While the miniature, standard and giant are all schnauzers, the American Kennel Club considers them three distinct breeds. The smaller and larger versions are descendants of the standard schnauzer. These aren't just different sizes of the same dog, however -- each breed has its own qualities, including typical behavior.
Originating in Germany, the schnauzer descends from crosses between poodles, spitz-type dogs and pinschers. He's an ancient breed, whose likeness adorns 14th- and 15th-century paintings. In his native land, the schnauzer was bred to kill rats and other vermin. Giant schnauzers were used to protect farmer's produce going to and in the marketplace, as well as in police work. Schnauzers don't shed, so they suit people with allergies or those with an aversion to dog hair on the furniture.
Standard schnauzer lovers refer to their favorite breed as "the dog with the human brain." He's always thinking -- possibly about how to run your particular show. He makes a good family pet, getting along with kids, cats and other dogs. Nothing gets past the standard schnauzer in your household. He's a born explorer, familiar with every nook and cranny of his abode. Although he's not a retriever, he's fine in the water.
Miniature schnauzers tend to latch onto a particular person, claiming that individual as theirs. It doesn't mean they don't get along with other members of the family or their person's significant other, it's just clear who'd they protect first if anything threatened them. While good little watchdogs, make sure your mini doesn't bark incessantly. He wasn't bred as a varmint killer like his schnauzer cousins, so he doesn't have that hunting instinct. He does have the "share the bed" instinct, though, so if you're his favorite expect a small gray bedmate. The whole schnauzer family shares intelligence and ease of training.
While all schnauzers make good watchdogs, the giant schnauzer is in a class by himself as a guard dog. He's not a good choice for novice dog owners, or if you have small children. He's smart, independent and very strong. Because of his size and natural inclination to protect his people, this dog needs lots of socialization at an early age. Bred as a working dog, he needs a job and lots of exercise. He also requires obedience training, again as early as possible. If you have canine experience and want a devoted, intelligent companion, the giant schnauzer fills the bill.
- Vet Street: Standard Schnauzer Temperament and Personality
- American Miniature Schnauzer Club: What Kind of Personality Does the Miniature Schnauzer Have?
- American Kennel Club: Standard Schnauzer - History
- Vet Street: Giant Schnauzer Temperament and Personality
- Vet Street: Giant Schnauzer
- Petfinder: Adopt a Standard Schnauzer
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.