Popular Dog Breeds: Miniature Schnauzers

Smart, trainable, and always cheerful, this smallest of the Schnauzer breeds can easily adapt to living in a city apartment or running around in his own yard in the country. Their double coat sheds very little but it does require regular trimming. Miniature Schnauzers can make a good choice for people who are allergic to dogs.

History
The Miniature Schnauzer is derived from his larger cousin, the Standard Schnuzer. He comes from Germany where he was first seen as a separate breed around 1899. Originally bred to be a small farm dog, the Miniature Schnauzer was also bred to go to ground after all kinds of vermin. Small Schnauzer-type dogs are seen in German paintings as far back as the 15th century. It’s believed that the Miniature Schnauzer was produced by crossing small Standard Schnauzers with Affenpinchsers and Poodles. The breed was first recognized by the AKC in 1926.

Temperament
Charming and handsome, the Miniature Schnauzer loves to be home with his family. He is hardy, healthy, intelligent, and fond of children. Mini Schnauzers are very adaptable and enjoy city life as much as living in the country and having their own yard to explore. These dogs usually prefer to avoid a fight but they will stand up for themselves when necessary.

Miniature Schnauzers make good small guard dogs and will give a proper alarm when someone or something comes near the home. These dogs do require regular exercise or they can get into trouble. They are described as alert and spirited dogs, but obedient to command. “Friendly, intelligent, and willing to please…never overaggressive or time.” They are considered easy to train and they have a good territorial instinct but they are more likely to bark than harm someone. They are usually reserved with strangers until they know they are welcome.

Mini Schnauzers do have a high prey drive which means they can hunt other small pets in the home such as hamsters, rabbits, snakes, and birds. They will even attack cats in the home. This behavior can be stopped with steady training or if the dog is raised with a cat.

Appearance
The Mini Schnauzer is handsome and distinguished in appearance. They are easily identified by their whiskers, wiry coat, leg furnishings, and stocky build. The breed has a double coat which has a hard, wiry outer coat and a close, soft undercoat. Coat colors can be salt and pepper, black and silver and solid black. The Miniature Schnauzer is 12 to 14 inches tall at the withers and weighs 12 to 20 pounds.

Proper coat care for dog shows requires that the dog’s coat be hand-stripped or stripped with a stripping knife that pulls out the dead hair. (This doesn’t hurt. The hair is already dead and is simply being dragged out since it doesn’t shed on its own.) This maintains the correct texture for the outer coat and keeps it wiry. However, most pet owners usually opt to have their pet Miniature Schnauzers clipped by a groomer. This saves time. You should be aware that eventually the coat will lose its wiry feel and only the undercoat will be exposed. This isn’t bad for the dog but it gives the coat a different feel and texture.

Since Miniature Schnauzers shed very little, they often do make a good choice for people with allergies to dogs. As always, if you are allergic to dogs and you are considering getting one, you should meet the individual dog to see how you react to it.

Health
The median lifespan of the Miniature Schnauzer is said to be around 12 years, though it’s not unusual for this breed to live past 15 years. They are a hardy breed. They do tend to suffer from problems associated with high fat levels such as hyperlipidemia and pancreatitis. Diabetes, bladder stones, and eye issues can also be problems. A low fat diet (and fewer treats) are recommended for this breed. Comedone syndrome, a condition that produces pus filled bumps, usually on their backs, also occurs in this breed. Von Willebrand’s disease, an inherited bleeding disorder, can also occur in Miniature Schnauzers.

If you are considering getting a Miniature Schnauzer, you should talk to the breeder about these health issues.

Training
Miniature Schnauzers are intelligent dogs and they are usually fairly easy to train. They are good at obedience, agility, rally, tracking, flyball, and other dog sports. They enjoy doing things with their owners. Since they are very playful, energetic dogs, they will have a lot of fun participating in these activities. Many Miniature Schnauzers are food-motivated but you should keep in mind that the breed can have problems with weight and high fat levels. Use low-fat treats if you use treats as a reward.