Miniature Schnauzers are outgoing, friendly and like to clown around and draw attention to themselves. They also make good guard dogs, as they like to alert you to whatever is going on. They are friendly, and their shedding is minimal. They make good family pets, but are not usually recommended for families with small children.
Male adults reach a height of 14 inches, and females a height of 13 inches. Males weigh 11 to 18 pounds at maturity, and females between 10 and 15 pounds.
Germans bred this terrier-type dog from a mixture of Standard Schnauzer, Miniature Poodle and Affenpinscher. Their goal was to breed the Standard Schnauzer down in size to create a good farm dog that would keep the rat population down. While keeping tabs on rats, he was also good for guarding the farm and herding livestock. They were introduced to the USA in the early 20th Century, and were known as Wirehaired Pinschers.
Miniature Schnauzers love attention, and are mischievous and lively. They are affectionate with their families and are very intelligent. If you’re not careful, they can get up to all kinds of tricks, like opening closets to find food and toys. They can also be stubborn though, and will pretend they can’t hear if they don’t like what you’re telling them. If you give them an inch, they will take a mile. Because of their poodle heritage, they are more affectionate and friendly than a standard terrier would be.
With a square build and walrus moustache and beard, this is a unique looking dog. Their coat is wiry, with a soft undercoat, and they come in varying colors of black, salt and pepper, and black and silver. Their tails are short and thin, and when they’re not docked they usually curl up in the air.
Miniature Schnauzers are a good choice for first time dog owners. They are small, so adapt well to living in an apartment, but will also do well living on a large farm. Their undercoat helps to regulate their temperature, so they can withstand heat and cold to a certain extent. However they are really indoor dogs, so should not be left outside for prolonged periods.
This breed is not usually recommended for families with small children, as they have a limited amount of patience and may snap or even bite if they don’t like the way they’re being treated. However they do love to be with people and will do better with kids if they are raised alongside them. You should teach children how to act with them, and also tell them not to run, shriek or flap their hands – as this will bring out your dog’s instinct to chase and hunt them.
They play well with other dogs, but have a strong herding instinct so may try and chase small animals. They especially like to chase cats, but not so much to attack them as just for fun. And they are good at catching rats! They are usually aloof with strangers and will bark if they feel there is a threat, but are not generally aggressive.
Miniature Schnauzers will need to have their coat trimmed regularly. If they are being shown at a dog show then their hair is usually hand pulled, to keep the wiry look. However for normal life, most owners take their Miniature Schnauzers to a professional groomer every 5 to 8 weeks, and they will use clippers. Frequent brushing and combing is necessary to help their coat look its best, even though their shedding is minimal. Their ears should be checked and cleaned weekly, and their nails trimmed regularly. They will need a bath around once a month, depending on how dirty they get.
Intelligent and eager to please, Miniature Schnauzers train well. However they also have a stubborn streak and get bored easily, so it works best if you vary the training so there’s not too much repetition. Since they have quite strong guarding instincts it is advisable to socialize them early on, so they get used to a variety of situations, people and animals. They will bark as an alarm, so you might want to teach them a command to stop barking.
They aren’t usually aggressive but may snap or bite given the right circumstances. To help them not to bite, you should say ‘NO!’ in a firm voice and then walk away and ignore them. They love to be with people, so to be ignored is a good punishment for them. You can also use a taste deterrent such as apple cider vinegar by putting it on the areas that he is prone to bite or play rough with, and then rewarding him when he stops.
Housebreaking can take some time, so you need to be consistent – because if you relax then they will stop learning. Crate training is good for naps and to help prevent separation anxiety.
Miniature Schnauzers can adapt to living in the country or city, but will need daily walks and some running time to stay healthy. They should be walked on a leash and kept in a yard with a good fence, as they will run off to chase cats and other small animals. Earthdog activities are fun for them – where there are rodents underground that they can dig and hunt for. They also enjoy agility training.
Make sure the food you give your dog is high quality and appropriate for his age group. A well balanced diet should include protein, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, carbohydrates and fiber. The first ingredient on their dog food label should be protein, and they should have fresh water available every day.
Puppies should be fed ¼ cup of dry food 3 or 4 times day when they’re first brought home. Once they get to 8 weeks old, they can transition to two meals a day.
Try to avoid dog foods that contain lots of additives, chemical preservatives, corn, and soy products. These can cause allergies and food sensitivities, and pure meat sources and whole grains are recommended. If you’re going to change your dog’s food, do it gradually so they don’t get an upset stomach. The amount of fat content in their diet is important, as too much fat can lead to health problems. 10-15% fat content, and 20-25% protein is generally recommended. Also be careful not to feed them fatty table scraps. If you notice itching, scratching, or skin issues then you might want to switch their protein source to see if it improves.
Recommended daily feeding amount: ½ to 1 cup of high quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.
Many Miniature Schnauzers love to eat, so be careful of how many treats you give them, and of their portion sizes, as they can get overweight. If they work or are involved in agility competitions then they will need more food.
Common Health Concerns
Miniature Schnauzers are generally healthy, but are prone to some eye conditions, including Cataracts, Entropion (where the eyelid rolls inward), and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). With this condition, the retina gradually deteriorates, first causing night blindness, and then progressing further to daytime blindness. Dogs generally manage to adapt well to this, so long as you don’t move the furniture around.
They are also prone to Hyperlipidemia, Pancreatitis, Kidney Stones and Liver Shunts. It is best to make sure you get your puppy from a reputable breeder who screens the parents for common health conditions before breeding. Diabetes and heart issues are also common problems that can be avoided to a certain extent by watching their diet carefully and making sure they don’t consume too much fat.
Comedome syndrome can affect this breed – where their back develops bumps that are filled with pus. Their ears should be dried after swimming, to help prevent ear infections. Von Willebrand’s disease can also affect Mini Schnauzers. This is a blood disorder that affects the clotting of blood, so symptoms can include nosebleeds, bleeding gums, and prolonged bleeding at other times. There is no cure for this condition, but it can be treated by cauterizing injuries and giving blood transfusions before surgery.
Miniature Schnauzers are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Miniature Schnauzers in need of adoption and or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don’t see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Miniature Schnauzer rescue.