What Breeds Were Used to Make Schnauzers?

by Betty Lewis
The standard schnauzer was the starting point for the giant and miniature schnauzers.

The standard schnauzer was the starting point for the giant and miniature schnauzers.

daRRski/iStock/Getty Images

Part of the beauty of schnauzers is that they come in three sizes: miniature, standard and giant. A few personality differences exist among the different sizes, partly because the three breeds aren't from the same lineage. Hailing from 15th century Germany, each schnauzer was developed with very specific tasks in mind.

The Standard Schnauzer: The First Schnauzer

The standard schnauzer is the midsize schnauzer. He's the original schnauzer. According to the American Kennel Club, or AKC, the schnauzer is the result of blending German poodle, "wolfspitz" (now keeshond) and wirehaired pinscher stock. The black of the poodle and gray of the wolfspitz worked together to produce a salt-and-pepper coat with a wiry finish, while the pinscher contributed a fawn-colored undercoat. The standard schnauzer is in the AKC's working group. Standing 17.5 to 19.5 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 30 and 50 pounds, the standard schnauzer was made hardy enough to guard property and livestock. He killed rodents and protected owners traveling to and from the farm.

The Giant Schnauzer: The Next Big Thing

Also in the AKC's working group, the giant schnauzer carries 65 to 90 pounds on his frame. He stands 23.5 to 27.5 inches tall, quite a bit taller than his older relative the standard. This big dog was purposely developed to serve as a cattle driver. Crossing the standard with larger dogs, such as rough-coated sheepdogs, smooth-coated dogs and black Great Danes, made a larger schnauzer with shorter hair and a black coat -- though the giant schnauzer also comes in salt-and-pepper. In addition to driving cattle, the giant schnauzer was a good guard dog, standing watch in stockyards and breweries as well as helping out police.

The Miniature Schnauzer: Filling in the Gaps

Though the miniature schnauzer stands only 12 to 14 inches tall and weighs a mere 11 to 20 pounds, he was an effective farmhand. The standard schnauzer could have done the miniature's job, but farmers found the standard took up more space than they had to share and was relatively expensive to feed. Breeding standard schnauzers with poodles and affenpinschers eventually created a small dog who was an excellent ratter.

Ancestors' Influence

The original schnauzer, developed to pay his way on the farm, the standard schnauzer retains his instinct to protect and serve to this day. He's an extremely loyal dog, ready to guard his home and family, so he requires training to learn what's a threat and what isn't. He's also a smart dog who needs mental and physical exercise to keep him -- and his owner -- happy and frustration-free. The giant schnauzer's ancestors helped create an independent thinker who requires plenty of exercise, training and mental stimulation. Like his cousin the standard, the giant is a loyal family protector. The miniature schnauzer, perhaps harkening to his poodle roots, is an intelligent, playful little dog. His schnauzer heritage contributes to his familial devotion -- but he's not a cuddler. He's more apt to chase small animals than he is to curl up next to you on the couch.

Photo Credits

  • daRRski/iStock/Getty Images