The Miniature Schnauzer is a little dog that thinks it's a big dog. A great combination of gentle yet spunky, active yet also willing to be a lap dog and bold without being aggressive, the breed is a great choice for many situations, both on farms as well as in the city and urban areas.
Generally the Miniature Schnauzer is 12-14 inches. They will be disqualified if under or over that height. Those interested in showing can go to http://www.akc.org/breeds/miniature_schnauzer/ for detailed information on the standard. They are small enough for many apartment requirements with a general guide being a pound per inch - a 12 inch dog should thus be roughly 12 pounds.
Of German origin, the Miniature Schnauzer is one of three dogs that appear largely the same except for size. They were bred down from the Standard Schnauzer, while an even larger Giant Schnauzer is also AKC recognized. The Miniature version was viewed as a distinct breed in 1899 and today is in the terrier group.
While appearing similar to other terriers the Miniature Schnauzer is somewhat quieter, with a happy temperament. Bred to "go to ground" after vermin, the modern miniature Schnauzer can still be very effective at the job if a mouse should appear in the home! They are not quite as 'hard' as some of the other terrier breeds. He will defend himself but is not as given to starting squabbles as some of the other terriers can be. Because of his heritage, care should be taken with other small furry pets.
They are the ideal size and intelligence for training for alert dogs. They should be solid, well muscled and alert. They are generally known as one of the non-shedding breeds, which helps their appeal in urban homes.
With a distinct salt-and-pepper coat - visually appearing as grey - they can also be black or black and silver. Like other terriers, the correct show coat is maintained by stripping. Pet dogs can be clipped, but results in a "softer" coat as only the undercoat remains. While many take their dog to a groomer it is not difficult to groom your Schnauzer at home.
Before bathing use a pin brush and completely brush out all knots and tangles, including the fine ones between the toes, under the arms and under the belly/flanks. Regular brushing of the beard and "furnishings" - the longer hair on the legs - keeps grooming woes at bay.
Bathing should be done as needed - some dogs tend to get messier than others! Use warm water that isn't too hot, and use care when washing and rinsing the beard, spraying the water from the ears down the head so the water doesn't sting his eyes. At the top of the head rinse down the neck, back and belly. Thoroughly rinse him after shampooing - traces of shampoo can lead to skin problems. When shampooing squeeze, don't rub which can cause tangles of the longer hair. Some people use a trace of conditioner on the longer hair but this, too, should be rinsed thoroughly.
Gently squeeze with a towel to remove water and secure the dog so both hands are free to groom. Use a pin brush to gently brush while you dry with a hair dryer, being careful to not use too hot of a temperature and burn the dog's skin. When it's nearly dry switch to a slicker brush to more thoroughly fluff and comb out the furnishings. A comb can be used on the beard.
For most dogs, a good pair of clippers and a number 10 blade comes next. Clip quickly , holding the skin gently and using long smooth strokes. Keep the blades oiled and use caution if they start heating up. Clip down the neck and sides to a level about two fingers above the elbow, leaving the hair below that level longer. Change to a 30 blade and clip the rear and underside of the tail, clipping against the grain. Be very careful around the genitals. Next, clipping with the grain on the outside of the ears and against the grain on the inside tidy up the ears. If needed use tweezers and ear powder to remove any hairs inside the ears.
Careful scissoring to smooth out the furnishings and get the longer hair between the toes is next. The head should appear a rectangle when properly trimmed - comb the eyebrows and beard forward and carefully trim the eyebrows in a line at the widest part of the skull. On the beard don't point the scissors into the beard but rather parallel to it.
While this is a basic description like any skill grooming your dog just takes practice! This time spent with your dog should be kept positive. Grooming thoroughly lets you see little things before they get to be big things. A daily or every couple of days brushing out of the longer hair can keep tangles and matts from taking over.
Their ears and tail are often cropped. This is a hardy, smart and active breed. Originally a small farm dog used as a ratter, they typically love children. They NEED trained and socialized. Those not receiving the proper management and handling can become temperamental and territorial. His size easily adapts to smaller quarters in town, and he's still 'tough' enough to be a farm dog. They're bold but shouldn't be aggressive, although sometimes some individuals can become territorial.
These dogs are small in stature but big hearted. Don't underestimate the will of these dogs - they are much more than they appear! Today he's known primarily as a pet, a home and family dog. A "homebody" among dogdom, he's devoted to his family and can be quite the alarm or watch dog. Some are energetic enough to excel at agility and other dog sports.
Health wise they are generally healthy but the breed does have issues with hereditary cataracs, pulmonic stenosis (a heart defect), von Willebrand's disease and thyroid issues. Getting a puppy from parents tested free of these diseases can help eliminate having to deal with it. Other possible health problems include diabetes, pancreatitis and bladder stones. Those without cropped ears should have the ears carefully watched and dried after swimming or baths.
Bob Dole, Mary Tyler Moore, Bill Cosby and Bruce Lee are just some of the famous people who have owned miniature Schnauzers.
On the AKC popularity list they are 11th, and while they are in the top ten on several lists of cities they rank the highest at third in Oklahoma City.
The miniature Schnauzer is a wonderful small dog that can also appeal to those who like big dogs. Their "big dog attitude" is a compromise if it's a small dog or no dog. They're incredibly loyal and love being with the people in their home.