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Schnauzer - Breed Profile

Agile and athletic, the Schnauzer is one of the smartest of all breeds and can learn and do almost anything when well-trained. Strong-willed and persistent, he requires early socialisation and will benefit from obedience training.

The word Schnautzer comes from the German word "Schnauze" meaning snout. This obviously refers to the wonderful whiskers on the muzzle - often referred to as the beard and moustache which are the trademark of all Schnauzers and give them such an unforgettable look!


It is generally accepted that the Schnauzer is the original sheepdog of the Austrian Tyrol and Bavarian Alps. 
The breed must have originated sometime before the 14th century and, as far as can be determined, is the result of a cross between the Wolf Spitz and Wire Haired Pinscher and possibly the Black German Poodle. 

Wire Haired Pinschers
Albert Durer probably owned a Schnauzer himself, as he made several paintings of what looks like the same dog between 1492 and 1504. Schnauzers are also depicted in many of Rembrandt’s paintings and a tapestry from Lucas Cranach, dated 1501.

Sir Joshua Reynolds  - the great English painter, has also portrayed a Schnauzer during the 18th century. In Mecklenburg (Germany), there stands the statue of a hunter, dating from the 14th century, with a Schnauzer at his feet, who closely resembles the exhibition Schnauzer seen today.

The medium height Schnauzer is the original. From records it appears that the three varieties (Miniature, Standard, Giant) of Schnauzer were developed purely from a utility point of view. Shepherds were often away from home for months, tending their flocks and taking with them the dog. As a guard to the family during these periods, the smallest of the litters were left at home. These smaller specimens were mated to the Wire Haired Pinscher (smaller than a Schnauzer) producing a smaller replica of a Schnauzer. Subsequent matings from these soon produced the Miniature Schnauzer.

At the other end of the scale, the Shepherd and his family wanted a larger dog to guard the yard and outside buildings against intruders. The Schnauzer was crossed with a German Boar Hound (similar to a Great Dane) to achieve the Giant Schnauzer. Standards arrived in Australia in 1934, Miniatures in 1962 and Giants in the 1970’s.


Schnauzers come in three sizes – miniature, standard and giant. They have a robust, almost square shape. The eyebrows are prominent and it features generous whiskers and a moustache. 

The miniature will reach 33-36cm in height and weigh around 7kg. Standards are around 45-47cm and 13-18kg. Giants reach about 56-69 cm tall and weigh 36-50kg.

There are three coat colours: salt and pepper (probably the most common); solid black (most giant Schauzers are black) as well as a black and silver.

For the full standard, please visit the ANKC website.

Giant Schnauzer - Black


A Schnauzer is by nature an intelligent, biddable dog that desperately wants to please those it loves. Breeders describe him as loyal, devoted and quick to defend his family. Commonly referred to as “the dog with the human brain” means that Schnauzers love to react with people.

Because they are bold and alert, Schnauzers are considered to be good watchdogs. 
A Schnauzer will bark at strangers initially, but tends to accept them once friendship has been determined.


Overall, Schnauzers are a robust breed, but there are some problems. They are sometimes born with heart defects so when buying a puppy, make sure it has been checked thoroughly by a veterinary surgeon and that the parents are free from heart defects.

On occasion, some inherited disorders may be seen in the Schnauzer, including cataracts, bladder stones and Hip Dysplasia. Most breeders are aware of these potential problems and take action to avoid using affected dogs in their breeding programmes.

Miniatures and standards will live for 14-16 years, while giants have a life expectancy of around 12 years.


Miniature Schnauzers were originally bred to be proficient ratters and tend to chase small animals if they get the chance. However if introduced properly they can happily coexist in a multi pet household. Early socialisation with other animals is an important part of that process.

Most owners describe Schnauzers as clean, friendly, family dogs which are quickly house trained. They make a very good child’s pet but need to be socialised with children while still young.

Standards and giants need a backyard but many miniatures are kept in apartments. A backyard is preferable however and all Schnauzers will enjoy a regular walk. Schnauzers are described by their owners as ‘quick learners’ but are also easily bored. 
Mental exercise (such as advanced obedience or agility) will satisfy his highly developed intelligence. Without structured activities, he will create his own entertainment - and his choices may include remodelling the backyard or questionable interior design choices !


The Schnauzer presents as double coated: with a course wire outer coat and softer furnishings on legs and beard.

Exhibition Schnauzers in Australia usually have their legs, beard (under neck), head (sides and bottom) shaved rather than stripped which does produce a softer coat.

Shnauzers do not moult or shed continually like a lot of breeds. Their coat "blows" a few times a year and the dead hair is removed by had stripping in sections over a 3-5 week period (a time-consuming process) and it will be about 10 weeks before the dog produces another good show coat.

Pet Schnauzers are usually clipped approximately every eight weeks by their owners or trimmed professionally for $30-$50 per visit. . Always keep the head well groomed and trim around the eyes to prevent matting and eye problems.


Schnauzers can be quite dominant if they are allowed to get away with it. They require owners who are committed to training them in obedience. Potential owners are best to choose a breed according to the size and energy level of they are able to accommodate.

  • Temperament: bold, alert, loyal
  • Lifespan: 12 – 16 years
  • Recommended for: school age children, energetic people
  • Maintenance: medium to high

For more information on the breed, please contact

The Schnauzer Club of NSW
The Schnauzer Club of VIC
The Schnauzer Club of SA

Miniature Schnauzer Club of NSW

If you'd like to adopt a Schnauzer, both the Schnauzer Club of NSW and the Schnauzer Club of VIC run a re-homing programme.


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