ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature Schnauzer
John Walton
Written by John Walton

It’s hard not to fall in love with the miniature Schnauzer’s intelligent gaze and distinct looks. They are not gentle lap dogs but they definitely like sitting in your lap. In fact there are not many things that this jolly breed likes better than to be around their people. Everything is much better when their human is around as far as the Miniature Schnauzer is concerned.

It is fair to say that they don’t make good backyard dogs — it will make them miserable to be away from their humans for long stretches of time. Whatever you’re doing, the miniature Schnauzer wants to do it with you.

Bred in Germany to be vermin hunters, these little bundles of joy are to this day one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. They are very smart and active but lack some of the more frustrating traits of the Terriers. The playful breed is friendly with their families and love kids. They get along with the other furry members of the family as well. They have a big heart and are loyal to a fault, making them a great family pet.

The Miniature Schnauzers are suspicious towards strangers and their big ego will most likely get them in trouble with big dogs.

The fun loving breed is a good apartment dog due to their compact size, and they adapt very well to living in the country as well. They are easy to train although they might have a stubborn streak common to Terriers that makes them think they know better than the humans.

They need daily exercise such as walks and light jogs to keep them from becoming obese, as they are prone to weight gain due to their small size. The Miniature Schnauzer also needs constant mental stimulation and fun games requiring thought, they are extremely intelligent and need to be kept on their toes to be happy. They can become quite destructive and ill-mannered if bored.

Breed characteristics

AdaptabilityHigh
TrainabilityHigh
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsHigh

Dog breed group: Terrier dogs
Height: 13-14 Inches tall at the shoulders
Weight: 10-18 lb
Life span: 12-14 years on average
Main Highlights
  • Descendent from the Standard Schnauzer, the Miniature Schnauzer is classified as a Terrier breed, the Standard Schnauzer is classified as a working breed.
  • The Miniature Schnauzer makes a great pet for people with allergies or asthma as they don’t shed much — the undercoat catches any loose hairs.
  • The Miniature Schnauzer was bred to be a ratter and originated in Germany.
  • One of the most popular breeds in the world since World War II, ranks repeatedly in the top 20.
  • Known in German as Zwergschnauzer, which means dwarf Schnauzer.
  • Shares more characteristics with the Terrier breed than the Standard Schnauzer such as excessive barking and high energy levels.
  • The Miniature Schnauzer tends to get in trouble with bigger dogs due to the little breed’s big ego and thinking they are bigger than they really are.
Breed History

The Miniature Schnauzer originated in Germany in the 19th century.

They were bred for the purpose of getting rid of small vermin on farms, and are the result of breeding the standard Schnauzer and a number of smaller breeds such as the poodle to achieve the Miniature Schnauzer’s small statue.

They don’t share many of the same qualities with the Standard Schnauzers except for looks. The Miniature Schnauzers are classified as a Terrier breed, as they share more of the same characteristics with the Terriers such as high energy level, love for barking and chasing smaller animals.

In Germany, they are called Zwergschnauzer, which loosely translates to Dwarf Schnauzer. They were known as Wire-haired Pinschers before their present name was adopted.

The Miniature Schnauzer was first introduced in the United States in 1924. Their popularity sky rocketed after World War II, and they stayed at the top of the charts to this day, ranking the 20th most popular dog breed in the world.

Size

The small fire cracker measures at 13-14 inches tall at the shoulders and weights at 10-18 lb, with the females being generally smaller.

Personality and Character

The Miniature Schnauzer has so much love to give! They don’t care what you do as long as you do it together. You might end up with a little shadow following you everywhere you go, and might as well forget about privacy when you bring the Miniature Schnauzer home.

The small breed is very loyal to their families and loves kids, being able to keep up with their energy levels. They also make an excellent watch dog, as they will alert you to everything from strangers to the wind changing direction.

They are not aggressive by nature, but their prey instinct may cause them to chase smaller animals. They do well with cats, but might injure smaller animals such as hamsters or rabbits due to their breeding.

Their big ego will most likely get them in trouble with bigger breeds as they don’t seem to be aware of their size.

The Miniature Schnauzers are very easily trained due to their intelligence, but they also come programmed with the typical Terrier stubborn streak. They also come equipped with a big ego, making them believe they are smarter than most humans. They might very well be smarter than their handler and prove themselves to be master manipulators.

Despite their hard wiring, they are also eager to please and learn commands very quickly. Sometimes though, they decide they don’t need to follow them because they think they know better.

Early socialization is very important with every breed and the Miniature Schnauzer is no different. They need to be introduced to many different environments, people, animals, and situations from puppy-hood to grow up to be a well-rounded dog.

Training needs to be kept fun and fresh with a calm and consistent handler. If the little spitfire figures out they can get away with something once, they will try repeatedly until they wear their humans down, and escalate the behavior problem.

They are very smart and active and need to be walked daily. Their high energy levels and intelligence helps them excel in agility and obedience classes as well as tracking, fly ball and showmanship. You should make sure to keep your pooch busy as a bored Miniature Schnauzer is usually a mischievous dog and will get into all kinds of trouble.

Health and Potential Problems

The small breed is usually healthy and sturdy. Unfortunately its massive popularity left them vulnerable to inappropriate breeding, exposing them to health and behaviour problems. When buying or adopting a Miniature Schnauzer, always make sure it is from a reputable breeder or shelter. Never buy or adopt from a puppy mill or an irresponsible breeder.

Please insure the puppy or dog has been vet checked as well.

Sometimes the only way to tell a Miniature Schnauzer is not up to par is by looking for changes in behaviour. It is important to know and understand your companion for early detection as well as potentially life-saving treatment. The most known diseases to affect this bundle of joy are:

Comedone Syndrome- A treatable skin condition that causes small bumps on their back filled with pus.

  • Urinary stones- Smaller stones usually pass on their own but sometimes veterinary consultation and treatment is required. Dietary adjustments might be beneficial to avoid the recurrence of the condition.
  • Symptoms may include blood in urine, foul and cloudy urine, and difficulty to urinate.
  • Cataracts- an eye condition present in both humans and dogs and usually occurs in advanced age. It causes opacity on the eye lens, which results in poor vision. It can be surgically corrected.
  • Entropion- An eye disorder that causes the eyelid to roll inwards, irritating and in some cases injuring the eyeball. The condition can be corrected surgically.
  • Von Willebrands Disease- A disorder that interferes with the clotting process and can be found in humans and dogs. There is no known cure but it can be managed. Symptoms may be blood in stool, bleeding gums or nosebleeds.
  • Obesity- Due to the Miniature Schnauzers size, the breed is more prone to obesity, they need to be properly exercised and provided with a rich and healthy diet.
  • Congenital Megaesophagus- Unfortunately there’s is no known cure or treatment, the disorder causes the food and water to stay in the Esophagus and causes complications.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy- An eye disorder that cause deterioration of the retina and may lead to limited vision or blindness.

With regular exercise, proper diet, and regular vet visits, your loyal companion will remain by your side for many years to come.

Care Features

The Miniature Schnauzers do well with a consistent and firm handler and they are quite possibly smarter than most people and they definitely know it. They like to be the boss and need to be reminded daily who is in charge in the house hold. Otherwise they might develop the small dog syndrome and become destructive and ill mannered.

A handler with a natural air of authority will do well in showing the Miniature Schnauzer that they’re not in charge and need to follow up on orders and directions, reducing the chance of the dog developing separation anxiety or the small dog syndrome.

Like most other small breeds, the Miniature Schnauzer is also at risk of developing the small dog syndrome. A condition when humans let the dog get away with undesired behaviour due to their slight frame. If not corrected immediately, the dog will consider themselves as a leader of the pack and might develop unwanted aggression and bad manners.

The Miniature Schnauzer needs daily exercise and new and exciting ways to keep their busy brains active. They like to be kept busy with plenty of mental and physical challenge, and excel in agility and obedience events.

Crate training is highly recommended as it gives the dog a place they can retire to when tired and will also help preserve your belongings, as a bored Miniature Schnauzer is a destructive Miniature Schnauzer. They will do anything to keep themselves entertained, even if it means chewing the couch to shreds.

Leash training is also recommended as they have the tendency to take off after distractions and small animals due to their breeding as ratters. They’re mostly kept as family pets but the instinct still exists in them.

This lively breed thrives when they are with their family and involved in various activities. They love their people and love to be around them. They’re their happiest when they are by your side.

One way to break their spirit and make them depressed is to leave them by themselves for longer than needed.

This little curious breed is definitely a peoples dog and doesn’t do well without their pack.

Left alone and bored, the Miniature Terrier will find many creative ways to make sure that doesn’t happen often, from barking all day to destroying the yard.

They are very well mannered unless bored or unhappy.

The Miniature Schnauzers are not very good companions to small critters due to their breeding as vermin hunters, and shouldn’t be left alone with the family hamster.

Feeding Schedule

The Miniature Schnauzer will benefit from 0.5-1 cup of high quality, no grain fillers, and rich in meat protein dog food, divided into 2 meals.

Each dog’s nutritional needs are different and depend on their age, size and activity level. The Miniature Schnauzer is prone to obesity due to its small frame and will greatly benefit from regular exercise and high quality dog food.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The double coat makes the Miniature Schnauzer well-adapted for any weather. The outer coat is wiry while the undercoat is soft and catches any loose hair. This makes them ideal for people with allergies or asthma as they don’t shed much.

They need to be brushed regularly to avoid mats and they should be taken to a groomer for hand stripping or clipping of the coat at least every 5-8 weeks.

Common colours are black and silver, black, salt and pepper, and black with some controversy regarding the white Miniature Schnauzer.

Children And Other Pets

The Miniature Schnauzer is very well suited for family life. They love children and their energy level is well-matched. They are capable of keeping the younger members of the family occupied for hours, entertaining them with their mischievous antics.

It is important to educate children on proper handling and approach to animals. This way, both children and dogs can enjoy the play time the proper way. However, play time between kids and animals should be supervised by an adult at all times.

They are not an aggressive breed and will do well with the family cats for the most part, especially if they were raised together, and the Miniature Schnauzer was exposed to cats from a young age. Unlike most other Terrier breeds they are not aggressive towards other dogs. They do tend to get in trouble with larger breeds, having plenty of attitude and seemingly unaware of their small size. That’s why the Miniature Schnauzer should be kept in check around larger breeds as they can be quite rude.

The spunky breed is not the best of companions to smaller critters such as rabbits or hamsters, as it is important to remember they were bred to be ratters and provide vermin control on farms and homestead. They are no longer used for that purpose, but the instinct is still present in them.

The Miniature Schnauzer makes a great family pet. They have all the qualities one would want in a dog such as intelligence to spare, strong sense of loyalty to their people and deep love and affection for their families. Their size makes them perfect for both apartment dwelling and country living. Also, their double coat makes them fit for any climate.

The lively fire cracker has the typical Terrier stubborn streak and undeniable intelligence. Thus, they are playful and fun loving.

The Miniature Schnauzer loves life with their humans in it, going on walks and generally just being part of the pack. They are excellent companions to children, make great watchdogs and even get along well with cats and other dogs, as long as the Miniature Schnauzer gets to be the boss.

The Miniature Schnauzer is spunky and pleasant, generally well-mannered towards everyone. They are a high on the excessive barking spectrum, as they want to tell their humans about every little thing, from strange people at the door to the falling leaves.

The pleasant tempered breed is easily trained, and although they have a mind of their own, they are very eager to please their humans and quick to learn commands. They are sweet, well-mannered, affectionate and loving, and with the correct guidance there’s nothing they can’t do.

If you’re looking for a small big-hearted dog that wants nothing more than to love and be loved, you will find a great companion in the lively Miniature Schnauzer.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Sarah Blayne

    My dog has allergies to
    chicken, so can you please recommend a chicken-free low fat food for her? I’m feeding her Acana Pacifica but a nutritionist suggested getting lower fat varieties. She said anything from the 9-12% fat range. Most of the products out there have chicken. Please advise. Thank you.

    • John Walton

      Acana, Orijen, and Taste of the Wild can be your better alternatives because these brands are within the same quality tier. You cannot go and revert to a lower-tier dog food brand.

  • Ophelia Kent

    My dog is very intelligent and it shows in the way he plays. He usually drops his bone or toy and pretends to look away. When you’re about to take his toy, he suddenly darts and grabs it. I love this breed. Do you have any similar experiences with Schnauzers?

    • This is one of the most remarkable features of the breed. As the Miniature Schnauzer was developed as a ratter, this is part of his assertive and hunting instinct which is pretty astounding to observe.

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