Miniature Schnauzers first came from Germany in the 19th century and were bred as working dogs and rat hunters. They're the result of breeding Standard Schnauzers with smaller breeds. Nowadays, Miniature Schnauzers are known as loyal family dogs. They are one of the most popular breeds in the United States and Germany. Their average lifespan is 12 to 15 years, although some Miniature Schnauzers have lived over 20 years.
Miniature Schnauzers are between 11 to 15 inches tall and weigh between 10 to 15 pounds; males grow a little larger than females and weigh between 11 to 18 pounds. They come in a combination of black, silver, and white fur. They are very recognizable by their bushy eyebrows and 'beards,' which are patches of long hair below the snout. The beard was sometimes braided in the 19th and 20th centuries when Miniature Schnauzers were still predominantly working dogs, as it offered some protection when hunting rats.
Miniature Schnauzers have an outer layer of fur that is thick and wiry with a soft, silky undercoat. They're considered non-molting dogs, which means they do not shed. Miniature Schnauzers actually do shed, but they are hypoallergenic because they lose very little fur. Their tails are short and thin, and they have folded ears. Miniature Schnauzers may have cropped, pointed ears and docked tails, but cropping and docking are now illegal in many places.
Owners should bath Miniature Schnauzers every one or two weeks. Dogs that stay outdoors frequently need to be bathed more often than dogs that spend most of their time indoors. Consider using a gentle shampoo and a high-quality conditioner. Never let a Miniature Schnauzer's coat go without a bath longer than six weeks. Some owners use hand stripping to groom Miniature Schnauzers, especially if they plan to show their dogs. Hand stripping is the process of pulling out dead hairs individually so new hairs can grow. It's a time-consuming and uncomfortable procedure for the dogs, so most people trim the dog's coat and use carding tools to remove dead hair instead.
Miniature Schnauzers are very energetic and intelligent. They live happily in the country or city apartments as long as they get enough exercise. The dogs enjoy playing and want to be part of family activities. Miniature schnauzers become bored if they are left alone too often and do not get enough exercise. They may develop undesirable behaviors such as chewing on shoes or digging up yards.
Miniature Schnauzers are good-natured, friendly dogs, although personality varies a lot between individual dogs. They are very loyal and good to their families, especially children, and can become very attached to a single person. Many Miniature Schnauzers love to meet new people and play with visitors, but some are more introverted and may prefer to sit in their owners' lap or lounge around at home.
Though Miniature Schnauzers didn't come from the same stock that produced most terrier breeds, they're still classified as terriers. They have the classic feisty demeanor and fearlessness found in other terrier breeds. Miniature Schnauzers usually get along well with other dogs, but they can become aggressive. Owners must also be cautious of cats and other small animals around Miniature Schnauzers. The dogs are usually okay with smaller animals raised in the same home, but Schnauzers have very strong prey drives. They may attack smaller animals without warning.
Miniature Schnauzers respond very well to obedience training because they are intelligent and eager to please. They can learn a variety of tricks and sometimes serve as 'guard dogs' in the sense of alerting their owners to intruders. Miniature Schnauzers are very vocal and bark frequently, but early training can curb excessive barking. The dogs respond best to praise and rewards for good behavior instead of punishment for bad behavior. Many Miniature Schnauzers are trained as therapy dogs or emotional support animals.
Miniature Schnauzers need to consume enough calories to support their daily activity. Homemade foods are appropriate as long as the recipe includes all required nutrients and sufficient calories. Keep table scraps to a minimum. Miniature Schnauzers can live outdoors in temperate climates, although they thrive as indoor dogs. Their thick fur protects them from cold temperatures, but a sweater and paw coverings may be necessary for long walks in regions with extremely cold winters. They have small, round feet that are susceptible to injury from ice or salt.
Canine Renal Dysplasia, or RD, and myotonia congenita are genetic illnesses that may occur in Miniature Schnauzers. RD is a fatal condition that destroys kidney tissue. Though rare, the Miniature Schnauzers are also susceptible to kidney and bladder stones. Myotonia congenita is a skeletomuscular disorder that causes muscle deterioration and difficulty swallowing. Miniature Schnauzers are prone to eye disorders such as cataracts, retinal dysplasia, entropion, and progressive retinal atrophy. Entropion causes the dog's eyelids to roll inwards and damage the eye, but this condition can be fixed with surgery.
One advantage of adopting a Miniature Schnauzer as an adult from a shelter is that most genetic illnesses and health problems have already been identified. Those who wish to buy from a breeder should verify the health of both parents before purchasing a puppy. The parents should have hip dysplasia scores below 9.8, and each litter of puppies screened for several eye disorders. DNA tests are available for numerous genetic illnesses, including myotonia congenita, progressive retinal atrophy, degenerative myelopathy, von Willebrand's Disease 1, and spondylocostal dysostosis.
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