Miniature Schnauzer: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Standing side profile of a Miniature Schnauzer dog

Mark Nicol / Getty Images

The miniature schnauzer is a small terrier dog breed from Germany with a medium-length coat that doesn’t shed much, a bushy beard and eyebrows, and a square build. They are hardy and feisty little dogs that were bred down from the larger standard schnauzer. They can adapt to living in an apartment or roaming around a farm. And they generally are very alert and family-oriented.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Terrier

HEIGHT: 12 to 14 inches

WEIGHT: 11 to 20 pounds

COAT: Medium-length, wiry double coat

COAT COLOR: Black, black and silver, or salt and pepper

LIFE SPAN: 12 to 15 years

TEMPERAMENT: Friendly, lively, alert


ORIGIN: Germany

Characteristics of the Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature schnauzers typically have a bright and vigilant temperament. They tend to be quite vocal and make for good watchdogs. They also generally have very affectionate personalities and enjoy playtime.

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

History of the Miniature Schnauzer

The standard schnauzer can trace its roots back to the 15th century in Germany. They were sturdy working dogs on farms that were used to protect property, assist in herding livestock, exterminate vermin, and more. The giant schnauzer spun off this breed for these tasks as well.

Then, in the late 19th century, farmers wanted a smaller dog that could hunt vermin. Besides the standard schnauzer, the poodle and affenpinscher also went into creating the mini schnauzer. The combination of these breeds made the mini schnauzer more friendly and eager to please than many other dogs in the terrier group.

Thus, the miniature schnauzer also quickly caught on as a lovable companion dog. Actor Mary Tyler Moore, politicians Elizabeth and Bob Dole, martial artist/actor Bruce Lee, and other famous figures were mini schnauzer owners. The American Kennel Club first recognized the breed in 1926.

Elizabeth and Bob Dole holding their miniature schnauzer
Elizabeth Dole and Bob Dole show off their miniature schnauzer. Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Miniature Schnauzer Care

Miniature schnauzers need a moderate amount of exercise each day, and they should receive training and socialization from a young age. Plus, their coat needs regular grooming.


Miniature schnauzers are no couch potato. These little dogs should get at least an hour of exercise per day in the form of walks, jogging, running freely in a secure area, games of fetch, and more. Puzzle toys also can provide these smart dogs with mental stimulation. And dog sports can challenge them both mentally and physically. 

Make sure always to keep your mini schnauzer on a leash or in a fenced area when exercising outdoors. The breed’s strong prey drive can cause it to quickly take off after perceived quarry when given the chance.


The miniature schnauzer has a double coat consisting of a wiry topcoat and soft undercoat. It doesn’t shed much, but it must be regularly brushed and trimmed. A quick daily brushing is recommended to remove any loose fur and prevent tangles. Then, most owners opt to take their dog to a groomer every one to two months to have the coat clipped, though you also can learn to do this at home.

Plan on a bath roughly every month, depending on how dirty your dog gets. Check your dog’s ears at least weekly for wax buildup and abnormalities. And see whether it needs a nail trim about every month as well. Also, plan to brush its teeth daily.


Proper training and socialization are both essential for a happy, well-adjusted miniature schnauzer. Start from as young of an age as possible to prevent bad habits from forming. The breed generally learns quickly, but due to its high intelligence it can become bored with repetitive training. Thus, it’s important to keep training sessions fun, using positive reinforcement methods.

Aim to expose your dog from a young age to different people, other dogs, and various locations. Mini schnauzers are generally moderately open to meeting strangers and other dogs. But due to their prey drive, they might not be able to coexist peacefully with smaller household pets, such as rodents.

Furthermore, be aware that this breed has a tendency to be quite vocal at times. So it is important to start working on bark control early to prevent problem barking.

miniature schnauzer puppy running in grass

Getty Images

miniature schnauzer side view
 Tracy Morgan / Getty Images

Common Health Problems

The miniature schnauzer overall is healthy, but the breed is prone to some hereditary health issues, including:

Miniature Schnauzers as Pets

The Spruce / Kelly Miller

Diet and Nutrition

Always have fresh water available for your miniature schnauzer. And feed it a high-quality, nutritionally balanced canine diet. It’s typical to feed two measured meals per day. But you should discuss both the amount and type of diet with your vet to make sure you’re meeting the dog’s individual needs. Also, be mindful about treats and other extra food to prevent overeating.

As miniature schnauzers are prone to having high fat levels (hyperlipidemia), some might need a special diet to help manage their fats. This should always be prescribed by a veterinarian. 

Where to Adopt or Buy a Miniature Schnauzer

The mini schnauzer is a fairly popular breed, so it’s worth checking local animal shelters and breed-specific rescue groups for a dog in need of a home. If you’re looking for a puppy from a reputable breeder, expect to pay around $500 to $2,800 on average, though this can vary widely.

For further information to help you find a miniature schnauzer, check out:

Miniature Schnauzer Overview

  • Friendly and affectionate

  • Can get along well with kids

  • Doesn't shed much

  • Can be very vocal

  • Somewhat involved grooming needs

  • High prey drive

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

As with any breed, do plenty of research on the miniature schnauzer before deciding to bring one home. Talk to veterinarians, breed owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to learn more.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

  • Are miniature schnauzers good family dogs?

    Well-trained and socialized miniature schnauzers can be excellent family dogs. They are typically tolerant of kids and enjoy family playtime.

  • Are miniature schnauzers good apartment dogs?

    Miniature schnauzers can adapt well to various living situations, including apartments. However, they are prone to barking and might disturb neighbors.

  • What were miniature schnauzers bred for?

    Miniature schnauzers were bred down from the standard schnauzer in the late 19th century to work as ratters on farms. They were also kept as friendly family pets.

Article Sources
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  1. Miniature Schnauzer. American Kennel Club.

  2. Schnauzer (Miniature) Puppies and Dogs. Adopt a Pet.