The Giant Schnauzer, also for a time known as the Russian Bear Schnauzer, the Munich Schnauzer the Munchener, the Munchen Dog and the Riesenschnauzer (which translates as "giant"), is a large, intelligent, loyal and sometimes headstrong breed developed in Germany hundreds of years ago. The first Giant Schnauzer was shown in Munich in 1909 under the breed name of the Russian Bear Schnauzer. The Giant Schnauzer was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1930, as a member of the Working Group.
The height of adult male Giant Schnauzers should be 25½ to 27½ at the withers, and of the female 23½ to 25½ inches at the withers, with mid-range being considered ideal. They typically weigh between 65 and 100 pounds, with females usually being slightly smaller and lighter than males. The Giant Schnauzer's coat is hard, wiry and dense, with a soft under-layer and a harsh outer coat that lays neither smooth nor flat. It should be pure black or pepper-and-salt in color, and must be hand-stripped several times yearly to remove dead hair. The Schnauzer's coarse topknot, stubby moustache, wiry beard and bushy eyebrows are hallmarks of the breed. It used to be common for their ears to be cropped, but increasingly they are left in their natural state.
The Giant Schnauzer is the most recently developed of three distinct breeds that all have their origin in the agricultural areas of neighboring Wurttemberg and Bavaria, where they were used to help shepherds with sheep, cattle and other livestock as far back as the 1500s. Since there were no railroads at that time, the Schnauzer was particularly helpful in driving flocks and herds to market. The mid-sized Schnauzer, now known as the Standard Schnauzer, was used in Germany for centuries as a rodent-controller and was attractive to sheepmen. Cattle farmers (called drovers) wanted a much larger and stronger dog to drive their herds. The Giant Schnauzer developed by crossing the medium-sized Schnauzer with existing smooth-coated driving dogs. Rough-coated sheepdogs, and much later Great Danes and maybe Rottweilers, were added to the mix. It is thought that the Giant Schnauzer is closely related to the driving dog of Flanders, the Bouvier des Flandres.
For many years, the Giant Schnauzer was known as a great cattle-driving dog in the south of Bavaria and in the region between Munich and Augsburg. However, it was virtually unknown outside of Bavaria until the early 1900s, with the advent of the railroads which made cattle-driving obsolete. The breed remained popular with butchers and at stockyards, breweries and beer halls, where they made outstanding urban watch dogs and property guardians. Up until World War I, Giant Schnauzers also gained nationwide attention in Germany for their police work, at which they continue to excel. This breed served Germany in both World Wars, practically to the point of extinction. By the time the Giant Schnauzer appeared in the United States, German Shepherds were firmly established and prized as police dogs, making progression of the Giant Schnauzer's use in police work very slow. Ultimately, they became valued as companions and show animals in this country, in addition to their guarding abilities. They participate in agility, flyball, cart pulling, obedience, protection work and anything that keeps them physically and mentally challenged. In Germany, they continue to be used in security positions and are known for their protection, bold nature and unwillingness to back down from conflict or controversy.
The average life expectancy of the Giant Schnauzer is between 10 and 12 years. This is comparable with the median lifespan of most purebred dogs (10 to 13 years), and most breeds similar in size. Potential hereditary defects and disorders more commonly found, but not necessarily found, in the Giant Schnauzer Dog are as follows:
Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA): Disease in dogs that involves destruction of red blood cells (RBCs)
Bloat (Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus): An extremely serious medical condition where a dog's stomach becomes filled with gas that cannot escape.
Cataracts: Refers to any opacity of the lens of the eye. Dogs of either gender can develop cataracts
Epilepsy: Refers to a group of clinical signs that result from over-stimulation of the brain.
Hip Dysplasia: Involves abnormal development and/or degeneration of the coxofemoral (hip) joint
The personality of the Giant Schnauzer can vary from dog to dog. Some are high strung, some are laid back and easy going, some love everybody, others don't like new people. The key to raising a happy and well-adjusted Giant Schnauzer lies in commitment to exercise and training from an early age. Properly trained Schnauzer make excellent family pets – reliable with children, properly mannered with strangers, respectful of boundaries. Improperly trained and exercised Schnauzers can be much more challenging. Experienced dog owners describe their Schnauzer as loyal, loving companions who bring them nothing but laughter and joy. They can be quite clownish and if silly behavior gets them a laugh and some attention, they'll pick up on that and become show-boaters. With Giant Schnauzers, more so than other breeds, you get out of them what you put into them.
For people who aren't prepared to walk or run several miles a day, the Giant Schnauzer is not the right choice. For active people, he makes an excellent companion, as his daily activity requirements are high. Walking, jogging, hiking and biking are good ways to keep Schnauzers physically fit, and enrolling them in agility training can keep their minds sharp. Couch potatoes or city dwellers may not be the right choice for this breed, as they need lots of space, both indoors and out. Proper exercise not only keeps Giant Schnauzers physically fit, but it also helps maintain a steady temperament. High-strung Schnauzers are probably not getting enough exercise.
Training a Schnauzer varies from individual to individual. Training should be begin as early as possible, and should be conducted with firm leadership, 100% consistency, and a lot of delicious treats. Schnauzers generally won't accept a wishy-washy trainer as a leader. Once basic obedience is mastered, Schnauzers should be graduated on to advanced classes and if possible, enrolled in agility activities where they almost always excel.
Schnauzers need more socialization than a lot of other breeds. They can be timid or shy around strangers, and this can often lead to snapping or biting. It is important to teach a Schnauzer early and often, that new people can be trusted and new situations are nothing to fear.
Animal aggression is a common trait among Giant Schnauzers. Cats and small dogs should be kept away, as Schnauzers are prone to chase and can seriously injure other animals. They are best for one-pet homes, as their same-sex aggressive tendencies are high. Schnauzers should always be kept in a fenced yard and when out walking or jogging, should be leashed at all times. Proper socialization helps, but it's difficult to train aggression out of this breed, even if they are generally an even-tempered individual.
Destructive tendencies are also very common with Giant Schnauzers, but this trait is 100% avoidable. Committing to a Giant Schnauzer means committing to an active lifestyle. A well-exercised Scnhauzer is a reliable housemate. A bored Schnauzer will destroy a home.
The Giant Schnauzer should resemble, as nearly as possible, in general appearance, a larger and more powerful version of the Standard Schnauzer, on the whole a bold and valiant figure of a dog. Robust, strongly built, nearly square in proportion of body length to height at withers, active, sturdy, and well muscled. Temperament which combines spirit and alertness with intelligence and reliability. Composed, watchful, courageous, easily trained, deeply loyal to family, playful, amiable in repose, and a commanding figure when aroused. The sound, reliable temperament, rugged build, and dense weather-resistant wiry coat make for one of the most useful, powerful, and enduring working breeds.
Strong, rectangular in appearance, and elongated; narrowing slightly from the ears to the eyes, and again from the eyes to the tip of the nose. The total length of the head is about one-half the length of the back (withers to set-on of tail). The head matches the sex and substance of the dog. The top line of the muzzle is parallel to the top line of the skull; there is a slight stop which is accentuated by the eyebrows. Skull--(Occiput to Stop). Moderately broad between the ears: occiput not too prominent. Top of skull flat; skin unwrinkled. Cheeks--Flat, but with well-developed chewing muscles; there is no "cheekiness" to disturb the rectangular head appearance (with beard). Muzzle--Strong and well filled under the eyes; both parallel and equal in length to the topskull; ending in a moderately blunt wedge. The nose is large, black, and full. The lips are tight, and not overlapping, black in color. Bite--A full complement of sound white teeth (6/6 incisors, 2/2 canines, 8/8 premolars, 4/6 molars) with a scissors bite. The upper and lower jaws are powerful and well formed. Disqualifying Faults--Overshot or undershot. Ears-- When cropped, identical in shape and length with pointed tips. They are in balance with the head and are not exaggerated in length. They are set high on the skull and carried perpendicularly at the inner edges with as little bell as possible along the other edges. When uncropped, the ears are V-shaped button ears of medium length and thickness, set high and carried rather high and close to the head. Eyes--Medium size, dark brown, and deep-set. They are oval in appearance and keen in expression with lids fitting tightly. Vision is not impaired nor eyes hidden by too long eyebrows. Neck--Strong and well arched, of moderate length, blending cleanly into the shoulders, and with the skin fitting tightly at the throat; in harmony with the dog's weight and build.
Compact, substantial, short-coupled, and strong, with great power and agility. The height at the highest point of the withers equals the body length from breastbone to point of rump. The loin section is well developed, as short as possible for compact build.
The forequarters have flat, somewhat sloping shoulders and high withers. Forelegs are straight and vertical when viewed from all sides with strong pasterns and good bone. They are separated by a fairly deep brisket which precludes a pinched front. The elbows are set close to the body and point directly backwards. Chest-- Medium in width, ribs well sprung but with no tendency toward a barrel chest; oval in cross section: deep through the brisket. The breastbone is plainly discernible, with strong forechest; the brisket descends at least to the elbows, and ascends gradually toward the rear with the belly moderately drawn up. The ribs spread gradually from the first rib so as to allow space for the elbows to move close to the body. Shoulders--The sloping shoulder blades (scapulae) are strongly muscled, yet flat. They are well laid back so that from the side the rounded upper ends are in a nearly vertical line above the elbows. They slope well forward to the point where they join the upper arm (humerus), forming as nearly as possible a right angle. Such an angulation permits the maximum forward extension of the forelegs without binding or effort. Both shoulder blades and upper arm are long, permitting depth of chest at the brisket.
Short, straight, strong, and firm.
The tail is set moderately high and carried high in excitement. It should be docked to the second or not more than the third joint (approximately one and one-half to about three inches long at maturity).
The hindquarters are strongly muscled, in balance with the forequarters; upper thighs are slanting and well bent at the stifles, with the second thighs (tibiae) approximately parallel to an extension of the upper neckline. The legs from the hock joint to the feet are short, perpendicular to the ground while the dog is standing naturally, and from the rear parallel to each other. The hindquarters do not appear over-built or higher than the shoulders. Croup full and slightly rounded. Feet--Well-arched, compact and catlike, turning neither in nor out, with thick tough pads and dark nails. Dewclaws--Dewclaws, if any, on hind legs should be removed; on the forelegs, may be removed.
The trot is the gait at which movement is judged. Free, balanced and vigorous, with good reach in the forequarters and good driving power in the hindquarters. Rear and front legs are thrown neither in nor out. When moving at a fast trot, a properly built dog will single-track. Back remains strong, firm, and flat.
Hard, wiry, very dense; composed of a soft undercoat and a harsh outer coat which, when seen against the grain, stands slightly up off the back, lying neither smooth nor flat. Coarse hair on top of head; harsh beard and eyebrows, the Schnauzer hallmark.
Solid black or pepper and salt. Black--A truly pure black. A small white spot on the breast is permitted; any other markings are disqualifying faults. Pepper and Salt--Outer coat of a combination of banded hairs (white with black and black with white) and some black and white hairs, appearing gray from a short distance. Ideally; an intensely pigmented medium gray shade with "peppering" evenly distributed throughout the coat, and a gray undercoat. Acceptable; all shades of pepper and salt from dark iron-gray to silver-gray. Every shade of coat has a dark facial mask to emphasize the expression; the color of the mask harmonizes with the shade of the body coat. Eyebrows, whiskers, cheeks, throat, chest, legs, and under tail are lighter in color but include "peppering." Markings are disqualifying faults.
The height at the withers of the male is 25½ to 27½ inches, and of the female, 23½ to 25½ inches, with the mediums being desired. Size alone should never take precedence over type, balance, soundness, and temperament. It should be noted that too small dogs generally lack the power and too large dogs, the agility and maneuverability, desired in the working dog.
The foregoing description is that of the ideal Giant Schnauzer. Any deviation from the above described dog must be penalized to the extent of the deviation.
The judge shall dismiss from the ring any shy or vicious Giant Schnauzer.
Shyness A dog shall be judged fundamentally shy if, refusing to stand for examination, it repeatedly shrinks away from the judge; if it fears unduly any approach from the rear; if it shies to a marked degree at sudden and unusual noises.
Viciousness A dog that attacks or attempts to attack either the judge or its handler, is definitely vicious. An aggressive or belligerent attitude towards other dogs shall not be deemed viciousness.
Overshot or undershot.
Markings other than specified.
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Sources: American Kennel Club