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The Miniature Schnauzer

The Miniature Schnauzer dog breed has it all in one small package: intelligence, affection, an extroverted temperament, humor, and a personality that’s twice as big as their bodies. Throw in that walrus moustache and quivering enthusiasm, and they will make you laugh every day.

With a Miniature Schnauzer in the house, you will never be alone, not even when you go to the bathroom. They’ve got personality-plus, and whether they’re bounding around ahead of you or curled up snoozing on your lap, you’ll never be bored with one of these pups around. Just make sure you can give them plenty of exercise to keep up with their high energy!


Dog Breed Group:

  • Terrier Dogs

  • Height: 13 to 14 inches tall at the shoulder

  • Weight: 8 to 12kg

  • Life Span: 12 to 15 years

More about this breed

The Miniature Schnauzer is a small dog with a whole lot of heart. 

He is a "people person" all the way: extroverted with moderately high energy, he just wants to have fun. And being with you is fun, no matter what you do. He's incredibly loyal to his family — and he requires a great deal of attention.

He's got a long beard and bushy eyebrows, and he's a handful. Developed as a ratter, he may look just like a smaller version of the Standard and Giant Schnauzers, but he's a distinct breed of his own. He isn't used much as a ratter any longer (although the instinct is still there), but he still has the lively, mischievous personality.

He likes to be in the centre of the action. He's fairly good with children and he's energetic, with a lot of terrier spunkiness. The problem is, he has no clue how small he is, and he's likely to talk trash to a much larger dog without any concept of the consequences. That swagger of his can get him in trouble, so it's up to you to keep him in line.

Even though he's small, don't mistake your Miniature Schnauzer for a toy breed. This boy is not delicate.

Because of his size, he can be a good city dog, but he needs daily exercise. After all, he's a terrier! He needs to move. A Miniature Schnauzer also enjoys larger quarters and is great with suburban or farm families (and there might be some rats out there he can take care of for you). He adapts well to any climate, but he can gain weight quickly if he's not exercised or fed properly.
He's protective of the people he loves and is often suspicious of strangers, until you let him know they're welcome. He's an excellent watchdog, sometimes to your frustration, and will alert you to visitors and burglars. His bark can be piercing.

A Miniature Schnauzer is intelligent and learns quickly. Bored during rainy weather? Teach your Schnauzer tricks — he's a great tricks dog. Smart enough to learn anything; he excels at feats that involve jumping on his sturdy little legs.

At the same time, he can be stubborn. Really stubborn. Dug-into-the-sand stubborn. His favourite way of rebelling is to pretend that he doesn't hear you ("La, la, la, I can't heeear you!") when you try to make him do something. To maintain order in your household, you must be in charge. If you let him get by with something even one time, he'll remember it forever and you'll find the behaviour escalating. This is one of the downsides of living with a dog who might possibly be smarter than you are.

But because he can be trained so easily (one of the upsides of that native intelligence), he tends to do well in obedience and agility competitions. Miniature Schnauzers also participate in earth dog trials and often excel at them. After all, digging is what they were bred to do. That also means you can expect the occasional decapitated rodent on your doorstep. 
Robust in body and mind, the Miniature Schnauzer is a lively, feisty, smart, happy, vocal, affectionate, low-shedding dog. He makes a fine addition to an active family.

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Highlights

  • The Miniature Schnauzer is people-oriented and wants nothing more than to hang out with you. He's incredibly affectionate.

  • A Miniature Schnauzer is intelligent, mischievous, and often stubborn. He's full of life.

  • He's low-shedding, but high-maintenance in terms of grooming. He needs to be clipped every six to eight weeks or so.

  • He's noisy. Protective of home and family, he'll bark even at slight noises.

  • He's good with kids and other dogs, but not to be trusted around small mammals.

  • Always keep your Miniature Schnauzer on a leash when you're not in a fenced area. If he sees something and wants to chase it, he will likely ignore your calls.

  • A bored Miniature Schnauzer is an unhappy Miniature Schnauzer. Because he's intelligent and energetic, he thrives on varied activities and exercise. Make sure that you give him both, or he'll become destructive and ill-tempered.

  • To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.

History

Miniature Schnauzers were originally bred to be ratters and guard dogs on farms. They were developed in the mid-to-late 19th century in Germany by crossbreeding the Standard Schnauzer with smaller breeds, such as the Miniature Pinscher, Affenpinscher, and perhaps the Poodle or Pomeranian. In Germany, he's known as the Zwergschnauzer (zwerg means "dwarf").

There aren't any records on how the Miniature Schnauzer was developed, but it's clear the intent was to create a smaller version of the well-established Standard Schnauzer. The earliest record of a Miniature Schnauzer was a black female named Findel, born in October 1888. In 1895, the first breed club was formed in Cologne, Germany, although it accepted several types of dogs.

World Wars I and II were hard on dog breeding, particularly in Europe, where some breeds were nearly lost. But interest in Miniature Schnauzers boomed after WWI, and the dog's popularity has never waned since.

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Personality

A Miniature Schnauzer is full of life. An extrovert, he loves to be in the thick of the family action. He may even run up to you while you're sitting down and throw his paws around your neck. He wants to touch you and be next to you all the time, and you can bet he'll want to sleep plastered to your side.

A bit of a spitfire, the Miniature Schnauzer is a terrier — that means he's full of himself. He's a feisty type A and his work involves amusing himself. He is not aloof or independent but needs to be with people, and what's more, he wants to be in close physical contact. (Your lap is no longer your own.)
He's very intelligent, which makes training easy, but it also means he's a master of manipulation. That combined with his stubbornness will keep you on your toes. He's not as feisty as some terriers, however, nor as dog-aggressive.

As with every dog, the Miniature Schnauzer needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they're young. Socialization helps ensure that your Miniature Schnauzer puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.

Health

One of the most important considerations to make when choosing a breed of dog is health. Does the breed have a good health history? What are the health conditions the breed has a history with?

These are good questions to ask when you’re doing your “should I get this dog?” homework. If you’re considering bringing home a Miniature Schnauzer, the good news is that overall, and they have a good health history and live a decently long lifespan (12 to 15 years). However, Miniature Schnauzers do have a track record of encountering certain canine health problems, so it is best to familiarize yourself in case your dog develops any of these conditions.

While there is no guarantee that your dog will or won’t inherit any health conditions, you should always ask your breeder about his line’s health history. If you get a rescue, you may not be able to get such family information, so the list below may be all you have to go on. But being able to identify any Miniature Schnauzer health problems early will go a long way if they require any treatment.
Common Miniature Schnauzer Health Problems

  • Eye Conditions: A Miniature Schnauzer’s expressive, small, dark, sunken eyes covered by their bushy eyebrows are one of their most signature features. Unfortunately, The Miniature Schnauzer is airily genetically predisposed to several diseases related to those trademark eyes.

  • Cataracts: Cataracts in dogs occur when the eye lens is gradually covered by an opaque cloudiness. Miniature Schnauzers are prone to severe cataracts, which can appear anywhere from birth to six years old. The condition will affect the dog’s vision and can lead to complete canine blindness. However, sometimes the condition can be corrected and vision can be restored with surgery.

    • When cataracts are present at birth, the condition is called Congenital Juvenile Cataracts (CJC). The surgery to correct this form of cataracts is costly, but luckily, this defect is rare. 

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): Progressive Retinal Atrophy in dogs is a condition that causes the dog’s retina to slowly deteriorate. PRA is an inherited disease that appears when the dog is still young, at around three years old. It begins with night blindness, but will eventually develop to completely blind the dog in both eyes within a year or two. Although the condition is not painful for the dog, there is no cure for PRA.

    • There is a simple DNA test available for PRA in Miniature Schnauzers that enables you to find out if your dog has PRA, is a carrier, or is clear of the disease. Breeders should have their breeding dogs checked annually to help reduce the frequency of the condition, so be sure to ask for an eye certification before you get a Miniature Schnauzer from a breeder.

  • Entropion: Entropion in dogs is a condition where a dog’s eyelid will invert and roll inwards toward the eye, causing the lashes to rub against and irritate the cornea. This is a painful condition that will require surgery to correct it.

  • Other Eye Conditions: Other less common eye conditions that have been seen in Miniature Schnauzers include retinal dysplasia, glaucoma in dogs, and lens luxation. Since Miniature Schnauzer’s are so susceptible to eye issues, you should never get a puppy whose parents have not been certified by a registered Veterinarian Optometrist .While this isn’t a guarantee your puppy will not develop an eye condition in his life, it at least gives you the comfort that eye diseases do not run in his family, so he should be less genetically connected to these health problems.

  • Urinary Stones: Miniature Schnauzers are more prone than other breeds for the development of bladder or kidney stones at some point in their lifetimes. In fact, urinary stones are more common in Miniature Schnauzers than any other breed. 

    • If you’ve ever encountered any kind of kidney or bladder stone yourself, you know how painful they can be to pass. Miniature Schnauzers can develop several different kinds of stones, the most likely of which include struvite and calcium oxalate stones.

    • Struvite stones are more common in females, typically appearing at the same time as a canine urinary tract infection. It is believed that Struvite stones occur frequently in Miniature Schnauzers because of breed-related weakness in their urinary tract. When the urinary tract infection that caused the stones is treated with antibiotics, the stones should go away, but sometimes they may require surgery.

    • Calcium oxalate stones are more common in older male dogs, occurring when the dog’s body cannot handle calcium correctly. This problem can be managed through diet but may require surgery to remove. Urinary stones can be especially dangerous in males because their narrow urethra is more easily blocked. This is a life-threatening emergency.

    • If you have a Miniature Schnauzer, talk with your veterinarian about a preventative diet to help keep stones from forming. And if you notice any blood in your dog’s urine, if your dog is having trouble peeing or can’t go at all, it is a medical emergency and you need to get him into a veterinary hospital immediately.

  • Pancreatitis: Pancreatitis in dogs is a common condition in Miniature Schnauzers that involves an inflammation of the pancreas. It is an emergency situation which will require your dog to be hospitalized and given supportive care, including intravenous fluids.

    • The dog will then need to stay on a low-fat diet for the rest of their life. If your dog has pancreatitis, symptoms may include, fever, lethargy, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

  • Myotonia Congenita: Myotonia is a genetic muscle disease that is sometimes found in Miniature Schnauzers. When a dog has Myotonia, their muscles will contract easily, which causes them to be stiff. The condition causes their muscles to become hyperactive, making them grow too large, bulging muscles that make it difficult for them to get up and move around. Myotonia will also cause difficulty when swallowing because their tongues will swell.

    • There is no cure, but Myotonia can be treated with medication. However, affected dogs won’t be able to exercise or eat normally. A small portion of Miniature Schnauzers have this condition, and breeders should know to test for Myotonia before breeding any dog.

    • A simple DNA test is available to test for myotonia, so you can find out at any time whether your dog has the disease, carries the disease, or is completely clear of it. You should never get a Miniature Schnauzer puppy without seeing the documentation that his parents have been tested for this condition.

  • Hypothyroidism: The number one inherited disease of dogs in general, canine hypothyroidism is another condition commonly seen in Miniature Schnauzers. Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs when a dog doesn’t produce sufficient amounts of the thyroid hormone, which regulates many of the body’s systems.

    • It affects a dog’s metabolism, leading to depression, weight gain, lethargy, hair loss, and even intolerance to the cold. If Hypothyroidism goes untreated, it can lead to issues with the immune system, cardiovascular system, and reproductive system. Luckily, testing and treatment are both relatively easy and inexpensive.

  • Cushing’s disease: Cushing’s disease in dogs is another condition seen with some frequency in Miniature Schnauzers. It affects females more than males and typically occurs in middle-aged dogs between six and eight years old. Cushing’s disease can cause increased thirst and urination as well as weight gain. It is also connected to an overproduction of adrenal cortex hormones, which can cause sudden blindness.

  • Skin Problems: Miniature Schnauzers can encounter some skin conditions that may include allergies, non-tumorous growths, and tumours, especially sebaceous gland tumours.

    • Most commonly, they develop a skin condition called Comedo Syndrome, in which the dog develops blackheads along its back. In fact, the condition is so common it is commonly referred to as “Schnauzer bumps.”. Comedo Syndrome can be prevented through a healthy diet, consistent dog grooming, and regular bathing.

    • Just like with human acne, you should not squeeze these bumps. Miniature Schnauzers can also get Malassezia dermatitis, a yeast infection that causes hair loss, itchiness, a foul smell, and can also lead to other infections. Other conditions may be triggered by allergies, metabolic disorders, or a lack of grooming or bathing. Pay close attention to your dog’s diet and maintain consistent grooming habits to help prevent skin problems.

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Care

The Miniature Schnauzer is active when inside the house, playing with toys and following you from room to room. He loves to have a yard to play in, but he'll do well without one if you give him a long walk every day. He needs 45 minutes of daily exercise — remembers, a tired Miniature Schnauzer is a good Miniature Schnauzer.

Crate training benefits every dog and is a kind way to ensure that your Schnauzer doesn't have accidents in the house or get into things he shouldn't. A crate is also a place where he can retreat for a nap. Crate training at a young age will help your Miniature Schnauzer accept confinement if he ever needs to be boarded or hospitalized.

Never stick your dog in a crate all day long, however. It's not a jail, and he shouldn't spend more than a few hours at a time in it except when he's sleeping at night.

Feeding

How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.

And don't look into his soulful eyes at dinnertime if you're a softie for a begging dog. Here's a guy who loves his food, and he can become obese if he's not fed properly and exercised enough.
How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.

Always talk to your Vet and get their advice on the food and amounts to feed 😊

Grooming

Miniature Schnauzers are solid black, salt and pepper, black and silver, or white in New Zealand.
He has a double coat. The top coat is wiry. Since the undercoat catches the loose hair, he hardly sheds at all. Because of this, many people think he's a perfect house dog, especially those who suffer from asthma.

Miniature Schnauzers should be groomed every eight weeks to keep them looking their best. Most people take their Miniature Schnauzers to professional groomers to do this, because there are some tricks to getting that beautiful Schnauzer look. You can learn to do it yourself — just expect something less than perfection the first few times.

The coats of Miniature Schnauzers shown in conformation are hand-stripped, a process of removing dead hair. It's time-consuming and not something to be tackled by novices; it's for show dogs. Most professional groomers don't strip but use the clippers. Using electric clippers means that the wiry top coat will disappear, which is why it's not used on dogs shown in conformation.
Brush your Schnauzer two or three times a week so he doesn't get matted, especially in the longer hair on his face and legs. Be sure to check his armpits, since this is a place where mats often form. It's also a good idea to wash his beard after he eats.

Brush his teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar build-up and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.
Trim his nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you're not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers.

His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odour, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog's ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don't insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear.

Begin accustoming your Miniature Schnauzer to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.

As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

 

Children and Other Pets

The Miniature Schnauzer likes hanging out with his people — he lives for it, as a matter of fact. He's good with children, particularly if he's raised with them. He'll play with them and protect them and they'll help each other burn off steam: kids and Miniature Schnauzers are a great combination.

As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he's eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog's food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.

A Miniature Schnauzer usually plays well with other dogs — he isn't one of those terriers who can't play nicely with others. 

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