Most purebred dogs are prone to certain hereditary diseases, and schnauzers are no exception. What your schnauzer is prone to depends on which version of the dog you have. Schnauzer 1.0 is the standard variety, while Schnauzer 2.0 is the miniature and Schnauzer 3.0 the giant.
The standard schnauzer is the original version. He's a hardy, long-lived guy - you can expect to have your best bud and alert watchdog around until he reaches his mid-teens. Some genetic diseases that do crop up in the breed include hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joint leading to lameness and early arthritis; eye issues, such as cataracts and damaged retinas; bladder stones, and the heart disease pulmonic stenosis. This last problem means that the dog's pulmonary valve is narrow so blood can't flow through properly. Some schnauzers are prone to hypothyroidism, or not enough thyroid hormone. Thyroid supplements treat this issue.
Miniature schnauzers are predisposed to a condition similar to muscular dystrophy in humans. This dreadful muscle disease usually appears in puppies, with affected animals unable to walk properly. A less serious problem affecting the miniature version is canine acne, often called schnauzer bumps. It's the same combination of zits and blackheads you might have had as a teenager, only it appears on the dog's back. Your vet will recommend medication and treatment for dealing with this skin problem. If your dog often throws up food and water, he may have congenital megaesophagus, which means food sometimes stays in the esophagus rather than going into the stomach. Mini schnauzers may also suffer from pulmonary stenosis.
While the biggest version of the schnauzer is also prone to hip dysplasia and cataracts like his smaller cousins, progressive retinal atrophy also shows up in this breed. This eye disease eventually causes complete blindness, generally in a young dog. Some giant schnauzers can't absorb vitamin B-12 properly, leading to anemia. Gastric torsion, also known as bloat, affects large breeds such as the giant schnauzer. This sudden and extremely painful condition occurs when the stomach twists, cutting off the blood supply. Get your dog to the vet immediately for surgery to save his life. If he bloats, he'll be in obvious pain, restless and drooling. Since this is such an awful situation, you might take preventative measures by having your dog's stomach tacked, a surgical procedure preventing bloat.
Purchasing A Puppy
Since many of these issues are congenital, or present at birth, be sure to buy your dog from a reputable breeder. A good breeder should guarantee the health of any puppies she sells. Find a breeder affiliated with the national clubs for each particular schnauzer version. That person should adhere to the code of ethics of the club, which promotes responsible breeding of healthy dogs.
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.