Common Diseases of Miniature Schnauzers

Keep your miniature schnauzer active to keep illness at bay.
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The miniature schnauzer, originally bred as a farm dog, is a spirited dog who shows immense loyalty to his owner. The miniature schnauzer is now most notably a family pet, adaptable to living in a rural or urban setting. This breed is hearty but is prone to some health risks. Screening, a watchful eye and routine visits with your veterinarian will help keep them at bay.

Mycobacterium Avium

Mycobacterium avium, or AVB, is a frightening disease, one that's frequently misdiagnosed in miniature schnauzers: The symptoms are similar to those of a lymphatic cancer; the dog will appear weak with diarrhea, vomiting and possible lameness. If your dog appears uninterested in his food and has swollen lymph nodes, contact your veterinarian immediately. Treatment options include antibiotics, although medicinal intervention only suppresses the illness and cannot cure it.

Cushing's Disease

Cushing's disease is frequently found in miniature schnauzers between 6 and 8 years of age. It occurs when the pituitary gland secretes too many adrenal cortex hormones for the body to process. It is caused by either a genetic defect or too many steroid medications throughout the dog's life. Symptoms include weight gain, increased thirst and thinning coat. A thorough blood panel done by your veterinarian can determine if your miniature schnauzer has Cushing's. Treatment options include daily medication such as mitotane or anipryl.

Diseases of the Eye

Miniature schnauzers are prone to several ocular diseases, namely retinal atrophy and myotonia congenita. Responsible breeders will do genetic testing to determine whether the dogs they intend to breed are carriers -- if the dogs have the genetic abnormality, they are not bred. Fortunately, due to testing, these diseases are becoming rare in miniature schnauzer specimens from show lines. Thorough testing is sometimes absent from other breeding sources. With both diseases, gradual blindness begins when the dog is a puppy and progresses as he ages. A veterinary ophthalmologist will diagnose and treat a dog who shows symptoms of an ocular illness.


Hypothyroidism is a common disease among miniature schnauzers whereby the thyroid glands do not secrete enough of the thyroid hormone. Symptoms include lethargy, weight gain, depression, chronic ear and skin infections, and an inability to tolerate colder temperatures. While some miniature schnauzers are genetically predisposed to hypothyroidism, a lack of exercise or exposure to corticosteroids can also be the cause. A simple blood panel done by your veterinarian can diagnose or rule out hypothyroidism. Treatment is effective and usually includes daily medication for life.