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Standard Schnauzer

Nicole Cosgrove

standard schnauzer outside

The Standard Schnauzer is a medium sized purebred, its name means snouter or snout referring to its famous facial hair. It is a dog used in search and rescue, hunting, military work, competitive obedience, guarding, tracking, watchdog, retrieving, agility, therapy and makes a great family dog too. It is a robust breed and is also intelligent, alert and agile.

The Standard Schnauzer at A Glance
Name Standard Schnauzer
Other names Mittelschnauzer, Wirehair Pinscher
Nicknames Schnauzer
Origin Germany
Average size Medium
Average weight 35 to 45 pounds
Average height 18 to 20 inches
Life span 12 to 14 years
Coat type Wiry, harsh, dense
Hypoallergenic Yes
Color Black, salt and pepper
Popularity Somewhat popular – ranked 91st by the AKC
Intelligence Excellent – very intelligent dog
Tolerance to heat Very good – can live in hot climates but not extreme heat
Tolerance to cold Very good – can handle cold weather but not the extremes
Shedding Low – good for people who do not want dog hair around the home to clean up
Drooling Low – not a dog known to drool or slobber
Obesity Low – not prone to weight gain
Grooming/brushing High maintenance – will need regular care from you and a groomer
Barking Occasional – will bark but not all the time
Exercise needs Fairly active – will need daily outings
Trainability Moderate – intelligent but can have stubborn moments
Friendliness Good with socialization
Good first dog Moderate – best with an experienced owner
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Very good with socialization
Good with other dogs Good – needs socialization though as can have dominance issues
Good with other pets Moderate – needs socialization as does have high prey drive
Good with strangers Moderate – needs socialization to ensure wariness does not become something more problematic
Good apartment dog Very good – can adapt to an apartment if it gets enough exercise outside still
Handles alone time well Moderate – does not like to be left alone for long periods
Health issues Generally very healthy – some issues that might come up include hip dysplasia and eye problems
Medical expenses $460 a year for basic care and pet insurance
Food expenses $145 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $515 a year for miscellaneous items, license, basic training, grooming and toys
Average annual expenses $1120 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1,500
Rescue organizations Several including the Schnauzer Rescue and Adoption and the Standard Schnauzer Rescue
Biting Statistics None reported

The Standard Schnauzer’s Beginnings

The Standard Schnauzer comes from Germany and was bred in the 15th and 16th centuries being the first of the three Schnauzer breeds. They were bred using other breeds that were ratters, herding dogs and guard dogs. For many years it was a peasant dog and was used on farms in those same roles. There are famous paintings by artists such as Albrecht Durer and Rembrandt that include Schnauzers in them.

In the 1800s when dog shows became popular dog lovers took interest in this breed and a standardized temperament and appearance was looked for. At this time it was possible for coarse haired Schnauzers and smooth German Pinschers to come from the same litter and Schnauzers were being called Wirehaired Pinschers. Actions were then taken to make sure those dogs registered had proof of three generations of pure Schnauzers which helped separate them from the German Pinscher. The name Schnauzer came from the German word for snout or muzzle.

The breed was further developed using the Black German Poodles and the grey Wolfspitz. In the late 1800s the miniature and the Giant breeds were developed too. In 1880 the first breed standard for the Standard Schnauzer was written and the Bavarian Schnauzer Klub was formed in 1907 in Munich. When the first world war came it was used to help Red Cross workers and as a messenger dog. They were also used by the police.

New Lease on Life

In the early 1900s the first Standard Schnauzer came to the US but it was not until after World War I that numbers rose to any significant level. It was also used by the Red Cross and by American police to detect bombs, drugs and as search and rescue dogs. The Schnauzer Club of America was began in 1925 and in 1933 that club split to form two clubs one specific to the Standard Schnauzer and one to the Miniature Schnauzer. However its popularity as a pet has not taken off in the US as it did in Europe, being ranked just 91st most popular dog registered with the AKC.

The Dog You See Today

The Standard Schnauzer is a medium sized dog weighing 35 to 45 pounds and standing 18 to 20 inches tall. It is a sturdy dog with a squared build and a wiry coat that is stiff, thick, and dense. The undercoat is soft and the outer is hard. Common colors are black and salt & pepper. On the back the coat ranges from ¾ of an inch to 2 inches in length. On its face the hair forms its distinctive eyebrows, mustache and beard. The Schnauzer has a straight back that slopes down a little towards the rear. Its tail there is set high and in places where it is still legal it is docked to a one to two inch length. Dewclaws can be removed and it has small feet with black nails.

This dog has high set ears that are erect if cropped in countries where that is still allowed. If they are left natural they are V shaped and are carried against its head. The head is broad, long and rectangular and it has a large nose and black lips. Eyes are medium sized, oval shaped and dark brown.

The Inner Standard Schnauzer


The Standard Schnauzer can be bold and serious and it can also be more calm and sweet. It is not the best option for new owners, it can be demanding so it needs owners who are experienced to properly handle it. It is a good watchdog though and will bark to let you know of an intruder. It is also known to have strong protective instincts so will act to defend you and the family. It is a very enthusiastic, bright and playful dog but it is independent and that means it can be willful and stubborn at times.

With its family it is loving and very loyal but socialization is important as it is very wary of strangers and is not an approachable dog. Its affection is to those it lives with not random strangers who want to pet it in the street. It does need plenty of attention and needs companionship, it does not like being left alone and can suffer from separation anxiety and it is quite sensitive. People who will be out of the house 12 hours a day should opt for a different breed.

It is important rules are clearly set and that the owner is firm and in control otherwise it can be overly dominant, untrustworthy and over protective. Up to the age of two it is quite rambunctious and will need plenty of mental and physical stimulation or it will get destructive and bored. As it matures the rambunctiousness will tone down but it still has a high need for stimulation. It does bark occasionally and that bark is surprisingly deep.

Living with a Standard Schnauzer

What will training look like?

This dog is easy to train as long as you stay firm, in control and do not let it manipulate you into letting it have its way. Set the rules and stick with them, be consistent and confident. It is a very intelligent breed and with experienced trainers learns quicker than most dogs as it needs less repetition to get something. Be prepared for its stubborn moments and remember being a sensitive dog harsh corrections are not effective here. This dog is one of the best at problem solving which is why some mental as well as physical challenges is important.

Along with at least basic level obedience training you should start socialization with it as soon as you have it. This means introducing it to different sounds, sights, people and places so that it learns the proper responses to them and grows into the best dog it can be, one you can trust.

How active is the Standard Schnauzer?

Standard Schnauzers are fairly active dogs, they can live in an apartment but need daily exercise and stimulation to be happy there. They would be best though with somewhere that has land or a large yard. It should get at least one long and one moderate walk a day, brisk totaling at least an hour a day. It should also get time at a dog park or somewhere you can play and it can run off leash safely several times a week. Dog parks are a good option because it helps with socialization. If your Schnauzer is restless, over excited or becoming destructive in the home these are signs it is not getting enough physical or mental activity. Consider offering it advanced training of some kind for its mental needs.

Caring for the Standard Schnauzer

Grooming needs

The Standard Schnauzer may be low shedding but it is a high maintenance dog when it comes to grooming still, so if you do not have time for daily care another breed may be better suited. As well as regular trips to a groomer for trimming and stripping it will need daily cleaning and grooming to keep it looking good. The undercoat of the Schnauzer can get really matted without regular combing or brushing. Each day it needs to be brushed and any knots cut out. Then the hair around the eyes and ears should be trimmed regularly and its face will need cleaning after each meal.

This is not a smelly breed so keep bath time for when it really needs one to avoid drying out its skin. Twice a year the undercoat has a blow out which is where the stripping comes in. If you opt to clip the coat this will stop those blow outs but it will affect the texture of the coat and it will not be wiry anymore. It also sheds more, becomes more prone to tangles when it is kept clipped and the color can dull. In the US since it is harder to find professional groomers who can hand strip as it is a labor-intensive job, more Schnauzers are kept clipped. In Europe clipped Schnauzers are very uncommon.

Other needs include trimming its nails when they get too long, though care should be taken not to cut too low as that can cause pain and bleeding. Its ears should be checked weekly for infection signs and then wiped clean. Do not insert anything into the ears to clean. Also brush its teeth at least three times a week.

Feeding Time

This breed will usually eat an amount somewhere between 1 to 2 1/2 cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, and that should be divided into at least two meals. How much exactly varies from one dog to another depending on its age, size, health, metabolism, activity level and build.

How is the Standard Schnauzer with children and other animals?

When around children it is generally friendly and is especially playful and affectionate with those it has been raised with. Even younger ones should be good with this dog, (in Germany they were once referred to as kinderwachters) just make sure they are taught how to approach and touch them kindly. With socialization and training this is usually a tolerant and patient breed.

With other dogs it can be dominant and aggressive with dogs of the same sex especially when it has not been spayed or neutered. Socialization, training and close supervision is important when around strange dogs. With small animals like cats, hamsters, other rodents, rabbits and so on, it tends to have strong instincts to chase and seize them as it sees them as prey. It can get along with other pets though when it has been raised with them.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Standard Schnauzer lives 12 to 14 years on average and is a healthy breed too. In some dogs there can be problems with the eyes and hip dysplasia, and in under 1% of dogs there can be more serious issues like tumors.

Biting Statistics

When looking at reports from Canada and the US on dogs attacking people over the last 34 years the Standard Schnauzer is not mentioned in any incidents. However there is always a risk with any dog breed that something can upset them, they might have a bad day and it leads to them overreacting, being aggressive and even attacking. While there is no way to guarantee a dog will never have that happen there are things a responsible owner can do to lessen the risk and to teach the dog what is appropriate and acceptable. Get a dog that is suited to you and your lifestyle, make sure you train and socialize it and that it gets enough nutrition and physical and mental stimulation.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The price for a Standard Schnauzer puppy of pet quality from a good breeder is somewhere between $1000 to $2000. $2000 plus will get you something from a show breeder and usually females are going to cost a bit more than males. If you are happy to offer a dog a new home and adopt from a rescue or shelter that will cost less, around $75 to $400 and it includes initial medical needs already taken care of. Most rescues though are older than 2 years. Please do your homework and find a good breeder, avoid pet stores, ads posted online or locally and the like. Most puppy mills and backyard breeders have some terrible practices and you are often likely to get puppies of questionable background and health.

When you have found your new best friend there are some medical needs to take care of straight away like shots, deworming, blood tests, micro chipping, spaying or neutering and a physical by a vet. This will cost about $280. Then you have some items you will need at home for it, a crate, carrier, collar and leash and things like bowls and bedding. These costs come to about $200.

Owning a dog is a financial commitment as well as an emotional and physical one. There will be costs to cover like food, medical care, toys, training, license and so on. For a good quality dry dog food and dog treats expect a yearly cost of about $145. For basic medical care like physicals, vaccinations, flea and tick prevention and pet insurance expect to pay about $460 a year. For miscellaneous items, license, basic training, grooming and toys a yearly cost of $515 should be prepared for. This means the Standard Schnauzer has an estimated starting figure of $1120 a year.


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Schnauzers are a great dog and have many good reasons to why you might consider having one as your new companion. It is low shedding, it is not too large, it is a great watchdog, it is very loyal and it is also very intelligent. It does though need experienced owners as it has a stubborn side. Also you need to have the time to commit to it, not only does it need attention and hates to left alone for too long, it also needs daily care in terms of grooming. Owners should be prepared for that and should also be fairly active themselves so that the Schnauzer gets enough activity and stimulation.

Featured Image Credit: everydoghasastory, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.