Standard Schnauzer

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Standard Schnauzer
Standard Schnauzer with pepper-and-salt coat, natural ears and tail
Other namesMittelschnauzer
Wire-Haired Pinscher (obsolete)
Height Male 18 to 20 in (46 to 51 cm)
Female 17 to 19 in (43 to 48 cm)
Weight Male 35 to 58 lb (16 to 26 kg)
Female 30 to 45 lb (14 to 20 kg)
Coat Harsh and wiry when hand stripped, soft when clippered/scissored
Color Pepper-and-salt, black
Litter size 4 to 8 pups (2 or 13 is not uncommon)
Life span Average 13 to 16 years
Kennel club standards
VDH standard
FCI standard
Dog (domestic dog)

The Standard Schnauzer (Mittelschnauzer) is a dog breed that originated in Germany in at least 14th–15th century,[1][2][3] of Schnauzer breed type and progenitor of the Giant Schnauzer and Miniature Schnauzer.[4] Initially it was called Wire-Haired Pinscher, while Schnauzer was adopted in 1879.[1][4] The literal translation is "snouter" from the German word for "snout" and means colloquially "moustache",[5] or "whiskered snout",[1] because of the dog's distinctively bearded snout.[6]

Generally classified as a working or utility dog, this versatile breed is robust, squarely built, medium-sized dog with aristocratic bearing. It has been claimed that it was a popular subject of painters Sir Joshua Reynolds, Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt, but actual proof remains elusive.[4][7] Standard Schnauzers are either salt-and-pepper or black in color, and are known for exhibiting many of the "ideal" traits of any breed. These include high intelligence, agility, alertness, reliability, strength, and endurance. This breed of dog has been very popular in Europe, specifically Germany, where it originated. The breed was first exhibited at a show in Hanover in 1879, and since then has taken top honors in many shows, including the prestigious "Best in Show" at Westminster Kennel Club" in the United States in 1997.[8]


Schnauzer of medium size, from W. E. Mason's work Dogs of All Nations (1915) prepared for the Panama–Pacific International Exposition.

In the Middle Ages, Schnauzer-type dogs of medium size were developed as a versatile multifunctional breed from herding and working breeds in Germany (Württemberg and Bavaria).[2][4][9] It is claimed that it appears in German artwork from 14th-16th centuries;[2][4] in a 14th-century statue in Mecklenburg which shows a hunter with the dog at his feet,[10] that it was painted by Albrecht Dürer (Madonna of the Animals[11]) and Rembrandt in several village scenes, Lucas Cranach the Elder in his tapestry from 1501 depicting Christ's crowning with thorns,[12] shown in 1620 statue The Night Watchman located in Stuttgart (probably meant 19th century statue Nachtwächterbrunnen by de:Adolf Fremd), and since early 18th century even in English artwork,[13] but actual proof remains elusive.[7]

Historians and cynologists theorize that it has a common ancestry with German Pinscher as a rough-coated variant of the Pinscher breed, and that it was possibly crossed with black German Poodle and gray Wolf Spitz to which influence is attributed black soft coat and salt-and-pepper wiry coat,[2] and perhaps also Bolognese dog.[11][13][14] Such a variety would have been more useful in winter, and livestock-driving and vermin-hunting roles.[15]

A dog of the peasant farmers for centuries, with the advent of dog showing in the 19th century they finally captured the interest of German dog fanciers, who began to standardize their look and temperament for the show ring. By 1850 was recognized as a distinct purebred dog. Those early dogs had many recognizable features, such as thick facial hair, wiry double coat, elegant necks, and cropped tails.[13] The breed takes its name from one of their kind, a medium-sized show dog named "Schnauzer", who won at the 1879 Hanover Show in Germany. Since the 1900s the breed universally started to be called as Schnauzer.[1][4] It is considered that the word itself appeared for the first time in 1842 when Jeremias Gotthelf used it as a synonym for the Wire-Haired Pinscher,[16] which was also known as Wire-Haired German Pinscher, Rauhaar Pinscher (Rough-Haired Terrier), Rattenfanger, Ratter.[13][14] By the name "Wire-Haired German Pinscher" it received first German breed standard in 1880 (or 1884[16]), and initially having a wide variety of coat colors, between 1885-1890 were introduced black and pepper-and-salt color variations which would become dominant colors in 1907 breed standard.[13][16] In this period has developed a standard with more elegant head, more prominent beard, and eyebrows, as well as overall appearance.[13] The Pinscher-Schnauzer Club was founded in 1895 and is still active.[9][16]

Although it is claimed that the first Standard Schnauzer in the United States was shown in the Miscellaneous Class at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City in 1899, and European immigrants could have brought it with them, the first official import was recorded in 1905,[13] named Fingal.[16] However, it became more popular only after World War I,[13] where the German army used it to carry small packages while the Red Cross for guard duty and other aides. The Wire-Haired Pinscher Club of America was founded in 1925.[13] The club was for both Standard and Miniature Schnauzers, but since 1933 the club was divided for separate promotion, one of them being Standard Schnauzer Club of America.[13] Initially, American Kennel Club (AKC) classified it in the Working Group, but in 1926 were moved to Terrier Group, which was reverted in 1945 or 1946.[4][16] It was imported into England circa 1926, within two years, was formed Schnauzer Club of Great Britain, and in the late 1930s received challenge certificates.[17] CKC also includes it in the Working Group, UKC includes it in Guardian Group,[18] the KC, ANKC and NZKC include it in the Utility Group, while by the VDH and FCI Schnauzer is placed in "Group 2, Section 1: Pinschers and Schnauzers", with "Nr. 182" in "Section 1.2" dedicated to the Standard Schnauzer breed.[19]


Distinguished by their long beards and eyebrows, Standard Schnauzers are always pepper and salt or less commonly black in color, with a stiff and wiry hair coat on the body similar to that of other wirehaired breeds. Their hair will perpetually grow in length without properly shedding, but contrary to popular belief Standard Schnauzers are not hypo-allergenic and they all shed to some degree. The more wiry – and correct and weather-resistant – the coat, the more that the coat will shed, though the hair dropped from a single dog is said to be nearly unnoticeable.



Black cropped-ear female (1.5 y/o) and Pepper-and-salt natural-ear male (9mo) out of same U.S. kennel

Twice a year, when most other breeds of dog are shedding their coat, a Schnauzer's coat will become dull and relatively easy to pull out and is said to have ‘blown’. At this point, the coat can be stripped or pulled out by hand and a new wire coat will re-grow in its place. Stripping is not painful for the dog and can be performed at any stage of hair growth although it is easier to do when the coat is ‘blown’.

Alternatively, the coat can be regularly clipped with shears. Clipping as opposed to stripping results in a loss of the wiry texture and some of the fullness of the coat. Dogs with clipped fur no longer ‘blow’ their coat but the coat loses its wiry texture and becomes soft. The fur of clipped dogs tends to be more prone to tangling and knots, particularly when long, and is duller in color than that of stripped coats. In the case of the salt and pepper Schnauzers, the characteristic banded color of the hair is completely lost when maintained through clipping; each shaft of hair becomes entirely gray rather than being banded with multiple shades of gray, white, and black.

Clipping is most common in the U.S. as it can be difficult to locate a professional willing to hand strip (the process is quite labor-intensive). In Europe, it is very uncommon to see a wire-coated dog which is clipped. It may not be possible to hand strip a poor quality coat, i.e. one that is soft in texture, but soft coats (while relatively common in pet-quality Miniature Schnauzers), are not a widespread problem in Standards.

Regardless of whether the body of the coat is stripped or clipped, the 'furnishings' or longer hair on the legs and face must be scissored or clipped regularly and require daily brushing to remain free of potentially painful mats. Whether a Schnauzer is stripped or clipped, his coat requires a great deal of grooming. In most cases, this means an owner must either take care to learn the required grooming - for which the dog's breeder should be a great resource - or the owner must take their dog in for regular, often expensive, trips to a grooming salon.

Docking and cropping[edit]

Two female Standard Schnauzers, natural ears on the left from a Canadian kennel, cropped ears on the right, from a U.S. kennel.

Inside the U.S. and Canada, ears and tail and dewclaws are in some areas docked as a puppy. Veterinarians or experienced breeders will cut tails and dewclaws between 3 and 7 days of age. Tails are traditionally docked to around three vertebrae. Ear cropping is usually performed at about 10 weeks of age in a veterinary clinic. Many breeders inside North America have begun to crop only those puppies retained for show purposes, or those puppies whose owners request it. There is still somewhat of a bias against natural ears in the North American show ring. However, there is a growing sentiment among breeders and judges that both ear types are equally show-worthy, and many North American show breeders enjoy both cropped and natural eared dogs in their kennels. However, unlike in Europe, the majority of North American breeders believe that the choice of whether to cut ears and/or tails should continue to remain with the breeders and owners. Docking of any dog is now illegal in several Canadian provinces, led by Quebec. Outside of North America, most Standard Schnauzers retain both their natural ears and tail as docking is now prohibited by law in many countries.


Black cropped-ear female Standard Schnauzer.

The smallest of the working breeds, the Standard Schnauzer makes a loyal family dog with guardian instincts. Most will protect their home from uninvited visitors with a deep and robust bark. Originally a German farmdog, they adapt well to any climatic condition, including cold winters. In general, they typically are good with children and were once known in Germany as "kinderwachters". If properly trained and socialized early to different ages and temperaments of people, they can be very patient and tolerant in any situation. Like other working dogs, Standard Schnauzers require a fairly strong-willed owner that can be consistent and firm with training and commands.

Standard Schnauzers are also widely known to be intelligent and easy to train. They have been called "the dog with a human brain", and in Stanley Coren's book The Intelligence of Dogs, they are ranked 18th out of 140 breeds within 79 ranks on the ability to learn and obey known commands.[20] Standard Schnauzers are extremely versatile, excelling at dog sports such as agility, obedience, tracking, disc dog, flyball and herding. Members of the breed have been used in the last 30 years in the United States as for bomb detection, search and rescue, and skin and lung cancer detection.

Like most working dogs, Standard Schnauzers will be rambunctious until about the age of two; and much exercise will keep them busy. Owners must be prepared to mentally and physically stimulate their Schnauzer every day, even into their old age. Like other high-intelligence breeds, a bored Schnauzer is a destructive Schnauzer.

According to the Standard Schnauzer Club of America, “The Standard Schnauzer is considered a high-energy dog. They need ample exercise not only for physical well-being but also for emotional well-being. The minimum amount an adult dog should get is the equivalent of one long walk a day. This walk should be brisk enough to keep the dog at a steady trotting pace in order to keep the dog in prime physical condition. The Standard Schnauzer puppy is constantly exploring, learning and testing his limits. As adults, they are always ready for a walk in the woods, a ride in the car, a training session or any other activity that allows them to be with their owner. This is a breed that knows how to be on the alert, even when relaxing by the feet of their owner.[21]


Male Std. Schnauzer with natural ears.

Overall, the Standard Schnauzer is a very healthy breed. The 2008 health survey done by the Standard Schnauzer Club of America revealed that roughly only 1% of dogs surveyed had serious health issues.[22] The final, full report can be found here; a general summary is as follows:

  • Data was collected for 10-15% of eligible dogs;
  • Median life span was 12.9 years
  • Only a few serious diseases were noted;
  • Potentially serious conditions affect less than 1% of dogs
  • Apparent progress has been made in reducing the incidence of hip dysplasia

The two major hereditary within the breed are: hip dysplasia and hereditary eye disease. Both problems can be tested for and identified in breeding stock before they pass the trait onto the next generation, so the Standard Schnauzer Club of America recommends that every kennel test their breeding stock for hip and eye problems before breeding and to breed only healthy animals.

However, it is entirely up to breeders whether they choose to health test their animals and whether they choose to use animals for breeding despite knowing they have tested positive for carrying a genetic disease. The SSCA also encourages all potential buyers to ask their breeder for up to date OFA and CERF certifications of the parent dogs before buying a puppy.

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals found at keeps a record of purebred animals that have passed an x-ray screening for hip dysplasia. Dogs must be a minimum of two years old to be OFA tested. The OFA results reported in the 2008 SSCA Health Survey are as follows:

OFA Hip Rating Number of Dogs Percent of Tested Dogs
Excellent 50 9.7%
Good 387 73.4%
Fair 70 13.2%
Poor 9 1.7%

The cost of OFA testing is relatively high (about 150-200 USD per dog per year) and borne directly by breeders. OFA testing is not required for AKC registration of breeding stock or their offspring so the benefits of good OFA test scores are more indirect and long range for individual breeders while poor results represent a direct negative impact. Responsible buyers looking to buy from responsible breeders should only choose puppies from a litter where both parents have current OFA test certificates and scores of "excellent", "good", "fair".

The Canine Eye Registration Foundation is a registry for purebred breeding stock who have been certified free of any hereditary eye disease: results for this test can also be found at the OFA website. Dogs must be examined by an approved veterinarian who checks for the presence of heritable eye diseases. Testing is less inexpensive (about 20-40 USD) than OFA examinations but, like OFA testing, must be done annually to remain valid.

Famous Standard Schnauzers[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Schnauzer: Description". The Kennel Club. Retrieved 28 May 2018. This is the original variety of the breed. The Schnauzer has been known in Germany from at least the 14th Century and a painting by Rembrandt features a Schnauzer owned by German artist Albrecht Dürer. The word Schnauzer translates as ‘whiskered snout’ which describes the harsh coat, bristly whiskers and beard of the breed. It was originally called the Wire-Haired Pinscher but the title of Schnauzer was adopted after the name of the dog which won the first 'breed' class for Wirehaired Pinschers in 1879.
  2. ^ a b c d Rugh, Karla S. (2009). Miniature Schnauzers: Everything about Purchase, Care, Nutrition, and Behavior. Barron's Educational Series. pp. 5–7. ISBN 978-0-7641-4245-1.
  3. ^ "Miniature Schnauzer". American Kennel Club. The breed today known as the Standard Schnauzer, one of Europe’s supreme all-around farm dogs, has a lineage going back to at least the 15th century...
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Standard Schnauzer". American Kennel Club. The Standard is the original Schnauzer, progenitor of the Miniature and the Giant. In Germany, the Standard Schnauzer is known as the Mittelschnauzer (“medium Schnauzer”). During the long centuries before mechanized agriculture, the world’s farmers strove to breed versatile dogs to use as all-purpose helpers... A creation of the Middle Ages, the breed came of age in the verdant farm country of Bavaria. Like the world’s other barn-and-stable breeds, multitasking Schnauzers made their bones as ratters, herders, guardians, and hunters... During the birth of Europe’s organized show scene in the 1870s, the “Wire-haired Pinscher” proved to be a dashing show dog. By the turn of the century, fanciers began exhibiting the breed as the Schnauzer (“whiskered snout”). Schnauzers were in America since at least 1900, but it took until the ’20s before they clicked with pet owners. In 1933, the Schnauzer’s AKC parent club divided into separate clubs for the Standard and Miniature breeds.
  5. ^ Schnauzer at Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  6. ^ Schnauzer at Encyclopædia Britannica.
  7. ^ a b Robert Coane. "Schnauzers in Art". Max The Schnauzer.
  8. ^ "- Westminster Kennel Club - Results - Retrieved September 1, 2008". Archived from the original on December 25, 2007. Retrieved September 8, 2008.
  9. ^ a b Chris Levy (2001). "History of the Miniature Schnauzer". Abiqua Miniature Schnauzers. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  10. ^ Vogue. Condé Nast Publications. 1 November 1938. p. 39. Still further evidence of the breed's great antiquity is the statue in the market-place at Mechlenburg. It dates back to the fourteenth century and shows a hunter with a dog (unmistakably a Schnauzer) crouching at his feet.
  11. ^ a b "History of the Miniature Schnauzer". The American Miniature Schnauzer Club. Retrieved 30 May 2018. The origin of the Schnauzer is considered as being a cross between the “dog of Boulogne” and the Spitz... Albrecht Durer depicted a Schnauzer in a water color “Madonna with the Many Animals” executed in 1492...
  12. ^ "Early History". The Miniature Schnauzer Club (Great Britain). Retrieved 30 May 2018. Originating in Central Europe, the recognizable Schnauzer type has been known for centuries in sculpture and art-form. It is thought to be represented in works by Albrecht Durer early as 1492. A representation of a Schnauzer also appears in a tapestry ‘The Crown of Thorns’ executed in 1501 by Lucas Cranach-the-Elder. At Stuttgart a statue, still standing today, of the ‘Nightwatchman and his Dog’ dated 1620, clearly depicts a Schnauzer... The Bavarian Schnauzer Club was begun in 1901 in Munich. This was to combine in 1918 with the Pinscher Club to form the Pinscher-Schnauzer Club. This is today still the premier authority under the Federation Cynological Internationale (F.C.I.) rules for Schnauzers (Standard, Miniature and Giant) as well as Pinschers, Miniature Pinschers and Affenpinschers.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Dog Fancy Magazine Editors (2011). Miniature Schnauzer. i5 Publishing. pp. 23–30. ISBN 978-1-59378-842-1.
  14. ^ a b "Standard Schnauzer History". Rose Graphic Webs. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  15. ^ Stahlkuppe, Joe; Earle-Bridges, Michele (March 1, 2002). Giant Schnauzers: Everything About Purchase, Care, Nutrition, Training, and Wellness. Hauppauge, NY: Barron's Educational Series. pp. 5–11. ISBN 0764118846. OCLC 47289437. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
  16. ^ a b c d e f "Presenting The Standard Schnauzer" (PDF). Standard Schnauzer Club of America. 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2018. The origin of the name Schnauzer is open to speculation. It first appeared in literature in 1842, when Jeremias Gotthelf used it as a synonym for wirehaired pinscher. Some speculate that it came from the German word schnauze, meaning snout. Others believe the breed was named after its first show winner named “Schnauzer”. The actual origin is unclear... The first German breed standard for the “Wire-haired German Pinscher, Rattler, or Ratcatcher” was published in 1884. A wider range of colors were accepted early on like the “red pepper” shown above. When a second breed standard was written in 1907, colors were limited to salt and pepper or black. The Pinscher Klub formed in 1895 to oversee and promote breed development of the Pinscher/Schnauzer breeds in Germany. In 1921 it was renamed “The PinscherSchnauzer Klub, 1895 e.V.” The PSK continues to register these breeds today. The first Stud Book, published in 1902 by the German Pinscher Klub, listed 353 dogs with birthdates extending back as far as 1880. Of the breeds listed, there were 248 Standard Schnauzers, 14 Miniature Schnauzers, 8 German Pinschers and 83 Miniature Pinschers... 1905 - “Fingal,” pictured below with his owner Mr. Leisching, was the first officially recorded import to the United States.
  17. ^ Various Authors (2013). The Schnauzer - A Complete Anthology of the Dog. Read Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-4474-9072-2.
  18. ^ "Breed Standards: Standard Schnauzer". UKC. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  19. ^ "Group 2 : Pinscher and Schnauzer - Molossoid and Swiss Mountain and Cattledogs". FCI. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  20. ^ Coren, Stanley (2006). The Intelligence of Dogs: A Guide to the Thoughts, Emotions, and Inner Lives of Our Canine Companions. Simon & Schuster. pp. 142–143, 149, 182, 192. ISBN 978-0-7432-8087-7.
  21. ^ Standard Schnauzer Club of America Website - Retrieved September 7, 2008
  22. ^ Standard Schnauzer Club of America - FAQs - Retrieved March 11, 2010
  23. ^ Standard Schnauzer Club of America - Helper - Retrieved September 7, 2008
  • Fogle, Bruce, DVM (2000). The New Encyclopedia of the Dog. Doring Kindersley (DK). ISBN 0-7894-6130-7.

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