10 Facts About the Schnauzer: Germany’s Fearless Canine

Discover all the must-know facts about the breed with the dapper facial hair and fearless spirit!

Mar 6, 2024byJessica Montes

With one look, a Schnauzer can charm you with their prominent eyebrows and full beard. But there’s more to this breed than their trademark facial hair. They are a loyal, protective, and loving breed. Keep reading to learn more about the three different sizes, the best grooming practices, and all the roles this multi-talented breed can excel at.

These Dogs Have German Origins

Photo by: Sebastian Coman Travel

The Schnauzer has a rich history dating back to 15th century Germany. The word “schnauze” means snout or muzzle in German and highlights their magnificent facial hair. These canines were bred as farm dogs and were used for several tasks, including guarding the home, catching rats, hunting, and herding livestock. They might not be used on farms as often as before, but their energy levels and high-trainable nature have remained with them.

Beginning in the early 1900s, breeders emigrated the dogs from Europe to the United States and their reputation as perfect pets was quickly established. While they were valued outside of the home for their multitasking abilities, they were equally loved by their owners for their affectionate personalities. Schnauzers are loyal to their family and will show their love through nonverbal acts, such as protection.

Schnauzers Come in Three Sizes

Schnauzer sizes
Photo by: Biology Dictionary

You can find a Schnauzer in a size that fits your lifestyle and preference. The Standard size stands 17.5-19.5 inches tall and weighs between 30 and 50 lbs depending on the gender. This is the original pup that led to the development of two other breeds. They are:

  • Miniature Schnauzer: 12-14 inches and 11-20 lbs.
  • Giant Schnauzer: 23.5-27.5 inches and 55-85 lbs.

All three are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). However, their classifications are different. Standard and Great varieties are part of the Working Group because of their herding and farm dog purposes. The Miniature belongs to the Terrier Group based on its rat-catching origins. Regardless of which size you choose, all have a lifespan of 12-16 years when they live a healthy, happy life.

They Have Awesome Facial Hair

Bearded dog
Photo by: Becka H

One of this breed’s most charming qualities is its recognizable facial hair! Their thick, bushy eyebrows extend off the face and often hang in front of the eyes in sharp points. A Schnauzer’s full mustache begins on the bridge of their nose and connects with the patch of fur around the mouth. To complete the look, their beard extends down to the chin and forms a fluffy goatee. Before they had stylish functions, the beard and goatee were protection against bites from small critters.

Their facial hair can be the same color as the rest of their fur, it might take on a lighter or darker tone, or it could be a blend of shades. It’s such an important feature of this breed that the AKC refers to their harsh facial hair as “the Schnauzer hallmark.”

Regular Grooming is Essential

Schnauzer grooming
Photo by: Alfie Huo

Grooming a Schnauzer involves more than just routine brushing; it’s a process to keep their distinctive coat healthy and maintain that classic Schnauzer charm. Use a comb meant for wire-haired dogs, such as a slicker brush, to remove loose fur and tangles. Give their beard and eyebrows extra TLC since these areas can get dusty. In addition, you can trim their facial fur when it starts blocking their eyes and mouth or if you want them to look dapper.

Depending on how much your Schnauzer enjoys the outdoors, they need a bath every one or two months. Choose a high-quality dog shampoo that protects their skin’s natural oils and maintains the coat’s dense texture. After a bath, make sure they dry completely. This prevents any skin issues that are caused by moisture trapped in the undercoat. In between baths, you can wipe their beard with a damp cloth and a drop of doggy shampoo to prevent staining.

Some Diseases Affect Schnauzers

Schnauzer outdoors
Photo by: Jack Granger

The Standard Schnauzer Club of America (SSCA) states that its signature breed is generally healthy. However, like all varieties, Schnauzers can develop certain health issues. The club advises owners to screen for hip dysplasia, a condition where the joints grind together and cause a loss of function. Once a pup reaches two years old, the SSCA recommends that they receive regular x-ray evaluations from vets.

Schnauzers also need exams to detect any signs of dilated cardiomyopathy. This happens when the heart weakens, cannot pump blood easily, and the left ventricle becomes enlarged. Because the VCA states that it is the number 1 reason for heart failure among larger breeds, Giant Schnauzer owners should screen for this condition and make note of:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Restless sleep with constant movement
  • Collapsing or fainting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Coughing or choking
  • Low energy levels
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Fast breathing while resting

Playtime Is Important for Schnauzers

Schnauzer play
Photo by: Craig Dennis

Schnauzers have moderate energy and playfulness levels. They love daily walks, indoor and outdoor playtime, and interactive games and activities. This could be a doggy feeding puzzle, a game of fetch in the hallway, or teaching them a new trick like walking backward or jumping into your arms. A variety of activities works because they need constant mental stimulation. This isn’t a breed that is happy being left home alone all day. They are unlikely to behave if they have few human interactions and only a few toys for entertainment.

If you are busy looking after young children, Schnauzers can match their energy. Let them run around together in your backyard or at a park and play with toys as a way of releasing any extra energy and tiring them out. Not only will you have a calm home after, but your pet and children will have a blast chasing each other.

This is a Multi-Talented Breed

Schnauzer service
Photo by: US Department of Defense

Due to the Schnauzer’s intelligence and ability to take on many roles, they are not only beloved by enthusiasts but have also earned a positive reputation in front-line services. Schnauzers shine as therapy dogs, providing comfort and companionship in hospitals, nursing homes, and medical settings. They can also provide emotional support and connect with children or people with special needs in times of distress at schools, libraries, and community centers.

This breed proves their fearlessness in their roles with bomb detection and search and rescue missions. In these emergencies, they use their acute sense of smell to save lives and reunite family members. The Schnauzer’s remarkable skill set, from comforting hearts to ensuring public safety, reveals their adaptability as flexible service dogs.

Guard Dogs at Heart

Schnauzer profile
Photo by: Brett Sayles

While Schnauzers are loving and tender with their family, this breed has a guard dog personality as their default setting. They are more reserved with strangers and may need to warm up to visitors and new partners, children, and other additions to the family. Once they spend enough time with the unfamiliar person and confirm they are not a threat, they will be less vigilant.

This also applies to other or new dogs in the household and those they encounter out and about. The American Kennel Club (AKC) rates Schnauzers a 3 out of 5 on how well they get along with other pups. First meetings can go well or become aggressive if one of the pups doesn’t feel at ease. To avoid confrontation or aggressive behavior, keep the dogs on a leash and supervise all interactions until you can trust that everyone will remain civil.

Schnauzers Make History

Bayou Schnauzer
Photo by: Winter Churchill Photography

In 2021, an all-black Giant Schnauzer named Bayou won the Best in Show title at the AKC National Championship. The four-year-old pup was the first Giant Schnauzer to win this award in AKC history and beat over 5,000 other dogs who participated in the events.

Before taking home the grand prize, Bayou won Best in Group for the Working Dog category earlier that day. His breeder claimed that being born as a single pup without siblings and not fighting with others for resources prepared him to receive all the attention at show competitions. As a congratulations, Bayou and his owners and handlers went home with bragging rights and $50K!

The following year, a Standard Schnauzer kept the legacy by winning the Best in Group and Reserve Best in Show (runner-up) awards. In 2023, a three-year-old black Giant Schnauzer won 3rd place for Best in Group. Fingers crossed that this breed can keep up the momentum for 2024’s show!

Schnauzers Are Among Other German Dog Breeds

German flag
Photo by: Ingo Joseph

Dozens of breeds call Germany home! It means Schnauzers have plenty of distantly related cousins that were developed for varying reasons in different locations over the past centuries. On the list are equally fearless German Shepherds who are excellent guard dogs and trained as service animals for police officers and therapy purposes. Although they were initially bred as herding dogs, they’ve found new roles and are one of the 10 most popular breeds.

Schnauzers also share a country of origin with the loving and confident Rottweiler. These dogs are highly trainable and can compete in athletic courses such as obedience, agility, dock diving, and cart pulling. Other well-known German dogs include:

  • German Spaniels
  • German Shorthaired Pointers
  • Poodles
  • Dachshunds
  • Pomeranians
  • Boxers
  • Great Danes
  • Dobermann Pinschers

Schnauzers Are Fantastic Pets

Photo by: Sebastian Comal Travel

Whether they frolic in the backyard or snuggle up next to you on the couch, Schnauzers warm your heart with their energetic, intelligent, and affectionate personalities. Owners who can keep up with their moderate grooming, exercise, and health exam needs are the ideal match. These pups will become a new bearded addition to any family and a cherished household member.

Jessica Montes
byJessica Montes

Jessica is a California-based writer, journalist, lover of animals, and vegan of 17 years. Growing up, she owned parakeets, fish, a rabbit, and a red-eared slider turtle. She currently has a black cat named Marty and a tabby named Jellybean. In her free time, she enjoys reading, baking, camping, and roller skating to funky tunes.