Giant Schnauzer
Popular Military Dog in World War I & II

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The Giant Schnauzer is a large purebred with talents in several areas including guarding, police work, tracking, agility, military work, schutzhund and competitive obedience. It was bred in the 1600s in Germany to be a working dog, first for farmers and then in cities as a guard dog. It is an intelligent and hard working dog but is also a great family dog.

Here is the Giant Schnauzer at a Glance
Name Giant Schnauzer
Other Names Russian Bear Schnauzer, Munich Schnauzer, Munchener, and Riesenschnauzer
Nicknames None
Origin Germany
Average size Large
Average weight 65 to 90 pounds
Average height 24 to 28 inches tall
Life span 10 to 12 years
Coat type Wiry, short, harsh, dense
Hypoallergenic Yes
Color Grey and black tricolor
Popularity Somewhat popular – ranked 81 by the AKC
Intelligence Above average
Tolerance to heat Moderate – not great in hot or even too warm climates
Tolerance to cold Very good – is fine in snow and cold climates but not extremes
Shedding Low – good for people who do not want a lot of loose hair around their home or on clothing
Drooling Low – not a dog prone to slobber or drool
Obesity Average – not especially prone to weight gain but can become overweight if it is allowed to eat too much and is not exercised
Grooming/brushing High maintenance – needs a lot of care
Barking Occasional but it is a very loud bark
Exercise needs Very active – needs owners who love to be active too as it needs a lot of physical and mental exercise
Trainability Moderately easy to train – will be gradual process
Friendliness Good with socialization – not an overly friendly dog though
Good first dog Low – needs an experienced owner
Good family pet Excellent with socialization
Good with children Good but needs socialization
Good with other dogs Moderate to good – needs socialization
Good with other pets Moderate to good with socialization – has strong prey drive
Good with strangers Moderate – needs socialization, not a dog strangers should approach without the owner's supervision and approval
Good apartment dog Low – needs space and a yard
Handles alone time well Moderate – prefers to not be alone for long periods
Health issues Average but some issues such as lameness, OCD and hip dysplasia and it is prone to cancer more than other breeds
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic medical care and pet insurance
Food expenses $270 a year for a good dry dog food and treats
Miscellaneous expenses $645 a year for basic training, license, miscellaneous items, grooming and toys
Average annual expense $1400 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $850
Biting Statistics None Reported
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The Giant Schnauzer's Beginnings

The Giant Schnauzer is from Bavaria, a German state and dates back to the 17th century. While the breeds involved are not specifically known it is thought that involved in the development were the Rottweilers, Boxers, Standard Schnauzer, Great Dane, Doberman, Thuringian Shepherds, German Shepherds and Bouvier des Flandres. It was bred to be working farm dog, able to guard the property, help drive cattle to the market and help with other general duties.

There are three breeds of Schnauzer and this is the largest one, (the others being the miniature and the standard). By the 1900s though with machinery doing more work on farms the Giant Schnauzer moved from being a farm dog to a town watchdog, used in stockyards, factories, breweries and butcheries all around Bavaria. At this time too, both coarse haired Schnauzer puppies and smooth German Pinscher puppies could come from the same litter. The German Pinscher Schnauzer Club has to implement a policy to ensure the Schnauzer was distinct from the Pinscher.

It remained a dog only known in this area until the first and then second world wars when it was used successfully as a military dog. Called Riesenschnauzer meaning the giant. In German cities around this time it was also used as a police dog.

New Lease on Life

The first Giant Schnauzers to come to the US was in the 1930s but their numbers were low still until the 1960s when it became more popular. From 23 registered in 1962 to 386 in 1974 then over 1000 in 1987. It was recognized by the AKC in 1930 and The Giant Schnauzer Club of America started in 1962. While it was used as a police dog and a working dog in Europe, in the US it was more of a show dog or companion, and the German Shepherd beat them to the role of police dog there. It is ranked 81st by the AKC.

The Dog You See Today

This dog is large weighing 65 to 90 pounds and standing 24 to 28 inches tall. It is therefore not really the same kind of giant size that say the Great Dane is but when compared to the other two types of Schnauzer it certainly is. It has a powerful, squared shaped body and it is as tall as it is long. The double coat is soft underneath and wiry, harsh and coarse outer. Common colors are grey, white and black. Its tail is set high and is long in countries where it is not docked. Dewclaws on the back legs are removed and if they are there on the front legs are usually removed there too.

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The Giant Schnauzer has a head that is half the length of its back. Its ears are set high and in some countries where it is still allowed they are cropped but elsewhere are left natural. It has flat cheeks, clear eyebrows and a beard, a muzzle that is the same length as top of its head and a large black nose. The lips are black and it has medium sized eyes that are set deep, oval and dark.

The Inner Giant Schnauzer

Temperament

The Giant Schnauzer is a loyal and protective dog, it is alert and smart and will bark to let you know of any intruders. Because of that protective instinct it will also be bold and act to guard and defend you and the family. However because of its potential for aggression and its stubborn nature this is not the best dog for new owners.

In most cases this is a quiet dog but it most have a hidden playful nature too, some can be more serious and reserved and some more outgoing and sweet. It is territorial and is wary around strangers, even suspicious. If not well socialized and trained that suspicion can be more likely to lead to snapping and aggression. It is also important to ensure they are kept stimulated mentally and physically as they get bored quite easily and that can lead to destructive behavior.

Being a sensitive dog it does not like to be left alone for long periods and can suffer from separation anxiety. It also prefers to be close to its owners and will sense the kind of mood you are in. Some lines are too skittish though and too timid which can make it more unstable. With firm handling, proper training and socialization this is a good family dog or companion. Some can become overprotective without it.

Living with a Giant Schnauzer

What will training look like?

Giant Schnauzers are moderately easy to train, they are intelligent but strong minded so things will go fairly well but it will be gradual. It is important to have a firm and confident approach so that it knows you are in charge and that you will be consistent about the rules. Use positive techniques with this sensitive dog, it will not appreciate or respond well to harsh methods. If you are not clearly in charge it will make its own decisions and do what it wants. Remember this is not a dog you want to get bored and that includes the training sessions too. Avoid being overly repetitive and keep things interesting for the dog.

Early socialization is so important for the Giant Schnauzer, as it can be over protective otherwise, more aggressive and territorial and in some cases more unbalanced and skittish. With socialization this is a confident, calm, stable breed. Some do need more socialization than some other breeds though and it needs to cover a lot of locations, people, children, animals and other dogs.

How active is the Giant Schnauzer?

This is a very active dog so it is not best suited to apartment living as it really should have a large yard or even some land to run around in. Prospective owners should be active themselves so that taking it out is not a chore and is something everyone can enjoy each day together. It should get at least a couple of miles a day of brisk walking and it will need to go out at least a couple of times for half an hour or more each walk. As well as the physical activity it needs mental stimulation too. Without enough of both they get bored quickly and their behavior can become very difficult to deal with, it also struggles to settle down at night. It will enjoy activities that you might enjoy also, swimming, hiking, jogging, walking, biking and so on.

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Caring for the Giant Schnauzer

Grooming needs

There is a quite a lot of grooming to do with this breed, especially if it is a show dog. Some regular trips to a professional groomer will be needed to have the coat trimmed or stripped when needed. It does not shed a whole lot and is considered to be one of the breeds that can be fine for people with allergies (though this should always be checked if this is a main concern). The coat should only be bathed when it really needs one. Brush regularly though to get rid of tangles and take care of debris. Tough knots may need to be clipped out and the hair around the eyes and ears will need to be trimmed regularly. It is also a messy eater and drinker and its beard is going to need daily cleaning.

It should also have its teeth brushed at least two to three times a week, its ears checked for infection once a week and wiped clean, and then its nails clipped when they get too long. Dog nails need to be done carefully to avoid cutting too low and causing pain and bleeding.

Feeding Time

About 3 to 4 1/4 cups of a good quality dry dog food each day, split into at least two meals is what the Giant Schnauzer will likely need. How much exactly can vary from one dog to another depending on its size, age, health, activity level and rate of metabolism.

How is the Giant Schnauzer with children and other animals?

The Giant Schnauzer is okay with children but socialization is important and it is best when raised with them. Small children should be supervised as Giant Schnauzers when young can be quite rough and tumble so accidents can happen with kids getting knocked over. Care should also be taken when strange children come to visit, without good socialization the dog may view the kids in some rough play and see that as 'their' children being attacked and jump in to defend them. Many breeders suggest that home should not have children younger than 12. Make sure you teach the children how to touch and play with the dog in a kind manner.

Socialization is also essential to how it gets along with other dogs and other animals. It does not get on well with other dogs and especially same sex dogs are likely to have dominance issues and there can be aggression issues. While some can learn to get along with other animals like cats many tend to be aggressive towards smaller animals that it sees as prey to chase.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

It should live for between 10 to 12 years and is a fairly health dog but there are some issues it can be prone to and some of those are quite serious health problems. They include eye problems, joint dysplasia, skin problems, cancer, diabetes, hypothyroidism, seizure disorders, heart problems, liver problems, bloat and bone disease. This breed is more likely to get cancer than other breeds and it is what most die from.

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Biting Statistics

When taking a closer look at reports of dogs doing bodily harm when attacking people in the US and Canada over the last 34 years, the Giant Schnauzer is not mentioned specifically. But this does not mean it is not capable of snapping or having an especially bad day. It does have dominance and aggression issues, and only with good socialization and training, proper mental and physical stimulation can that risk be reduced. Make sure you have the experience needed, the time to spend on its training and to spend with it. Prospective owners really need to consider if this is the right dog for you.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Giant Schnauzer puppy will cost about $850 for a dog that is of pet standards from a good breeder. For something from a top breeder of show quality dogs you should expect to see those prices go into the several thousands or more. From rescues or shelters you have the great opportunity to offer a dog a new forever home for a very reasonable price of $50 to $400. It will already have some medical needs taken care of too but is likely to be more adult aged than puppy. Places you should not buy from include pet stores, ads, backyard breeders, and other places likely sourced by puppy mills.

Then once you have a puppy or dog you are going to need to take it to a vet for a check up and for some tests and procedures. It should for example be dewormed, have blood tests done, be micro chipped, spayed or neutered and have its vaccinations. This will be about $300. For items you are going to need like a crate, leash and collar, bowls and such you can expect to spend about $200.

Annual costs for food will be around $270 for treats as well as a good quality dry dog food. For basic medical care and pet insurance you are looking at $485 a year. For other costs like toys, license, basic training, grooming and other miscellaneous items you can expect to spend around $645 a year. This gives a total annual starting figure of $1400.

Names

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  • Male and Female Giant Schnauzer Puppy Names
  • The Giant Schnauzer is a large dog but not technically giant sized but it does need a larger home and access to a yard. It also needs a lot of time spent on it in terms of grooming and care so needs owners who have time not just to give it attention but also to maintain it. You also need to be active as this dog really should not be left to its own devices. When it is young it is a lot more rowdy and training can be a gradual process because of its willfulness. If you are prepared for all of that it could be a great dog for you, though if you have young children another may be more suitable. It is devoted and loyal, it will protect you if you need it and while it tends to be a serious dog it will also have moments of playfulness and being quite entertaining.

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