This German ratter has ranked high in popularity for centuries, and for good reason.
- Dog Breed Group
- 1 foot to 1 foot, 2 inches tall at the shoulder
- 11 to 20 pounds
- Life Span
- 12 to 14 years
Adaptabilitybased on 6 ratings
Trainabilitybased on 6 ratings
Health & Groomingbased on 6 ratings
All-around friendlinessbased on 4 ratings
Exercise needsbased on 4 ratings
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He a dog breed who's got it all in one small package: intelligence, affection, an extroverted temperament, humor, and a personality that's twice as big as he is. Throw in that walrus moustache and quivering enthusiasm, and he'll make you laugh every day. With a Miniature Schnauzer in the house, you'll never be alone, not even when you go to the bathroom. He's got personality-plus, and whether he's bounding around ahead of you or curled up snoozing on your lap, you'll never be bored with him around.
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The Miniature Schnauzer is a small dog with a whole lot of heart. He's always in the top 20 most popular breeds in the U.S., England, and Germany, but he's bred around the world. He is a "people person" all the way: extroverted with moderately high energy, he just wants to have fun. And being with you is fun, no matter what you do. He's incredibly loyal to his family — and he requires a great deal of attention.
He's got a long beard and bushy eyebrows, and he's a handful. Developed as a ratter, he may look just like a smaller version of the Standard and Giant Schnauzers, but he's a distinct breed of his own. He isn't used much as a ratter any longer (although the instinct is still there), but he still has the lively, mischievous personality.
He likes to be in the center of the action. He's fairly good with children and he's energetic, with a lot of terrier spunkiness. The problem is, he has no clue how small he is, and he's likely to talk trash to a much larger dog without any concept of the consequences. That swagger of his can get him in trouble, so it's up to you to keep him in line.
Even though he's small, don't mistake your Miniature Schnauzer for a toy breed. This boy is not delicate.
Because of his size, he can be a good city dog, but he needs daily exercise. After all, he's a terrier! He needs to move. A Miniature Schnauzer also enjoys larger quarters and is great with suburban or farm families (and there might be some rats out there he can take care of for you). He adapts well to any climate, but he can gain weight quickly if he's not exercised or fed properly.
He's protective of the people he loves and is often suspicious of strangers, until you let him know they're welcome. He's an excellent watchdog, sometimes to your frustration, and will alert you to visitors, burglars, and blowing branches. His bark can be piercing. No Golden Retriever, he won't be licking the burglar in welcome; he'll be making sure you understand the gravity of the situation at full volume.
A Miniature Schnauzer is intelligent and learns quickly. Bored during rainy weather? Teach your Schnauzer tricks — he's a great tricks dog. Smart enough to learn anything, he excels at feats that involve jumping on his sturdy little legs.
At the same time, he can be stubborn. Really stubborn. Dug-into-the-sand stubborn. His favorite way of rebelling is to pretend that he doesn't hear you ("La, la, la, I can't heeear you!") when you try to make him do something. To maintain order in your household, you must be in charge. If you let him get by with something even one time, he'll remember it forever and you'll find the behavior escalating. This is one of the downsides of living with a dog who might possibly be smarter than you are.
But because he can be trained so easily (one of the upsides of that native intelligence), he tends to do well in obedience and agility competitions. Miniature Schnauzers also participate in earthdog trials and often excel at them. After all, digging is what they were bred to do. That also means you can expect the occasional decapitated rodent on your doorstep. Unlike a cat's offering, this is not a love gift but spoils going to the warrior who nailed the beast.
Historically, Miniature Schnauzer ears were cropped for cosmetic purposes. Americans are moving away from cropping dogs in general, as more people come to feel it's not worth it for purely cosmetic reasons (unlike tail docking, which prevents tail injuries while out in the field).
However, most but not all Miniature Schnauzers who compete in dog shows still have cropped ears. Some breeders won't crop the ears of pet-quality dogs who will never go into the conformation ring. If you are in contact with the breeder early enough in the process, you can probably make your own decision about cropping your Miniature Schnauzer's ears.
Robust in body and mind, the Miniature Schnauzer is a lively, feisty, smart, happy, vocal, affectionate, low-shedding dog. He makes a fine addition to an active family.
- The Miniature Schnauzer is people-oriented and wants nothing more than to hang out with you. He's incredibly affectionate.
- A Miniature Schnauzer is intelligent, mischievous, and often stubborn. He's full of life.
- He's low-shedding, but high-maintenance in terms of grooming. He needs to be clipped every five to eight weeks or so.
- He's noisy. Protective of home and family, he'll bark even at slight noises.
- He's good with kids and other dogs, but not to be trusted around small mammals.
- Always keep your Miniature Schnauzer on a leash when you're not in a fenced area. If he sees something and wants to chase it, he will likely ignore your calls.
- A bored Miniature Schnauzer is an unhappy Miniature Schnauzer. Because he's intelligent and energetic, he thrives on varied activities and exercise. Make sure that you give him both, or he'll become destructive and ill-tempered.
- To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
Miniature Schnauzers were originally bred to be ratters and guard dogs on farms. They were developed in the mid-to-late 19th century in Germany by crossbreeding the Standard Schnauzer with smaller breeds, such as the Miniature Pinscher, Affenpinscher, and perhaps the Poodle or Pomeranian. In Germany, he's known as the Zwergschnauzer (zwerg means "dwarf").
There aren't any records on how the Miniature Schnauzer was developed, but it's clear the intent was to create a smaller version of the well-established Standard Schnauzer. The earliest record of a Miniature Schnauzer was a black female named Findel, born in October 1888. In 1895, the first breed club was formed in Cologne, Germany, although it accepted several types of dogs.
World Wars I and II were hard on dog breeding, particularly in Europe, where some breeds were nearly lost. But interest in Miniature Schnauzers boomed after WWI, and the dog's popularity has never waned since.
One aspect that has changed since the early days is the preferred colors. You used to be able to find a Schnauzer of almost any size in red, black and tan, yellow, or parti-color — but not today, when shades of black and silver are the rage. Just as feelings about ear cropping shift with the times, the Miniature Schnauzer's look may change again.
An interesting aside: While the Miniature Schnauzer is considered a Terrier by the AKC, the Standard Schnauzer is classified as a member of the Working group.
SizeMiniature Schnauzers are sturdy and don't look like toy dogs by any stretch of the imagination. They are usually 12 to 14 inches tall at the shoulder. Weight ranges from 11 to 20 pounds.
A Miniature Schnauzer is full of life. An extrovert, he loves to be in the thick of the family action. He may even run up to you while you're sitting down and throw his paws around your neck. He wants to touch you and be next to you all the time, and you can bet he'll want to sleep plastered to your side.
A bit of a spitfire, the Miniature Schnauzer is a terrier — that means he's full of himself. He's a feisty type A and his work involves amusing himself. He is not aloof or independent but needs to be with people, and what's more, he wants to be in close physical contact. (Your lap is no longer your own.)
He's very intelligent, which makes training easy, but it also means he's a master of manipulation. That combined with his stubbornness will keep you on your toes. He's not as feisty as some terriers, however, nor as dog-aggressive.
As with every dog, the Miniature Schnauzer needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they're young. Socialization helps ensure that your Miniature Schnauzer puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.
Miniature Schnauzers are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Miniature Schnauzers will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.
- Cataracts: Cataracts cause opacity on the lens of the eye, resulting in poor vision. The dog's eye(s) will have a cloudy appearance. Cataracts usually occur in old age and sometimes can be surgically removed to improve vision.
- Entropion: Entropion, which is usually obvious by six months of age, causes the eyelid to roll inward, irritating or injuring the eyeball. One or both eyes can be affected. If your Schnauzer has entropion, you may notice him rubbing at his eyes. The condition can be corrected surgically.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This is a family of eye diseases that involves the gradual deterioration of the retina. Early in the disease, affected dogs become night-blind; they lose sight during the day as the disease progresses. Many affected dogs adapt well to their limited or lost vision, as long as their surroundings remain the same.
- Urinary Stones: These can cause your Miniature Schnauzer to start straining to urinate, pass blood in the urine, need to urinate more often than normal, and have cloudy or foul-smelling urine. While small bladder stones may pass on their own, your vet should be consulted. Dietary changes can't get rid of existing stones, but they can prevent more stones from forming.
- Myotonia Congenita: Only recently discovered in Miniature Schnauzers, this is a hereditary skeletomuscular disorder similar to muscular dystrophy. Symptoms begin when puppies are a few weeks old. Their muscles contract easily and they have prominent muscles in the shoulders and thighs. They have difficulty getting up, their coats are stiff, and they bunny-hop when running. Their tongues are enlarged and stiffen when touched, their lower jaws are peak-shaped, and they have difficulty swallowing. All breeding stock should be DNA-tested for the gene that causes it.
- Von Willebrand's Disease: Found in both dogs and humans, this is a blood disorder that affects the clotting process. An affected dog will have symptoms such as nosebleeds, bleeding gums, prolonged bleeding from surgery, prolonged bleeding during heat cycles or after whelping, and occasionally blood in the stool. This disorder is usually diagnosed between three and five years of age, and it can't be cured. However, it can be managed with treatments that include cauterizing or suturing injuries, transfusions before surgery, and avoidance of specific medications.
- Congenital Megaesophagus: This is a condition in which food and liquid are retained in the dog's esophagus, causing him to regurgitate his food. As a result, dogs can get aspiration pneumonia or their esophagus can become obstructed. Diet can be adjusted to provide for the least regurgitation. The disease itself can't be treated, only resulting conditions such as pneumonia; and the prognosis tends to be poor.
In Miniature Schnauzers, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).
The Miniature Schnauzer is active when inside the house, playing with toys and following you from room to room. He loves to have a yard to play in, but he'll do well without one if you give him a long walk every day. He needs 45 minutes of daily exercise — remember, a tired Miniature Schnauzer is a good Miniature Schnauzer.
Crate training benefits every dog and is a kind way to ensure that your Schnauzer doesn't have accidents in the house or get into things he shouldn't. A crate is also a place where he can retreat for a nap. Crate training at a young age will help your Miniature Schnauzer accept confinement if he ever needs to be boarded or hospitalized.
Never stick your dog in a crate all day long, however. It's not a jail, and he shouldn't spend more than a few hours at a time in it except when he's sleeping at night.
Recommended daily amount: 1/2 to 1 cup of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.
Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.
And don't look into his soulful eyes at dinnertime if you're a softie for a begging dog. Here's a guy who loves his food, and he can become obese if he's not fed properly and exercised enough.
For more on feeding your Miniature Schnauzer, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.
Coat, Color and Grooming
Miniature Schnauzers are solid black, salt and pepper, black and silver, or white. A solid white Miniature Schnauzer can't be shown in American Kennel Club shows, however, so white ones are by definition pet quality instead (which makes no difference to the dog's temperament). Many Miniature Schnauzer fanciers dislike the white coat, feeling that if you want a white terrier you should get a West Highland White Terrier.
He has a double coat. The top coat is wiry. Since the undercoat catches the loose hair, he hardly sheds at all. Because of this, many people think he's a perfect house dog, especially those who suffer from asthma.
Miniature Schnauzers should be groomed every five to eight weeks to keep them looking their best. Most people take their Miniature Schnauzers to professional groomers to do this, because there are some tricks to getting that beautiful Schnauzer look. You can learn to do it yourself — just expect something less than perfection the first few times, and have a sweater at the ready in case you need to cover up the flaws.
The coats of Miniature Schnauzers shown in conformation are hand-stripped, a process of removing dead hair. It's time-consuming and not something to be tackled by novices; it's for show dogs. Most professional groomers don't strip but use the clippers. Using electric clippers means that the wiry top coat will disappear, which is why it's not used on dogs shown in conformation.
Brush your Schnauzer two or three times a week so he doesn't get matted, especially in the longer hair on his face and legs. Be sure to check his armpits, since this is a place where mats often form. It's also a good idea to wash his beard after he eats.
Brush his teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.
Trim his nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you're not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers.
His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog's ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don't insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear.
Begin accustoming your Miniature Schnauzer to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.
As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.
Children and other pets
The Miniature Schnauzer likes hanging out with his people — he lives for it, as a matter of fact. He's good with children, particularly if he's raised with them. He'll play with them and protect them and they'll help each other burn off steam: kids and Miniature Schnauzers are a great combination.
As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he's eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog's food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
A Miniature Schnauzer usually plays well with other dogs — he isn't one of those terriers who can't play nicely with others. He typically isn't as aggressive toward other dogs as many other Terriers are, but he is brave and fearless around large dogs, a trait that can get him into trouble. He is large and in charge, at least in his own mind.
Small mammals such as rats and gerbils, however, aren't good matches for the Miniature Schnauzer, who is hardwired to kill them. Training won't change that; that's what he's bred for.
Miniature Schnauzers are sometimes bought without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. These dogs may end up in need of adoption and or fostering.
All Breed Characteristics
Measures how well this breed potentially adapts to different environments
Measures the amount and difficulty of training potentially required for this breed
Health & Grooming
Measures how much effort this breed potentially needs to keep a tidy hound and home
Measures this breed's potential to get along with other dogs and humans
Measures this breed's potential to require lots of physical activity
Adapt well to apartment living
Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make -- plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.
Affectionate with family
Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
Amount of shedding
If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.
Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog that rates low in the drool department.
Easy to groom
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
Easy to train
Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
Friendly toward strangers
Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.
Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.
Good for novice owners
Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
Potential for mouthiness
Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.
Potential for playfulness
Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Potential for weight gain
Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by -- cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars -- can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space.
Tendency to bark or howl
Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?
Tolerates being alone
Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
Tolerates cold weather
Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.
Tolerates hot weather
Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.
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