What I Need to Know About Miniature Schnauzers

The miniature schnauzer: the dog with the beard and bushy eyebrows.
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If you're bringing a miniature schnauzer into your life, there's a few things you need to know about beforehand. Prepare for shadowing, as the miniature schnauzer wants to keep tabs on you. He's a bright, alert, active companion. Originally bred to exterminate vermin, you can channel some of that hunting energy into canine sports, such as agility.

Size and Appearance

Unlike poodles, who come in three different sizes but are considered the same breed, the miniature schnauzer is considered a separate breed from the standard or giant schnauzer, as per American Kennel Club registration. At maturity, the miniature schnauzer stands between 12 and 14 inches tall at the shoulders. Black, black and silver, and "salt and pepper" are the only permissible colors, with no white markings. Miniature schnauzers sport a wiry, double coat. The AKC breed standard specifies a docked tail, but ears can remain natural or cropped.

Miniature Schnauzer Temperament

Miniature schnauzers are terriers, so expect some of the typical terrier temperament in your little pal. That includes determination, persistence, intelligence and a bit of yappiness. It also means that his innate hunting instincts might find fellow household pets fair game, so think twice about keeping rabbits or rodents in his vicinity. While miniature schnauzers make good family dogs, there's often a preference for one person. These dogs are easy to train, and soak up learning. He's a natural watchdog, so you don't have to worry about anyone getting near your house without you knowing it.

Miniature Schnauzer Grooming

Your miniature schnauzer requires regular grooming if you show him. His hair requires time-consuming stripping, or plucking out the old hairs to make way for new growth. If you don't show your dog, you can have his coat clipped, or learn to do it yourself. If he's clipped, a weekly brushing should suffice to keep him neat. Comb and wash his beard a few times a week to remove food and dirt. You also should brush and wash his leg feathering regularly.

Health Issues

If you're purchasing a puppy, make sure you obtain a miniature schnauzer from a responsible breeder. Otherwise, your dog might be even more prone to health issues afflicting the breed. These include eye problems, such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy, the latter eventually leading to complete vision loss. Dental issues and skin problems are common, along with endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism and Cushing's disease. Urinary tract problems, including the formation of bladder and kidney stones, plague the breed.