The powerful Giant Schnauzer is one of three Schnauzer breeds, together with the Standard and Miniature Schnauzers. The Giant Schnauzer ranks 78 out of 193 in the AKC’s Breed Popularity ranking.
The Giant Schnauzer was bred in the Bavarian Alps of Germany from the Standard Schnauzer in the mid-1800s. They were used to drive cattle from farm to market, as well as guard dogs and eventually military and police dogs. Their striking appearance has made them successful show dogs as well as strong competitors in obedience and herding competitions.
Characteristics of the Giant Schnauzer
Let’s take some time to go into detail about the appearance and temperament of the Giant Schnauzer.
The Giant Schnauzer is classified as an AKC large dog breed. A noble and imposing figure, the Giant Schnauzer is sure to turn heads wherever they go. The male Giant Schnauzer is 22.5-27.5 inches in height and weighs 60-85 pounds, while female Giant Schnauzers are 23.5-25.5 inches in height and weigh 55-75 pounds. Their length is approximately the same as their height. They are a relatively short-lived breed with a lifespan of 7-10 years.
The Giant Schnauzer’s coat is either solid black or salt-and-pepper in color. Its texture is thick and wiry and consists of a soft undercoat and a rougher outer coat. They possess the distinctive eyebrows and beard of all Schnauzers, which gives them a keen expression. Their coat will require consistent maintenance with weekly brushing and regular clipping or stripping, requiring a significant commitment by the owner or frequent visits to the groomer. Investing in a high-quality brush and clippers is recommended.
Giant Schnauzers are intelligent, loyal and sensitive dogs. They are friendly and mellow while being athletic and high-energy. They take their watchdog duties seriously and can be wary and sharp around strangers. Other male dogs, especially dogs of the same sex, may be met with aggression. Giant Schnauzers may do fine with other dogs in the household, both large and small, especially if they are raised together from a young age. They may or may not accept cats and are generally more tolerant of them than hunting dog breeds, though many retain the urge to chase fleeing creatures. Most Giant Schnauzers are not well-suited for living with young children as they can be too boisterous and overprotective. As with all large and powerful dog breeds, improper training and breeding can lead to serious injury of other animals and property and may prove too much for many families.
Giant Schnauzers are independent enough to be left alone for 3-4 hours at a time. At this point, they may become bored and destructive. As a large dog breed, Giant Schnauzers are a challenge to travel with any further than short distances to the car or vet. If you are looking for an easier travel companion, a miniature schnauzer may be a better choice.
Caring for a Giant Schnauzer
To ensure you are providing your Giant Schnauzer with everything it needs to live a long and happy life, it is essential to understand the quirks of the breed and what works best for them. Following are preliminary tips on health and training your Giant Schnauzer so you know what to expect. However, remember that each dog is unique, even within a specific breed.
The Giant Schnauzer should be fed a diet of high-quality dog food. Be sure to purchase a dog food that is meant for your dog’s age and activity level to fulfil all their nutritional needs. Avoid feeding them table scraps or excessive treats, which can lead to weight gain and related health problems. Even small increases in caloric intake can lead to weight gain over time, so consistency is key.
Giant Schnauzers are very energetic compared to other large breeds and require lots of exercise – at least a mile or two of running and/or walking each day. They are companionate and require a play partner in either a human or another dog. They are great dogs for active and outdoorsy owners, and will make a great workout partner on runs, bike rides, swims and hikes. Their tolerance for cold weather makes them even appropriate for bringing along cross-country skiing. Incorporating games and interactive toys will also help keep their mind and body fit. It is recommended that they have access to a fenced-in space to run such as a large backyard or park.
Giant Schnauzers are relatively easy to train and are eager to please their owners. They learn quickly and bond with their owners and other new acquaintances quickly and are quick to pick up the difference between a friend and foe. They are alert and love having a job to do, which helps them maintain focus during training. However, their protectiveness of their owners and need for lots of attention can lead to misbehavior if they are ignored for too long. Puppy training classes or dedicated training by owners is recommended to ensure good behavior later on in life. Giant Schnauzers excel in many dog sports, including herding, agility and obedience.
Giant Schnauzers are typically healthy dogs and fairly free of genetic health issues. Hip dysplasia, eye disease and autoimmune thyroiditis are the most common afflictions seen in the breed. The National Breed Club recommends specific tests for the breed, including a ophthalmologist evaluation, thyroid evaluation and hip evaluation.
The Giant Schnauzer’s nails should be clipped monthly if not worn down naturally. Their ears should be checked weekly and any excess dirt or wax should be removed. Teeth should be brushed often with a dog-specific toothpaste.
Be sure to choose a dog from a responsible, certified breeder, preferably one who is a member of the Giant Schnauzer Club of America. This club has a detailed code of ethics in breeding and will be able to provide owners with helpful information on heath and care for the breed. Careful selection of a puppy or adult dog will give you the highest chance of having a long-lived and healthy Giant Schnauzer.