Schnauzers are known for their bushy eyebrows, beards and mustaches. The breed name is derived from the German word schnauze, meaning snout, for the dog's distinct facial hair. The three kinds of schnauzers -- standard, giant and miniature -- are all known for their attachment to family, intelligence and affectionate dispositions. Schnauzers are popular family pets. They benefit from early training and an owner who is firm and able to be in charge.
All three schnauzer types originated in Germany from the standard variety, bred there to be farm dogs. The standard schnauzer is a moderate size, from 17 1/2 to 19 1/2 inches tall at the shoulder and 30 to 50 pounds. These dogs become very attached to their families and love children. They are protective and can be slow to accept strangers. The standard schnauzer is a high-energy athletic breed needing regular exercise. The breed is strong-willed, so early obedience training and a human pack leader are important. Standard schnauzers can be prone to hip dysplasia and tumors.
Giant schnauzers were developed to help drive large livestock such as cattle. This variety was bred to be a working dog. Giants are intelligent and energetic dogs who need adequate space and exercise. These dogs are loyal, brave and have a strong desire to be with their owners. A properly trained giant schnauzer with an owner who is in charge can be affectionate and lovable. Socialize a giant schnauzer well to avoid the dog becoming dominant. Giant schnauzers stand 23 1/2 to 27 1/2 inches and weigh 55 to 105 pounds. The breed is prone to cancer, especially toe cancer, as well as bloat, hip displasia and epilepsy.
Miniature schnauzers were originally bred to be ratters, going to ground to hunt vermin. They are the most popular of the three types. These little dogs are smart but fearless and make good watchdogs as well as family pets. This variety adapts well to living in smaller spaces such as apartments. Minis are lively, smart and playful but need a firm owner who does not allow the dog to be in charge. They are devoted to family and love children. The mini weighs 10 to 15 pounds and is 12 to 15 inches tall at the shoulders. Miniature schnauzers are at risk for liver disease, kidney stones, diabetes, skin disorders, von Willebrand's disease, cysts and hereditary eye problems.
The schnauzer's double coat requires regular grooming to maintain it. Use a slicker or pin brush several times a week to avoid tangles and mats in the undercoat. None of the schnauzer types shed much, but the dead hair must be removed from their wiry outer coat so it doesn't become knotted. Frequent baths aren't necessary. Bathe your schnauzer only when he's dirty with a gentle shampoo designed for dogs. Stripping or clipping a schnauzer can be done at home or by a groomer, but keep your dog's facial hair neat by trimming it with scissors regularly.