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The Wonderful World of Miniature Schnauzers

Miniature Schnauzer adult dog and puppy sitting on grass

Welcome to the world of Miniature Schnauzers. These fun-loving, energetic, and independent dogs make wonderful, loving companions. Known for their keen expression and their hallmark eyebrows and beard, there is nothing like the down-the-nose look of a Mini Schnauzer. Our family has lived and been loved by Miniature Schnauzers for the past 50 years. I cannot even imagine our household without at least one Schnauzer.

When discussing this breed that we love, it’s good to talk about the things that they are and the things they are not. Let’s start with the things that Miniature Schnauzers are. They are friendly, smart, active, independent, and robust. Miniature Schnauzers are built square, with a deep chest and a robust body. They are an active dog of terrier type, resembling their larger cousin the Standard Schnauzer in general appearance. Although they resemble the Standard Schnauzer in looks, they are a completely different breed, with different characteristics and personality. They enjoy long walks but can also exist happily on a moderate amount of exercise.

miniature schnauzers
Photo by Carma Ewer

Developed in Germany in the early 1900s, the Schnauzer’s original vocation was that of stable, yard and cattle dog, guard dog, and ratter. Miniature Schnauzers are very independent. And although they excel in Performance and Obedience, as well as the show ring, they do best when they are working with instead of for someone. They catch on very quickly and often anticipate what they think you want them to do. The Official Breed Standard of the Miniature Schnauzer includes these comments regarding temperament: “The typical Miniature Schnauzer is alert and spirited, yet obedient to command. He is friendly, intelligent and willing to please. He should never be overaggressive or timid.”

Miniature Schnauzers are quick to adapt, and they love a routine. They sometimes seem to know, even before we do, what our next move may be. They love their people and have good memories. Miniature Schnauzers will often recognize friends or former owners after a long period of time. They can do well with children but need training to understand the “smaller people” with their higher voices and quick movements. Miniature Schnauzers are not random, incessant barkers, but they do take their role as family guardian seriously and need some guidance and training as to when to alert for strangers, and when to be quiet. They almost always want to be where you are and may constantly remind you that they are outside instead of inside with you.

Things Miniature Schnauzers are not: They are not toys or pocket-sized. A healthy, full-grown Miniature Schnauzer should be 12-14 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 15 and 20 pounds. They are fabulous lap dogs, but they’re strong and sturdy. They do not come in designer colors such as brown, merle, white, mega-coated, spotted, etc. The three recognized colors for Miniature Schnauzers are Salt and Pepper, Black and Silver, and solid Black. All three recognized colors come with a double coat consisting of a harsh wiry body coat with a softer undercoat, furnishings, beard, and eyebrows. Schnauzers are a non-shedding breed. Unlike many short-haired breeds that constantly shed hair as new hair grows, a Miniature Schnauzer needs weekly brushing and a trip to the groomer at least every 4-6 weeks to stay neat and comfortable. Basic obedience training is also important.

miniature schnauzers
Photo by Vicki Kubic

Living with a Miniature Schnauzer does have some requirements. As stated above, they need to be groomed on a regular basis. We generally start grooming our puppies at home between 4-6 weeks, with routine toenail clipping and some brushing on a weekly basis as young as a week old. Dental care is also important, and daily teeth brushing can be an easy routine to establish and will help your Schnauzer live a longer, happier, healthier life.

As stated earlier, Miniature Schnauzers come in three recognized colors: Salt and Pepper, Black and Silver, and Black. The Official AKC Breed Standard states the following for each color:

Salt and Pepper – The typical salt and pepper color of the topcoat results from the combination of black and white banded hairs and solid black and white unbanded hairs, with the banded hairs predominating. Acceptable are all shades of salt and pepper, from light to dark mixtures with tan shadings permissible in the banded or unbanded hair of the topcoat. In salt and pepper dogs, the salt and pepper mixture fades out to light gray or silver white in the eye brows, whiskers, cheeks, under throat, inside ears, across chest, under tail, leg furnishings, and inside hind legs. It may or may not also fade out on the underbody. However, if so, the lighter underbody hair is not to rise higher on the sides of the body than the front elbows.

Black and Silver – The black and silver generally follows the same pattern as the salt and pepper. The entire salt and pepper section must be black. The black color in the topcoat of the black and silver is a true rich color with black undercoat. The stripped portion is free from any fading or brown tinge and the underbody should be dark.

Black – Black is the only solid color allowed. Ideally, the black color in the topcoat is a true rich glossy solid color with the undercoat being less intense, a soft matting shade of black. This is natural and should not be penalized in any way. The stripped portion is free from any fading or brown tinge. The scissored and clippered areas have lighter shades of black. A small white spot on the chest is permitted, as is an occasional single white hair elsewhere on the body.

One last thought in the discussion of the Miniature Schnauzer. Miniature Schnauzers may come with cropped or uncropped ears. When ears are cropped, they should be identical in shape and length with pointed tips. The ears should be set high on the skull and carried perpendicularly at the inner edges. When uncropped, the ears are small and V-shaped, folding close to the skull. Although most dogs in the Conformation ring have cropped ears, both are acceptable. Cropping or upcropping would be a great discussion to have with your breeder and/or veterinarian. Ear cropping is usually done under general anesthesia, between 8 and 12 weeks. The ears are usually healed in 10-12 days.

The origins of ear cropping and tail docking come from the earliest days of the breed when they lived as farm dogs, keeping their master’s property clear of rats and other unwanted creatures. Before the days of penicillin, a nasty bite on an ear or tail could cause serious health problems and even death. Cropping and docking made this less of a problem and has become part of the Miniature Schnauzer breed type, as are the eyebrows and whiskers which were developed to protect the mouth and eyes when going-to-ground to pull a rat out of the its hole.

Miniature Schnauzers have enriched our lives and the lives of our family. After almost 50 years of breeding, showing, loving, and being loved by a Schnauzer, I can’t imagine any other life.