Breeds 101: The Standard Schnauzer

TOKYO - APRIL 03: A Miniature Schnauzer poses during the Asian International Dog Show at Tokyo Big Sight on April 3, 2010 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images)
TOKYO - APRIL 03: A Miniature Schnauzer poses during the Asian International Dog Show at Tokyo Big Sight on April 3, 2010 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images) /

Schnauzers are one of the older breeds, and one of the more recognizable.

Schnauzers are one of the older dog breeds, and all three varieties are fairly popular, as the Miniature Schnauzer is ranked No. 18 out of 192, the Giant Schnauzer is ranked No. 80, and the Standard Schnauzer is ranked No. 90, according to the American Kennel Club‘s 2017 statistics (most recent year available).

Males typically stand around 18.5 to 19.5 inches at the withers (shoulders), and weigh around 35-50 pounds. Females usually stand around 17.5 to 18.5 inches at the withers and weigh in the 30 to 45 pound range.

According to the Breed Standard the ideal Standard Schnauze “is a robust, heavy-set dog, sturdily built with good muscle and plenty of bone; square-built in proportion of body length to height. His rugged build and dense harsh coat are accentuated by the hallmark of the breed, the arched eyebrows and the bristly mustache and whiskers.”

In normal language, that means they’re extremely rectangular, and look like they ought to be eccentric scientists, due to their tall eyebrows and beard. In coloring they’re usually a dark gray called “pepper and salt,” or black.

They are part of the Working Group in AKC dog shows, and have an average lifespan of anywhere from 13 to 16 years, which is quite a long time.

In the Middle Ages, one of the many types of dogs bred in Germany was a multipurposen, square-faced medium-sized type common to the peasantry, which Rembrandt featured in several paintings.

They were originally known as “Wire Hair German Pinschers,” but eventually that was replaced with “Schnauzer,” which translated literally means “snouter,” or less interestingly but more acceptable to dictionaries, “sniffer.”

During World War I, the German army used Schnauzers as messenger dogs.

Some Schnauzers have their ears and/or tail docked, but there doesn’t seem to be a consensus one way or the other on this point.

Twice a year their coats become rather dull and much looser, which is called a “blown” coat. The loose hair can be pulled by hand to allow a new coat to grow in its place, and this doesn’t hurt the dog at all. But it time consuming, so it’s more common in Europe. Clipping the coat fairly regularly at a groomer is another way to keep their hair in check.

Very good at barking away intruders, Schnauzers adapt well to most climates and weather, and are usually good with kids. They have a ton of energy, however, which can be channeled through activities like agilityflyball, or flying disc.

If they’re properly trained, they can be very smart and obedient.

According to a 2009 study by the Standard Schnauzer Club of America, only about one percent of the breed have severe health issues, with the only hereditary issues passed along are hip dysplasia and eye problems, both of which are very rare.

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In popular culture, mystery author Dashiell Hammett, author of The Maltese Falcon, gave his characters Nick and Nora Charles a Schnauzer named Asta in The Thin Man, and a Schnauzer named Cheers was featured in a Super Bowl 53 commercial series for Avocados from Mexico. There was also a Webkinz made of the breed.