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Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature Schnauzers are in fact the most popular of all three Schnauzer breeds and are in the top 20 most popular dog breeds in the US, the UK, Germany and in other countries.

There are many good reasons for this German terrier breed’s surging popularity.

The Mini Schnauzer is outgoing, loving, fun-filled and incredibly intelligent, and all of this is packed in a small-sized dog with a bushy beard, mustache and eyebrows and a human-like expression.

These terriers are incredibly loyal, exceptional family dogs, and will keep you entertained day and night.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about the incredible Miniature Schnauzer breed.

Highlights

Temperament: outgoing, intelligent, eager to please

Height at the shoulder: 12-14 inches

Weight: 11-20 lbs.

Life expectancy: 12-15 years

Breed Group: Terrier Group

About the breed

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The Miniature Schnauzer is the smallest and yet the most popular and loved of all three Schnauzer breeds. Although it looks like a tiny version of the Standard and Giant Schnauzers, the Mini is a breed of its own.

It is a healthy, happy, smart and long-lived dog which is portable in size, extremely good looking, and a perfect family companion dog.

The Miniature Schnauzers are from the Terrier breed group and were originally developed and used as highly efficient ratters. They were bred from the Standard Schnauzers crossed with smaller breeds such as Affenpinschers and Poodles.

This makes them the only small terriers which do not have any British blood in their veins.

Thanks to their strong prey drive, they were capable of chasing, catching and destroying vermin infesting the German farms.

Today, they are more popular as family pets and companions. In fact, they are in the top 20 most popular breeds in the USA and in most European countries.

These small-sized dogs will reach a height at the shoulder of only up to 14 inches, but they are sporty, robust, stocky, and full of life.

Minis are moderately energetic and will enjoy both going on long walks and runs with you as well as snoozing on your lap at home.

With a dog of this breed, you will never be alone again, as they tend to lovingly follow their owners just about anywhere.

These small-sized extroverts have huge personalities and will keep you smiling and laughing all day long.

Apart from having a strong prey drive, they are also very good watchdogs and will alert you whenever a stranger approaches your home with their strong and piercing barks.

Miniature Schnauzers are small enough to live in an apartment, but will also do well in homes with large outdoor spaces where they can roam happily for hours too. Minis love playing fetch, and are great swimmers and running buddies.

They are adaptable dogs, which get along with other pets and children. Keep in mind that the dog’s ancestors were ratters, so you shouldn’t trust your Mini Schnauzer among smaller animals.

But no matter where you live with a pup of this breed, you should be ready to give it a lot of your attention and time. In return, you will receive the dog’s endless love and loyalty.

Keep in mind that these small terriers like most other small and toy dog breeds are not really aware of their actual size, and can get into trouble with larger dogs, if not socialized and trained in a timely and proper manner.

The Miniature Schnauzer is charming but is definitely not a delicate dog. After all it is a terrier and not a toy dog.

As a dog from the terrier family, your Mini Schnauzer needs daily exercise and play. If not exercised properly, the dog can become bored and misbehave or even become ill-tempered, and it may also become overweight or obese which is never good for any dog of any breed.

Due to its intelligence, a Miniature Schnauzer can easily outsmart an inexperienced owner. The dogs from this breed can be pretty stubborn, and one of their favorite tricks is to act like they are not hearing the commands they are being given.

This is why, these pups need consistent, firm but fair training by an owner who has established himself or herself as the leader of the pack from day one.

Once you have gained the dog’s respect, training this smart animal is really easy, which is why Mini Schnauzers often excel in agility and obedience competitions. Another dog event which your Miniature Schnauzer is bound to win just about any earth dog trial. The pups from this breed were bred to dig and catch rats and rodents, which is a strong natural instinct they still have.

They are also eager to learn new things, so if you have the patience, time and desire, you can teach a dog from this breed to perform various fun and useful tricks.

Miniature Schnauzers have wiry, hard coats which come in different colors including: black and silver, salt and pepper, or solid black.

They are considered low-shedding which makes them an even more popular dog breed among people with dog allergies and asthma sufferers, and those who don’t want to deal with excessive shedding and cleaning.

At the same, time the Miniature Schnauzer does require much more grooming than other dogs.

You can expect to have the dog’s coat clipped every 5-8 weeks.

The coats of show dogs from this breed need to be stripped as well.

Historically, the ears of the Miniature Schnauzer used to be cropped just for aesthetics, while their tails were docked for practical reasons – to avoid injury on the field.

Today, many pet owners leave the ears of their Minis uncropped but show dogs still need to have cropped ears.

Overall, this dog breed is a superb pet for all kinds of owners – young and elderly. It can adapt to just about any living situation, as long as it gets the love, attention, exercise and the care it needs.

They are bright, easy to train and pretty fearless, but without being aggressive.

The dogs from this German terrier breed are comic, affectionate, highly intelligent, robust and loyal pets, companions and watchdogs.

Personality

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The Miniature Schnauzer may be small in size, but it is full of energy and life. Dogs from this breed simply love being involved in any family activity, and if possible being the center of everyone’s attention.

They are so affectionate, that in some cases you may feel like you have a shadow as you are walking around your home. They can even be somewhat clingy, but this is only because they are very devoted companion dogs which thrive on receiving as much attention as possible.

Also, the dogs from this small breed are considered among the topmost intelligent canines, so they can even try to manipulate you, trick you and outsmart you, especially if you allow them to dominate.

This fact, combined with the Miniature Schnauzer’s stubbornness can be problematic for inexperienced or timid owners.

The Mini still is a terrier, so it has the typical feistiness and self-confidence of its other terrier cousins. Although a pup from this breed can get into an occasional quarrel with another dog, it is typically not as dog aggressive as other terriers.

Despite their small size, the dogs from this breed are among the top best watchdogs. They have strong territorial and protective instincts and will alert you any time a potential danger or a stranger is sensed.

Just like with any other dog breed, the Miniature Schnauzer needs proper socialization from an early age.

You should take the time to introduce your puppy to as many people as possible, to other friendly dogs, and to expose it to different sights, sounds, and experiences, so that it can become a well-rounded dog, rather than a fearful and shy, or ill-tempered one.

A puppy kindergarten or obedience class is the perfect way to ensure that your Mini gets socialized properly and in a timely manner.

Given the strong prey drives and natural drive for chasing small animals, it is essential to keep your dog away from smaller animals, or if you have cats or smaller mammals at home to socialize them and monitor them closely until you can be sure that everyone is safe.

As for children, these small-sized dogs are perfect playmates for kids of all ages, as long as the children have been taught how to properly interact and play with dogs, without mistreating them, or without entering their territory when they are eating, sleeping or playing.

The Miniature Schnauzer can do well both in an apartment and in a house with a large backyard, as long as it gets the exercise and the attention it needs.

It is a highly adaptable dog, which will gladly travel or move homes with you, as long as it is with its favorite humans.

Nutrition

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In general, the recommended amount of premium-quality dog food for Miniature Schnauzers is from ½ to 1 cup a day. The food should be divided into two meals – one in the morning, and the other in the evening.

The exact amount of food which your dog needs to be healthy, fit, well and happy depends on the pup’s age, weight, activity level, metabolism, as well as on the type of food you feed it.

More active dogs require more calories than couch potatoes. Senior dogs need to eat fewer calories than dogs which are in their most active years.

Also, if you choose to feed your dog with top quality food which is highly digestible and nutritious, you can feed it smaller portions and still ensure that it receives all the nutrients and energy it needs to be in good health and shape.

If you want to cook the food for your dog yourself, make sure you stay away from cooked bones, fatty foods, as well as from onions, garlic, grapes, avocados and other ingredients which we may find delicious, but which can be toxic for canines.

Plus, refrain from feeding your Mini Schnauzer table scraps, no matter how pleading those big eyes are. This is essential if you want to ensure that your dog stays within the normal weight range. These pups are prone to overeating and can gain weight and become obese, which can lead to numerous very serious health and mobility problems, and can shorten their lifespan by several years.

The other part of the daily regimen of the pup you need to be careful about is the amount of dog treats you give your dog. Make sure you reward your dog with healthy treats and limit their amount to fewer than 20% of the daily recommended caloric intake for the dogs of this breed.

Grooming

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Miniature Schnauzers have almost non-shedding double coats, consisting of a wiry and longer top coat and a softer undercoat.

The coat color of these dogs can vary from all black to black and silver and salt and pepper.  There are also solid white Mini Schnauzers but they can be shown at shows by the AKC, as the standard does not accept white color. At the same time, the temperament and the qualities of white Minis are just as charming and wonderful as those which have standard colors, so they can be perfect family pets and companions too.

The breed is considered hypoallergenic due to the fact that it sheds very little because the loose hair is caught by the undercoat, but at the same time, the coat does require more maintenance than that of other dog breeds.

You should prepare yourself for taking your pup to the groomers, or for clipping its coat yourself once in every five to eight weeks if you want its coat to look perfect.

Show dogs need to have their coats stripped by hand either by the owner or by a professional groomer, rather than it clipped with an electric clipper in order to conform to the breed standards.

You should brush your pup’s coat and its longer facial hair 2-3 times a week, in order to prevent tangling and matting.

Take extra care to keep those impressive eyebrows, the mustache and the dog’s beard in pristine condition. Apart from combing and brushing them regularly, you may want to wash the pup’s beard after it eats.

Also, check the pup’s armpits, because oftentimes, the coat gets matted there.

A Miniature Schnauzer should get a bath once every month or more often if needed.

You should trim your dog’s nails 1-2 times a month if it fails to wear them down naturally. This is important to prevent discomfort when walking, as well as to reduce the risk of painful injuries and nail splintering.

A sign that your dog needs its nails trimmed is if you can hear a clicking sound when it is walking on a hard floor or surface.

Keep in mind that dogs have veins in their toenails, which is why you should trim them very carefully and minimally, without cutting through the quick which can cause pain and bleeding.

Get advice from your vet or groomer on how to trim the nails of your Miniature Schnauzer safely.

You should also brush the dog’s teeth at least three times a week and if possible on a daily basis. Use canine toothpaste and a brush to remove the plaque and the bacteria from the teeth. This will ensure that your pet’s teeth and gums stay healthy and that its breath is fresh.

Another important part of the regular grooming process of the Miniature Schnauzer is weekly inspections and cleaning of its ears. Use a cotton ball and a dog ear cleaning solution to gently remove any dirt and debris from the inner part of the ears. Inspect the ears for any foul smell or redness which could be signs of a painful ear infection too.

Never attempt to stick a cotton swab in the ear canal of the dog, because you can cause damage to the eardrum. If you suspect that your pup has an ear infection, take it to the vet.

As part of the grooming process, always check the pups’ eyes for an unusual discharge, redness, and other worrying signs. Look for any sores, redness, rashes, ticks or other problems on the dog’s body.

If you notice anything out of the usual, give your vet a call.

To teach your dog to behave itself and tolerate the grooming, you should start getting it accustomed to it from as early as possible. Making the grooming process an unobjectionable and even pleasant experience for the dog will save you tons of effort, anguish and time, and will make the weekly grooming and the visits to the groomers a much easier task to perform.

Exercise

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These lively and alert small-sized terriers require enough physical and mental stimulation and exercise every day to stay healthy, fit and happy.

The energy level of the Miniature Schnauzer is medium level, and it can easily adapt to both living in the country and in the city, as long as its exercise needs are met.

Your pup will truly appreciate having a fenced yard where it can play with you and with your children safely, but it will also be happy to take a nap on your lap even if you live in a small apartment, but only after you have played some games or have gone on a walk together.

These pups are pretty active when at home, as they require your constant attention, and will most likely follow you around from room to room. They will also love spending time playing indoors, so make sure you provide your pet with safe and enjoyable toys to keep it entertained.

Due to the strong prey drive of the dogs of this breed, you should let them off-leash only when the area is secured, and when there is no way the dog can get away chasing after small animals or after anything else.

The average recommended time for daily exercise for Miniature Schnauzers is about 45 minutes, but any dog of this breed will appreciate it if you can spend more time with it outside playing, running, cycling or simply just enjoying yourselves.

If you don’t provide your Mini with the exercise and the mental stimulation it needs, it can very easily become bored, start chewing on things, barking excessively, and can even become aggressive.

Training

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Miniature Schnauzers are very lively, friendly, intelligent and eager to please pups which can be trained easily if you use the right training methods and have the right attitude.
Due to their natural intelligence, you should make sure that you keep the training sessions fun and engaging. You can start training your puppy from an early age of just 8 weeks, as long as you keep the sessions short.

You should also start housetraining your puppy from day one, by encouraging it to do its business on its pee pad or outdoors. To do this, make sure you take it out on a regular schedule and praise it each time it goes where it has to. With treats and proper direction, your little furbaby will soon understand what it needs to do.

Remember that these pups can easily get bored with repetition, and can learn and memorize new commands in as few as 5-15 repetitions. In fact, tests have found that Miniature Schnauzers obey a command from the first time nearly 85% of the time, and sometimes even more often.

Give your pup treats, and make sure it understands that you are in charge of the food and treats and that you are in command. Let it know that you are also the provider of love, rest, and play too, and the dog will be ready to follow you anywhere.

But, because of the smartness of this dog, it is prone to testing and even manipulating its owner. These pups can be pretty stubborn and can choose to decide to ignore your commands or training efforts if not engaged properly and if they are bored. Being a terrier dog, it needs focus and clear directions.

So, finding the right training method, and planning an engaging training session is the key to your success if you want to find a way to easily train your Miniature Schnauzer.

With praise, treats, play, and affection you can quickly get what you want from this dog because it can easily find the connection between commands and actions.

Use the name of your dog for positive things such as calling it for play, food or for attention, rather than for reprimanding it. This will teach the pup to respond to its name every time because it will know that something good is going to happen.

Repeating a command more than once or twice can cause your dog to completely ignore you, so use a clear and assertive voice, and correct the dog if it doesn’t respond.

Try not to get frustrated, or if you do – do not show your dog your feelings. You need to be confident, calm and patient with an intelligent and inquisitive dog like the Miniature Schnauzer.

In fact, once you teach your pup the basic commands like sit, come, stay, down, and others you can soon proceed to teach it some neat tricks or train it for a number of canine sports including obedience, rally, agility and earth dog competitions and events.

Train your dog to walk on a leash, as well as to obey your off-leash recall commands. This will keep your dog safe and will give you peace of mind.

Minis are a tad more sensitive in comparison with dogs from other breeds, so even soft punishment and yelling can hurt their feelings and affect them emotionally.

These pups like to have a regular daily routine, and a peaceful household.

In order to reduce the natural distrust the Miniature Schnauzer has towards strangers and strange dogs, you should definitely start socializing it from as early as possible.

Enroll it to puppy kindergarten, take it to the groomers, the vet, let it meet your friends and neighbors, and also to communicate with friendly dogs.

When socialized properly, your Miniature Schnauzer will become the outgoing, friendly and fun companion you have always wanted.

If your dog is raised with your kids, it will quickly become their favorite playmate and protector. In fact, Mini Schnauzers are excellent companions for children.

Of course, just like with any other dog breed, you should explain the basic rules of communicating with dogs to your children. This includes not approaching the dog when it is sleeping, and never attempting to take away its food when it is eating.

If you decide to crate train your Miniature Schnauzer, remember that you need to let the dog feel that the crate is a safe and quiet place where it can rest or take a nap, rather than a prison.

Never leave the dog locked in a crate for long hours or as a form of punishment, and always make sure that it is well exercised and tired before you take it to its crate.

Crate training is an excellent way to prepare your dog for any future travels, or for stays at the vet.

Health

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These small-sized dogs are generally healthy, but as all other purebred dogs have certain health conditions and genetic mutations they are prone to.

It is crucial for the owners of Miniature Schnauzers to know what type of health conditions typically affect the breed, so they know what type of symptoms to look for, and what type of questions to ask their vets.

Here are the most common health problems which can affect the Miniature Schnauzers:

Cataracts

Cataracts can be hereditary, but can also be caused by an injury, an inflammation, or a nutritional disorder during puppyhood as well as in senior dogs due to old age.

A cataract causes the development of opacity on the lens of the eye, which causes an impairment of the eyesight.

The condition is degenerative and will cause the eye to look cloudy like. Some of the early symptoms of cataracts include rubbing and scratching of the eyes, refusal to get on and off furniture by itself, and clumsiness.

The treatment of cataracts in dogs can include eye drops, or in more severe cases – surgical removal of the cataract.

Entropion

Entropion is a genetic condition which affects the dog’s eyelid, causing it to roll inward toward the eyeball. The condition can affect either one or both eyes and usually becomes evident when the pup is about 6 months old.

The symptoms of Entropion are usually squinting, tearing and keeping the eye shut.

The problem with this condition is that the eyelashes and the eyelid will rub against the eye causing discomfort, pain, and in some cases even ulcers and perforations of the cornea.

It can be corrected surgically.

Responsible breeders never breed dogs with this hereditary condition and have their dogs tested for this and other genetic mutations.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

PRA is actually a group of diseases which cause the gradual deterioration of the retina and the photoreceptors of the eye of the dog. At first, the affected dog will develop night blindness, but gradually, the deterioration will cause complete loss of vision.

Unfortunately, this condition is untreatable and irreversible. The good news is that canines adapt pretty quickly to blindness, and get around perfectly well and continue living their happy lives even without seeing. The only condition is that you keep them in a safe environment, which includes keeping the furniture in place, so the dog can get accustomed to the settings, and get around without incidents.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy is hereditary, and dogs affected with it and diagnosed with it should not be bred.

Bladder Stones

The telltale signs that your Miniature Schnauzer may be suffering from Bladder stones include urinary accidents, the dog straining to urinate, frequent attempts to urinate with minimal results, licking around the urinary area, discolored urine.

Bladder stones are diagnosed via ultrasound or X-rays. They develop from various minerals and materials like struvite, cystine crystals, urate, and calcium oxalate.

In some cases, the vet will prescribe antibiotics and a special veterinary dog food-based diet which will stop the growth and the development of new stones. The larger existing ones may need to be broken up with ultrasonic shock waves. The smaller ones will usually pass on their own.

Myotonia Congenita

This is a rare hereditary disorder of the muscles which has been found to affect just a few dog breeds, including the Miniature Schnauzers.

It causes muscle atrophy and displays itself in a strange bunny-hop like gait, stiffness of the muscles, and enlarged tongue and some anomalies of the head’s shape.

The first signs are usually displayed early on when the puppy is only a couple of weeks old.

In some cases, Myotonia congenital can be a result of other conditions such as Cushing’s disease or an immune or infectious disease.

Thankfully, there are medications which can help stabilize the muscle cell membranes causing the disorder, so if diagnosed and treated properly, the prognosis for dogs affected by Myotonia is good.

Still, there are DNA tests for this condition, and responsible breeders should test their dogs for it.

Von Willebrand’s Disease

Miniature Schnauzers can inherit this disorder of the blood which prevents the proper clotting process. This can be displayed through nosebleeds, bleeding gums, prolonged bleeding following an injury or surgery, severe bleeding during the heat cycle or after whelping, and in some cases blood in the stool.

The condition is not treatable, but preventive actions can be taken to reduce the risk of the dog bleeding out. These can include keeping the dog safe from injuries, blood transfusions before and after surgeries, suturing, and treatment of wounds, spaying female dogs, and the avoidance of particular medications.

This condition is genetic, so all breeders should be able to provide you with certificates for health clearance for this mutation.

Congenital Megaesophagus

Some Miniature Schnauzers can be born with this inherited condition which affects the ability of their esophagus to move down the food and water from the mouth to the digestive tract. It can cause solid food to get stuck in it and may lead to aspiration pneumonia.

Unfortunately, the condition cannot be cured, but it can be managed. The care for a pup suffering from Congenital Megaesophagus includes: feeding it a special liquid diet, pureed food, or soft and easily digestible food, feeding it small-sized portions more frequently, also limiting the water to small quantities but more often, feeding the dog in an elevated position with its front legs up on a chair or something else, so that gravity can move the food and water down to the stomach.

Your breeder should be able to provide you with health clearance for this condition for both parents of your puppy.

Hyperlipidemia

This is a condition which causes an increase of the lipid levels in the dog’s blood which can lead to an increase of the fat molecules in the body, fatty deposits on the dog’s face or skin, as well as to more serious conditions like seizures and paralysis.

The symptoms of Hyperlipidemia to look for include vomiting, diarrhea, yellow, fatty filled lesions on the skin or on the cornea, pancreatitis, yellow plaques near the eyelids, anemia, behavioral changes, seizures, and nerve paralysis.

The treatment for this condition is via dietary changes, and in some cases can include medication.

In case it is caused by an underlying condition like Cushing’s, Diabetes, Hypothyroidism, Obesity, Pancreatitis, cholestasis, Lymphoma and others, then the primary condition needs to be treated first.

Pancreatitis

This is an inflammation of the pancreas of the dog, which usually displays itself in a loss of appetite, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, lack of energy, dehydration, an irregular heartbeat, or fever or lowered body temperature.

Older, overweight dogs are more prone to Pancreatitis, and also all the Schnauzer breeds are prone to it.

But a drug, a fatty meal or surgery can cause it too.

The treatment can include pain medications, IV fluids, a change in the diet, or removal of the drug or food causing it.

History

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The Miniature Schnauzer was developed by German farmers to work as a tireless and fearless ratter and guard dogs on farms in the mid-19th century.

It was developed by crossbreeding the Standard Schnauzer with smaller sized dogs including Affenpinschers, Miniature Pinschers, Poodles, and maybe Pomeranians.

The breed is called Zwergschnauzer in Germany, and “zwerg” means dwarf in the local language.

The earliest known records of the breed are for a black female dog named Findel which was born in October 1888.

The first Miniature Schnauzer breed club was established in 1895 in Cologne, Germany.

The Mini Schnauzer is the only terrier dog breed registered by the AKC which has no British blood in its veins or ancestry.

The majority of the other rat-chasing terriers were developed in Great Britain or were crossbred with the British ratters.

This is one plausible explanation of why the Miniature Schnauzer has quite a different personality from the other small terrier breeds. Unlike many of them, the Mini is obedient, friendly, and eager to please.

As with most dog breeds, the Miniature Schnauzer almost become extinct when World War I began and throughout World War II, as almost all dog breeding nearly stopped during those dark years.

Thankfully he fanciers of the breed managed to revive it, and today this one-time ratter is one of the most beloved and preferred family dogs and companions, as well as dog show winners.

It is interesting to point out that the Standard Schnauzer is registered in the Working dog breed group by the AKC, while the Miniature Schnauzer is considered a Terrier.

The breed is also consistently ahead of the other two Schnauzer breeds when it comes to popularity, not only in the US but in Germany and other parts of Europe as well.

The aspect which has changed from the early years of the development of the Miniature Schnauzer is the allowed and preferred colors. While in the past, Miniature Schnauzers could be found in black and tan, red, parti-color, or yellow colors, today, the color range is mostly limited to black, black and silver and salt and pepper.

Also, with the changing views and laws on ear cropping, the breed will definitely be undergoing further changes in the future.

But no matter whether the Miniature Schnauzer has cropped ears or not, it seems that the popularity of this breed will retain its position among the top 20 most popular breeds in America, Europe and in many other parts of the world.

This comes to no surprise given the friendliness, the loyalty, and the charming nature of these wonderful dogs.

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