Giant Schnauzer

Table of Contents

giant schnauzer portrait
Welcome to the fascinating world of Giant Schnauzers, where size truly does matter! These majestic, energetic dogs are not just your average household pet – they're a delightful blend of intelligence, loyalty, and playfulness.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Giant Schnauzer is a perfect match for active individuals and families who crave adventure and companionship. These intelligent, high-energy dogs thrive when engaged in physical activities and mental stimulation, making them excellent partners for hiking, jogging, or agility training.

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEGiant Schnauzer
OTHER NAMESMunich Schnauzer, Munchener, Russian Bear Schnauzer
ORIGINGermany
BREED GROUPWorking Group
BREED SIZELarge
HEIGHT23.5-29.5 inches
WEIGHT55-110 lbs
LIFESPAN12-15 years
LIVING SPACELarge
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERModerate
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSModerate
EXERCISE NEEDSHigh
TRAINABILITYModerate
BARKING TENDENCYModerate
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELModerate
POPULARITY RANK58th
giant schnauzer on the grass
Photo: Bru-nO/Pixabay

Appearance

The Giant Schnauzer, as its name suggests, is a large and powerful dog breed with an imposing presence. Standing tall at approximately 23.5 to 27.5 inches for females and 25.5 to 29.5 inches for males at the shoulder, these dogs are a commanding sight to behold.

Fully grown, they weigh between 55 to 85 pounds for females and 60 to 110 pounds for males, making them the largest of the three Schnauzer breeds.

Their muscular and well-proportioned body exhibits strength and agility, with a deep chest and a slightly sloping topline that descends from the withers to the base of the tail. The tail, often docked in some countries, is set high and carried erect, adding to their confident appearance.

The head of the Giant Schnauzer is strong and rectangular in shape, with a slight stop between the forehead and the muzzle. Their powerful muzzle is of equal length to the skull, ending in a large, black nose. The teeth meet in a scissor bite, while the lips are tight and dark in color.

One of the most captivating features of the Giant Schnauzer is their expressive eyes. Medium-sized, oval-shaped, and dark brown in color, their eyes convey an intelligent and lively expression.

The ears, which can be either cropped or left natural, are set high on the head. When cropped, the ears stand erect and pointed, while uncropped ears are medium-sized, V-shaped, and fold forward close to the cheek.

The coat of a Giant Schnauzer is another distinguishing characteristic of the breed. They have a dense, weather-resistant double coat, consisting of a soft undercoat and a wiry, harsh outer coat. The hair on their face forms distinct eyebrows and a signature beard, adding to their unique expression.

Their coat colors can be either solid black or pepper and salt. The pepper and salt variety showcases a combination of white, gray, and black hairs, giving them a speckled appearance.

Overall, the Giant Schnauzer’s physical traits embody the perfect blend of power, elegance, and poise. Their impressive size and distinctive features, combined with their high energy and intelligence, make them a truly remarkable breed.

giant schnauzer searching
Photo: SusanHSmith/Getty Images Signature

Temperament

The Giant Schnauzer boasts a temperament that is as captivating as its appearance. These dogs are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and spirited nature, making them a delightful addition to the right household. However, understanding their personality traits is crucial for potential owners in order to ensure a harmonious relationship with this unique breed.

First and foremost, Giant Schnauzers are deeply loyal and protective of their families. They form strong bonds with their human companions and have an innate desire to safeguard them. This protective instinct, coupled with their size and strength, makes them excellent watchdogs and guardians.

However, it’s essential to socialize these dogs from an early age to ensure they can differentiate between genuine threats and benign situations.

While Giant Schnauzers are affectionate and loving towards their family members, they may exhibit initial wariness around strangers. Early socialization helps them become more comfortable and accepting of new people, ultimately leading to well-rounded, confident dogs. Once they have assessed a stranger and deemed them trustworthy, they can be quite friendly and sociable.

Giant Schnauzers are generally good with children, especially when raised with them from a young age. Their playful and energetic nature makes them great playmates for older kids who can handle their size and boisterous behavior. However, due to their size and strength, supervision is recommended when they interact with young or small children to prevent accidental injuries.

When it comes to other pets, the Giant Schnauzer’s natural prey drive can be a consideration, particularly with smaller animals. Early socialization and exposure to various types of animals can help curb this instinct and promote harmonious coexistence with other pets. They typically get along well with other dogs, especially if they are introduced to them during puppyhood.

One of the most endearing personality perks of the Giant Schnauzer is their sense of humor. These dogs are known for their mischievous and clownish antics, often providing endless entertainment and laughter for their families.

While they are intelligent and quick learners, they can also be quite stubborn and independent at times. This combination of traits makes them a fun and engaging companion, but also requires patience and consistency from their owners.

Ideal Environment

Physical Environment

The ideal environment for a Giant Schnauzer takes into consideration their physical, mental, and social needs. These energetic dogs require ample space to move around and express their lively nature. Therefore, a home with a large, securely fenced yard is preferable, allowing them to play and explore safely.

However, they can also adapt to living in urban apartments or smaller homes, provided they receive sufficient daily exercise and outdoor stimulation.

Climate Adaptability

As for climate adaptability, the Giant Schnauzer’s dense, weather-resistant double coat offers protection against cold weather. They can tolerate moderately cold climates and enjoy playing in the snow. However, it is essential to monitor them during extreme cold conditions and provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and comfortable.

In hot climates, the Giant Schnauzer may require additional care to prevent overheating. Providing access to shade, fresh water, and air-conditioned spaces can help keep them cool during hot summer months. Limiting exercise to cooler parts of the day, such as early mornings or evenings, and avoiding hot surfaces, like asphalt or sand, can prevent heat stress and discomfort.

Ideal Owner

Giant Schnauzers thrive in households with active pet parents who are willing to invest time and effort into meeting their exercise and mental stimulation requirements. They are well-suited for individuals or families with prior dog experience, particularly those familiar with large, intelligent breeds.

Consistent training and socialization from an early age are crucial for shaping a well-behaved and well-adjusted Giant Schnauzer.

Other Pets

When it comes to other pets, the ideal environment for a Giant Schnauzer includes early exposure to a variety of animals. This helps them develop tolerance and acceptance of other pets, especially other dogs. Their natural prey drive can be managed through proper socialization and training, ensuring harmonious coexistence with smaller animals.

giant schnauzer standing
Photo: volofin/Getty Images

Grooming

Grooming is an essential aspect of caring for a Giant Schnauzer, as it helps maintain their distinctive appearance and promotes overall health.

Coat Care

The Giant Schnauzer’s double coat consists of a soft undercoat and a wiry, harsh outer coat. This breed doesn’t shed heavily, but it does require regular brushing to remove dead hair, prevent tangles, and distribute natural oils throughout the coat. Aim to brush your Giant Schnauzer at least two to three times per week using a slicker brush or a pin brush, followed by a comb to remove any loose hairs.

Clipping or hand-stripping is necessary to maintain the Giant Schnauzer’s coat length and texture. Hand-stripping involves plucking out the dead hairs by hand or with a stripping tool, maintaining the coat’s natural wiry texture and color. This process is typically done every four to six months and is recommended for show dogs or those prone to skin allergies.

Clipping, on the other hand, is more straightforward and involves trimming the coat with electric clippers. While this method is easier and less time-consuming, it can result in a softer, lighter-colored coat. You should consult a professional groomer to determine the best approach for your dog.

Bathing a Giant Schnauzer should be done every six to eight weeks or when they get dirty, using a mild dog shampoo. Be sure to rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residue, as it can cause skin irritation if left behind. After bathing, dry your dog thoroughly with a towel or a hairdryer set to a low heat setting to prevent chills.

Giant Schnauzers have a signature beard and eyebrows that require regular attention. Comb the beard daily to remove food particles and debris, and clean the area with a damp cloth to prevent staining and odor. Trim the hair around the eyes to maintain visibility and avoid irritation.

Dental Care

Dental care is an essential part of grooming for any dog breed, including the Giant Schnauzer. Regular teeth brushing with dog-specific toothpaste helps prevent plaque buildup, gum disease, and bad breath. Aim to brush your dog’s teeth at least two to three times per week. Providing dental chews and toys can also support oral hygiene.

Nail Trimming

Nail care is another important aspect of grooming. Giant Schnauzers’ nails should be trimmed every three to four weeks, depending on their activity level and the surface they walk on. Overgrown nails can cause discomfort and affect the dog’s gait. Use a dog nail clipper or grinder to trim the nails, being cautious not to cut the quick, which can cause pain and bleeding.

Additional Grooming Tips

Finally, check your Giant Schnauzer’s ears weekly for signs of infection, such as redness, discharge, or foul odor. Clean the ears with a dog-specific ear cleaner and a cotton ball, avoiding the use of cotton swabs, which can push debris further into the ear canal.

giant schnauzer relaxing on a field
Photo: Chalabala/Getty Images

Exercise

Giant Schnauzers are a high-energy breed that requires regular exercise to keep them physically fit and mentally stimulated. Meeting their exercise needs is crucial for maintaining their overall health and happiness and preventing behavioral issues resulting from pent-up energy.

Exercise Amount & Types

On average, a Giant Schnauzer needs at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily exercise, which should include a combination of physical activities and mental stimulation. A brisk walk or jog, combined with some off-leash playtime in a securely fenced area, can help burn off energy and keep them healthy. Incorporating activities like fetch, frisbee, or flirt pole play can add variety and excitement to their exercise routine.

Mental stimulation is equally important for a Giant Schnauzer’s well-being. Interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and scent games can engage their minds and prevent boredom. Training sessions that involve learning new commands or tricks also provide mental exercise and reinforce their obedience skills.

Dog Sports

In addition to daily walks and playtime, Giant Schnauzers excel in various dog sports and competitions, such as agility, obedience, tracking, and herding trials. These activities not only provide an excellent outlet for their energy but also challenge their intelligence and strengthen the bond between the dog and their owner.

Training for these sports can begin at an early age, setting the foundation for a successful and enjoyable partnership.

Exercise Precautions

When exercising a Giant Schnauzer, it’s essential to consider their age and physical condition. Puppies and senior dogs may have different exercise requirements compared to their adult counterparts.

Be mindful of weather conditions, as this breed may be more susceptible to heat stress during hot summer months. Ensure they have access to fresh water and shade when exercising outdoors, and avoid hot surfaces like asphalt or sand that can burn their paws.

Training

Training is an essential component of raising a well-behaved and well-adjusted Giant Schnauzer. These intelligent dogs are highly trainable and eager to learn, but their strong-willed and independent nature can sometimes present challenges. Understanding their temperament and employing the right training techniques can ensure success in teaching your Giant Schnauzer good manners and obedience.

Begin training your Giant Schnauzer from an early age, as young puppies are more receptive to learning new commands and behaviors. Early socialization is crucial for this breed, exposing them to various people, animals, and environments to help them develop confidence and adaptability. Puppy obedience classes can be an excellent way to provide structured training and socialization experiences.

Giant Schnauzers respond best to positive reinforcement training methods, such as using treats, praise, and toys as rewards for desired behaviors. Consistency and patience are key when training these dogs, as they can be stubborn at times. Establishing yourself as a firm, confident leader will help gain their respect and ensure they follow your commands.

To keep your Giant Schnauzer engaged during training sessions, keep them short, fun, and varied. Incorporating playtime into training can help maintain their interest and enthusiasm. Focus on basic obedience commands like sit, stay, come, and heel, gradually progressing to more advanced skills as they master the fundamentals.

Given their high intelligence, Giant Schnauzers may become bored with repetitive tasks, so it’s essential to challenge their minds with new tricks and commands. Training them in dog sports like agility, obedience trials, or tracking can provide mental stimulation and reinforce their training skills.

When it comes to behavioral issues, such as excessive barking or destructive tendencies, address them promptly and consistently. Ignoring or inadvertently rewarding negative behaviors can lead to long-term problems that are more challenging to correct.

giant schnauzer portrait
Photo: volofin/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition 

A balanced and nutritious diet is essential for maintaining the health and well-being of a Giant Schnauzer. Providing appropriate food and portion sizes ensures your dog receives the necessary nutrients and energy to support their active lifestyle.

What to Feed & How Much

When selecting food for your Giant Schnauzer, look for high-quality dry, wet, or raw options that follow the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines. These products are formulated to meet the specific nutritional requirements of dogs, ensuring they receive an appropriate balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

The amount of food your Giant Schnauzer needs depends on their age, weight, activity level, and metabolism. As a general guideline, adult Giant Schnauzers require approximately 3 to 4 cups of dry food per day, divided into two meals.

Puppies and younger dogs may have different feeding requirements, as they are growing and developing. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the optimal diet and portion sizes for your individual dog.

It’s essential to monitor your Giant Schnauzer’s weight and body condition to ensure they maintain a healthy size. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, which puts strain on their joints and increases the risk of various health issues. Adjust their food intake as needed to maintain a lean, muscular body with easily palpable ribs and a visible waist.

Treats & Water

Treats can be a valuable training tool and a way to reward your dog for good behavior. However, they should be given in moderation to avoid excess weight gain and imbalances in their diet. Opt for healthy, low-calorie treats and account for them in your dog’s daily calorie intake.

Fresh water should be available to your Giant Schnauzer at all times, especially during exercise and hot weather. A well-hydrated dog will have clearer urine and be more energetic. Be sure to clean their water bowl regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria and algae.

Health

Giant Schnauzers are generally healthy dogs with a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. However, like all breeds, they may be prone to certain health issues. Providing a healthy diet, regular veterinary check-ups, and staying up-to-date on vaccinations are essential for maintaining their overall health and well-being.

Here are common health issues associated with the Giant Schnauzer:

Hip Dysplasia: This is a genetic condition in which the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to arthritis and pain. Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and providing joint supplements can help manage this condition. Screening for hip dysplasia through x-rays is recommended for breeding dogs to reduce its prevalence in the breed.

Hypothyroidism: This is an endocrine disorder caused by low production of thyroid hormones, leading to symptoms such as weight gain, lethargy, skin issues, and hair loss. Hypothyroidism can be managed with daily medication and regular monitoring of hormone levels.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is an inherited eye disease that causes gradual vision loss, eventually leading to blindness. There is no cure for PRA, but early detection and management can help slow its progression. Responsible breeders should test their breeding dogs for PRA to minimize its occurrence in the breed.

Gastric Torsion (Bloat): This life-threatening condition occurs when the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself, cutting off blood flow. Giant Schnauzers are at risk due to their deep-chested build. Feeding smaller, more frequent meals and avoiding vigorous exercise around mealtime can help reduce the risk of bloat. Immediate veterinary intervention is necessary if symptoms are observed.

Cancer: Giant Schnauzers can be susceptible to various types of cancer, including hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, and osteosarcoma. Regular veterinary check-ups and monitoring for unusual lumps, bumps, or changes in behavior can help with early detection and treatment.

In addition to these breed-specific health concerns, Giant Schnauzers should receive regular vaccinations and parasite prevention treatments to protect against common canine diseases and pests. Annual veterinary check-ups, including dental examinations, are essential for monitoring their overall health and addressing any potential issues early.

By staying proactive about your Giant Schnauzer’s health and working closely with your veterinarian, you can help ensure a long, happy, and healthy life for your beloved companion.

giant schnauzer in tall grass
Photo: Brezina/Getty Images

History

The history of the Giant Schnauzer can be traced back to 19th-century Bavaria, Germany. This breed originated as a working dog, developed through the crossbreeding of local herding and guarding breeds with larger dogs like the Great Dane and Bouvier des Flandres. The resulting breed was an intelligent, versatile, and hardworking dog that excelled in various roles.

Originally, Giant Schnauzers were used as cattle drovers, herding livestock to market in rural areas. They were also employed as guard dogs on farms and in breweries, where their imposing size, strength, and protective instincts made them effective at deterring thieves and intruders. T

heir distinctive appearance, featuring a robust build, wiry coat, and expressive eyebrows and beard, was not only visually striking but also served a practical purpose. The dense coat protected them from harsh weather conditions, while the facial hair shielded their eyes and muzzle from injury during their work.

As the Industrial Revolution progressed, the demand for cattle drovers declined, and the breed’s role began to shift. Giant Schnauzers found new employment in urban settings as police and military dogs, where their intelligence, loyalty, and tenacity made them invaluable assets.

During World War I and II, they served alongside German forces as messenger dogs, search and rescue dogs, and even as sentries in prisoner-of-war camps.

The first known Giant Schnauzers arrived in the United States in the early 20th century, but it wasn’t until the 1930s that their popularity began to grow. The breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1930, and the first Giant Schnauzer was registered with the AKC in 1931.

The Giant Schnauzer Club of America was formed in 1962, dedicated to promoting and preserving the breed’s unique qualities and working heritage.

Today, the Giant Schnauzer is primarily kept as a companion animal, but their working heritage remains evident in their energetic and versatile nature.

They continue to excel in various dog sports and competitions, such as agility, obedience, tracking, and herding trials, showcasing their intelligence and athleticism. They also serve as therapy and service dogs, providing assistance and support to individuals with disabilities or emotional needs.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Giant Schnauzer in the United States is the Giant Schnauzer Club of America (GSCA). Founded in 1962, the GSCA is dedicated to promoting and preserving the breed’s unique qualities, working heritage, and overall well-being.

The club provides valuable resources for Giant Schnauzer owners, breeders, and enthusiasts, including information on breed standards, health, training, events, and more.

The GSCA’s official webpage can be accessed here.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities.

Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

You can check the Giant Schnauzer’s breed standard set by the American Kennel Club (AKC) here.

giant schnauzer playing on the beach
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Acquiring

When considering acquiring a Giant Schnauzer, it’s essential to research and prepare for the responsibilities that come with owning this active and intelligent breed. Before bringing one home, ensure you can meet their exercise, training, and grooming needs. If you’re interested in rescuing a Giant Schnauzer, there are many dogs in need of loving homes due to various circumstances.

Rescuing a Giant Schnauzer has several benefits, including giving an adult dog a second chance at a happy life and potentially bypassing some puppy-specific challenges. To find a Giant Schnauzer rescue, consult the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Giant Schnauzer Club of America (GSCA). Both organizations can provide information on reputable rescue organizations and available dogs.

By choosing to rescue a Giant Schnauzer, you’ll not only gain a loyal and loving companion but also make a positive impact on the life of a deserving dog.

FAQs

Are Giant Schnauzers related to Standard Schnauzers and Miniature Schnauzers?

Yes, Giant Schnauzers are related to Standard and Miniature Schnauzers. All three breeds share common ancestry, with the Giant Schnauzer being developed by crossbreeding local herding and guarding breeds with larger dogs like the Great Dane and Bouvier des Flandres.

Are Giant Schnauzers good pets?

Giant Schnauzers can be excellent pets for the right household. They are intelligent, loyal, and protective, making them great companions and family guardians. However, they require consistent training, socialization, and plenty of physical and mental stimulation, so they may not be the best fit for every lifestyle.

Are Giant Schnauzers protective of their families?

Yes, Giant Schnauzers are known for their protective instincts, making them effective family guardians. They form strong bonds with their families and can be wary of strangers. Early socialization is essential to ensure they develop a balanced temperament.

Are Giant Schnauzers used as police dogs?

Yes, Giant Schnauzers have been used as police dogs due to their intelligence, loyalty, and tenacity. They have historically served in various roles, including as messenger dogs, search and rescue dogs, and sentries during wartime.

Are Giant Schnauzers tough dogs?

Giant Schnauzers are indeed tough dogs, both physically and mentally. They have a robust build, strength, and endurance, which helped them excel in their original roles as cattle drovers and guard dogs. Their intelligence and resilience make them well-suited for various working roles and dog sports.

Do Giant Schnauzers require a lot of grooming?

Giant Schnauzers have a dense, wiry coat that requires regular grooming to keep it clean and tangle-free. They should be brushed 2-3 times per week and require professional grooming every 4-6 weeks to maintain their distinctive appearance. Their beard and leg furnishings may need more frequent attention to keep them clean.

Are Giant Schnauzers suitable for first-time dog owners?

While Giant Schnauzers can make wonderful companions, their high energy levels, intelligence, and strong-willed nature may present challenges for first-time dog owners. They require consistent training, socialization, and exercise, so they may be better suited for experienced dog owners or those willing to invest time and effort into learning about the breed’s specific needs.

Fun Facts

  • As the name suggests, the Giant Schnauzer is indeed the largest variant among the three Schnauzer breeds. With males standing at 27 inches and weighing between 70-90 lbs, and females slightly smaller, their size is quite impressive. But remember, they’re gentle giants at heart!
  • If you’re looking for a couch potato, this breed is not for you. Giant Schnauzers are high-energy dogs that require regular exercise to keep them happy and healthy. Whether it’s a long walk, a vigorous play session, or a run in the park, they’re always up for an adventure.
  • Giant Schnauzers are known for their unwavering loyalty. They form strong bonds with their families and are protective of their loved ones. Despite their imposing size, they’re often described as ‘gentle giants’ who show great affection towards their human companions. Just remember, a well-socialized and trained Giant Schnauzer makes the best companion!

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