Questions as to the roots and origins of the Miniature Schnauzer produce varied responses. Some breed authorities have maintained that the breed is a result of using only the smallest specimens of the Standard Schnauzer. Others have felt Miniatures to be the result of crossing the Standard Schnauzer with the Affenpinscher and other small breeds.
This latter is considered to be the more probable origin. What is certain, however, is that early breeders wanted to produce a smaller version of the Standard Schnauzer, not only for its utilitarian looks and make-up, but more particularly for its splendid character and temperament. Over the years trends and tastes change, but always with the breeding of Schnauzers, whatever the size, it has been paramount with breeders and devotees to preserve that very special Schnauzer character and temperament.
The Schnauzer is the only breed known to take its name from one of its kind to win a prize at a show. This was at the International Show in Hanover in 1879. The winner of the wire-haired Pinscher class was a dog called ‘Schnauzer’ and thus the present-day name for the breed came into being.
The noun ‘Pinscher’ was adopted when the first Pinscher Club was formed at Cologne in 1895, and referred to both the wire-haired (Schnauzer) and the smooth-coated Pinscher. It is thought to have signified a terrier. Around fifteen years before this, a breed standard for the short-haired Pinscher had been published. This proved to be the prototype standard for several German breeds that were emerging at the time, rather in the way that the Smooth Fox Terrier standard was the pattern for both smooth and wire-haired Fox Terrier, as well as several other British breeds.
The Schnauzer has always had an excellent reputation as a watchdog and the fact that he was vocal rather than aggressive with an ability to distinguish between a friend and a wrongdoer.
In the very earliest days, reference was also made to the breed as the rat-catcher dog and also to the Wire-haired Pinschers (Schnauzer) distinguishing features – the quality of its shorter, coarser coat and facial hair almost beard-like around the muzzle. Also, to the breed’s liveliness, friendliness and faithfulness. It was also noted that the ears and tail of the breed were frequently cut.
The Bavarian Schnauzer Club began in 1901 in Munich. This was to combine in 1918 with the Pinscher Club to form the Pinscher-Schnauzer Club. This is today still the premier authority under the Federation Cynological Internationale (F.C.I.) rules for Schnauzers (Standard, Miniature and Giant) as well as Pinschers, Miniature Pinschers and Affenpinschers. The Pinscher is a distinctive, smooth-coated, medium-sized German breed that should not be confused with the Doberman Pinscher which was officially recognized in 1900.
Originating in Central Europe, the recognizable Schnauzer type has been known for centuries in sculpture and art-form. It is thought to be represented in works by Albrecht Durer as early as 1492. A representation of a Schnauzer also appears in a tapestry ‘The Crown of Thorns’ executed in 1501 by Lucas Cranach-the-Elder. At Stuttgart a statue, still standing today, of the ‘Nightwatchman and his Dog’ dated 1620, clearly depicts a Schnauzer.
The Miniature Schnauzer should ideally be 13” (Bitches) and 14” (Dogs) at the shoulder. However you may come across some dogs/bitches that are a little bigger or smaller than the average.
There are three colours. Pepper and Salt (the most frequently seen), Black and Silver and Black. The latter being solid black without the distinctive silver beard and leg furnishings of the other two colours.
As the Miniature Schnauzer usually possesses a long beard and leg furnishings you should be prepared to groom your dog on a regular basis. Even if you do intend to send your dog to a grooming parlour you should at least comb your dog’s beard and leg hair to ensure he/she is free from knots. It is not fair to send your dog to a groomer every six to eight weeks and expect them to cope with a “Matted Mini”.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and Cataract ( both congenital and hereditary) occur in the Miniature Schnauzer. Every endeavour should be taken to eradicate such problems from the breed. All Miniature Schnauzers must be eye tested especially before mating. Before purchasing a puppy check that it has an eye certificate.
The Miniature Schnauzer makes an ideal family pet and will fit in with all age groups. They are excellent house dogs but can be quite vocal. If someone is around they will soon bark and let you know. The breed is suitable for people suffering with allergic conditions. Please remind young children that dogs are a family pet and not a toy to be continually picked up.
Miniature Schnauzers will accommodate to your life style and take as little or as much exercise as you want them to. However you should be consistent as you cannot expect a dog that has been a couch potato for six months to suddenly go for long walks, particularly in hot temperatures. All animals can suffer from heat stroke.
Miniature Schnauzers usually have very good appetites so you may have to watch their diet. Seldom will they refuse food especially the wrong sort. Be careful with titbits or you will become the owner of a very obese little dog.
The Miniature Schnauzer does not shed coat and because of his high standards of hygiene will not need excessive grooming or over fussing at all. Get your puppy used to a regular grooming routine right from the start, be firm but at the same time make it fun, reward him at the end of each session with lots of praise and maybe a treat. Although he won’t really need to much grooming in the first few weeks he is with you, it will get him used to being handled and will help prepare him for when he visits the vet or the grooming salon. It is a good idea to get your puppy used to standing on a table for his grooming and a small rubber mat with a non-slip backing is ideal to place underneath him. A daily brush and comb is all that is required to keep your dog tidy and tangle free and will help remove all the dead and/or loose hairs before between trims.
The legs and undercarriage should be washed occasionally in warm water using a mild shampoo which can be obtained from your local pet store. Make sure you rinse well and dry thoroughly. It is also a good idea to get him used to having his beard wiped (not necessarily washed) after his meals. Wipe away ‘sleep’ from the eye area, do not allow a build up.
Your Miniature Schnauzer should keep his nails fairly worn down from his walks, however, sometimes they may need a trim and it is advisable to cut the nails a little at a time, guillotine nail clippers are recommended as they have a safety guard fitted cutting down the risk of cutting a quick.
If you are planning to take your dog to be professionally trimmed there are still points to remember that will contribute to his general well being, as well as his nails you should pluck the hair on the inside of the ears on a regular basis to keep the ear canal clean and free from wax. When you have done this it is a good idea to use a pinch of ear powder, such as Thornit which is available from stockists, in each ear massaging the ear a little.
Also the hair between the pads should not be allowed to grow excessively long and thick, as well as being unhygienic it may also cause the pads to spread, this hair can be kept under control and cut short by using a small pair of blunt ended scissors.
Finally oral hygiene maintenance should be performed at regular intervals and again you should introduce your Miniature Schnauzer to this at an early age so that he will accept this as part of his grooming routine. There are a variety of canine toothpastes available, including a finger brush. You should only ever use canine toothpaste as it is non-foaming
Those seeking an excellent family dog or a smart and stylish show dog need to look no further than the Miniature Schnauzer.
As a family dog the breed is par excellence and has much to offer being a handy and easy to manage size as well as having a splendid character and temperament which adapts easily to its owners lifestyle.
Although a Miniature the breed is in no way toyish or delicate. The sturdy frame and solid body along with a balanced outlook, ensures he enjoys life to the full and is game for anything.
His unique pepper and salt colouring along with the solid black or eye catching black and silver pattern makes him stand out, and his non-shed coat makes him acceptable anywhere.
As a show dog the breed is smart and attractive with that little bit extra in character that shows and commands attention, while the care and attention needed with his coat and presentation gives a personal challenge and the satisfaction of a job well done.
In the Miniature Schnauzer you will have a loyal and loving dog that will be a friend for life.