Critter Culture
What You Need to Know About Giant Schnauzers

What You Need to Know About Giant Schnauzers

Critter Culture Staff



Originally bred in the mountains of Germany, the giant schnauzer has been delighting adults and children alike since the breed was first introduced in the 1800s.

At first, the giant schnauzer earned its keep by corralling livestock and guarding farms in rural areas, but the breed quickly became popular in cities. When World War II started, the U.S. Air Force relied on the giant schnauzer to guard trenches and carry messages between troops.

Today, the giant schnauzer is a popular companion animal known for its intelligence and loyalty. Breed enthusiasts also love the giant schnauzer's bushy eyebrows and wiry coat.



Dog Giant Schnauzer, pet walking in a summer park

The giant schnauzer is a larger version of the standard schnauzer. While the standard version usually weighs between 31 and 44 pounds and stands 18 to 20 inches tall, the giant schnauzer weighs in at 75 to 95 pounds and can reach a height of 24 to 28 inches.

People love this breed for its unique appearance, which is a result of the fact that the giant schnauzer is meant to have the same length and height. This breeding standard makes the giant schnauzer somewhat "square" in appearance. Inquisitive eyes and prominent eyebrows make this dog appear lively and intelligent.


Health Concerns

Giant schnauzer laying on a beach with the sun behind

Like other large dogs, the giant schnauzer is prone to developing hip dysplasia. Although many dogs with hip dysplasia do not have any symptoms until they are older, this condition can cause lameness. In some cases, it is possible to prevent complications by making sure the giant schnauzer does not put on too much weight. Extra weight puts stress on the joints, increasing the risk for arthritis and other joint problems.

Squamous cell carcinoma and autoimmune thyroiditis are also known health issues in giant schnauzers. Squamous cell carcinoma, a type of cancer, sometimes develops between the toes. Autoimmune thyroiditis results in low levels of thyroid hormone. Low hormone levels lead to weight gain, low energy levels, tough skin, and a brittle coat.



Holi Dog Giant Schnauzer

The giant schnauzer is known for its dominance and independence. Therefore, a first-time owner should seek the advice of an experienced trainer. Once a giant schnauzer has been trained properly, it is typically calm and obedient. However, this breed is known for having a rather spirited demeanor. As a result, giant schnauzers are best for homes with well-behaved children.


Grooming Requirements

Giant Schnauzer sleep

For best results, the giant schnauzer should be brushed daily to keep its wiry coat in good condition. Pieces of dead coat should be clipped or removed by hand to prevent them from building up. Regular visits to the groomer are also a must, as the giant schnauzer cannot maintain its trimmed appearance without regular grooming.


Exercise Needs

Giant schnauzer dog running on the beach

Giant schnauzers have a lot of energy, so they need vigorous exercise every day to prevent physical and behavioral problems. For best results, a giant schnauzer should be walked for a total of one to two hours per day. Owners with large yards can substitute vigorous outdoor activity for some or all of the walking. A giant schnauzer would even make a great jogging companion for an owner who wants to stay in shape.


Living Environment

Giant schnauzer puppy playing with a toy bone outdoors

Due to its exercise requirements, the giant schnauzer is not a good fit for an apartment. Instead, this breed should live in a roomy home with easy access to outdoor play areas. For safety reasons, a giant schnauzer should not be let off its leash unless it is in a fenced-in yard.



A profile portrait of a large purebred giant Schnauzer RyanJLane / Getty Images

Most giant schnauzers should eat two meals per day, with each meal consisting of 1.5 to 2 cups of high-quality food. The large serving size is appropriate as long as the dog gets the recommended amount of exercise each day. If a giant schnauzer does not get enough exercise, it may be necessary to reduce its food intake to prevent weight gain.



Giant Schnauzer Searching SusanHSmithb / Getty Images

Although the giant schnauzer is a larger version of the standard schnauzer, it contains genetic material from several other dog breeds. Its large size comes from the Great Dane, a breed that typically weighs anywhere from 100 to 200 pounds depending on the dog's age and sex. The German Pinscher was also used in the development of the giant schnauzer.


Coat Colors

Happy, cute, funny dog Giant Schnauzer, pet walking in a summer park

The American Kennel Club recognizes only two coat colors in its breed standards for giant schnauzers. Solid black is the most common, but some giant schnauzers have a salt-and-pepper coat. From far away, the salt-and-pepper coat looks gray, but a closer look reveals that it is a combination of black hairs and white hairs.


Life Expectancy

Giant Schnauzer Puppies

Some large dogs, such as the Great Dane, have short life expectancies, but giant schnauzer owners are in luck. With proper care, a giant schnauzer usually lives to be 12 to 15 years old. Regular veterinary exams and a nutritious diet can help a giant schnauzer live as long as possible.


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