Breeding Miniature, Standard or Giant Schnauzers requires thorough health screenings and clearances. Moreover, the Schnauzer has a loved versatility as it can be a beloved family pet, a working farm dog, or even a cattle guard dog.
When wondering how to breed Schnauzers, you need to also consider the individuality and uniqueness of each breed that forms the Schnauzer empire. Standard are the original ones, but they have been declined into Giant and Mini Schnauzers to respond to a real demand of the market back then. Today, different people desire a different flavor and size of Schnauzer.
Different Breeds of Schnauzers
Schnauzers are declined in three distinct breeds:
- Miniature, and
All Schnauzers are recognizable by a whiskered face and “old man” eyebrows. All have a double-layered coat consisting of a soft undercoat covered by a wired top coat. Acceptable colors include all black, salt and pepper, and black and silver/gray. All white and other color patterns are considered to be nonstandard in the United States.
Cropped ears (where allowed by law) are preferred by some breeders and docked tails are required in some registries such as the AKC.
Standard Schnauzers are the prototype of all the breeds designated as “Schnauzer”. Standard Schnauzers are a medium-sized dog weighing about 40 pounds. The AKC sets weights at 35-50 pounds for dogs and 35-45 pounds for bitches. At the withers, the Standard Schnauzer should be 18.5 -19.5 inches (males) and 17.5-18.5 inches (females).
The Standard Schnauzer was a general farm dog which was developed in Germany. The Mittelschnauzer (as it is known in Germany) has a history traceable to the 14-15th centuries. It was first shown in the UK as the Wire-haired Pinscher in the late 1800s. Its name was changed in 1879. The breed was officially recognized by the AKC in 1904 but was a rarity in the United States until after World War I. The AKC in 1926 listed the Standard Schnauzer in its Terrier Group. It was moved back to the Working Group in 1946 and remains listed there today.
The Miniature Schnauzer was bred down and included the addition of other breeds like the Miniature Pinscher. The breed standard requires the miniature stand 12-14 inches at the withers. Dogs or bitches within this range of 12-14 inches are disqualified in conformation showings. The weight of the miniature should be 11-20 pounds.
The Miniature Schnauzer was used on German farms as a ratter. The tenacious little dog shares no bloodlines with the terriers used for vermin control in Great Britain. It was first shown as early as 1899. The AKC distinguished it as a separate breed from the Standard in 1933. The AKC puts the Miniature Schnauzer in the Terrier Group.
Giant Schnauzers are the third breed of Schnauzer recognized by the world’s most established registries. The AKC standard sets out the height of the breed to be 25.5-27.5 inches (male) and 23.5-25.5 inches (female). Weights are set at 60-85 pounds (male) and 55-75 pounds (female).
This larger specimen of Schnauzer was bred by adding the bloodlines of larger dogs like Great Dane. This breeding resulted in a dog capable of driving cattle and doing guard and protection work. During World War I, Germany used Giants for police work. The Giant Schnauzer was recognized by the AKC in 1930. The AKC lists it in its Working Group.
The fourth category of Schnauzer is the Toy/Teacup variety. There is a market for these extremely small Schnauzers but they are not a recognized breed. The AKC parent club of miniature Schnauzers emphasizes that these dogs are just undersized minis and warns consumers about paying premium prices for them.
Background of Schnauzers
A dog as rich as the Schnauzer comes with a dense history – they have fulfilled many jobs to perfection throughout the centuries! Painters have highlighted them in masterpieces and writers admitted their bottomless love for the breed. Even today, Schnauzers are amongst the most popular dog breeds in Western Countries – especially the Miniature Schnauzer!
As mentioned above, the Standard Schnauzer is the oldest of the Schnauzer breeds. It has a long history and notable history in Germany. The dog was used as a general all-purpose farm dog probably as early as the Middle Ages for vermin control and driving of livestock. The name “Schnauzer” comes from the German word for “snout” or “mustache”. Bloodlines of the German Pinscher, Poodle, Wolf Spitz, and Bolognese dog may have been added at various points in time.
Depictions of dogs resembling the breed are depicted in the engravings, woodcuts, and paintings of the German artist Albrecht Durer (141-1528). A Schnauzer-type dog appears in a tapestry called the “Crown of Thorns” by Lucas Cranach the Elder in 1501. The Dutch painter, Rembrandt (1606-1669) and the English painter, Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) depict the dog in some of their artwork. A small Schnauzer sits at the feet of a nightwatchman in a statue dated 1620 in Stuttgart, Germany.
The Miniature Schnauzer was bred to be a smaller version of the Schnauzer to do the work as a ratter on the farm. It, arguably, appears in some of the above-referenced artwork since the size of the Schnauzer did vary because of its very utilitarian roots as a general farm dog. Farmers selected dogs more for what they could do rather than what they looked like. Most probably, the addition of Poodle and Affenpinscher bloodlines were mixed with larger Schnauzer to obtain the smaller size.
It wasn’t until the 19th century that dog breeds and the showing of them came into fashion. At the earliest dog shows, Schnauzers were first recognized as a distinct breed as early as 1850. These early dogs were first named the Wire-haired Pinscher. The breed included a range of dog sizes. The Standard Schnauzer and the Miniature were not separated in the United States as separate breeds until 1933.
Giant Schnauzer developed parallel to the development of the other breeds of Schnauzer. Farmers in Bavaria needed dogs to do the work of driving cattle. This task required a larger dog so they interbred Schnauzers with larger breeds like the Great Dane and the Bouvier des Flanders. This larger breed dates back to at least the 17th century. Also, the larger Schnauzer became useful as a guard dog and it started being used in the cities to guard the many businesses and factories. The Germans trained it for military use in World War I and World War II.
In Germany, the Pinscher-Schnauzer Klub E.V. was founded in 1895. It is the German parent club for all three breeds of Schnauzers. Notably, Giant Schnauzers were a rarity in the United States and the Parent Club in the U.S. was not established until 1962.
In the United States and Great Britain, the Miniature Schnauzer is the most popular of the three breeds of Schnauzer. In 2016, the Miniature in the United States ranked 17th in popularity and ranked 9th in the United Kingdom. These popularity results are based on the number of dogs registered by the registries the American Kennel Club and the Kennel Club (which are the largest and oldest registries in those nations).
The popularity trend for Miniature has hovered around the 17th mark since at least 2013. In 2017, it dipped to 18th in the United States.
The Giant Schnauzer of the three breeds has ranked second among the three breeds of Schnauzers in the United States. Among all dog breeds, it is listed by the AKC as ranking 83rd in 2013 and 80th in 2017.
The Standard Schnauzer has been least popular in the United States. In 2013, the AKC ranked it as 90th in popularity. In 2017, the AKC showed it still held that 90th rank position.
Standard Schnauzers are said to be intelligent, high energy dogs with a certain aloofness with strangers. In Stanley Coren’s list of intelligence (in his book The Intelligence of Dogs), Standards rank 22 out of 140 breeds of dogs. This intelligence test is largely based on how soon a dog learns a command. The “Spirited” Standard Schnauzer can be destructive if bored and inadequately exercise. Also, they are known to aggressive with dogs of the same sex.
Miniature Schnauzers rank highest on the list of intelligence. On Coren’s list, they rank 12 out of the 140 breeds tested. Miniatures are described as highly energetic, alert, stubborn, and have a high prey drive. They are known for barking and becoming destructive with digging and chewing when bored. At least initially, they are aloof with strangers.
Giant Schnauzers rank 29th out of 140 on Coren’s measure of intelligence. They are like all the breeds aloof with strangers. The Giants were bred to work as guard animals and can be suspicious of strangers and somewhat territorial. The breed is remarkable for their loyalty and are strong-willed and not prone to excessive barking. The all black Giant Schnauzer is said to be less docile than those sporting a pepper and salt coat.
The Miniature Schnauzer is the overall most popular of the three Schnauzer breeds. Some of the Schnauzers pictured in the famous artworks of Durer, Rembrandt, and Reynolds portray a smaller dog. Famous people gravitate to the smaller model of a dog. Actor and karate legend, Bruce Lee, owned a Miniature Schnauzer. Senators Bob and Elizabeth Dole, also, had kept Miniature Schnauzers at their home.
Standard Schnauzers have lagged behind the other two breeds in popularity. Because the Miniature and Standard occupied the same breed category until 1933 it is a big question about which breed should claim the historical spotlight for appearances in artworks. “Fingal’ the first dog to arrive in America in 1905 is listed in the Standard column. Also, it was a Standard Schnauzer which won Best In Show at the Westminster Kennel Club in 1997. The dog nicknamed “Pa” was co-owned by Rita Holloway and Gabrio Del Torre.
Giant Schnauzers were late-comers to the United States and so their growth in popularity in the States was somewhat delayed. In 1962, only 23 new Giant Schnauzers were registered with the AKC. For the past ten years, they have greatly gained in popularity and now exceed the popularity of the Standard in the United States. These dogs were employed in military and police work by Germany in both World Wars. Obviously, these dogs carried out many heroic acts. Today, they are an able competitor in Schutzhund competitions.
How to Breed Schnauzers
Breeding Schnauzer dogs may be a little problematic due to their vast potential health conditions they have accumulated over the centuries. However, dystocia is rare within the breed and most pregnancies go smoothly.
Litter Size and C-Sections
Standard Schnauzers have an average of 6 puppies per litter. The range is typically 3-8 puppies. Birth complications are not typical for this breed and the number of c-sections for whelping is below average among all dog breeds. The Standard’s square proportions pose no usual obstacles in the normal mating for and whelping of offspring.
Giant Schnauzers have an average of 8 puppies in a litter. The range can be anything between 4-10. The breed typically has a large square build which helps for the natural delivery of puppies. C-Sections are not commonly required in the whelping of Giant Schnauzer pups.
Miniature Schnauzer has an average of 6 puppies per litter. Litter sizes can range on the lower end for smaller bitches. Those owners who attempt to breed undersized Miniature Schnauzers as “Toy” or “Teacup” will encounter much lower litter sizes (including singletons) as well as a higher percentage need for surgical deliveries.
Purposes and Jobs
All three breeds of Schnauzers mainly serve as a great companion and family dog. Their use as a general farm dog has largely become relegated to history. Giant Schnauzers still have some usefulness in acting as a guard animal. They show up and do well in competitions of Schutzhund and are intelligent enough for search and rescue work. Other breeds, nevertheless, have eclipsed Schnauzers along the sides of police and military personnel. The Miniature will occasionally be employed as a comfort animal or therapy dog.
Standard Schnauzers have been used to sniff out explosives and cancer. A champion Standard Schnauzer named Ch. & OTCH Tailgates George VonPickel, UDX or “George” (the mid-1990s) worked for two years in the Tallahassee Florida Police Department as an explosive-detecting dog. George was recruited in an experimental study using dogs to sniff out skin and lung cancer. Medical research in the use of dogs (of various breeds including the Standard Schnauzer) to detect cancer in humans has had mixed results.
All three breeds of Schnauzer sport the same double-coat. Schnauzers have hair not fur and are among the breeds often listed as hypoallergenic (a claim with limited merit). The first layer is soft and it is topped by a wiry, coarse top-layer. The Schnauzer typically is a light shedder especially if it is regularly groomed with attention to removing the undercoat hairs. Most Schnauzers need little than a regular bath, and weekly brushing to maintain a clean and healthy-looking coat. Most Schnauzer owners will use clippers to trim up the top coat, and any excessive feathering on the legs. Schnauzers on their way to the show ring will demand extra coat care in the form of hand stripping.
If a Schnauzer is regularly clipped the wiry topcoat can become more shaggy and lose some of its distinctive Schnauzer looks and feel. Hand-stripping is labor intensive and, therefore, an expensive process. Grooming will take plucking out the dead hairs or the topcoat and working with a stripping knife or stripping stone to remove any dead undercoat hairs. The use of clippers on a Schnauzer coat will ultimately degrade the vibrancy of the color of the wiry topcoat and alter its texture.
The characteristic beard of the Schnauzer is prone to trap drool, food particles, and many unmentionable things that a Schnauzer may have nosed into. It will require particular care for the sake of looks and cleanliness. A swift brush-out with a fine-toothed grooming brush (pin brush) a few times a week will prevent excessive accumulations.
Health Conditions when Breeding Schnauzers
Miniature Schnauzers tend to be affected by a lot more health issues than their Standard and Giant counterparts. The rate of health conditions is low but there is not an area in which there are no problems – I guess this is what a healthy breed should be?
The Standard Schnauzer is overall a very healthy breed of dog with an average lifespan of 13 to 16 years. Health problems which crop up in this breed include diabetes, eye problems, and heart issues especially dilated cardiomyopathy.
According to statistics compiled by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, Standard Schnauzers ranted second among breeds for the occurrence of dilated cardiomyopathy. In DCM, the dog’s heart enlarges. Involvement usually includes both the upper and lower chambers of the heart. The dog will present with symptoms of shortness of breath, lethargy, and may lose interest in food. The condition usually strikes in middle age to older dogs which appear before healthy. It is a progressive condition and treatment includes medication to help with the increasing congestive heart failure. It is ultimately fatal condition usually with 12-24 months of diagnosis. A genetic test has been developed to detect the condition in the Standard Schnauzer.
The Miniature Schnauzer has a lifespan of 12-14 years. The lifespan of Miniatures is impacted by numerous health problems including pancreatitis, diabetes, liver shunt, hyperlipidemia, and urinary stones. Also, the Miniatures suffer from a variety of eye problems including cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, and entropion.
Pancreatitis is a serious condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. Symptoms include vomiting, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain. Pancreatitis can come on as a single episode or in certain cases, the condition can become chronic. Medical management and a low-fat diet help ease the symptoms and prevent a recurrence. The pancreas is the organ of the body that regulates insulin in the body.
Diabetes is another disease common to the Miniature (and to a lesser extent, Standard) Schnauzer. Older and overweight dogs are more predisposed to the disease. Both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes happen with some frequency in the breed, In Type 1 diabetes the pancreas does not produce insulin or does not produce enough to regulate the blood sugar of the dog’s body. A pancreas damaged by bouts of pancreatitis can result in this kind of diabetes. Untreated diabetes has many damaging effects on the dog’s overall health and can lead to other health complications including glaucoma (blindness). Symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, and infections in the urinary tract. Type 1 diabetes will need to be treated with insulin injection. Type 2 diabetes in which the dog’s body cells become resistant to insulin can sometimes be medically managed by weight loss and diet.
Urinary or bladder stones are a frequent health issue of the breed. Dogs with stones will have trouble urinating, may urinate strong urine, and may have frequent urination accidents. These stones form in the bladder and urinary tract of dogs and are comprised of materials like calcium oxalate, struvite, cystine crystals, or urate. A diagnosis is made through the use of ultrasounds and x-rays. A veterinarian can use diet, medicines, and surgery to dissolve the stones. Since these stones have a tendency to recur after treatment, most veterinarians recommend dogs with the condition be fed a diet to reduce the minerals responsible for the development of stones.
A liver shunt is a serious and almost always congenital condition common in the breed. In this condition, the dog’s liver has some malformation in the valves of the liver so that the byproducts of the blood bypass the needed metabolism of the liver. One or more valves of the liver may be abnormal. Symptoms of liver shunt usually are obvious by age two of the dog (though Miniature Schnauzers uniquely can present at older ages) and include poor growth, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and an increase in thirst and urination. Some dogs are treated medically and some can be surgically treated.
Eye problems especially cataracts have been noted in the breed. Cataracts in the breed are congenital and probably inherited as a recessive gene. They develop in both eyes beginning before six weeks of age. Also, retinal dysplasia which presents as either a detachment of retina or abnormal structure is another congenital and probably genetic condition. One or more eyes may be involved. Progressive retinal atrophy does impact the breed. In this condition, there is progressive destruction of the rods and/or cones of the dog’s eyes. The result is blindness. There is a genetic test available for PRA detection in Miniature Schnauzers. All dogs should be tested for the disease prior to breeding.
The Giant Schnauzer has an average lifespan of 12-14 years. This larger size of the Schnauzer is prone to:
- hip dysplasia,
- autoimmune thyroiditis, and
- progressive retinal atrophy.
In OFA statistics, the Giant Schnauzer ranks right behind the Standard Schnauzer in third place for the incidence of the serious condition, dilated cardiomyopathy. As discussed above, DCM is a progressive and fatal disease in which the valves of the heart enlarge, and congestive heart failure ensues. All Giant Schnauzers should be genetically tested prior to breeding.
The Giants rank 52nd in incidence for hip dysplasia. In this condition, the hips of the dog are congenitally malformed. The ball joint may even be entirely outside of its socket (dislocated). Symptoms include lameness and pain as arthritis develops in the diseased joint. The OFA recommends all dogs be screened prior to breeding. Another common ailment of the Giant are diseases of the thyroid gland and specifically autoimmune thyroiditis.
The Giant ranks 27th in the OFA list for the incidence of thyroid disease. In this disease, the dog creates antibodies which disrupt and destroy the normal working of the thyroid tissue. The diseased organ is unable to produce sufficient thyroxine for normal body metabolism. Symptoms include weight gain, coat thinning, sluggishness, and infertility. The disease and its symptoms of hypothyroidism usually present by the dog’s five years but a more variable onset can occur. Treatment is straightforward with the addition of daily thyroid medication. A veterinary can test for the autoantibody markers of the disease and the OFA recommends annual testing until age for four for dogs in a breeding program.
Like the other Schnauzer breeds, eye problems like cataracts and more serious issues like progressive retinal atrophy do crop up in the breed. A genetic test is available to test for the autosomal recessive gene responsible PRA.