Standard Schnauzer with pepper-and-salt coat, natural ears and tail
Wirehair Pinscher (obsolete)
|Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)|
The Standard Schnauzer is a dog breed that originated in Germany in the 15th and 16th centuries. The literal translation is "snouter" 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.
Generally classified as a working or utility dog, this versatile breed is a 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.
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 have taken top honors in many shows including the prestigious "Best in Show at Westminster Kennel Club" in the United States in 1997.
In the Middle Ages, schnauzer-type dogs of medium size were developed from herding, ratting and guardian breeds in Western Europe. A dog of the peasant farmer 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.
Standard Schnauzers were mixed with the German Black Standard Poodle, giving the Standard Schnauzer a "regal" look. In the earliest days of the show schnauzer, puppies from a single litter could be classified as either German Pinschers (short-haired puppies) or schnauzers (long-coated wire-haired puppies), dependent only on coat length. Some original coat types of the German Pinscher may have been lost during World War I, having since been brought back from different stock. The pepper-and-salt coat, that is the trademark of the Standard Schnauzer breed in North America, could be seen in the German Pincher (called the silberpinsch), attesting to the close relationship between the two breeds in modern times. It was also in the late 19th century that the medium-sized schnauzer was developed into three different breeds/sizes: the Miniature, the Standard (the original), and the Giant.
Speaking on the more distant origins of the breed, writers from the late 19th century[who?] proposed that the grey Wolfspitz and black German poodles contributed to the early development of the schnauzer, though this has yet to be confirmed through genetic work.
The three schnauzer breeds take their name from one of their kind, a medium-sized show dog named "Schnauzer", who won at the 1879 Hanover Show in Germany. The word Schnauzer (from the German word for 'snout', recalling the long hair on the muzzle) appeared for the first time in 1842 when used as a synonym for the Wire-haired Pinscher (the name under which the breed first competed at dog shows). The schnauzer was first imported into the United States in the early 1900s.
In modern history, the Standard Schnauzer has taken on a variety of roles. The Red Cross used the dogs for guard duty during World War I. Both German and (in one documented instance) American police departments have put the dogs to work as well. Several Standard Schnauzers have been used in the USA for drug and bomb detection, and also as search-and-rescue dogs.
The current Standard Schnauzer excels at obedience, agility, tracking, herding, therapy work and, in Germany, schutzhund. Despite being a popular pet in Europe, the Standard Schnauzer has never gained wide popularity in North America. For the past 20 years, the American Kennel Club has registered only ~540 Standard Schnauzer puppies a year (compared with ~100,000 Labrador Retriever puppies each year).
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.
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
Inside the U.S. and Canada, ears and tail and dewclaws are typically 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. Outside of North America, most Standard Schnauzers retain both their natural ears and tail as docking is now prohibited by law in many countries.
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 rated 18th out of 80 breeds on the ability to learn new commands and to obey known commands. 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 lots of 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 a 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.
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. 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 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 www.offa.org 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|
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 a good OFA test scores are more indirect and long range for individual breeders while a 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.
- From the AKC: "Rembrandt painted several Schnauzers, Lucas Cranach the Elder shows one in a tapestry dated 1501, and in the 18th century one appears in a canvas of the English painter Sir Joshua Reynolds. In the marketplace of Mecklenburg, Germany, is a statue of a hunter dating from the 14th century, with a Schnauzer crouching at his feet which conforms very closely to the present-day show Standard."
- George, the cancer-sniffing dog, has received much acclaim. "
- Blu, Franklin's pet blue dog in the comic Monica's Gang
- Colin in the UK comedy series Spaced, became a regular feature in the middle of the first series.
- Shunaemon from the manga and TV series Fortune Dogs
- Junkers, a talking schnauzer from the anime film Junkers Come Here
- Asta, the dog belonging to Nick and Nora Charles, in the Dashiell Hammett detective novel The Thin Man, was a female Schnauzer (presumably a Standard, based on the size she's indicated to be). In the subsequent film series based on the novel, she was instead depicted as a male Fox Terrier.
- Schnauzer history at American Kennel Club
- Schnauzer at Merriam-Webster Dictionary
- Schnauzer at Encyclopædia Britannica.
- AKC Breeds: Standard Schnauzer - Retrieved September 7, 2008
- Schnauzers in Art
- - Westminster Kennel Club - Results - Retrieved September 1, 2008
- Standard Schnauzer Club of America Website - Retrieved September 7, 2008
- Standard Schnauzer Club of America - FAQs - Retrieved March 11, 2010
- 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.
- 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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