The American Kennel Club describes the giant schnauzer as bold and valiant, and amiable in repose. While some giant schnauzers are serious and vigorous while others are sweet and mellow, some behaviors are considered common in this loyal and intelligent breed.
A giant schnauzer is watchful of strangers and protective of his humans. He likes to be close to you and makes an excellent watchdog, willing to fiercely defend home and family. This territorial breed requires more socialization than other breeds, and he needs early exposure to friendly people to help him learn to distinguish between friend and stranger. Otherwise, he might be suspicious of everyone. In some lines that have been overbred or inbred, timidity and skittishness are seen. When he’s not performing guard duties, he is a playful companion.
Bred as a working dog, the giant schnauzer has intelligence and drive. In the early 1900s they were often trained as police dogs in their native Germany. They are easy to train, provided you are firm and consistent. In addition to his physical exercise needs, mental exercise is also crucial for this breed. Give him a job to do that will keep him from getting bored -- let him find and carry things for you, teach him tricks, send him to obedience school. Keep him physically exercised and mentally occupied, as any bored dog can become destructive.
This highly intelligent breed is also independent-minded. At his best, the giant schnauzer is versatile and capable of learning a great deal, but early training with a firm and consistent hand is crucial. They can be willful and obstinate and quite a handful, even for experienced dog owners. They require a confident owner who can take charge. His independence and playfulness make life interesting, and in the right home with the right guidance he is a fun and courageous companion. Giant schnauzers are among the more dominant breeds and not recommended for homes with children under 12.
Potential Animal Aggression
Many giant schnauzers are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex. Some have a strong chasing drive and will chase and seize cats or other animals that flee from them. Because it is a large dog, it is capable of seriously injuring or killing other animals. Responsible breeding and proper socializing and training are important to curtail this instinct. They are best for one-pet homes and should always be kept in a fenced yard and leashed when out walking or jogging.
Leslie Darling has been a writer since 2003, writing regularly for "Mississippi Magazine" and "South Mississippi Living," specializing in food and wine, animals and pets, and all things Southern. She is a graduate of the University of New Orleans.