Schnauzer: dog breed appearance, character, training, care, health


The breed of schnauzer dog can be found in three sizes (giant, standard and small). In any of the varieties, it is a dog with a strong but balanced character, with devotion to its family. Among its characteristics , it should be noted that it is a robust, compact, active and vigorous animal. At Petlifey, we explain everything about the Schnauzer.


Schnauzer character

The schnauzer exists in three sizes ( small, standard and giant). Regardless of the variety in question, this is a dog with a strong character but very balanced.

It does not usually give problems in training and shows great devotion for its owner and for all the people that make up its family nucleus. Due to its ability to learn and its high level of activity, it gladly accepts any task that is entrusted to them.

Defend your home with commendable courage and dedication. In any of its sizes, it has a courageous, cheerful and very stable demeanour, which is why it has become a great companion dog.

Let’s see in detail how is the character and behavior of the schnauzer :

Giant Schnauzer Character

The giant variety of the schnauzer is characterized by being a very active and intelligent animal. It can be used for a wide variety of jobs.

Vigorous and courageous, it has emerged as one of the greatest exponents of the sports dog. It excels especially in tests that combine defence and protection.

Like the schutzhund, a discipline that aims to assess the character and usefulness of a dog for work, as well as the relationship with its driver. In which this breed is one of the most valued internationally.

It adores its masters and likes to be in their company as long as possible.

Well trained and socialized, it makes an ideal pet for the whole family. For example, with the children in the house it establishes an extraordinary relationship and can be absolutely trusted.

Obviously, socialization is essential in a breed of this physical strength and with such a courageous and protective temperament. In fact, it is suspicious of strangers, making them an excellent watchdog.

It is necessary to educate them so that it does not show aggressive tendencies, beyond the logical suspicion. As for its relationship with other dogs, it tends to be somewhat dominant, but if it is not opposed, it does not pose any major problems either.

Although it is not a very problematic breed, it may not be the best choice for novice owners, because without consistent work, it becomes an overprotective, stubborn animal with an aggressiveness index above what is desired.

Well worked and with the necessary doses of daily exercise, it is a physically and mentally balanced dog. It can be used in tasks in principle as alien to the breed as therapy dog ​​and even guide for blind people.

Apart from these tasks and the classic uses of guarding, defence and related activities (auxiliary police, army, etc.). This dog is an excellent athlete and can compete at a high level in disciplines such as agility or flyball.

It is an all-terrain dog, it lives just as well in a large house in the country as in an apartment in the city center. But as long as your demanding daily exercise needs are met.

They cannot be limited to a few simple walks on a leash, but must include activities of greater intensity and greater variety to keep your mind occupied.

One of the advantages of this dog compared to other breeds of its size is that, despite needing some grooming, it practically does not shed its hair and that makes it very attractive as a domestic dog, especially for some people with problems, allergic .

On the other hand, it is not noisy, which is a relief if you live surrounded by neighbours. But, yes, when the dog needs to use its voice to warn of anything strange that happens around them, it uses a loud and very powerful bark that alerts its owners and intimidates any invader.

Standard Schnauzer Character (Medium)

The medium schnauzer is a dog with a manageable character that, in addition to its excellent qualities as a working dog, is also very popular as a companion animal.

It has a reliable, cheerful, funny demeanour and absolutely devoted to its people. As with the other two varieties, it hardly sheds its hair, hard and abundant, which increases its value as a house dog.

Highly intelligent, it always acts quickly, but never improvised, as it analyses each situation it faces and reacts at all times in the way it considers most appropriate.

Its size should not mislead its owners, since it is not a strictly companion animal, but a working dog, active and energetic, with very high exercise needs that must be satisfied if you want to have a dog. stable and balanced.

With its doses of exercise and daily activity covered, it is perfectly suited to city life.

Fun and with a great imagination, it needs very few incentives to embark on any adventure, so the ideal families for this breed are those dynamics who like to practice sports, do outdoor activities or always travel in the company of their dog.

Its relationship with children is fantastic and, although it can be somewhat suspicious of strangers, it is always affable and loving to all who come and are welcome in the house.

As for its treatment with other dogs, it is usually very good and even behaves quite stable with animals of other species, since it lives peacefully even with cats if it gets used to it since it is a puppy.

It is used less and less as a vermin hunting dog, and for many years its most valued quality has been its excellence as a guard dog, a task in which it excels.

Very territorial, brave, with an enormous dedication and always attentive to what is happening around them, it warns of any strange presence with a persistent bark.

Small Schnauzer Character (Miniature)

Finally, the miniature schnauzer is the most nervous of the three, which implies that it has a character that must always be under control and that its total obedience must be guaranteed.

In fact, it is the only one of the family members who regularly poses challenges and challenges to its owners.

These outbreaks of independence and stubbornness should not be taken lightly or treated as a joke or a particular dog grace.

If it is not treated properly, it can easily fall into the well-known small dog syndrome, with the consequent change in the animal’s temperament, which can become very unpleasant.

But if you work with a little consistency it is docile and manageable, which makes it easy to handle. It is basically a family dog and needs to be in permanent contact with it.

Cheerful, funny, intelligent and very affectionate, it is endowed with great energy and a very jovial character, it loves to be in the company of children and is the perfect partner for any kind of mischief.

What does not take at all well is that they leave it alone for many hours a day, as it can develop separation anxiety disorders, which translates into altered behaviour, more nervous than usual, destructive and noisy.

With an adaptable temperament to any situation and lifestyle, this is, for example, an ideal dog for families who travel a lot and go everywhere with their pet.

Although due to its size it cannot be considered a defence dog, it is a good guard animal, as it is suspicious of strangers and warns of their presence with a persistent bark.

  • Energy: high level. You need to exercise daily and have some activity to do.
  • Temperament: with a strong but very balanced temperament, it is an active, energetic, strong and very self-confident animal. Cheerful and affectionate, it shows an absolute dedication to its master and an unwavering fidelity.
  • Adaptability: high. It loves life at home, in constant contact with its family and does not tolerate loneliness well.
  • Sociability: high. Very affectionate with the family, it loves to play with children. Notifies of the presence of strangers, but then accepts them well.
  • Health: good. In general it does not suffer from serious illnesses.
  • Longevity: medium / High. Live between 10 and 15 years.
  • Utility: versatile. Guard dog, defence, company, therapy, agility …
  • Use: guard and company.

Schnauzer characteristics

The schnauzer is a robust, compact, active and vigorous dog with a respectable appearance.

The entire body is covered in a thick, coarse, wire-textured coat of hair, with an imposing beard and showy eyebrows above the eyes. In the miniature specimens there are no signs of dwarfism, only smaller but well balanced and harmonious proportions.

It is a dog that, although it can be presented in three different sizes, has a very well established body structure and constitution. The length of the body is almost the same as its height at the withers.

Schnauzer breed standard

Let’s see in more detail what the Schnauzer is like and the breed standard :

  • General appearance: it is vigorous, strong and compact, with a square body structure.
  • Varieties: Giant Schnauzer (# 181 FCI), Medium or Standard (# 182 FCI) and Miniature (# 183 FCI).
  • Size: very large (giant) Medium / large (standard) Small (miniature).
  • Height at the withers: giant variety between 60 and 70 cm (M and H). Standard variety between 45 and 50 cm (M and H). Miniature variety between 30 and 35 cm (M and H).
  • Weight: giant males and females: 35-47 kg / Standard males and females: 14-20 kg / Miniature males and females: 4-8 kg.
  • Origin: Germany.
  • Body: the upper line of the body descends slightly from the withers towards the back.
  • Back: It is strong, short and firm, with a deep loin and a slightly rounded rump.
  • Head: robust and very elongated, it is muscular, strong and rather large. The forehead is straight, like the muzzle, and the muzzle, slightly shorter than the skull, is conical in shape.
  • Skull: strong, long and with a flat forehead, parallel to the bridge of the nose.
  • Muzzle: in the shape of a truncated wedge, it has a straight nasal bridge. The lips are black and rest firmly on the jaws.
  • Nose: black, well developed and has open nostrils. 
  • Jaws: They are powerful, with very strong chewing muscles and full cheeks but without exaggeration. The bite is strong and complete in scissors, and the teeth appear white and healthy.
  • Eyes: dark and lively, they are medium in size and are framed by long and bushy eyebrows that shade them, giving the dog a respectful and serious image.
  • Ears: set high, “V” shaped and symmetrical, folded and drooping, with the inner edges resting on the cheeks. The fold of the ears runs parallel to the upper line of the skull, without exceeding it.
  • Nose-frontal depression (stop): it is well differentiated between the eyebrows.
  • Neck: strongly inserted, it glides harmoniously towards the withers. It is narrow, with a noble and elegant bearing. The nape is strong, muscular and straight. In the throat, the skin is adherent and does not present a dewlap.
  • Chest: moderately broad, oval cut and deep to the elbows. The tip of the sternum is well marked on the sill. The flanks of the lower line are not too tightly drawn, so they form a smooth wavy line.
  • Forelimbs: vigorous and straight seen from the front, not too close together. Their shoulders are quite sloping, their shoulder blades are very muscular and protrude above the vertebrae of the spine in the thoracic section. The forearm is straight, seen from the side, and the arm, well carried close to the body, is strong and muscular. The elbows are straight and fit well to the body.
  • Hind limbs: oblique seen in profile, from behind they are seen parallel and not very close together. 
  • Legs: Long, strong and sinewy, they have a fairly long, broad thigh with strong muscles. The knees are straight and the hocks are powerful and well angled, they are strong, firm and do not turn either in or out.
  • Feet: short and round, the toes are very tight to each other and are arched, like a “cat’s” foot. The hind toes are short. They are endowed with strong pads, and short, dark-colored nails.
  • Tail: set high, for a long time there has been a tradition of amputating it leaving only three vertebrae, but the current trend is to leave it with its natural length. Carried high, it takes the shape of a sober or sickle.
  • Skin: it is tight and firm throughout the body.
  • Hair: rough, hard, semi-long and thick, it has a silky undercoat. It can be solid black or salt and pepper color, and white or black and silver in miniature hairs.
  • Color: the coat is double-layered, has a dense undercoat and an outer coat composed of hard, coarse, wire-textured hair, dense and well attached to the body. On the muzzle, beard and eyebrows it is very bushy and long. Color: There are two basic varieties: pure black, even with black undercoat, and salt and pepper, with gray undercoat, from dark steel gray to silver grey. The miniature can also be black and silver, or white.
  • Movement: With good ground coverage, the movement is graceful, agile and free. The front limbs are stretched a lot forward and the rear limbs, very elastic, provide the necessary push. In step, the front leg of one side moves at the same time as the rear leg of the opposite side.
  • Other names: Giant Schnauzer / Riesenschnauzer Miniature Schnauzer / Schnauzer miniature / Zwergschnauzer
  • FCI Classification: FCI No. 181,182 and 183 GROUP 2 – Pinscher and Schnauzer, Molossian, and Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs – Section 1 Pinscher and Schnauzer type.

Schnauzer puppy

If you are considering the possibility of adopting or buying a schnauzer puppy, there are a number of aspects that you should know and keep in mind before making a decision.

For example, schnauzers need to be socialized from the puppy stage, as they tend to be somewhat dominant, but if there are no territorial problems they usually get along well with other dogs.

It is easy to opt for the miniature variety because it has a more manageable size, but you should know that the miniature schnauzer is the most energetic and active of the three, so you have to facilitate the usual practice of exercise.

This also helps to avoid the dreaded obesity, a disease that affects this variety of the breed quite often. It can be dedicated to various sports such as agility, flyball, dancing with dogs or obedience.


Schnauzer education and training

As there are three varieties, in the same way we find small differences in their character and behavior. Therefore, we can also see certain nuances in their education and training:

Giant Schnauzer Education

It is also easy to train and responds especially well to positive training techniques. Although you need a firm and consistent hand to carry out a well-scheduled, constant job according to a predetermined plan.

On the other hand, it is not advisable to apply negative reinforcement techniques to your training. These can lead to submission, and under submission a schnauzer never works as well and as cheerful as another who acts out of loyalty and conviction. The first objective is to get the animal to consider its owner as the undisputed leader of the pack.

In principle, perhaps due to its German blood, it is disciplined and obedient, never questioning the authority of its master. But it can do it if it perceives inconsistency in its task or if it considers that there has been a “power vacuum” that implies an intrinsic danger for the group, a circumstance that can cause the dog to be dominant and acquire a tough character and a lot more difficult to treat.

Standard Schnauzer Education (Medium)

This quality makes it a very trainable dog. At the same time it implies that its owner or guide must always act consistently and coherently.

The obedience of your pet, although large, is always committed and subject to the deductive logic that applies at all times.

An incoherent or hesitant action on the part of its master can lead the dog to question its leadership ability and try to supplant them, causing its character to become surly, domineering and overprotective.

Education Small Schnauzer (miniature)

Although it is not a difficult breed and it can be a good choice for inexperienced owners. Know that you have a master who exercises leadership of the pack in a firm and unwavering way.

If it perceives any sign of weakness, it brings out its natural rebellion and becomes a stubborn and difficult animal to control.


Food of the Schnauzer breed

Regarding the feeding of the schnauzer, since it is a vigorous dog that needs physical exercise, it is necessary to provide it with a diet rich in high-quality protein and healthy fats.

In this way you can meet your energy needs and keep all your muscles, skeleton and joints in optimal condition. As it is a somewhat gluttonous dog, it is also advisable to distribute the food intake in a couple of meals a day.

The weight of this dog should also be monitored, since, like many other breeds, a sedentary life can cause it to present obesity problems. Something that is not recommended and that we must avoid.

Fortunately, today, manufacturers of kibble or dog food, offer a wide range of specialized foods by size, breed and activity. So accessing them is not a problem, either in specialized stores or buying it online.


Schnauzer health and diseases

Although the schnauzer is a dog that is generally quite healthy, one of its weaknesses is the digestive system.

This breed is prone to being overweight and obese. This can lead, apart from reduced mobility, that you suffer from hyperlipidaemia (excess fat in the blood).

If your diet is made up of unhealthy and quality fats, you can develop pancreatitis.

It is believed that in these dogs it is caused by the ingestion of foods high in fat. Lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal rigidity are main symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs.

The schnauzer is prone to allergic dermatitis, an itchy, hair loss, and inflamed allergy that manifests itself through the skin. You may also suffer from follicular dermatitis (plugging of the hair follicles).

Finally, in the standard and giant varieties, cases of hip or elbow dysplasia can occur. Something that can be avoided through responsible and selective breeding.


Breed specific care

In all its varieties, in order for the schnauzer to look beautiful and healthy, it needs a certain demanding and constant aesthetic grooming and maintenance.

Before deciding on a specimen of this breed, whatever its size, the potential owner must know the breed’s requirements and be in a position to satisfy them.

Schnauzer brushing

The first of the schnauzer’s aesthetic routines, and perhaps the most important, is brushing. Depending on the size of the animal, this task may take more or less time, but it is important to repeat it at least once a week, taking special care in the areas with more hair: legs, eyebrows and beard.

These are the areas most prone to knotting and should be worked first with a card and then with a metal comb. The rest of the body is brushed with the card or with a terrier glove.

Schnauzer grooming

The arrangement of the schnauzer is very similar in all three varieties. Except for legs, eyebrows and beard. These are the areas where the hair is left longer, the rest of the body is arranged by hand, with a trimming blade or with the fingers (hand-stripping), leaving the hair quite short.

This work can also be done by machine, a quick and effective procedure. Although it is not highly recommended, as it causes a gradual loss of the rough and wiry texture of the hair. Previously, the dead undercoat is removed with a king coat type tool.

The areas that should be left lowered, with a minimum length of hair, are the front part of the neck to the sternum, the ears and the back of the thighs.

The rest of the body is worked in the same way but leaving the hair a little longer. Always following a natural and harmonious silhouette, and avoiding jumps and shearing between the different areas.

Finally, to qualify the arrangement in this phase you can use a pumice stone. The legs are well carded in the opposite direction to the growth of the hair and with the help of scissors they are formed regular and compact tubular shape.

Sculpting scissors, which tolerate imperfections better, can be used first and finished with smooth scissors to refine the result. With these, the feet and hands are also shaped, and excess hair is removed.

The beard and eyebrows are groomed in a similar way, combing and straightening the hair well with the card and the metal comb, and then styling it with the scissors to try not to appear frayed or scraggly.

In the case of the eyebrows, they can be arranged evenly, like bangs, or by splitting them in two, one over each eye, then giving them a triangular shape.

The best way to maintain the condition of the hair and the typical texture of the breed is to establish a routine of continuous grooming, without letting the coat grow uncontrollably and do not force drastic measures such as complete shearing.

Schnauzer Bath

Bathing should only be done when the schnauzer is very dirty. It is advisable to always leave this phase until after the grooming, since this way, when removing dead or excess hair and working the coat, the texture of the hair will not have been lost and it will work better.

A suitable type of shampoo should be used that does not alter the natural texture of the hair. In some cases, it is advisable to add some conditioner to the eyebrows and beard. Then you have to remove the product remains very well.

Finally, to dry the schnauzer first use blotting paper or towels, and then a hair dryer or an ejector. It is important not to leave the areas of longer hair wet and matted to avoid tangles.


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