Miniature Schnauzer: Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Dog lying on a porch
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The miniature schnauzer is a bold and active little dog that can trace its origins back to 15th century Germany and a cross-breed between poodles and Affenpinschers. This breed, which is separate from standard and giant schnauzers, has distinctive features and a square, sturdy build. The personality of the mini schnauzer makes it a feisty, alert dog and loyal companion.

Breed Overview

  • Group: Terrier
  • Weight: 11 to 19 pounds
  • Height: 12 to 14 inches
  • Coat and Color: Mini schnauzers are typically seen in one of the three following color combinations: salt and pepper, black and silver, solid black. Miniature schnauzers with white coats are not accepted by the American Kennel Club. Schnauzers have a double coat with the outer coat being wiry and the undercoat being soft.
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Characteristics of the Miniature Schnauzer

Affection Level High
Friendliness Medium
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs Medium
Playfulness Medium
Energy Level Medium
Trainability High
Intelligence Medium
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the Miniature Schnauzer

The miniature schnauzer is closely related to its larger counterparts, the standard schnauzer and giant schnauzer. The miniature, standard, and giant schnauzer are each a distinctive breed, but all can be traced back to 15th century Germany. Derived from the standard schnauzer, the miniature schnauzer is believed to be the result of crossing small standards with poodles and Affenpinschers. As a terrier, the miniature schnauzer was once a vermin hunter and farm dog. Over the years, the breed has developed into an amiable, loyal, and protective companion dog.

The breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1926. While docking of tails and cropping of ears was once common, it is now restricted in many places.

Doles with New Schnauzer
Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and his wife, Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole show off their new miniature schnauzer. Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Miniature Schnauzer Care

The miniature schnauzer has a wiry topcoat and soft undercoat. This breed requires frequent grooming, including trips to a professional groomer every two to four weeks. The typical "schnauzer cut" gives this breed a long, bushy beard, a short coat on the torso, and fluffy hair on the legs. Daily brushing of the coat is recommended. It's also important to keep the nails trimmed for healthy feet and ease of walking.

The miniature schnauzer is one of many considered to be hypoallergenic dog breeds and may be suitable for those who are mildly or moderately allergic to dogs as they don't shed much.

The miniature schnauzer is happy, intelligent, energetic, and obedient. Proper training and socialization are both essential in order to keep your mini schnauzer happy and healthy. Like most terriers, this breed can have a stubborn streak but ultimately desires structure. Be aware that this breed has a tendency to be quite vocal at times. If your mini schnauzer tends to bark a lot, it is important to start working on bark control early.

Because of its medium-high energy level, the miniature schnauzer should get plenty of regular exercise. Establish a daily routine that includes walks and fun activities like games to keep your mini schnauzer mentally and physically stimulated.

Overall, the miniature schnauzer makes a wonderful pet for all kinds of households. They will generally socialize well with other breeds of dogs and may get along well with cats. However, if you have small pets such as gerbils, guinea pigs, birds, or snakes, be aware that your mini schnauzer's instincts may lead it to chase them. It's best to keep them separate.

Miniature Schnauzer puppy
Miniature Schnauzer puppy.  
Miniature Schnauzer
 Tracy Morgan / Getty Images

Common Health Problems

Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions. However, some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed. Conditions to be aware of include:

  • Diabetes mellitus: As in humans, a dog can develop difficulty in managing its blood sugar.
  • Cataracts: More common in old age, this clouding of the lens of the eye can be treated surgically to restore vision.
  • Entropion: An inward rolling of the eyelids, it leads to irritation of the cornea and requires surgery for correction.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA): This genetic disease that can lead to blindness.
  • Epilepsy: This is a seizure disorder.
  • Urolithiasis (urinary stones): Surgery may be needed if stones can't be passed. A special diet may help prevent a recurrence.
  • Comedone syndrome: These "schnauzer bumps" are like human blackhead pimples, occurring on the dog's back. Discuss the right way to care for this skin condition with your veterinarian.
  • Von Willebrand disease: This is an inherited bleeding disorder due to the lack of a clotting factor.
  • Myotonia congenita: Breeders should test for the gene which results in a genetic musculoskeletal disorder that is like muscular dystrophy in humans.
    miniature schnauzers as pets illustration
    Illustration: The Spruce / Kelly Miller

    Diet and Nutrition

    Feed your miniature schnauzer twice a day, with 1/2 to 1 cup of dry food split between the two meals. Miniature schnauzers are prone to having high fat levels (hyperlipidemia), and some may need a special diet to help manage their fats. Don't give the dog table scraps or unhealthy human food as treats.

    As with any dog, keep tabs on whether your dog is gaining weight, as obesity can shorten his lifespan and increase his risk of diseases. Discuss this with your veterinarian to see if he will need a special diet or more exercise.

    Brush your dog's teeth daily, or at least two to three times per week to maintain breath fresh and help prevent gum disease and tartar buildup.

    Pros

    • Mini schnauzers are friendly, personable, and affectionate.

    • This breed socializes well with other dogs and usually with cats.

    • Miniature schnauzers are considered hypoallergenic and don't shed much.

    Cons

    • This breed often barks frequently.

    • Mini schnauzers need daily brushing and frequent groomer visits.

    • Schnauzers are prone to health issues, including diabetes, cataracts, and urinary stones.

    Where to Adopt or Buy a Miniature Schnauzer

    If you're looking for a miniature schnauzer for your family, check out adoption or rescue groups as well as reputable breeders. The American Miniature Schnauzer Club works with rescue groups and local clubs to rescue and rehome dogs in need. Additionally, you may find miniature schnauzers up for adoption at local animal shelters.

    More Dog Breeds and Further Research

    As with any breed, if you think the miniature schnauzer is right for you, be sure to research the breed well before getting one of your own. Talk to veterinarians, pet professionals, other miniature schnauzer owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to learn everything you can.

    If you are interested in similar breeds, look at these to compare pros and cons: