Miniature Schnauzer Traits, History and Health

Minature Schnauzer

Miniaturization of Standard Schnauzers

During the 1800's, German breeders set about changing their beloved Standard Schnauzers down to a more manageable size for house pets, and so Miniature Schnauzers came to be. The original purpose of any Schnauzer was to chase down vermin, keeping home and hearth pest-free. Today's dog is more of a family companion, yet he still retains some of his feisty nature.

Mini Schnauzer Characteristics

Physical Traits

Miniature Schnauzers may look small, but pick one up and you will quickly see that these are rock-solid little animals with a robust disposition. According to the American Kennel Club breed standard:

  • Body: This dog is sturdy and presents a nearly square frame when viewed from the side. The chest extends at least as far as the dog's elbows, and the ribs are well sprung. There shouldn't be any tuck up on the underside.
  • Legs and feet: The front legs are very straight, and the rear legs should be muscular with enough angulation that the hocks extend farther than the dog's rear when he's in show stance. The feet are cat-like with well-arched toes.
  • Tail: The tail is set high on the rear and carried erect. It is docked just long enough to be visible above the backline.
  • Size: The breed stands 12 to 14 inches high on average. There is no ideal weight range, but each dog's weight should be in proportion to its frame.
  • Head: The head is rectangular and unwrinkled, with soft brown eyes that convey a keen expression of intelligence. The ears are set high on the head and may be cropped to a point and held erect. If left uncropped, the ears fold over. These dogs have a scissors bite, which means the top teeth close just in front of the bottom teeth.
  • Colors: This dog has a double coat that is wiry on the outer coat with a soft undercoat. Kept in show cut, the eyebrows hang down at an angle, and the beard is full and accentuates the rectangular appearce of the muzzle. Recognized colors are salt and pepper, black and silver, and solid black.

Note: Tail docking and ear cropping are not permissible in all countries.


Mini Schnauzers are a whole lot of dog in a small package. The breed is blessed with a playful, yet obedient personality, and their affection is freely given to their human companions. These tenacious dogs also have a lot of spunk, so unless you want to see them take off after a squirrel or some other small animal, be sure to keep them on a leash when you take them from the yard.

This breed is also known to become somewhat possessive of their special human, so if you consider adding a new pet to the mix, be prepared to take the time for a proper introduction, lest your Mini becomes sulky or aggressive.


Mini Schnauzers have a keen intelligence that makes them wonderful candidates for all sorts of training. Their high energy level and powers of concentration make them great candidates for obedience trials and agility competitions. They are also personable little fellows when used as therapy dogs in a nursing home visitation, but be careful about setting them in a resident's lap because they are a lot heavier than they look.

Grooming Tips

two miniature schnauzer dogs

Miniature Schnauzers have a double coat, wiry on the top with a softer undercoat beneath. These dogs are usually kept in the standard Schnauzer type trim. For best results, take your dog to a professional groomer about every six weeks for a full trim and bath. It is then very easy to bathe them in between grooming appointments as needed. You should also brush out the beard and head fall every couple of days to prevent matting. Daily brushing sessions can be very short, as the dog's fur is trimmed close over much of his body.

Additional grooming tips:

  • Brush the teeth three to four times a week
  • Inspect the nails on a weekly basis and clip as needed.
  • Clean the ears out weekly.

Exercise Needs

Although smaller than the Standard breed, Mini Schnauzers are full of energy. It's best to take them on long, daily walks or jogs. Daily jaunts will also help prevent a pup from becoming overweight; this breed is known for its healthy appetite. Providing regular exercise for your dog, and for yourself at the same time, is a good bonding experience as well as a healthy one.

Health Issues

Miniature Schnauzers are generally hardy, but as with all breeds they have their share of health problems. The American Miniature Schnauzer Club keeps a list of health issues. Some of the most serious disorders include:

  • Myotonia Congenita
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Bladder Stones
  • Neuronal Ceroid-Lipofuscinosis

Dedicated breeders screen all their stock in the hope of eliminating these disorders from future generations. The cost of this testing is why you can expect to pay upwards of $700.00 for a well-bred pet. Be sure that you also receive a health guarantee against these problems because they may not all be apparent during puppyhood. Most breeders will agree to provide one replacement for an afflicted animal, and let you keep or euthanize your pet as the situation may warrant. However, you shouldn't assume this will be the case and get any agreement in writing.

Is the Mini Schnauzer Right for You?

These little bearded dogs make good family pets since they're very devoted and affectionate. They're just as comfortable with apartment living as they are in rural spaces. They're also a good choice for people who prefer low-shedding dogs since Mini Schnauzers shed very little. Owners who are interested in showing a dog can find information at the American Miniature Schnauzer Club. Whether you plan to train your pup to become a champion or you just want a sweet companion for the family, this hardy breed is a good choice for almost anyone.

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Miniature Schnauzer Traits, History and Health