The Miniature Schnauzer dog breed is a wiry-haired small dog from Germany. These spunky little dogs make great companions and family pets. They are very active and playful, and love to be around their owners, and great with kids. At the same time, they remain well mannered in the house, making them suitable for even apartment dwellers. Alert and watchful, they are excellent watch dogs in spite of their small size, and given a chance, they would make themselves extra useful by hunting vermin.
The Miniature Schnauzer dog breed was developed in Germany in the latter part of the 19th century by crossbreeding the Standard Schnauzer breed with Affenpinscher breed to produce a smaller sized dog. The hunting skills of these dogs came handy when they were used as ratters to rid the homes and barns of vermin. By the end of the century, this breed was being shown separately.
The breed was introduced into the United States soon after, but it was initially clubbed with the Standard Schnauzer breed that already had a presence in the country. However, the popularity of Miniature Schnauzers overtook that of their larger counterparts, and the American Kennel Club recognized the miniature version as a breed on its own right in 1933. Even though their hunting skills are still very sharp, these dogs are mainly valued for their companionship today. As a matter of fact, they are the most popular breed among all the Schnauzer breeds.
The Miniature Schnauzer dog breed typically measures 12 to 14 inches at the withers and weighs 10 to 18. It has a square-shaped body with a rectangular head decorated with ample beard and moustache and eyebrows. The ears are triangular and fold forward, but they are usually clipped to make it stand erect and pointed. Ear clipping is not allowed in many European countries though. The tail is thin and short and carried slightly arching over the back, but is usually docked to a short stump in countries where it is not yet illegal.
They have a double coat consisting of a soft undercoat that is covered by a wiry outer coat. The coat looks very unkempt when not trimmed regularly, but the face is usually left untrimmed to retain their characteristic look. The coat colors are either solid black or white, or a combination black and silver referred to as salt and pepper.
The Miniature Schnauzer dog breed is loyal to its owner and very devoted. They have a strong pack mentality and consider themselves as one with the human pack. Consequently, they expect to be involved in all the activities along with the other family members. These dogs are good for families with children, but they are dangerous to have in households with smaller pets as they might consider them as prey. Growing up with cats from puppyhood and plenty of early socialization may help them get over this urge.
Miniature Schnauzers remain reserved with strangers and are particularly intolerant of strange dogs, but less aggressive to them compared to the Standard Schnauzer breed. They make reliable watchdogs, even though they are not strong barkers. But they are known to bite. Miniature Schnauzers are not difficult to train, but may show a tendency to disobey orders if they are not convinced of their owner’s position as the leader of the pack.
Grooming and exercise
The shaggy double coat of the Miniature Schnauzer dog breed requires thorough brushing twice a week. The coat has to be trimmed to shape once in 3 months. Professional help may be necessary for neat trimming. Regularly trimmed coat is softer and easier to maintain.
These dogs need a fair amount of exercise, but most of their exercise needs can be met by a few brisk walks or a free run in a secure yard. They enjoy playing doggie games with their owners. Care should be taken to keep the dog mentally and physically stimulated to avoid undesirable behaviors that bored dogs often indulge in.
These dogs are capable of living outdoors, but being extremely people-oriented and attached to their human pack, they are better off living inside the house with the family.
Common health issues of Miniature Schnauzer dog breed
Miniature Schnauzer dog breed, though small in size, is tough and sturdy. But there are a few inherited disorders commonly occurring in this breed such as a blood clotting disorder called von Willebrand’s disease, myotonia congenita affecting the muscles, and progressive retinal atrophy. Another breed specific skin disorder is known as Schnauzer Comedo Syndrome, in which the hair follicles at the back become enlarged and sometimes infected. These dogs are prone to developing kidney stones, diabetes and liver disease. They have a tendency to become obese too.