The Miniature Schnauzer is a small robust dog, nearly square in proportion. This dog is literally made up of rectangles. The head is rectangular in shape, which is accentuated by the long, thick beard, and heavy eyebrows. The muzzle is parallel to, and as long as, the topskull and ending in a blunt wedge. His teeth should meet in a scissors bite, with no signs of an overbite. The eyes should be deep-set, small, dark brown, and oval shaped.
Ears can either be cropped, or left natural. If cropped, they should be identical in appearance, set high up on the skull. When left natural, they should be small, v-shaped and folded close to the skull. In the UK, it is illegal to crop ears and dock tails, making for a complete opposite appearance than what is normally found in the US.
The body should be sturdily built, with a strong arched neck that blends seamlessly into the shoulders. The shoulders themselves should be well muscled, yet well laid back to make a vertical line from the tip of the shoulder to the elbows. The ribs are well sprung, extending well back to the loin; the belly should not be tucked up. The backline is straight, slighting declining from the withers to the tail. The tail is usually docked around the third vertebrae. It must be tall enough to be seen over the backline; it is to be carried high and erect. Height at the withers should equal in length from chest to buttocks. Any suggestion of toyishness will be disqualified in the ring; this breed is meant to be small and compact, not frail.
The front legs should be straight, long, and muscular, with elbows held close to the body; there should also be long heavy feathering on the legs. The hindquarters are also well-muscular. There should be enough angulation for the hocks to extend well beyond the tail. The feet are small and round, with arched toes. Dewclaws are removed at 2-3 days of age.
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The Miniature Schnauzer’s coat is made up of two layers: a hard wiry outer coat, and a soft undercoat. The undercoat ranges between light gray and black. The muzzle (or beard), legs, and eyebrows are kept longer than the rest of the coat, giving him the characteristic markings of a Schnauzer.
Believed to have been derived from breeding the Standard Schnauzer with a small Affenpinscher or possibly Poodle, the intention was to retain the same hunting skills as the Standard that could also be a house pet.
Originating in the early 1800s in Germany as a farm dog and ratter, it wasn’t until 1899 that Germany recognized it as being a separate breed from the Standard Schnauzer. It wasn’t until 1933 that the AKC separated the Miniature and Standard Schnauzer into two different breeds. They are also the only Schnauzer remaining in the Terrier Group.
Following World War II, they gained popularity in the United States, becoming one of the most popular breeds in America.
Many people are unaware of the two different sides of a Miniature Schnauzer. They can go from being energetic and out-of-control, to snuggling up in your lap on the couch. It is a breed much loved by the older generation, as they can be very gentle. Without being told, they recognize when to be gentle and calm around children, and when it’s okay to run around and play with an older crowd.
They are known to be hard-headed, and stubborn, but deep down they are mischievous little goofballs. They are a very energetic and playful dog that can play for hours on end. If they are unable to get enough exercise, they can become a very difficult breed to handle.
It is also known for Miniature Schnauzers to seek a dominant role when meeting other dogs, even those larger than themselves. This may often start a fight, without necessarily intending to do so. Though they usually get along with most dogs, the key is socialization at a young age; he must be exposed to many breeds and sizes of dogs.
Miniature Schnauzers are very vocal dogs, known to bark at even the slightest of noises; In this sense, they make wonderful watchdogs. They are highly loyal to their family, and keep very protective of them. It is common for the Miniature Schnauzer to be a talker; they will growl and carry on as if carrying on a conversation with themselves. A personal favorite is when they let out a deep, long “roo-roo”, usually in defiance when they have been told to do something that they do not want to do.
Overall, the Miniature Schnauzer is friendly, loving, and eager to please. They make excellent companions and even better family pets.
Major Health concerns for the Miniature Schnauzer include Congenital Cataracts, a genetic disorder affecting both eyes resulting in blindness over a period of time; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), another genetic eye disorder in which a retina deteriorates resulting in blindness; liver diseases; bladder stones; anaphylactic reactions to vaccinations; diabetes; pancreatitis; skin disorders; and von Willebrands disease.
They are also at high risk for Heart Murmurs, urinary infections, Allergies, obesity, anemia, Cushings disease, and Schnauzer Comedone Syndrome, also known as Schnauzer bumps.
Before purchasing a Miniature Schnauzer, you should consider what it takes to maintaining their coat. Seeing as they do not shed, weekly brushing is needed to prevent the hair from matting. Before bathing and clipping, they need to be thoroughly brushed in case of any mat-buildups. Brushing in an upward direction will help to avoid missing any mats. First, start by brushing the leg hair in an upward direction, starting from the top and working your way down. Be careful not to forget the armpits, belly hair, and in between the toes, as these areas tend to mat up easily. If you do find a mat, place your hand between the mat and skin to minimize the discomfort of removing the mat. The eyebrows are to be combed forward, while the beard should be combed from the flat of the muzzle down and the underneath combed forwards. It is a good idea to run a brush down their back to help stimulate the skin, and remove any buildup of dirt and natural oils.
Depending on how dirty your Schnauzer gets, they should only be bathed when necessary and prior to clipping. Over bathing can result in their body producing more oils than necessary to help replace those that have been washed away, leaving the coat dirty and greasy. Be careful not to get any water or shampoo in their eyes, ears or mouth; A tearless shampoo is recommended. Putting cotton balls in the ears while bathing can prevent water entering the ear canal and causing an infection. Be sure to get all of the shampoo out of his coat and face, as if left behind will cause dry, flaky skin.
The ears should be checked on a regular basis for signs of infection. If the ears are overly hairy, a pair of hemostats or tweezers can be used to pull out any unnecessary hair. Brown waxy buildup, and/or redness, may be signs of an infection. An ear cleaner from your vet will help in flushing out the ear. Dogs with uncropped ears are at higher risk for ear infections due to lack of air flow.
It is recommended brushing your Miniature Schnauzer’s teeth on a weekly basis. Bacteria, produced by excess tarter buildup, can lead to permanent heart and liver damage; problems which already plague the breed. Toys that promote dental stimulation, such as cow hooves, bones, and Greenies are just a few that should be left availble to them when supervised. Gently massage the teeth and gums in a circular motion with a toothbrush.. Do not use toothpaste made for humans, as it is toxic to dogs. It is best to use dog-friendly brushes and flavored toothpaste that can be bough at any local pet store.
The standard coat for a Miniature Schnauzer of show quality is hard, wiry, and coarse. This is achieved by plucking the head, neck, ears, chest, body, and tail. This process is called stripping, in which the undercoat and dead outer coat is removed by hand. It is a difficult and time consuming project to take on for first time owner. Many breeders and handlers are experienced at stripping, and are able to instruct on how to do it properly.
For most pet quality Schnauzers, due to clipping, it is only a matter of time in which only the soft undercoat will remain. They are often kept this way due to the ease in the up keep of the coat. It is recommended taking them to a professional groomer every 4-6 weeks. There they are also able to trim nails, clean out ears, and if necessary, express anal glands. The more courageous owners will take on all the grooming themselves to prevent numerous trips to the groomers. It also helps create a bond between you and your dog.
Regular exercise is a must for all Miniature Schnauzers. They gain weight very easily, which can result in major health problems. With the proper diet and exercise, these can be avoided. Exercise requirements can be met with a short walk, or a good game of toss in the yard. They enjoy playing off-leash outdoors, where they can track and follow game trails, well away from busy traffic and other unsafe environments.
This breed of dog loves interactive play with his family, such as playing fetch or tug-of-war. Mind-stimulating toys are a great outlet for this breed when they are left alone, or the family is busy. They tend to have a naughty streak in them when they are left unattended for long periods of time, as they do get bored quite easily.
Training a Miniature Schnauzer requires consistency and an understanding of being alpha in the family pack. They are a very intelligent breed of dog that must be taught at a young age that they are not the dominant figure in the household. Most Miniature Schnauzers will be stubborn, hard-headed, manipulative, and assertive to get what they want. Through constant repetitions, they will learn that you mean what you say, and there’s nothing they can do about. They do however, require a lot of attention and affection on a regular basis as the breed tends to become depressed if neglected.
A method called NILIF, or Nothing In Life Is Free, works amazingly well with this stubborn breed. It is a non-confrontational way to prevent dominance problems in dominant breeds. The dog must perform to get anything they want; he must earn everything, resulting in you keeping a dominant position. This will result in a much happier dog, as they will no longer be confused where they stand in the pack.
Because of the breed’s intelligence, they learn very quickly from a confident, but fair handler. More and more are seen in the obedience ring, as their loyalty and willingness to please outshines in this sport. They also enjoy doing agility; a challenging sport that requires much concentration and enthusiasm, a perfect match for this breed.
Due to their breeding, Miniature Schnauzers are known to chase and kill small fleeing creatures (cats, rabbits, mice, etc.). They are also known to act aggressive when other people and animals approach them. They normally aren’t fighters (towards other dogs), though will stand up for himself if necessary. Both of these problems must be curtailed at an early age, or you may end up with a suspicious and aggressive animal.