Standard Schnauzer Q & A

We asked the following questions to various experts involved with the breeding & showing of Standard Schnauzers. Below are their responses, which are taken from the June 2019 issue of ShowSight.  Click to subscribe.  Above photos taken from the article “Judging The Standard Schnauzer” by Arden Coe Holst, ShowSight Magazine, June 2014 Issue. 


  1. Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs?
  2. How many years in the Standard Schnauzer? Showing? Judging? Breeding?
  3. What, in your opinion, is the secret to a successful breeding program?
  4. What do you feel is the condition of the Standard Schnauzer breed today? Pros and Cons?
  5. What do you feel breeders need to concentrate on to improve the quality of the Standard Schnauzer?
  6. How do you feel about the influx of new judges, specialists and all breed, to our breed?  Do you feel they have a grasp of the standard, do they know what compromises a good the Standard Schnauzer?
  7. One of the smaller specimens in the Working Group, the Standard Schnauzer certainly has plenty of fans. Do you think it’s hard to get noticed in the Group ring?
  8. What is your favorite dog show memory?
  9. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate.


Penny Duffee

Penny and her husband, Bill, got their first SS in 1971—the old story of wanting a pet, breeder suggested showing, won first points and “the rest is history.”

She has done limited breeding under the Morgenwald name since the mid 70s. Their foundation bitch, Ch Skico’s Alpen Glow, was their first owner-handled BIS winner, followed by Ch. Morgenwald Izod, Ch. Katon’s Kismet v Morgenwald and GCH. Katon’s Eye of the Tiger v Morgenwald RATO.

Professionally Penny supervised clinical practicum experiences for graduate students in Speech Pathology at ISU. She also developed the Audiology program for BroMenn Healthcare, retiring from that position 15 years ago.

Penny was a founding member of Prairieland SSC and been active in Standard Schnauzer Club of America, serving in multiple positions, including president and co-chair for four National Specialties. She has also served in many positions in Corn Belt KC as well as Heart of Illinois cluster committee chairperson.

I am a Midwest gal—I live in Bloomington, Illinois. Most of my activities seem to be centered around dogs. However I enjoy doing some craft and art work and spending time working in the yard.

We got our first SS in 1971—just wanted a pet but the breeder talked me into showing him just once (with some grooming help from Sue Baines)—he won his first point and “the rest is history.” In 1973 we bought an eight month old bitch. Several Schnauzer handlers (including Lanny Hirstein and Dick Smith) said to send her back. Denver airport was fogged in, we kept her as an obedience dog and she was our first Best in Show winner. (Ugly duckling to beautiful swan!) I enjoy the challenge of breeding and showing dogs myself.

The secret to a successful breeding program is knowledge of the breed standard and the ability to objectively evaluate your own dogs are the foundation of a good breeding program. There are no perfect dogs. One must be able to identify the strengths and weakness of the dogs, know the pedigrees in depth to know where those traits came from and then pair up those animals that compliment each other. Each breeding should be done with the next generation breeding in mind. Show records should not influence breeding choices. A successful breeder is always open to advice and suggestions from others.

What I feel is the condition of the Standard Schnauzer breed today? In general I think the temperaments are better than when I started in the breed. Most Standard Schnauzers are steady and confident which is necessary for a proper working dog. Coats over all are better, especially the black dogs. Standard Schnauzers are a healthy breed. The parent club conducts periodic health surveys to monitor any issues which may be developing so we can be proactive to protect our breed.

Currently we are seeing some large dogs in the ring. Standard Schnauzers are a measurable breed but sometimes judges are not confident in their ability to “eyeball” the size of a dog and perhaps hesitate to measure because it takes extra time and they are under pressure to stay on schedule. While body coats are generally good, furnishings are becoming very profuse. This is in part a grooming issue, perhaps because more handlers are coming from Minis into Standards. Another concern is “squirrel tails.” Poor tail set is an indication that the total rear assembly is not correct.

Breeders and judges need to remember that SS are the middle-size breed, between Minis and Giants, with a DQ for both over and under size. The breed standard states the “ideal” size for dogs is 18 ½” to 19 ½” but a 19″ dog appears small. (Bitches are 1″ shorter.)

The breed should be sturdy and robust—but there is a fine line between proper working dog substance and overdone. Historically the breed is an all-round farm dog. Hence the dogs should be solid and correctly built so they can work all day long but they must also be very agile.

Understanding correct movement is a concern. We also need to understand the structure and conditioning that is required to produce proper movement. A working dog should move freely and with minimum effort. From the side the dog should reach out and cover ground. On the down and back there should be a nice “V” shape—a straight line in the front from shoulder to the foot and in the rear a straight line from hip through the hock and down to the foot. Movement needs to be evaluated on the coming and going as well as from the side.

I think that most new judges are making an effort to understand the breed. We have always had good judges and some not so good. Judging is partly an art—the person needs to “have an eye” for dogs and the subtle nuances of each breed. Those who are newer to the dog world often seem to lack knowledge of basic dog structure and movement. “Back in the day” our breeders and judges came from a more rural society where animals had to perform the job(s) for which they were bred. Those that could not perform were not bred. Today most of our dogs no longer have to perform specific jobs—poor structure can get around a show ring and look pretty.

As I said earlier, movement needs to be evaluated from three angles—coming, going and around. (Actually had a judge tell me one time that “I don’t care how they come and go as long as they look good on the go round!”)

One of the smaller specimens in the Working Group, the Standard Schnauzer certainly has plenty of fans. Do I think it’s hard to get noticed in the Group ring? Sometimes a judge begins to make a large cut in the front of the group and tends to skip over the end of the line. But generally a good quality Standard Schnauzer can make his/her presence known in the Group.

My favorite dog show memory? Over the years there have been many great memories—winning the National Specialty (with a breeder/owner handled bitch) my first BIS win (with an owner handled bitch), watching my daughter win the National Specialty (with a dog we bred and she raised and trained)

But the most important memory is all the great friends I have made in the dog world over the years. There are just no friends like dog friends!

This is a great breed—fun loving and full of energy. But not the breed for everyone. They are smart and can be a challenge but are also a great friend and companion if raised and trained properly.

Tommy Katzenstein

I am a professional handler, as well as, a breeder. I fell in love with the Standard Schnauzer while growing up working for Brenda Combs. I apprenticed under Brenda and her husband, Ed, since I was ten years old. I learned how to properly hand strip the coats and was taught structure and the importance of the breed standards. I have been fortunate to learn many breeds and the proper way to maintain and groom each one. I can not stress the importance of the education I received and I try to share the knowledge that was given to me with anyone who asks. We have recently started forming a Standard Schnauzer club for the states of Texas and Oklahoma. We are waiting on AKC approval for our name and the “go ahead” to take the next steps to getting this club recognized. The overall support of the Standard Schnauzer community and our members is amazing. We are all working together to improve our breed and our sport. Sportsmanship is very important and the friendships that are formed through the dog show community (inclusive of all events, not just conformation) can be lifelong.

I live in Italy, Texas. Outside of dogs, I like to hunt when I can, which is not very often. I have 22 Years showing dogs and researching the Standard Schnauzer.

The secret to a successful breeding program is knowledge of pedigrees, great teachers (the value of their knowledge is priceless), honesty (knowing and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each dog and striving to breed an overall better dog), and surrounding yourself with other people who support you and who can give you positive advice.

What I feel is the condition of the the Standard Schnauzer is today? Overall: fair.

Pros: coat texture is really good in general right now. We have an amazing group of people who are working together to breed better dogs and bring back the camaraderie we have lost in this sport. It is refreshing to be a part of such great sportsmanship.

Cons: lack of consistency in type.

What I feel breeders need to concentrate on to improve the quality of the Standard Schnauzer? They need to breed to the standard. The Standard Schnauzer should be square and robust. Socialization is also extremely important. Breeders need to be honest with themselves about their dogs. Know the strengths and weaknesses of your dogs. Breed to improve your weaknesses but at the same time, keep your strengths.

How I feel about the influx of new judges, specialists and all breed, to our breed? I don’t mind the influx of new judges. I think there needs to be more breed specific judges, long time breeders and professional handlers who truly know the breed. I think the new judges need to concentrate on judging to the standard.

Do I think it’s hard to get noticed in the Group ring? Not really, if it is groomed correctly, it looks right and shines, it will be seen.

My favorite dog show memory is standing on the floor of Madison Square Garden during BIS watching the sparkle in Rocky’s eyes; CH Charisma’s Jailhouse Rock. It was captivating and the Standard Schnauzer chose me, I did not choose them.

The breed overall is extremely intelligent. They are full of life and have the ability to do anything you ask of them. We encourage not only conformation activities, but also performance events. They love to run fast cat, barn hunt and dock diving just to name a few. The best standard schnauzer is one who has many activities besides being your couch buddy.

Darcy Morgan

Darcy Morgan and her husband, Craig, are up-and-coming owner-handlers and breeders. They’ve owned Standard Schnauzers since 2005 and began showing in 2015. Their kennel, Steadfast Standard Schnauzers, produced its first litter in 2018. Their dogs participate in Fast CAT, CAT, Nose Work, CGC, Trick Dog and Conformation. They’re training for Agility and Barn Hunt because they believe the maxim that a tired Schnauzer is a good Schnauzer.

We’re in Spring, Texas—just north of Houston. I’m a full-time Project Manager for a tech company so most of my off hours involve the dogs. Nice weather finds us outside playing and training in the yard, walking, or going to the dog park. I’m an avid house and yard DIY-er, so I’ve always got some remodeling, decorating or crafting project going on. Hot weather drives us I had Mini’s before deciding in 2005 I was ready for the challenge of the Standard. I fell in love with the breed and have progressed from being a pet owner to showing in Conformation and breeding. We’ve also started competing in performance sports and are training for Agility. I’ve only been showing since 2015, so I’m still the new kid on the block compared to many of my dog-show friends.

The secret to a successful breeding program? Start with the essentials—purposefully breed to the highest standards using only health-tested dams and sires that have the qualities you most want to preserve or strengthen. And since no dog is perfect, know their faults and select mates carefully that offset those faults. That’s the basics from which you’ll get good form and function. Next comes what I believe to be a critical differentiator—early and continuous physical and mental stimulation. I strongly believe in, and adhere to, stimulation exercises that start when the puppies are three days old and progress into enrichment activities and formal training as we share those precious first 10 or 12 weeks together. Standard Schnauzers are versatile working dogs with sharp minds that need to be prepared for a wide variety of home environments. Each pup should be purposely cultivated and socialized. The breeder has the unique opportunity to develop in them sound temperaments that will set them up to perform and thrive in their years to come.

As a breed, Standards have a loyal fan base but they’re not a common breed. A lot of people seem even to be surprised to learn that there is a Schnauzer other than the Mini. When a potential new owner decides this is the breed for them, it’s hard to find a Standard available. My concern is that it may not get any easier to find a Standard Schnauzer in foreseeable future. Many of the breeders are reaching an age where they’re ready to retire from the exhausting work of rearing puppies but not very many younger breeders are coming up behind them to fill in the gaps. I certainly don’t want to see the breed proliferate for the sake of popularity, but I have empathy for devotees of the breed that, due to very limited availability, just can’t attain one.

What I feel breeders need to concentrate on to improve the quality of the Standard Schnauzer? I’ve seen a lot of variation in build type and coat textures at the shows. That surprised me because their wire-coat is one of the main characteristics that make them such a great outdoorsy, go-anywhere kind of dog. We shouldn’t sacrifice that working-dog coat for one that looks more alluring in the ring. And obviously, we need to ensure we breed for structure so they’re sturdy and agile.

Joyce Mullan

After 11 years of training, showing, and breeding my Standard Schnauzers, I am very pleased with the six litters of 24 puppies that have been whelped in my kennel, Castlewood Standard Schnauzers. For the last 4-1/2 years, I have been showing Rosie, my first generation bitch under my kennel name, and soon will be showing a second generation bitch that I have bred. It is my passion to produce the best Standard Schnauzer puppy a family or individual has ever owned. I plan to continue training, showing, and breeding my Standard Schnauzers for as long as I enjoy this huge part of my life.

I am a native Californian and have lived in Northern California most of my life. I have lived in San Ramon, California for over 41 years in the same residence where I enjoy breeding, training and showing my Standard Schnauzers throughout California.

I have been retired since 2010, and devote 90% of my time focusing on being the best Standard Schnauzer Breeder training my dogs and puppies for the show ring (Conformation) as well as commencing a “good behavior” pattern for puppies commencing at two weeks of age. My puppy training includes: potty training starting in the JonArt Whelping and Weaning Box, no bite training, no bark training, leash training, crate training, car riding training and socialization. I frankly do not “do outside of dogs.”

I purchased my first show-quality Standard Schnauzer in August 2008 and brought home Brie (GCHB Blackhawk Brie de Provence) at nine weeks of age. I started training Brie for Conformation Show at four months old, and at 11 months old, Brie became a Champion. Shortly after the American Kennel Club announced a new title of Grand Champion, Brie became the 14th Grand Champion in the Breed 2-1/2 months after the new title was started in the United States. I have personally shown Brie as well as had many of the top Standard Schnauzer Handlers show her throughout her show years. Brie was shown almost exclusively in California except for one dog show attended in Klamath Falls, Oregon. I started breeding Brie when she was 3-1/2 years old; therefore, I have been breeding Standard Schnauzers for 8-1/2 years, and showing my bitches for 11 years. I have never judged a dog show.

I believe I have been successful in my breeding program by adhering to the American Kennel Club’s Mission to improve each Standard Schnauzer litter. I spend hours to carefully research a chosen Stud Dog’s ancestors going back eight to ten generations on the website Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. In addition, I found the test results on this website to be extremely helpful when narrowing down the best and healthiest Stud Dog for my breeding program.

I also love researching the foundation dogs of a specific stud dog in my Standard Schnauzer Club of America Source books going back to the late 50s and 60s to analyze the profile pictures of these same foundation dogs for any obvious faults. Some of the obvious faults seen in a profile picture (head facing to the left in the picture) is a wrong tail set at a “12 Noon or 11 O’Clock Position” and not at the desired tail set at the “One O’Clock Position.” Another good example of a fault found in a profile picture is the front legs being structured too close to the chest which would give the dog or bitch a limited forward reach with its front legs while running. One additional and very important breeding strategy is not to inbreed my bitches, but I have out-sourced to other kennels giving “new blood” to my breeding line. Out-sourcing takes a considerable amount of time to research all new dogs and bitches from another kennel. But, it is well worth doing this since many great qualities from out-sourcing from a new kennel can strengthen the litter of puppies.

I am pleased that so many reputable Standard Schnauzer breeders are testing for Dilated Cardiomyopathy to be sure that all breeding within their dogs is safe with Negative/Normal test results. Hopefully, this disease will be eliminated within the Standard Schnauzers within the next two to three years. The hips of the Standard Schnauzer is also monitored by the reputable breeders and x-raying the hips and using only “Good” or “Excellent” Hips is the best choice.

The Standard Schnauzer breed is constantly improving and is a very intelligent and strong breed.

I strongly believe that the Standard Schnauzer breeders need to continue to do Health Tests for Dilated Cardiomyopathy as well as heart, hips, eyes, and thyroid (for bitch), thus, giving the breeder a CHIC certification. Also, the breeders need to continue to choose sweet tempered dogs and bitches in their breeding program.

How I feel about the influx of new judges, specialists and all breed, to our breed? I have little comment regarding the influx of new judges except that it is good to have new judges to add variety to our judging. There are times when I have questioned the choice of a winning dog or bitch, and recently I have seen a big increase in politics in the judging ring. Of course, politics can be found in every sport.

Do I think it’s hard to get noticed in the Group ring? I have actually experienced the audience paying quite a bit of attention to the smallest breed of dog in the Working Group, the Standard Schnauzer, since the Standard Schnauzer is a marvel to watch its beautiful movement. When running, the Standard Schnauzer is like poetry in motion with powerful strength and speed. I have experienced the entire audience standing up, yelling and clapping for my bitch, Brie, while she moved fluidly around the group show ring. She then won a very good placement in group.

My favorite dog show memory? In 2010, Brie was slightly over two years old when I entered her in the Long Beach, California National Eukanuba Dog Show. Her half brother, Max, was also entered in this show. I was totally shocked when Brie won Best Opposite Sex against some of the finest, more mature bitches in the country. Brie’s half brother won Best of Breed. I will always remember how I felt that day!

The Standard Schnauzer is a very strong-willed dog and requires an “Alpha” owner who is consistent in his/her regiment, training, and daily activities. They are a very loving, loyal, devoted and protective breed of dog. Being a mid-size dog, they are easy to walk with you and travel very nicely in the car. When the Standard Schnauzer is hand stripped by a trained groomer who specializes in hand stripping, the coat or jacket is like copper wire. With this very hard, copper wire jacket, the smooth cuticle of the hair wards off water and dirt. In addition, the Standard Schnauzer is an excellent dog breed for anyone who has allergies.

How I feel about the influx of new judges, specialists and all breed, to our breed? I’m new to conformation so I’m not a good judge of how it’s changed. In the current environment, I feel there are too many judges that award on handler looks and dog personality rather than how the dog is built to purpose. A well-mannered but serious Schnauzer doesn’t present itself as “cute”—they’re working dogs with that mindset—and no one expects a Doberman or Rottweiler to show-off its cute personality. And it’s tough enough to get noticed amongst the old guard of professional handlers and judges without having to also learn all the little ring tricks. I’d like to see us get back to the basics of judging the dog on its merits alone and do a lot less of the dramatic, eye-catching show-off stuff as handlers.

Do I think it’s hard to get noticed in the Group ring? Yes, I do, unfortunately—but maybe every one that has a breed that didn’t win that day feels the same. It doesn’t take a lot of math skills to figure out the frequency—or lack thereof—in which the Standard Schnauzer places in the group ring. You certainly wouldn’t choose this breed if you’re hoping for a very successful Best in Show track record. As one of the smallest breeds in the working group, I think they get overlooked quite often.

My favorite dog show memory? Everybody loves to win, but my favorite moments are those that are good for a laugh. I like to tell people that are new to conformation about the first time I took first place in the owner-handled working group. I was elated! I took my big, pink ribbon and ran to call my family and friends and share the news. Their excitement fed my own and by the time I hung up I was just drifting on a sea of joy. Later, when I was back at the hotel winding down, it finally hit me: I’d forgotten to go back for the Best in Show competition! That’s my rookie move that usually gets a laugh and helps ease the tension for new exhibitors.

I get a lot of inquiries from would-be owners that want a Standard Schnauzer because they’ve heard they don’t shed, and they want a medium sized dog. I always suggest to them that they consider themselves as a hiring manager bringing in a new employee. You wouldn’t hire someone just because you like people and people like you—there needs to be a job for them to do. Even if it’s just ‘guard the house’ and ‘play with the kids’ there must be defined expectations, a training plan, and enough time available for this very active and mentally engaged breed. With that working-dog mindset, I’ve been purposeful in their breeding and early development. Potential owners need to understand that their job is to establish and maintain their dog’s sense of purpose. 


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