Standard Schnauzer

Standard Schnauzers were originally bred to be ratters, guard dogs, and all-purpose dogs on German farms. Their versatility, medium size, protective nature, and love of family make them an excellent companion dog breed.

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Breed Characteristics:

Adaptability
Adapts Well to Apartment Living 3 More info +

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.

See Dogs Not Well Suited to Apartment Living

Good For Novice Owners 3 More info +

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.

See Dogs That Are Good For Experienced Owners

Sensitivity Level 3 More info +

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.

See Dogs That Have Low Sensitivity Levels

Tolerates Being Alone 3 More info +

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.

See Dogs Poorly Suited To Be Alone

Tolerates Cold Weather 4 More info +

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.

See Dogs Poorly Suited For Cold Weather

Tolerates Hot Weather 4 More info +

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.

See Dogs Poorly Suited For Hot Weather

All Around Friendliness
Affectionate with Family 4 More info +

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.

See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family

Kid Friendly 3 More info +

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.

See Dogs Not Kid Friendly

Dog Friendly 2 More info +

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.

See Dogs That Are Not Dog Friendly

Friendly Toward Strangers 2 More info +

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.

See Dogs That Are More Shy

Health Grooming
Amount Of Shedding 4 More info +

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.

See Dogs That Shed Very Little

Drooling Potential 4 More info +

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 who rates low in the drool department.

See Dogs That Are Not Big Droolers

Easy To Groom 2 More info +

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.

See Dogs That Require More Grooming

General Health 5 More info +

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.

See Dogs More Prone To Health Problems

Potential For Weight Gain 3 More info +

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.

Size 3 More info +

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.

See Medium Dogs

See Small Dogs

Trainability
Easy To Train 4 More info +

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.

See Dogs That Are Challenging To Train

Intelligence 4 More info +

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.

See Dogs That Have Low Intelligence

Potential For Mouthiness 1 More info +

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.

Prey Drive 2 More info +

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.

See Dogs That Have Low Prey Drive

Tendency To Bark Or Howl 1 More info +

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?

See Dogs That Are Mostly Quiet

Wanderlust Potential 3 More info +

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.

See Dogs Less Prone To Wander

Exercise Needs
Energy Level 5 More info +

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.

See Dogs That Have Low Energy

Intensity 5 More info +

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.

See Dogs With Low Intensity

Exercise Needs 4 More info +

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.

See Dogs That Don't Need Tons of Exercise

Potential For Playfulness 3 More info +

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.

See Dogs That Are Less Playfull

Vital Stats:

Dog Breed Group: Working Dogs
Height: 1 foot, 5 inches to 1 foot, 8 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: 30 to 50 pounds
Life Span: 13 to 16 years
  • Highlights

    • Standard Schnauzers are intelligent, but they can be stubborn. This can sometimes make them difficult to housetrain. Crate-training is recommended.
    • Standard Schnauzers are protective of their homes and families. While they generally don't bark without good reason, they will bark if they sense anything is threatening their homes and families.
    • Standard Schnauzers are highly intelligent and become bored with repetitive tasks. They thrive on varied activities and exercise. Make sure you give your Standard Schnauzer both or he could become destructive and ill-tempered.
    • Because of their intelligence and self-assurance, Standard Schnauzers will capitalize on any weaknesses in their people and could start "ruling the roost." Be consistent with your Standard Schnauzer, and make sure he knows you are the alpha dog in your house.
    • When training, do not use harsh methods, which could make your Standard Schnauzer resentful.
    • Schnauzers can be suspicious of strangers, including guests, until they know they are accepted by the family.
    • Standard Schnauzers have a great deal of energy and require adequate exercise each day to prevent them from using that energy in destructive ways.
    • Because one of their many jobs has been to catch rats, Standard Schnauzers should not be trusted with small, furry family pets, such as hamsters, guinea pigs, and gerbils. Most Standard Schnauzers seem to tolerate sharing their homes with cats, however, especially if they have been introduced to them at an early age.
    • Standard Schnauzers are curious and fearless — a dangerous combination if you allow your dog to run off-leash in unfenced areas.
    • Never buy a Standard Schnauzer from a puppy mill, a pet store, or a breeder who doesn't provide health clearances or guarantees. 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 who breeds for sound temperaments.
  • History

    The Standard Schnauzer has a long history in his homeland of Germany. Based on paintings by Renaissance artists Rembrandt and Albrecht Durer, as well as a tapestry created in 1501 by Lucas Cranach the Elder, it's evident dogs of this type have existed for several centuries.

    Schnauzers were used to guard farm families and livestock, herd cattle and sheep, get rid of vermin, and protect their owners as they traveled to market.

    German breeders took an interest in standardizing this breed in the mid-1800s. At that time, crosses were made with the gray Wolfspitz and black German Poodles to produce the distinctive texture and color of the breed's hair. At around the same time, Standard Schnauzers were crossed with other breeds to develop first the Miniature Schnauzer and later, the Giant Schnauzer.

    In their early years and until the late 1800s, Standard Schnauzers were called Wirehaired Pinschers. They were first exhibited at the Third German International Show in Hanover in 1879, and the first-prize winner was a dog named Schnauzer. A breed standard was written in 1880 and the first specialty show was held at Stuttgart in 1890 with an entry of 93 dogs.

    By 1900, the breed was becoming known as the Schnauzer, thought to be both a reference to the breed's unique muzzle (for which the German word is schnauze), which sports a beard and mustache, and to the name of the first winner in the show ring. The Bavarian Schnauzer Klub was formed in Munich in 1907.

    During World War I, the dogs were used to carry dispatches and aid Red Cross workers. They were also used in Germany for police work.

    Records indicate that some Standard Schnauzers were brought to the U.S. in the early 1900s by families who immigrated here, and by world travelers who fell in love with the breed in Germany. The breed wasn't imported in great numbers, however, until after World War I.

    The Schnauzer Club of America was formed in 1925. In 1933, the club split to form the Standard Schnauzer Club of America (SSCA) and the American Miniature Schnauzer Club.

    At first, the breed was classified as a terrier in the U.S., which is how the Miniature Schnauzer continues to be organized. But Germans always regarded the Schnauzer as a working dog. So in 1945, the AKC reclassified the Standard Schnauzer and placed it in the Working group. Today, the Standard Schnauzer ranks 99th among the 155 breeds and varieties recognized by the AKC.

  • Size

    Males are ideally between 18 to 20 inches high at the shoulder and generally weigh 35 to 50 pounds. Females are ideally between 17 and 19 inches high at the shoulder and generally weigh 30 to 45 pounds.
  • Personality

    The dignified Standard Schnauzer has above-average intelligence and is inquisitive, creative, and sometimes stubborn in the way he thinks. It takes an equally intelligent and creative person to stay a step ahead of him and you'll need to train him with firmness and consistency.

    The Standard is affectionate and protective of family members. He's territorial and will alert you to the presence of strangers with a deep bark. Once you welcome someone into your home, however, he'll accept them as well. He loves to be the center of attention.

    As with every dog, Standard Schnauzers need early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they're young. Socialization helps ensure that your Standard Schnauzer puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.

  • Health

    Standard Schnauzers have very few health problems. Nonetheless it's recommended that all breeding dogs be radiographed (x-rayed) clear of hip dysplasia and tested annually for eye disease. A breeder should be able to show you health clearances for both parents from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for hips and certification from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) that the eyes are normal.
  • Care

    The Standard Schnauzer is an adaptable dog and can live as comfortably in a city apartment as on a country farm, provided he gets enough exercise each day. Whatever his environment, he should live in the home with his people. A fenced yard is highly recommended for these dogs, who has been known to jump a six-foot fence.

    The Standard Schnauzer needs at least an hour of vigorous activity every day. He's a high-energy dog, and should be walked briskly a minimum of three times a day, about 20 minutes each time. Or you could take him for two half-hour walks. Other good forms of exercise for this breed include swimming, playing fetch or Frisbee, and hiking.

    Begin training when your Standard Schnauzer is young, and continue to reinforce lessons throughout his life. He requires a trainer who's patient, firm, and consistent and he responds best to positive reinforcement techniques such as food rewards, praise, and play.

    Although he's intelligent and wants you to be happy, his idea of how things should be may outweigh any desire to please.

  • Feeding

    Recommended daily amount: 1 to 2 cups of a high-quality dog food daily, divided into two meals.

    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.

    Keep your Standard Schnauzer in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test.

    First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise.

    For more on feeding your Standard Schnauzer, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.

  • Coat Color And Grooming

    The Standard Schnauzer's outer coat is wiry, hard, and dense, with hairs that stand up from the skin. Beneath is a soft undercoat. On the back, the coat can be from 3/4 to 2 inches long.

    People tend to like to keep the coat on the ears, head, neck, chest, stomach, and under the tail closely trimmed, which means frequent trips to a groomer. Over the eyes and on the muzzle, the hair is left longer to form the eyebrows and beard. The hair on the legs is longer than that on the body.

    All furnishings (the longer hair on the head, legs, and tail) have a harsh texture. Soft, smooth, curly, wavy or shaggy hair that is too long or too short; an undercoat that is too sparse, and excessive or lack of furnishings are all considered faults in the show ring.

    Standard Schnauzers may be either pepper and salt or pure black. The pepper and salt coloring is a combination of black and white hairs, and white hairs banded with black. Pepper and salt coloring can range from dark iron gray to silver gray.

    Pepper and salt-colored Standard Schnauzers should have a gray undercoat, but a tan or fawn-colored undercoat is acceptable. It's also desirable for the facial mask to be darker and to complement the coat color. Sometimes, the pepper and salt colorations fades out to a light gray or silver white in the eyebrows, whiskers, cheeks, under the throat, across the chest, under the tail, and on the legs and belly.

    Black Standard Schnauzers have a dark, rich color that isn't discolored or mixed with any gray or tan hairs. The undercoat should also be black. As the dog ages or if he's exposed to sunlight a great deal, the black may fade and become a bit discolored.

    Standard Schnauzers require a lot of grooming to look their best. You'll need to brush the beard and legs daily to prevent tangles, and wash his face after every meal.

    A Standard Schnauzer's coat usually must be hand-stripped every four to six months if you show your dog or like the look and feel of the proper coat, but pets can be clipped by your groomer. Be warned, however, that if his coat is clipped, instead of stripped, the texture will soften, and he'll shed more.

    Other grooming needs include dental hygiene and nail care. Brush your Standard Schnauzer's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the accompanying bacteria. Daily is better.

    Trim his nails once or twice a month, as needed. If you can hear the nail clicking on the floor, they're too long. Short nails keep the feet in good condition and won't scratch your legs when your Standard Schnauzer jumps up to greet you.

    Begin accustoming your Standard 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 and ears.

    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.

  • Children And Other Pets

    Sturdy and energetic, Standard Schnauzers can be loyal and affectionate companions to children. They generally get along well with children of all ages, playing gently and kindly with younger ones.

    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 sleeping or eating or to try to take the dog's food away. No dog, no matter how good-natured, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.

    Standard Schnauzers aren't especially fond of unknown dogs and may be aggressive toward them, but they can get along well with dogs and cats they're raised with. Keep pet mice, rats, hamsters and similar pets safely away from him. His instinct to be a rat-catcher is still strong!

  • Rescue Groups

    Consider adopting a Standard Schnauzer from a rescue group before you contact a breeder.