boredom into unpleasant activities. It is an active breed who prefers running around at full speed and will not be content with a quick walk around the corner. It will get along well in an apartment life provided that it gets enough daily exercise and mental stimulation. An ideal home would be a large house with a large protected yard or a farm house where he can play until he decides he’s had enough. An inadequately exercised Miniature Schnauzer can quickly gain weight which may lead into all sorts of health problems.
The Miniature Schnauzer, being originally bred as a vermin hunter has a high prey drive and may chase and/or attack other small animals including rats, mice, squirrels, gerbils, guinea pigs, birds, and other similar pets. There are some Miniatures that are also fond of chasing cats but early socialisation and training can correct this issue. Most Miniature Schnauzers are dog-friendly and are not particularly aggressive with other dogs. It is generally good with children particularly if it is raised with them from puppyhood but it is advised to not let the dog go unsupervised when it is around very small young children because it is sensitive to loud noises and sudden movements.