The Miniature Schnauzer, also known as the Mini Schnauzer, the Dwarf Schnauzer and the Zwergschnauzer, is a stocky, spirited German breed that dates back to the 15th century. These dogs were used to eradicate rats and other vermin on German farms for many centuries. They also were beloved family pets, a role which continues today. Unlike most other terriers, the Mini Schnauzer is not known to be a fighter, but certainly he will stand up for himself if necessary. The Miniature Schnauzer is the most popular of the three Schnauzer breeds (the others being the Standard and the Giant). They do not shed and are considered to be hypoallergenic, making them a good choice for people with allergies or asthma. Senators Bob and Elizabeth Dole, and actors Mary Tyler Moore, Bill Cosby and Bruce Lee, have all owned Miniature Schnauzers. The Mini Schnauzer was admitted to the American Kennel Club as a distinct breed in 1933, as a member of the Terrier Group.
The average Miniature Schnauzer stands 12 to 14 inches high at the withers. There is no weight standard for this breed, but an adult bitch of about 13 inches should weigh about 14 pounds. Their wiry double coat, prolific whiskers and leg furnishings require frequent grooming and must be hand-stripped several times a year. Miniature Schnauzers have the bushy eyebrows, bristly mustaches and shaggy beards of their larger relatives. Many owners prefer to keep their Mini Schnauzers in a short-clipped cut for easier care. Acceptable colors include salt-and-pepper (gray), black-and-silver and solid black. The Schnauzer's ears may be cropped or left natural under the American standard, and its tail is typically docked.
History & Health
The Miniature Schnauzer descends from the slightly larger Standard Schnauzer and is believed to also include Affenpinscher and Poodle in its ancestry. Some authors speculate that Miniature Pinschers, Wire Fox Terriers and Zwergspitz may also have contributed to the mix. While paintings suggest that Miniature Schnauzers date back to the 1400s, they were not recognized as a distinct breed until the late 1800s. Georg Riehl and Heinrich Schott, both fanciers of Schnauzers and Affenpinschers, are credited with miniaturizing the Schnauzer by cross-breeding and line-breeding the smallest puppies in Schnauzer litters. In 1888, the first Mini Schnauzer was recorded in a German stud book. The breed first appeared at a dog show in 1899. Miniature Schnauzers have been bred in North America since roughly 1924 and have steadily gained in popularity. The Wirehaired Pinscher Club of America was formed in 1925, covering both Miniature and Standard Schnauzers. The breed was moved to the Terrier Group and renamed "Schnauzer" in 1926. In 1927, the breed was split into two varieties: the Miniature Schnauzer and the Standard Schnauzer. In 1933, the Schnauzer Club of America was divided into the Standard Schnauzer Club of America and the American Miniature Schnauzer Club, with both breeds competing in the AKC Terrier Group. The Standard Schnauzer was moved to the Working Group in 1945.
The Miniature Schnauzer was developed as a farm dog, with a particular aptitude as a ratter. He is equally at home in rural and urban environments, and his small stature makes him particularly well-suited to apartment and city living. Today's Miniature Schnauzer is predominantly a charismatic companion: naturally happy and completely devoted to its people. This breed also excels as a guard and watch dog, with keen hearing and a sharp bark. Miniature Schnauzers are highly intelligent, obedient and trainable, making them competitive in both obedience and rally trials.
The Miniature Schnauzer is a long-lived breed, with an average life expectancy of 14 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include allergies, canine neuronal ceroid-lipofuscinosis, Cushing's disease (hyperadrenocorticism), diabetes, epilepsy, congenital idiopathic megaesophagus, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, myotonia, pancreatitis, patent ductus arteriosus, pulmonic stenosis, endocardiosis, portosystemic shunts, keratoconjunctivitis sicca ("dry eye"), lens luxation, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, renal dysplasia, retinal dysplasia, hyperlipidemia, melanoma, canine cutaneous histiocytoma, Schnauzer comedo syndrome, seizures ("fly-biting" and "star-gazing"), urolithiasis (urate, calcium oxalate, struvite, calcium phosphate, silica) and cryptorchidism (undescended testicles).
Temperament & Personality
Miniature Schnauzers pack a lot of personality into a tiny package. Like other terrier breeds, they believe they rule the roost and soak up as much attention as they can possibly get. They are sturdy little balls of spunk who love nothing more than to run and play outside with the people they love. Miniature Schnauzers are clowns who enjoy making mischief. They are incredibly smart and will use that intelligence to do things like open cabinets or closets to get at food, toys, or your favorite pair of shoes. They get along fine with other household pets – they may give chase to your family cat, but he's not a danger to other pets, rather, he'll chase Fluffy for his own amusement. Miniature Schnauzers make a great pet for active families, and are an excellent choice for first time dog owners.
Miniature Schnauzers are versatile dogs who can live in the city or the country. They need daily walks and time to run every week, but they can be just as happy living in an apartment as a farm. The Schnauzer's yard should always be fenced in because these terriers will take off like a shot if they catch a glimpse of a cat, rabbit, bird or squirrel.
Their need to chase and dig can be channeled productively by enrolling your Miniature Schnauzer in earthdog activities, where they are able to track rodents and dig for them. The rodents are hidden below ground in safe enclosures, so it is a safe activity. They also enjoy and excel in agility training. These activities can keep you Schnauzer's mind and body active, and he will love the bonding time spend with his favorite people.
Schnauzers are highly trainable as they are intelligent and eager to use their minds. They are very independent and stubborn, however, so training can be a challenge and should never be done by the softie in the house. Schnauzers don't like being told what to do and want to be in charge at all times. Training should be conducted in a calm-assertive manner, and lessons should begin early in puppyhood. They are motivated by food and positive reinforcement, and sessions should be kept short with varied activity, as repetition can bore them.
Once leadership is established and basic obedience has been mastered, your Miniature Schnauzer should be graduated on to advanced training which may include agility or tracking.
Miniature Schnauzers are terriers and they exhibit all the classic terrier traits: excessive barking, digging, chasing anything that catches their eye, posturing toward large dogs, suspiciousness toward strangers and believing they are a lot larger than they really are. The key to raising an obedient and well-mannered Schnauzer lies in setting boundaries, socializing him extensively, and maintaining a proper exercise regimen.
Barking is a trait that can't be trained out of Miniature Schnauzers. They are alert watchdogs who will sound the alarm early and often that something is approaching. Teaching your Schnauzer to obey commands to stop barking can save your eardrums, as the Mini Schnauzer's bark can be quite shrill.
These dogs are not well-suited for homes with small children. While Schnauzers enjoy the company of older kids, toddlers can be too much for them to handle. Toddlers do not understand that dogs have boundaries and can get snapped at or even bitten.
The Miniature Schnauzer is a robust, active dog of terrier type, resembling his larger cousin, the Standard Schnauzer, in general appearance, and of an alert, active disposition. Faults - Type - Toyishness, ranginess or coarseness.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Size - From 12 to 14 inches. He is sturdily built, nearly square in proportion of body length to height with plenty of bone, and without any suggestion of toyishness. Disqualifications - Dogs or bitches under 12 inches or over 14 inches.
Eyes - Small, dark brown and deep-set. They are oval in appearance and keen in expression. Faults - Eyes light and/or large and prominent in appearance. Ears - When cropped, the ears are identical in shape and length, with pointed tips. They are in balance with the head and 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 outer edges. When uncropped, the ears are small and V-shaped, folding close to the skull.
Head strong and rectangular, its width diminishing slightly from ears to eyes, and again to the tip of the nose. The forehead is unwrinkled. The topskull is flat and fairly long. The foreface is parallel to the topskull, with a slight stop, and it is at least as long as the topskull. The muzzle is strong in proportion to the skull; it ends in a moderately blunt manner, with thick whiskers which accentuate the rectangular shape of the head. Faults - Head coarse and cheeky. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. That is, the upper front teeth overlap the lower front teeth in such a manner that the inner surface of the upper incisors barely touches the outer surface of the lower incisors when the mouth is closed. Faults - Bite - Undershot or overshot jaw. Level bite.
Neck, Topline, Body
Neck - strong and well arched, blending into the shoulders, and with the skin fitting tightly at the throat. Body short and deep, with the brisket extending at least to the elbows. Ribs are well sprung and deep, extending well back to a short loin. The underbody does not present a tucked up appearance at the flank. The backline is straight; it declines slightly from the withers to the base of the tail. The withers form the highest point of the body. The overall length from chest to buttocks appears to equal the height at the withers. Faults - Chest too broad or shallow in brisket. Hollow or roach back.
Tail set high and carried erect. It is docked only long enough to be clearly visible over the backline of the body when the dog is in proper length of coat. Fault - Tail set too low.
Forelegs are straight and parallel when viewed from all sides. They have strong pasterns and good bone. They are separated by a fairly deep brisket which precludes a pinched front. The elbows are close, and the ribs spread gradually from the first rib so as to allow space for the elbows to move close to the body. Fault - Loose elbows.
The sloping shoulders are muscled, yet flat and clean. They are well laid back, so that from the side the tips of the shoulder blades are in a nearly vertical line above the elbow. The tips of the blades are placed closely together. They slope forward and downward at an angulation which permits the maximum forward extension of the forelegs without binding or effort. Both the shoulder blades and upper arms are long, permitting depth of chest at the brisket.
Feet short and round (cat feet) with thick, black pads. The toes are arched and compact.
The hindquarters have strong-muscled, slanting thighs. They are well bent at the stifles. There is sufficient angulation so that, in stance, the hocks extend beyond the tail. The hindquarters never appear overbuilt or higher than the shoulders. The rear pasterns are short and, in stance, perpendicular to the ground and, when viewed from the rear, are parallel to each other. Faults - Sickle hocks, cow hocks, open hocks or bowed hindquarters.
Double, with hard, wiry, outer coat and close undercoat. The head, neck, ears, chest, tail, and body coat must be plucked. When in show condition, the body coat should be of sufficient length to determine texture. Close covering on neck, ears and skull. Furnishings are fairly thick but not silky. Faults - Coat too soft or too smooth and slick in appearance.
The recognized colors are salt and pepper, black and silver and solid black. All colors have uniform skin pigmentation, i.e. no white or pink skin patches shall appear anywhere on the dog.
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 eyebrows, 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.
Disqualifications - Color solid white or white striping, patching, or spotting on the colored areas of the dog, except for the small white spot permitted on the chest of the black.
The body coat color in salt and pepper and black and silver dogs fades out to light gray or silver white under the throat and across the chest. Between them there exists a natural body coat color. Any irregular or connecting blaze or white mark in this section is considered a white patch on the body, which is also a disqualification.
The trot is the gait at which movement is judged. When approaching, the forelegs, with elbows close to the body, move straight forward, neither too close nor too far apart. Going away, the hind legs are straight and travel in the same planes as the forelegs.
Note - It is generally accepted that when a full trot is achieved, the rear legs continue to move in the same planes as the forelegs, but a very slight inward inclination will occur. It begins at the point of the shoulder in front and at the hip joint in the rear. Viewed from the front or rear, the legs are straight from these points to the pads. The degree of inward inclination is almost imperceptible in a Miniature Schnauzer that has correct movement. It does not justify moving close, toeing in, crossing, or moving out at the elbows.
Viewed from the side, the forelegs have good reach, while the hind legs have strong drive, with good pickup of hocks. The feet turn neither inward nor outward.
Faults - Single tracking, sidegaiting, paddling in front, or hackney action. Weak rear action.
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.
Dogs or bitches under 12 inches or over 14 inches.
Color solid white or white striping, patching, or spotting on the colored areas of the dog, except for the small white spot permitted on the chest of the black. The body coat color in salt and pepper and black and silver dogs fades out to light gray or silver white under the throat and across the chest. Between them there exists a natural body coat color. Any irregular or connecting blaze or white mark in this section is considered a white patch on the body, which is also a disqualification.
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Sources: American Kennel Club