Some breeds seem timeless in their popularity, for various reasons. The Miniature Schnauzer is one of them ― in the top 20 in the US, England, and Germany ― and it’s not hard to understand why. With their scruffy look, charming personality, and convenient size, this dog is the most popular of all the schnauzers (which include Miniature, Standard, and Giant). But as always, small dogs seem to have no awareness of how small they are, and there are always things to keep in mind.
That one German terrier
Pretty much every terrier out there is of British origin, but the Miniature Schnauzer is an exception. Named after the German word for “snout”, the Schnauzer hails from the continent, and is generally believed to be the result of breeding the Standard Schnauzer with smaller breeds such as the Affenpinscher, Miniature Pinscher, and the Poodle. The Miniature Schnauzer was originally bred as a ratter and guard dog on farms, but aside from that, there is no clear record of how this breed came to be. One thing that’s certain is that the intent was to create a smaller version of the well-established Standard Schnauzer. The earliest record of a Miniature Schnauzer is from 1888, while the Standard has been around since at least the 15th century. Despite their striking resemblance in appearance, however, the Standard and the Miniature are definitely their own distinct breeds.
As with most dog breeds, both World Wars were hard on them, with some breeds almost disappearing entirely. But the Miniature Schnauzer was even then quite popular, and had no trouble recovering. The only aspect that has really changed about the Miniature Schnauzer is the attitudes toward colors. Back in the day, you could find this dog in black, red, tan, yellow, and parti-color, but not anymore. Nowadays, it’s either salt and pepper, solid black, or black and silver. Some Schnauzers even come in all-white, though these can’t be shown in American Kennel Club shows, and some are even against the color to begin with.
Size and appearance of the Miniature Schnauzer
The Miniature Schnauzer is considered a small breed, at a height of 12-15 inches. Despite their small size, however, they’re sturdy dogs, with a compact build and solid frame. They were bred as ratters, after all, and need to be able to hold their own. They have a double-coat, with a wiry top coat. The undercoat catches any hairs being shed, so it’s a virtually non-shedding dog. Some consider this to be a perfect house dog, especially for asthmatics, due to this.
However, the Miniature Schnauzer still needs grooming, ideally every 5-6 weeks. Considering how high-maintenance this grooming-session can be, most people take their Schnauzers to a professional groomer, in order to get it just right. You can learn to do this yourself, with some time and practice. If you’re not that into the typical Schnauzer hairstyle, though, or don’t plan on having your dog in shows, just brushing a few times a week is enough. Make sure the coat doesn’t get matted, especially on the legs and around that majestic walrus mustache and bushy eyebrows. Again, if you don’t care for the typical hairstyle, you can just trim these areas to make sure to keep everything neat.
It has been common practice to crop the ears and dock the tails of the Miniature Schnauzer, so much so that many people assume that’s what the breed naturally looks like. In many countries, tail-docking and ear-cropping has become illegal, and is generally frowned upon in a way it hasn’t been in the past. When left as is, the Miniature Schnauzer has folded ears and a long, expressive tail that is generally carried quite high, and the coat is almost curly in places. Like most smaller dog breeds, the Miniature Schnauzer generally lives well into their teens.
Temperament and personality
The Miniature Schnauzer has a rather inviting personality. Social, lively, and loving, having this dog in your life means never being bored. They want to go with you everywhere, learn new tricks and explore new spaces. They adapt very well to apartment living, and don’t mind just chilling on the couch for a day, as long as they get the mental and physical exercise they need otherwise. Don’t mistake the Miniature Schnauzer for a toy breed! They’re robust little dogs, and need to be treated like the big dogs they are on the inside.
This dog makes for a great watchdog. They may be friendly and sociable, but a stranger is a stranger, and will be barked at unless you say otherwise. Their bark can be quite piercing at times, so getting this under control is a must, but they’re by no means aggressive. The Miniature Schnauzer loves family, and has a certain fearlessness about it that blends well with its charm and happy disposition. The mustache and eyebrows only enhance the almost humanlike quality about their expression, and it’s definitely one of the trademarks of the breed.
Things to consider
The Miniature Schnauzer is a small dog, but don’t be fooled. They’re not dainty or delicate, but rather strong and sturdy and they have the attitude of a much larger dog. They’re very intelligent and trainable, well-suited to learning new tricks and trying new things ― though, this intelligence means they might try to outsmart you, and might even succeed in doing so. This is a pretty chill dog, who’ll happily hang out inside for the day, as long as they get to spend time with you, their family. But this is still a terrier, and has all the energy and eagerness that comes with that ― letting a Miniature Schnauzer off its leash in an open area is a bad idea, since their ratter instincts may have them take off after potential prey. They get along well with kids and other animals, and love new people, though they may be suspicious at first.
There’s a reason the Miniature Schnauzer has been so consistently popular for decades, and it becomes evident as soon as you spend some time with one. If you have the time and patience for this energetic, lovable dog, you’ll be glad you brought one into your life.