Giant Schnauzer

The Giant Schnauzer was created to be a working dog breed, so they have intelligence and drive. They can be a loyal and courageous companion for the person who can provide them with the training, exercise, and attention they need.

These pups originated in Germany, where they had jobs like driving cattle, working in butcher shops and stockyards, and even guarding breweries. Although this is a pure breed of dog, you may find them in shelters and rescues, so remember to adopt! Don’t shop if you decide this is the dog for you.

Giant Schnauzers love to play and have high energy. They do best in homes with big yards to run and get plenty of exercise. Apartment life generally isn’t for them, and novice trainers beware. However, if you want a loyal guardian and energetic companion, this pooch may be your new best friend!

DogTime recommends this big, spacious crate to give your big Giant Schnauzer a place to rest and relax. You should also pick up this dog fetch toy to help burn off your pup’s high energy!

See all Giant Schnauzer dog breed characteristics below!

Giant Schnauzer Dog Breed Pictures

Breed Characteristics:


Adapts Well To Apartment Living
Good For Novice Owners
Sensitivity Level
Tolerates Being Alone
Tolerates Cold Weather
Tolerates Hot Weather

All Around Friendliness

Affectionate With Family
Dog Friendly
Friendly Toward Strangers

Health And Grooming Needs

Amount Of Shedding
Drooling Potential
Easy To Groom
General Health
Potential For Weight Gain


Easy To Train
Potential For Mouthiness
Prey Drive
Tendency To Bark Or Howl
Wanderlust Potential

Physical Needs

Energy Level
Exercise Needs
Potential For Playfulness

Vital Stats:

Dog Breed Group:
Working Dogs
23 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder
55 to 80 pounds
Life Span:
10 to 12 years

More About This Breed

  • The Giant Schnauzer is the largest of the three Schnauzer breeds. They have a commanding appearance and rugged build. But their stoic demeanor is belied by the twinkle in their eyes, hinting at their playful nature.

    This is a big dog with a big personality. They're an energetic, intelligent companion who makes life interesting with their independent thinking and playfulness, but dominant personality and bold approach to life. In short, they're a handful, even for experienced dog owners. Still, in the right home they're a loyal and courageous companion.

    There is no limit to the capabilities of a well-trained Giant Schnauzer. Obedience, agility, tracking, carting, and herding are among the dog sports in which you can find them competing. Originally used to drive cattle to market, they excel as a police and guard dog and more recently branched out to drug detection and search and rescue. They have a gentle and loving side as well, making them an admirable therapy dog. But the Giant Schnauzer's favorite activity is being with the people they love.

    The keys to living successfully with a Giant Schnauzer include training, socialization, and providing physical and mental stimulation. Giant Schnauzers need all of these to become well-mannered dogs, and they need them in abundance.

    The breed's intelligence is widely known, and they can be easily trained when their people are firm and consistent. Never let the Giant Schnauzer's wonderful mind go to waste. Make sure to give them a job; let them find things for you, carry things, perform tricks, and show off their obedience training.

    Whatever you do, don't let them become bored. A bored Giant Schnauzer is a destructive Giant Schnauzer. An essential part of preventing boredom is exercise. Expect to provide your Giant Schnauzer with at least an hour of vigorous exercise daily. They'll enjoy long walks and jogging.

    Apartments are not the ideal dwelling for the Giant Schnauzer. They do much better if they have a large yard to play in and do their best if they have acreage. They are not outdoor dogs and need to live inside with their family.

    Giant Schnauzers are among the more dominant breeds and not recommended for homes with young children. In fact, the suggested age range of children is twelve and older.

    Socialization should begin at a very young age, and it should include exposure to many different people, dogs, and other small pets. Giant Schnauzers tend to be reserved and suspicious of strangers, a trait that makes them excellent guard dogs, but that characteristic must be balanced with socialization to avoid fearfulness or aggression.

    The Giant Schnauzer has many good qualities and many challenging qualities. It's important before choosing this breed that you understand the demands they will make upon your life. A Giant Schnauzer is not the fabled gentle giant, but a hard-working, energetic dog who will give back as much as they're given.

  • Highlights

    • Giant Schnauzers are energetic breed and require at least two long walks per day or 30 to 60 minutes of vigorous exercise in the backyard.
    • Without proper exercise and mental stimulation, Giant Schnauzers can become very destructive and difficult to handle.
    • Giant Schnauzers are not recommended for first-time or timid owners. They need a strong leader who can provide clear and consistent rules without resorting to physical force.
    • Although they are a very affectionate breed, the Giant Schnauzer is not recommended for homes with young children because of their size and forceful behavior.
    • Giant Schnauzers will make excellent guard dogs.
    • Apartments are not suitable dwellings for Giant Schnauzers. They need a large fenced yard where they can play and run safely.
    • Socialization is a must with this breed. They can be aggressive toward people, dogs, and other animals they don't know. They are naturally suspicious of strangers and need to become accustomed to experiencing new people and situations.
    • Giant Schnauzers are companion dogs and should live indoors. They thrive when they are with the people they love.
    • Giant Schnauzers require brushing one to three times a week. Their coats must also be stripped or clipped to remain neat looking.
    • Giant Schnauzers are intelligent dogs who learn quickly and excel at a variety of jobs. Be firm and consistent, and use positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play, and food rewards. Giant Schnauzers will see and take advantage of any inconsistencies in your behavior.
    • Never buy a Giant Schnauzer from a puppy mill, a pet store, or a backyard breeder. Search for local rescues and shelters if you decide this is the breed for you.
  • History

    The largest of the three Schnauzer breeds, the Giant Schnauzer was developed in Germany to drive cattle and later to work in butcher shops and stockyards. Some served as guard dogs at breweries.

    The Giant Schnauzer was probably created by crossing the Standard Schnauzer with larger smooth-coated dogs, rough-haired sheepdogs, and the black Great Dane. The Bouvier des Flandres may also have played a role in their development. They were known as the Munchener and were widespread throughout Bavaria and Wurttemberg.

    In the early 1900s, Giant Schnauzers were trained for police work in Berlin and other German cities, and it became their primary job. The only reason they didn't become well known as police dogs in the United States is because the German Shepherds beat them to it.

    The Giant Schnauzer Club of America was founded in 1962. In the United States, the Giant Schnauzer has remained uncommon. Today, the breed ranks fairly low on the list of breeds and varieties registered by the American Kennel Club.

  • Size

    A male Giant Schnauzer stands 25.5 to 27.5 inches at the shoulder and weighs 60 to 80 pounds.

    Females are 23.5 to 25.5 inches and weigh 55 to 75 pounds. Some dogs can be smaller or larger than average.

  • Personality

    The Giant Schnauzer has the calm, loving temperament of a companion dog and the assertiveness, boldness and energy required of a guard and working dog.

    They take their responsibilities seriously and are protective of home and family, willing to defend them with a fierceness that can be intimidating. This is a territorial dog who's distrustful of strangers, but when they're not needed as a guardian, they're a playful and affectionate companion.

    Their intelligence can pose a challenge to the inexperienced trainer, however. Giant Schnauzers require consistent and firm guidance. Without it, they're quite capable of thinking for themselves and running the household the way they think it ought to be run.

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

  • Health

    Giant Schnauzers are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they can be subject to certain health conditions. Not all Giant Schnauzers will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.

    • Hip Dysplasia: This is a heritable condition in which the thighbone doesn't fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop. X-ray screening for hip dysplasia is done by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHIP). Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred. Hip dysplasia is hereditary, but it can be worsened by environmental factors, such as rapid growth from a high-calorie diet or injuries incurred from jumping or falling on slick floors.
    • Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD): is usually found in the elbows but it has been seen in the shoulders as well. This disorder causes a painful stiffing of the joint where the dog will be unable to bend their elbow. It is caused by an improper growth of cartilage in the joints and can be hereditary, caused by trauma or improper diet. It can be detected in dogs as young as five to seven months of age. Although it is a genetic disorder, some research has linked high-protein diets to increasing the severity of this disorder.
    • Autoimmune Thyroiditis: This is the most common cause of primary hypothyroidism in dogs and is recognized as a heritable condition. The disease tends to become evident at two to five years of age. Dogs may be clinically normal for years, only to become hypothyroid at a later date. Hypothyroidism is an abnormally low level of the hormone produced by the thyroid gland. A mild sign of the disease may be infertility. More obvious signs include obesity, mental dullness, drooping of the eyelids, low energy levels, and irregular heat cycles. The dog's fur becomes coarse and brittle and begins to fall out, while the skin becomes tough and dark. Hypothyroidism can be treated with daily medication, which must continue throughout the dog's life. A dog receiving daily thyroid treatment can live a full and happy life.
    • Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This cancer may occur on a toe or toes of dark-haired dogs, including Giant Schnauzers. If your Giant Schnauzer shows signs of lameness for no apparent reason, have your vet take a look at their toes. Removal of the affected toe before the cancer spreads to the chest cavity increases the chance of survival.
  • Care

    Giant Schnauzers are not recommended for apartments or condos. They have high energy levels indoors and out, and are best suited to a home with a fenced yard where they can safely run off some of that energy. When they're not playing outdoors, Giant Schnauzers should be inside with their people, whom they will happily follow around the house.

    Giant Schnauzers require at least an hour of daily exercise. Plan on a couple of half-hour walks at a good clip or vigorous play. This dog can be a digger or chewer, so always give them something constructive to do instead.

    This breed needs a job. Train them to do tricks or help you around the house if you want to forestall destructive behavior. They don't like to be bored, so avoid frequent repetition and turn training into a challenging game to get the best out of them.

    Train them with firmness and consistency. They can be stubborn, and you must be more stubborn. You must be able to provide leadership without resorting to physical force or harsh words.

    It's best if you work with a trainer who's familiar with and understands the breed. Your Giant Schnauzer will respond with enthusiasm to training techniques that are positive and keep them on their toes.

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

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

  • Feeding

    Recommended daily amount: 3 3/8 to 4 1/4 cups of a high-quality dog food daily, divided into two meals.

    How much your adult dog eats depends on their 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 Giant Schnauzer in good shape by measuring their food and feeding them twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether they're overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test.

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

    Giant Schnauzers can be prone to gastric torsion and should be fed two or three small meals per day to avoid any build up of gas.

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

    Only your vet or pet nutritionist can give your dog a specific, individual recommendation on feeding, but it's generally advised that Giant Schnauzers get a daily amount of three and 3/8 to four and 1/4 cups of a high-quality dog food, divided into two meals.

  • Coat Color And Grooming

    The Giant Schnauzer's outer coat is wiry, hard, and dense, with hairs that stand up from the skin. Beneath it is a soft undercoat. On the face are a harsh beard and eyebrows, the Schnauzer hallmark.

    The coat is solid black or pepper and salt. The pepper-and-salt coloring is a combination of black and white hairs, and white hairs banded with black. At a short distance, the pepper-and-salt coat appears gray.

    The Giant Schnauzer's double coat requires brushing with a stiff bristle or slicker brush about three times a week to prevent mats from forming in the undercoat. Wash their face after every meal.

    A Standard Schnauzer's coat usually must be hand-stripped every four to six months. Hand stripping is necessary if you show your dog or like the look and feel of the proper coat, but pets can be clipped instead.

    Be warned, however, that if you clip your Schnauzer's coat instead of stripping it, eventually the texture will change. It will feel very soft and may shed more. Clipping can also cause a pepper-and-salt coat to look solid silver or solid black, depending on the color of the undercoat.

    Begin getting your Giant Schnauzer accustomed to being brushed and examined when they're a puppy. Handle their paws frequently--dogs are touchy about their feet--and look inside their 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 they're an adult.

  • Children And Other Pets

    Because of their size, energy level, and commanding nature, Giant Schnauzers are not recommended for homes with young children. The suggested age range is twelve and older who have the maturity to interact appropriately with a large-breed dog.

    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 they're 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.

    Giant Schnauzers don't tend to be buddy-buddy with other dogs, especially those of the same sex, and they probably shouldn't be trusted alone with cats, no matter how well they seem to get along.

  • Rescue Groups

    Giant Schnauzers are sometimes acquired without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one, and these dogs often end up in the care of rescue groups, in need of adoption or fostering. If you're interested in adopting a Giant Schnauzer a nonprofit rescue group is a good place to start.

    You can also try DogTime's adoption page that lets you search for adoptable dogs by breed and zip code!

  • Breed Organizations

    Below are breed clubs, organizations, and associations where you can find additional information about the Giant Schnauzer.

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