History of the Giant Schnauzer Breed
The German word “schnauze” means muzzle. Likely originating in the countryside of Bavaria and Wurrtemburg, the giant schnauzer was created by cattlemen who were impressed by the smaller standard schnauzer. They produced a larger breed which they could use drive cattle. Although it isn’t documented, the cattlemen probably crossed the standard schnauzer with larger cattle-driving dogs which had smoother coats to try to create a wire-haired herder. At some later point, crosses likely occurred with the Great Dane, bouvier des Flandres and rough-coated sheepdogs as well as with such breeds as the black poodle, wolf spitz and wirehaired pinscher. In the end, the giant schnauzer, then known as the Munchener, had a weather-resistant coat and was able to handle cattle. The giant schnauzer has also been known as Russian bear schnauzer, Munich schnauzer and riesenschnauzer. Eventually, the giant schnauzer gained popularity as a stockyard dog, a butcher’s dog, and a brewery guard dog. This breed gained more exposure right before World War I, when it began being trained as a police dog, but despite their adept ability as such, they only gained popularity in this kind of work in Germany. Only recently has this dog become more popular as a pet.
Size and Appearance of the Giant Schnauzer Breed
A larger and more powerful version of the standard schnauzer, the giant schnauzer features a body that is nearly square resulting from the fact that it is as long as it is tall. The front legs are vertical and straight, while the hindquarters are strongly muscled. The well-arched feet are compact and catlike, featuring dark nails and thick tough pads. The rectangular head is elongated and strong with medium size, dark brown, oval eyes that are deep-set. The ears, set high on the skull, are in balance with the head and can be cropped or uncropped. The muzzle of the giant schnauzer is strong with a blunt edge. It features a full, large, black nose and powerful well-formed jaws with a scissors bite. The well-arched neck is strong and moderately long, blending smoothly into the shoulders. The short back is straight and firm. Set fairly high and carried high when the dog is excited, the tail of the giant schnauzer is usually docked. The gait of this breed has a good reach and is considered to be balanced and vital. Very dense and wiry, the double coat consists of coarse outer coat and a soft undercoat. The hallmark of the Schnauzer is the rough hair found on the top of the head and the bushy beard, whiskers, and eyebrows. The coat of this breed is either solid black or pepper and salt.
Giant Schnauzer Temperament
Although it is generally good with children in its own family, the giant schnauzer may prove to be too rambunctious for smaller children. While it loves to play, this breed is quite bold and protective of its family. It is usually reserved with strangers and may exhibit aggressive behavior toward other dogs. In general, the giant schnauzer is good with other pets. This is an intelligent dog that enjoys being with its owner. Firm, consistent training with many rewards and a positive attitude is a must with a dominant dog, and this breed is fairly easy to train using such methods. Training and socialization with other animals and people should begin at an early age. The giant schnauzer makes an excellent watchdog because of its impressive bark when it perceives something out of the ordinary.
Giant Schnauzer Recommended Maintenance
The coat of this breed sheds very little and has no odor. The undercoat of the giant schnauzer should be brushed with a short wire brush on a weekly basis to prevent matting. Clipping is recommended two to four times a year (typically in the spring and fall.) The hair around the eyes and ears should be trimmed occasionally with blunt-nosed scissors. Be sure to clean the whiskers and beard after meals. Frequently check the ears for any signs of problems. Energetic and playful, the giant schnauzer needs to have daily exercise and play time. It loves to participate in games, long walks, and hiking. This dog is not suited for apartment dwelling and does best when it can divide time between being indoors and out. The opportunity to run and roam in open spaces is very important.
This breed thrives when allowed to romp in open spaces. If the giant schnauzer doesn’t get enough exercise, it may become hard to manage.
Giant Schnauzer Health
• Life span: 10 – 12 years
• Major concerns: CHD
• Minor concerns: OCD, gastric torsion
• Occasionally seen: none
• Suggested tests: hip