Guide to the Giant Schnauzer: See the Power Behind the Pup

Published January 25, 2022
Schnauzer dog portrait in flowers

The Giant Schnauzer is a large breed with a lot of energy, an extreme love for their family, and significant intelligence. A stubborn streak comes with this dog's keen intellect, but if you're able to be consistent with training and are searching for a devoted companion, this could be the breed for you.

Origin and History

The Giant Schnauzer is descended from dogs that originated in regions around what is known today as Bavaria and Wurttemberg, a medieval kingdom in 10th-century Germany. Cattlemen who liked the Standard Schnauzer saw their potential and decided to breed them to be larger to help drive cattle. It's thought that they were crossed with large cattle-driving dogs, as well as rough-coated sheepdogs, Great Danes, Wolf Spitz dogs, and Wire-haired Pinschers.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Giant Schnauzers were first imported to the United States. Their arrival, however, did not create much of a stir because another German dog, the German shepherd, had reached the pinnacle of popularity. After the smaller Standard and Miniature Schnauzers, the American Kennel Club approved the larger breed in 1930.

Breed Characteristics

The largest of the three Schnauzer breeds is the Giant Schnauzer. Contrary to popular belief, the Giant Schnauzer is a completely separate breed from other Schnauzer types.

Giant Schnauzer Breed Card

Appearance

The colors of a Giant Schnauzer's coat can be solid black or salt and pepper. Every shade of pepper and salt has a dark facial mask to highlight the expression; the mask's hue matches the coat's shade. The brows, whiskers, cheeks, throat, chest, and legs are all lighter in color with "peppering."

The ears are clipped or left natural and are positioned high on the head. They stand erect with a sharp tip when cropped. When the ears are left alone, they form a V-shape and are carried close to the skull.

A male Giant Schnauzer weighs 60 to 80 pounds and reaches 25.5 to 27.5 inches tall at the shoulder. Females range in height from 23.5 to 25.5 inches and weigh between 55 and 75 pounds.

Temperament

This is a large dog with a lot of personality. With their independent thinking and playfulness, domineering personality, and daring approach to life, they're an energetic, intellectual friend who keeps life fascinating. In short, even for seasoned dog owners, they're a handful. They are, nevertheless, a devoted and valiant companion in the right home.

Even though they're generally good with children, the energetic, rambunctious Giant Schnauzer may be too rowdy for little children. They are brave and loyal to their family, but cautious around outsiders. They can be pushy toward other dogs. Although the Giant may want to be the leader at times, this clever and enthusiastic breed is a fantastic choice for an active individual looking for a partner in adventure.

Giant Schnauzer on lawn

Training

Their intelligence and stubborn streak might be a problem for beginner dog owners. Giant Schnauzers require firm and continuous training. They're perfectly capable of thinking for themselves and conducting the household the way they want it.

Giant Schnauzers benefit from early socialization, which requires positive exposure to a variety of people, sights, sounds, and activities. Your Giant Schnauzer puppy will grow up to be a well-rounded adult dog if they are socialized properly.

Exercise Requirements

A bored Giant Schnauzer might become destructive. Exercise is important to keep this breed engaged. Expect to give your Giant Schnauzer at least one hour of strenuous exercise every day. Long walks and jogging will be enjoyable for them.

Health

Although Giant Schnauzers are typically healthy, they are susceptible to some health issues:

Lifespan

Giant Schnauzers have an average life expectancy of 10 to 12 years.

Grooming

To prevent mats from forming in the undercoat, brush the Giant Schnauzer's double coat three times a week using a firm bristle or slicker brush. After each meal, wash their faces to prevent food from getting trapped in their muzzle.

Every four to six months, a Standard Schnauzer's coat must be hand-stripped. If you show your dog or want the look and feel of a proper coat, hand stripping is required, but they can be clipped instead.

If you clip your Schnauzer's coat rather than stripping it, the texture will gradually change. It will have a very silky feel to it after being clipped and may shed more than usual. Depending on the color of the undercoat, clipping can make a pepper-and-salt coat appear solid silver or solid black.

Fun Facts About the Breed

The Giant Schnauzer is full of interesting tidbits:

  • The Giant Schnauzer has shown to be successful in a variety of roles, including police, military, and search-and-rescue.
  • They're known for their hair, rather than fur, making people with allergies more apt to choose this breed.
  • Giant Schnauzers are so hooked on their families, they're known as a "Velcro breed."
  • They're one of few breeds with a beard.

Purchasing or Adopting a Giant Schnauzer

If you're looking for a Giant Schnauzer puppy, a good place to start is the Giant Schnauzer Club of America. The club maintains a breeder directory as well as helpful tips on how to find responsible breeders with quality dogs. The AKC Marketplace page also has a breeder search. Expect to pay around $1,200 to $2,100, although higher-end show dogs from champion lines can cost as much as $5,500.

A giant schnauzer puppy wearing a life vest

Rescue Organizations

If you're searching for a rescue dog, a great place to start is the directories on PetFinder and Save-a-Rescue. You can also search the following breed-specific rescue organizations:

  • Giant Schnauzer Rescue: This nonprofit, national organization frequently searches shelters for Giant Schnauzers and mixes, offering them for adoption to forever homes.
  • Valley of the Sun Giant Schnauzer Rescue: A nonprofit rescue organization dedicated to rescuing both healthy and special needs Giant Schnauzers.
  • Schnauzer Friends: A nonprofit rescue organization locating all Schnauzer breeds and finding forever homes for them.

Is this the Breed for You?

If you're searching for a high-energy, large-breed dog, this could be the one for you. If you aren't up to grooming regularly, exercising frequently, or training a dog who guards the family, you may want to take a look at other breeds. Giant Schnauzers are often found in shelters because many people don't do enough research prior to adoption. For the right family, this dog can be a loving, loyal companion. Do some additional research on your own prior to making your decision.

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Guide to the Giant Schnauzer: See the Power Behind the Pup