A German breed, the Miniature Schnauzer was developed from the larger Standard Schnauzer but it was already a separate breed by 1899. The Mini Schnauzer is the most popular of the three Schnauzer breeds. These dogs make excellent apartment dogs. They have a cheerful temperament and they are very smart. They are naturally protective and they make fine watchdogs. They are usually good with children.
History of the Miniature Schnauzer
The history of the Miniature Schnauzer is closely-linked to that of the Standard Schnauzer. The Standard Schnauzer was developed in the late 19th century in Germany to be a medium-sized farm dog. They were used to hunt rats, to guard property, to herd, and to take care of children. Some time later farmers worked on breeding smaller dogs primarily for hunting rats and vermin in homes and on the farm. These dogs became the Miniature Schnauzer. Several small breeds were crossed with the Standard Schnauzer to make the Mini Schnauzer. It’s believed that the dogs used to create the smaller Mini were the Poodle and the Affenpinscher. Miniature Schnauzers were first recorded in 1888 and they were first shown at dog shows in 1899. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1926. The AKC places the Miniature Schnauzer among the Terrier breeds because of its original work of hunting rats and vermin.
Miniature Schnauzers are generally considered to be a healthy breed and they can live to be around 15 years of age, but they can have some health problems. The breed is prone to higher levels of fat than other breeds which can result in health problems such as hyperlipidemia and/or pancreatitis. Other problems which can appear in the breed include bladder stones, diabetes, and eye problems. If you have a Miniature Schnauzer it is recommended that you feed your dog a food that contains lower amounts of fat and sugar or sweeteners.
Miniature Schnauzers can also have problems with comedone syndrome. This is a skin condition where the dog has pustules or small cysts on their backs. You will need to talk to your vet about treatment if your dog has this problem.
Mini Schnauzers can also have problems with hip dysplasia and von Willebrand’s disease. Von Willebrand’s disease is a bleeding disorder similar to hemophilia in humans.
Although these are serious health problems, they are not necessarily widespread among Miniature Schnauzers. If you are interested in getting a Mini Schnauzer you should talk to breeders and ask about health issues in their dogs. Find out what kind of health testing they do and what kind of problems they have had in their own dogs. See what kind of heath tests they recommend for their puppy buyers. Most good breeders will do health testing on their own dogs to try to breed healthy dogs but puppy buyers can also help improve breed health by having their dogs tested for health problems and reporting the results to breed databases.
Temperament and Training
The happy, playful Mini Schnauzer is known to be friendly and willing to please their owners. They shouldn’t be overly aggressive or shy. They are usually careful around strangers until their owner makes the stranger welcome but then they will usually be quite friendly. They are not usually as aggressive as most of the other Terrier breeds. Mini Schnauzers are usually very good with children but you should always supervise when dogs and small children play together.
Miniature Schnauzers have lots of energy and they need plenty of exercise. If they don’t get enough exercise they can find ways to become destructive in the home. You don’t want to allow these dogs to become bored or they can get into trouble. The Miniature Schnauzer does tend to bark a lot. They bark when they’re happy, when they’re upset, excited, or just to say hello. If they are bored they may bark to hear themselves bark.
Miniature Schnauzers have what is called a “high prey drive” which is similar to a hunting instinct. If you have other pets in the home, such as rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, birds, or snakes, then your Mini Schnauzer will likely consider them prey. You should be very careful with these pets and make sure your dog doesn’t have a chance to get them. Some Mini Schnauzers will also consider cats as prey. If you raise your dog with your cats from the time he is a puppy, this will help with the problem. Work on training your Mini Schnauzer to ignore your cats and supervise them until you are sure your dog won’t bother them.
These dogs are very alert and Terrier-like so it’s best to provide them with plenty of proper socialization when they are young. Take your puppy with you to places where puppies and friendly dogs are welcome such as pet supply stores and parks. Encourage friendly people to pet your puppy and give him treats. Allow your puppy to meet other friendly puppies and dogs in a supervised way, with both animals on a leash. Enroll your puppy in a puppy preschool or puppy kindergarten class so he can play with other puppies and meet friendly dog owners who will pet him. Consider signing up for a basic obedience class with your Miniature Schnauzer.
Miniature Schnauzers are very intelligent and it’s usually easy to train them. They love to please their owners. These dogs can do very well in obedience, agility, rally, and other dog sports and activities. They can also do well at herding events, as well as flyball and tracking.
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Miniature Schnauzers, like the other Schnauzer breeds, require some specialized grooming. Most Mini Schnauzers are kept in a style that keeps their body hair close to the body and allows some longer coat on their faces, legs, and other places. You can achieve this look with hand stripping or plucking, where someone patiently plucks out the coat’s dead coat, hair by hair with their fingers or with a stripping knife, to make the coat look perfect. This is how show dogs are groomed. Or, Miniature Schnauzers may be kept in a pet cut which approximates this style. With a pet cut, a professional groomer uses a pair of electric clippers to trim the coat on the dog’s body and keep it cut short. The texture of the coat will feel different from a show dog’s coat (it will feel soft instead of crisp and hard), but it will look very nice. The dog’s beard and the leg furnishings will be long, as with the show dogs. Many pet owners choose to have their Miniature Schnauzer kept in this pet cut. It is easy to care for and it looks nice. If you are going to have your dog professionally groomed and clippered then you will need to make an appointment to see a groomer about every six to eight weeks. If you don’t have your Miniature Schnauzer’s coat clippered or stripped, then the hair on the body will grow out until it is about two to four inches long and it will start to tangle and mat.
If you keep your dog’s coat stripped or clippered you will just need to brush it a couple of times per week. Be sure to brush your dog’s furnishings on the legs and face to keep debris from causing tangles. You may wish to use some blunt-nosed scissors to keep the hair around your dog’s eyes and ears trimmed more frequently. Bathe as needed but keep the dog’s beard around the mouth clean each day so it doesn’t get dirty and pick up food.
The Miniature Schnauzer sheds very little hair or dander and they are considered to be a good breed for people with allergies to dog hair and dander.
You should clean your dog’s ears weekly to prevent ear infections. Make sure you always dry your Miniature Schnauzer’s ears well when they get wet, especially following baths, as this is a breed that is prone to ear infections.
Trim your dog’s nails on a weekly basis to keep them short. If you trim them each week, removing just a small amount of nail, then you won’t cut the quicks or harm your dog.
Special Needs or Care
This is a breed that is prone to becoming overweight and obese so be careful not to overfeed your Miniature Schnauzer. Measure how much food you are feeding and monitor how much your dog is eating. Don’t allow them to steal food from other dogs or from your cat.