Information about the Miniature Schnauzer

The Miniature Schnauzer is a breed of small dog of the Schnauzer type that originated in Germany in the mid-to-late 19th century. Miniature Schnauzers developed from crosses between the Standard Schnauzer and one or more smaller breeds such as the Poodle and Affenpinscher.

The breed remains one of the most popular world wide, primarily for its temperament and relatively small size. Globally, the Miniature Schnauzer comes in four colors: black, salt-and-pepper, black-and-silver, and white. As of 2008 it is the 11th most popular breed in the U.S.

Miniature Schnauzers have a squarely proportioned build, measuring 12 to 14 inches (30 to 36 cm) tall and weighing 11 to 15 pounds (5.0 to 6.8 kg) for females and 14 to 18 pounds (6.4 to 8.2 kg) for males. They have a double coat. The exterior fur is wiry and the undercoat is soft. The coat is kept short on the body, but the hair on ears, legs, and belly are retained.

Miniature Schnauzers are often described as non-shedding dogs, and while this is not entirely true, their shedding is minimal and generally unnoticeable. They are characterized by a rectangular head with bushy beard, mustache and eyebrows; teeth that meet in a “scissor bite”; oval and dark colored eyes; and v-shaped, natural forward-folding ears (when cropped, the ears point straight upward and come to a sharp point). Their tails are naturally thin and short, and may be docked (where permitted). They will also have very straight, rigid front legs, and feet that are short and round (so-called “cat feet”) with thick, black pads.

The Official Standard of the Miniature Schnauzer for the American Kennel Club describes temperament as “alert and spirited, yet obedient to command…friendly, intelligent and willing to please…should never be overaggressive or timid.” Usually easy to train, they tend to be excellent watchdogs with a good territorial instinct, but more inclined toward barking than biting. They are often aloof with strangers until the owners of the home welcome the guest, upon which they are typically very friendly to them. However, they will often express themselves vocally, and may bark to greet their owner, or to express joy, excitement, or displeasure.

The breed is generally good with children, but as with any dog, play with small children should be supervised. They are highly playful dogs, and if not given the outlet required for their energy they can become bored and invent their own “fun.” Miniature Schnauzers can compete in dog agility trials, obedience, showmanship, flyball, and tracking. Schnauzers have a “high prey drive” (appropriate for a ratting dog), which means they may attack other small pets such as birds, snakes, and rodents. Many will also attack cats, but this may be curbed with training, or if the dog is raised with cats.

The earliest records surrounding development of the Standard Schnauzer (or Mittelschnauzer) in Germany come from the late 19th century. They were originally bred to be medium-sized farm dogs in Germany, equally suited to ratting, herding, and guarding property and children. As time passed, farmers bred down the Standard Schnauzer into a smaller, more compact size perfect for ratting around the house and barn. Several small breeds were employed in crosses to bring down the size of the well-established Standard Schnauzer, with the goal of creating a duplicate in miniature.