Country of Origin
Schnauzers (meaning ‘small beard’ in German) are named after an actual dog, ‘Schnauzer’ who lived in Germany in the 1870’s, but the breed itself existed as far back as the Middle Ages. This is evidenced by various sculptures and Rembrandt paintings. Early Schnauzers were likely derived by crossing gray spitzes with black poodles. This resulted in an adept rat hunter and guardian that became incredibly popular by the early 1900’s, due in part to its distinct appearance. Standard Schnauzers (or ‘Mittelschnauzers’) became popular in World War I by serving as messengers and police dogs, and increased in popularity as a pet after World War II. The Miniature Schnauzer (or ‘Zwergschnauzer’) was bred in the late 1880’s as a ratter by crossing the Standard Schnauzer with the Affenpinscher and probably the Poodle. The Miniature Schnauzer was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1933. It is the only Schnauzer classified as a Terrier, and the only Terrier that does not descend from the British Isles. It was not imported to America until the mid-twentieth century, but quickly surpassed the Giant Schnauzer and Standard Schnauzer in popularity, rising to become the country’s third most popular dog breed.
The Miniature Schnauzer has a shoulder height between 12-14 inches and weighs between 10-15 lbs. The Miniature Schnauzer has a long, rectangular head with small, deep eyes and highly set ears which may be cropped or uncropped. Miniature Schnauzers have a flat back, highly set, erect tail, and small, round ‘cat feet’.
The Miniature Schnauzer has a soft, thick undercoat and a rugged, wiry outer coat which is solid black or salt-and-pepper colored. The coat is longer on the chin and face, forming eyebrows and a beard. The Miniature Schnauzer sheds little.
The Miniature Schnauzer is even-tempered and an eager, intelligent learner. It is brave and fun, making and an excellent companion. Miniature Schnauzers are loyal, protective, and alert, but do not make good guard dogs due to their size. At times, they may be pushy if they don’t know who’s boss.
The Miniature Schnauzer gets along great with familiar children, dogs, and other pets, but it is wary and cautious with people and animals it does not know. Miniature Schnauzers are best behaved when given sufficient exercise and human companionship. Miniature Schnauzers are spunky, and not as overbearing as Standard or Giant Schnauzers. They also get along with other dogs more easily, though they may bark a lot.
The Miniature Schnauzer requires weekly combing and biannual grooming/shaping. Typically, pet Schnauzers are clipped and show dogs are stripped (dead hair is plucked via a serrated knife edge). Excessive hair around the pads of the feet should be removed and the ears must be kept clean. Miniature Schnauzers with cropped ears should be checked for ear infections. Long facial hair should be combed occasionally. Miniature Schnauzers can live outdoors in moderate or warm areas, but prefer to live indoors with plenty of playtime outdoors. Miniature Schnauzers are prone to diabetes and pancreatitis. They should not be fed sweet foods, and should not be overfed to avoid obesity. Miniature Schnauzers have a long life span of 13-15 years or more.
Though the Miniature Schnauzer learns fast, it has a slight stubborn streak. Training must be fair and consistent and should not be overly repetitious. Miniature Schnauzers are responsive to the sound of their handler's voice. They are versatile, and can learn a variety of activities such as hunting, retrieving, and herding.
The Miniature Schnauzer has energy far exceeding its size and enjoys going for runs or playing games in the yard. It is well suited for apartment life.