A schnauzer // (German: [ˈʃnaʊtsɐ], plural Schnauzer, lit. translation "snouter") is a dog breed that originated in Germany in the 15th and 16th centuries. The term comes from the German word for "snout" and means colloquially "moustache", because of the dog's distinctively bearded snout. Although the schnauzer is considered a terrier-type dog, they do not have the typical terrier temperament.
There are three breeds: the giant, standard, and miniature. Toy and teacup are not breeds of schnauzer, but these common terms are used to market undersized or ill-bred miniature schnauzers. The original schnauzer was of the same size as the modern Standard Schnauzer breed, and was bred as a rat catcher, yard dog, and guard dog. The miniature schnauzer and the giant schnauzer were developed from the standard schnauzer and are the result of outcrosses with other breeds exhibiting the desirable characteristics needed for the schnauzer's original purpose.
Miniature Schnauzers are around 1 ft (30 cm) tall at the shoulder and weigh between 14 and 20 lb (6.4 and 9.1 kg) They have high energy levels and are very intelligent dogs. The American Kennel Club (AKC) approves salt and pepper, black, and black and silver as acceptable coat colors for a miniature schnauzer. They are often bred in pure white or even parti (multi) colored, but neither are approved by the AKC. The miniature is more delicate and less robust than his cousins, and should not live outside. They make excellent pets as they are loyal companions and are rarely aggressive toward strangers, although they are quick to sound the alarm at a perceived threat. The Miniature Schnauzer is the result of crossing the original schnauzer with breeds including the poodle and the affenpinscher.
Standard Schnauzers are around 1.5 ft (46 cm) tall at the shoulder and weigh 30 to 45 lb (14 to 20 kg). They are in the group of working dogs. Standard schnauzers have been used to catch rats and other rodents and as guard dogs. They have also carried messages in times of war, helped the Red Cross and been police dogs.
Giant Schnauzers are around 2 ft (61 cm) tall at the shoulder and weigh between 55 and 80 lb (25 and 36 kg). They are working dogs that were developed in Swabia in the 17th century, as a rough coated variant of the pinscher breeds. The Giant Schnauzer was developed independently through crosses of black Great Danes, Munchener German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Boxers, Bouvier des Flandres, Thuringian Shepherds, and the Standard Schnauzer. It was originally bred to drive livestock to market and guard farms.
Friendly and loving, schnauzers become part of their families and can get along well with children if raised and socialized properly. They are protective and energetic, and will alert members of the household to any potential danger. The schnauzer, ever alert, makes an excellent watchdog, although its watchful nature can lead to persistent barking. To avoid annoying the neighbors, dog owners should make every effort to curb excessive barking through training. The breed is of above average intelligence and can be independent minded, so early training and diverse daily exercise is recommended.
Schnauzers have distinctive beards and long, feathery eyebrows. They are generally either a salt and pepper color, black, or white, but they can be brown also. Some owners shave their Schnauzers down the back while the hairs on their legs are kept long and curly, but this changes the coat colour, so show schnauzers especially will have their back coat "stripped" by hand, to encourage the salt and pepper pattern to emerge. It was traditional to have the tails docked and the ears cropped to give an alert appearance. It was common to crop the ears and dock the tails on working dogs. As these are ratters, these procedures don't give the rat anything to grab on to when being attacked and therefore cannot fight back. Cropping and docking are now illegal in the European Union, Australia and New Zealand, and becoming less common elsewhere. The schnauzer's beard and leg hair should be brushed often to prevent mats from forming.
Schnauzers have a double coat. The top or guard coat is wiry, while the undercoat is soft. Stripping removes the undercoat and stimulates the hard top coat to come in fuller. The undercoat coat should be "stripped" (loose, dead hair is plucked) at least twice a year. A stripped schnauzer will have a hard wiry coat as described in the breed standard. A shaved pet will lose the hard top coat and only exhibit the soft undercoat. Schnauzers are a type of dog that sheds less often than most dogs, and are also hypoallergenic.
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