The Miniature Schnauzer breed and all 3 Schnauzer breeds were developed in the agricultural areas of Wurttemberg and Bavaria in Germany. The Standard Schnauzer was the original breed, and the Miniatures are said to be derived from breeding the Standard with Poodles and Affenpinschers in the late 19th century. History doesn’t say why the Miniature was developed or what his original occupation was, although some experts think he was a ratter and mouser.
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Today, the miniature schnauzer is a companion dog. The Miniature should look as much as possible like a smaller version of the Standard Schnauzer. He is sturdy and active, should be between 12 and 14 inches tall at the shoulder, and should weigh between 12 and 16 pounds. He should never appear frail, fragile, or toylike. The eyes are oval and dark, with an alert expression that conveys a willingness to try anything. The ears can be cropped or fold normally in a V-shape.
The breed has a double coat, with the undercoat close and soft. The outer coat is hard and wiry. Allowable colors are salt and pepper, black and silver, and solid black. Grooming the Miniature Schnauzer can be a challenge. Those dogs who compete in the conformation show ring must be hand-stripped. If you wish to do this yourself, ask your dog’s breeder for guidance. Most pet dogs are groomed every four to six weeks by professional groomers who use clippers and scissors.
Although the Miniature Schnauzer doesn’t shed, the dog will need twice weekly combing and brushing to keep the leg feathers from tangling. You may also want to wash and comb the beard regularly, as it can get wet, pick up dirt and debris, and trap bits of food. Although Miniature Schnauzers are small dogs, they do need regular exercise. A long walk morning and evening will help satisfy those needs, but most young dogs will also need a couple of play sessions during the day. Many Miniature Schnauzers today enjoy participating in a variety of canine sports, especially agility. Early socialization and training are important for all Miniature Schnauzers. They are by nature loyal and affectionate but can also be standoffish to strangers. Socialization can help the dog learn to accept a variety of people. Getting along with other puppies of the same age is also an important lesson for these sturdy little dogs who don’t always understand how small they are. Training will help establish household rules. In addition, Miniature Schnauzers are excellent watchdogs who can sometimes take their job too seriously, barking more than their owners and neighbors might want. Training can help temper those impulses.
Miniature Schnauzers can be wonderful family dogs and are usually quite tolerant of children’s antics. Rough play should be discouraged, as the dog may protest being handled disrespectfully. These dogs are loyal and attentive to the entire family and will greet friends with enthusiasm. They do, however, have the tendency to bond tightly with just one person. With early socialization, they can be quite social with other dogs but should not be trusted with small pets. Major health concerns include eye disorders, von Willebrand disease, and allergies.