The history of the Standard Schnauzer is shrouded in mystery as the breed originated long before records were kept of dog breeding. This has been particularly exacerbated by the fact that Schnauzers, Pinschers, and related breeds were originally developed as the working dogs of farmers, and were thus even less likely to have been written about. This breed was the original Schnauzer breed, and was developed several hundred years before the either the Giant Schnauzer or Miniature Schnauzer breeds.
Although few Americans realize this today, the Standard Schnauzer and the German Pinscher were once considered two varieties of the same breed. When the original standards were written for these dogs, they were known as the Wirehaired Pinscher and the Smooth-Coated Pinscher respectively. As late as the 1870’s, it was not uncommon for both smooth and wire coated Pinschers to be born in the same litter. This implies that the two breeds are closely related and likely either developed from one ancestral breed or one was used to develop the other. Unfortunately it is nearly impossible at this point in time to know exactly which the case is. The Standard Schnauzer is known definitively at a much earlier date than the German Pinscher. The famous painter Albrecht Durer depicted Schnauzer-type dogs in a series of portraits dating from 1492 to 1502. Additionally, in 1501 Lucas Cranach the Elder included this breed on a tapestry. These works imply that not only was the Standard Schnauzer well established by the end of the 1400’s, but that it was already used as a ratter, farm dog, and companion animal at that time. Whereas definitive records of the German Pinscher only go back to 1780; however, many dog experts believe that it was actually the original type, as the breed more closely resembles other breeds of the time which are considered to be its close relatives.
While the exact origin of the Pinschers and Schnauzers has likely been lost to time; these are probably very old breeds which assisted German-speaking farmers for many centuries, and perhaps millennia. These dogs were primarily tasked with catching and killing rats and other small vermin, but were also occasionally used to herd or drive livestock and for property protection. The three Schnauzer breeds, as well as the German Pinscher, Doberman Pinscher, the Miniature Pinscher, the Affenpinscher, and the Austrian Pinscher are almost always considered to be members of the Schnauzer/Pinscher family. Additionally, the Danish/Swedish Farm Dog is usually considered to belong to this family as well. In recent years, some dog experts have placed the four Swiss Mountain Dog breeds and the now-extinct Belgische Rekel in the group as well, but this is more controversial.
The Standard Schnauzer (then known as the Wirehaired Pinscher) and the Affenpinscher were the first Pinscher breeds to become known in English-speaking countries. These breeds were wirehaired ratting dogs, so the English and Americans assumed that they must be terriers and that Pinscher is the German word for terrier. This belief is still held by many dog experts and kennel clubs to this day. However, this is probably not the case. There is no evidence to suggest that terriers from the British Isles were exported to Germanic-speaking lands, and most Pinschers do not closely resemble terriers. German fanciers almost universally reject the placement of Pinschers and Schnauzers into the Terrier group. Additionally, Pinscher almost certainly means something completely different from terrier and likely refers to these breeds’ bite. It is most likely that Pinschers were developed in the Middle Ages by German speaking tribes and spread across the Holy Roman Empire and neighboring Scandinavian states. These early dogs probably most closely resembled the modern Danish/Swedish Farm Dog and the German Pointer.
Although it is very likely that the Standard Schnauzer is descended primarily from a dog similar to a German Pinscher, it is unknown how this breed developed its wiry coat. The most commonly given explanation is that they were bred with terriers. This is a distinct possibility, given the similar function and nature of the two breeds. However, this would have had to have happened many centuries in the past, at a time when dogs were not commonly traded over the sea. Dogs were some of the most common exports of the British Isles during the period of Roman rule, and records suggest that these dogs may have been terriers. However, it is more likely that the Standard Schnauzer is the result of crossing the German Pinscher with either Griffons (wire-coated scenthound and gun dog breeds which are native to France and surrounding countries) or unusually coated Spitzen (long-coated wolf-like dogs common in Germany, Scandinavia, Russia, North America, and East Asia).
Both Griffons and Spitzen have been known in German-speaking lands for many centuries, unlike British terriers. It is unclear exactly where the Standard Schnauzer was first developed. Although known throughout Germany, this breed has traditionally been associated with Southern Germany, particularly Bavaria, and may have been created there. The Affenpinscher, which was developed no later than 1600, is likely closely related to the Standard Schnauzer. It is thought that either the Standard Schnauzer is the ancestor of the Affenpinscher or that the two breeds descended from a common ancestor.
It is also widely believed that the Poodle and the German Wolfspitz figured prominently in the Schnauzer breeding of the 1800’s. It is said that these two breeds were used to refine the coat, and introduce the solid black coloration of the Poodle and the salt and pepper coloration of the German Wolfspitz. However, there is little to no actual evidence that such crosses took place. Additionally, the German Pinscher was once commonly found in both salt and pepper and solid black. It was only after this breed nearly became extinct in World War II and had to be revived using Miniature Pinscher blood that the traditional Schnauzer colors disappeared from it. This implies that Standard Schnauzers have always been found in solid black and salt and pepper.
However, the Standard Schnauzer developed; this breed became popular throughout Germany as both a companion animal and a working farm dog or ratter. The breed was already one of the most common dogs in Germany in the early 1800’s, and was owned by people of all classes. However, at this point, dog breeding was not as organized as it is today, and most breeds were not standardized or subject to controlled breeding. This began to change when dog shows and kennel clubs were developed in the United Kingdom. Although dog shows and kennel clubs were always the most popular in that country, they quickly became almost as popular and important in the newly unified Germany. By 1900, almost all of the traditional German breeds such as the Schnauzer and the Great Dane had been standardized, and a number of new breeds had been created by breeders who sought to create the ultimate dog for a certain purpose.
At this point, the Standard Schnauzer was still known as the Wirehaired Pinscher. The first official Standard Schnauzer entries into a dog show occurred in 1879 at Hanover. The winning dog was named Schnauzer, although records indicate the word had been used previously, first referring to the breed as early as 1842. The origin of the word Schnauzer is unclear. Some say it comes from the word Schnauze, which means muzzle and refers to the breed’s distinctive facial hair. Others claim it comes from the German word Schnauzer, which means mustache. Either way, these dogs slowly became known as Schnauzers, first as a nickname, and later formally. The first breed standards were written in 1880, and the first breed specialty show was held later that year. During the final years of the 1800’s, the breed became extremely popular as a police dog throughout Germany.
It was during these years of breed standardization and creation that the Standard Schnauzer began to be used to create a number of other dog breeds. The breed was the basis for the creation of both the Miniature Schnauzer and the Giant Schnauzer. Schnauzers are also commonly believed to have been used to develop of a number of wiry-coated breeds throughout the world. However, it is unclear which of these breeds, if any, actually has Schnauzer blood.
By the end of the 1800s, the Standard Schnauzer began to leave Germany. This breed quickly became popular throughout Europe. Immigration records show that a small number of Schnauzers were imported to American by German Immigrants in the final years of the 19th Century and the opening years of the 20th. Additionally, several of these dogs were imported to the United States by those who had visited Germany and admired the breed there. Records and reports indicate that a Standard Schnauzer was exhibited at Westminster in 1899, but the American Kennel Club (AKC) did not grant the breed recognition until 1904. Initially, the breed was placed in the terrier group, to the displeasure of many fanciers.
The breed would remain rare across the Atlantic until after World War I. Many soldiers and civilian officials had served in Germany, and many of these Americans acquired these excellent and charming companion dogs while there. At the close of World War I, many of these Schnauzers were brought back home, and in turn earned many fanciers who chose to import more. The breed was also popularized by their wartime role as guard dogs for the Red Cross. By the mid-1920’s, the Standard Schnauzer had become well-established in America, although not to the extent of the Miniature Schnauzer. In 1925, the Schnauzer Club of America was founded to represent both the Standard Schnauzer and the Miniature Schnauzer. The club split into two clubs, one for each breed, in 1933. The Standard Schnauzer Club of America (SSCA) became responsible for the promotion and protection of the Standard Schnauzer breed. In 1945, breed fanciers convinced the AKC to move the Standard Schnauzer from the Terrier Group into the Working Group. The Miniature Schnauzer rapidly grew in popularity and quickly became one of the most popular dog breeds in America. The Standard Schnauzer never reached this level of popularity, although the breed was recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1948. In 1955, the Walt Disney Company released Lady and the Tramp, which is now considered an animated classic. Although never specifically mentioned in the film, Tramp is almost certainly a Standard Schnauzer mix.
The Standard Schnauzer is considered a working breed and these dogs remain very capable ratters and police dogs. Additionally, this breed has had a substantial amount of success in obedience and agility competitions. However, the vast majority of Standard Schnauzers in both the United States and Europe are primarily companion dogs. The Standard Schnauzer has for many years been one of the most popular companion dogs throughout Europe, where both the salt and pepper and solid black dogs are common. The breed has always been especially popular in Germany. In America, this breed has never been particularly popular, and is considerably less common than either of the other two Schnauzer varieties. In particular, solid black Standard Schnauzers are quite rare in the United States. However, there are a number of dedicated breeders and fanciers who ensure that the Standard Schnauzer keeps a stable and healthy population in the USA. In 2010, the Standard Schnauzer ranked 95th out of 167 total breeds in terms of AKC registrations.
Thanks to the breed’s close relationship with the very common Miniature Schnauzer, most Americans are very familiar with the appearance of the Standard Schnauzer. This breed is particularly known for its mustache. As this breed has been more carefully bred than the Miniature Schnauzer it is considerably more uniform in appearance. This is the epitome of a medium sized breed. Males should be between 18½ and 19½ inches tall at the shoulder, while females should be between 17½ and 18½ inches tall at the shoulder. Dogs which deviate from this height by more than ½ inch are disqualified in the show ring. Although breed standards do not give ideal weights for the Standard Schnauzer most males will weigh between 35 and 50 pounds, and most females will weight between 30 and 45 pounds.
Although most Standard Schnauzers are companion dogs, this is still a capable working breed and should appear as such. These dogs are compact, stocky, and muscular. This breed is well-proportioned, but may appear somewhat square shaped. The backs of most Standard Schnauzers slope slightly downwards towards the rear. In the United States, it is a very common practice to have the tail of a Standard Schnauzer docked to a length of no more than a few inches. However, this practice has been banned in much of Europe. The natural tail of a Standard Schnauzer is of medium to short length and is typically held in a saber or sickle shape. Some dogs may have a tail that curls slightly over their backs. The front legs of the Standard Schnauzer are generally straight, while the back legs generally slope slightly to the rear.
The Standard Schnauzer has one of the most distinctive faces of any breed, and is the reason for the breed’s name. The head and muzzle form a solid, relatively thick, rectangular face. The end of the snout has been described as a blunt wedge which ends abruptly and is almost flat. The hair at the end of the muzzle forms the distinctive mustache for which the breed is so famous. The eyes of a Schnauzer are dark brown in color, and are set in the head so that they look straight forward. Combined with the mustache, this gives the breed an intelligent, mischievous, and very human-like expression. As is the case with the Doberman Pinscher, the ears of the Standard Schnauzer are customarily cropped in the United States, although this practice is becoming less common and is banned in most of Europe. The natural ears of a Standard Schnauzer are v-shaped, dropped, and relatively small.
The Standard Schnauzer is famous for its harsh wiry coat. In many ways this breed’s coat is similar to that of a terrier. The Standard Schnauzer has a thick double coat. The undercoat is soft, while the outer coat consists of the wiry hair. Event the outer coat should remain close to the body, without being bristly or wavy. The hair on a Schnauzer’s legs is typically less harsh than that which covers most of the dog. The hair on the face and ears is typically shorter than that found on the rest of the body, until the end of the muzzle. The end of the muzzle is home to the breed’s distinct mustache. This breed also has very long eyelashes.
Two colors are acceptable in the Standard Schnauzer, solid black and salt and pepper. Solid black dogs should be very dark, and entirely covered with black hair, although a small white patch on the chest is acceptable. Salt and pepper is caused by interspersed black and white hairs, as well as individual hairs which are banded black and white. Any shade of salt and pepper is acceptable. Although a grey undercoat is ideal, tan or fawn undercoats also appear. A darker face mask is desirable although not always present. Many Standard Schnauzers are lighter on their eyebrows, cheeks, legs and underside.
The Standard Schnauzer is known worldwide for being a loving and lively family companion. As this breed has been much more carefully bred than the Miniature Schnauzer, it tends to be considerably more predictable in terms of temperament. This breed tends to be affectionate and very loyal to its masters. As one would expect of a family companion, Standard Schnauzers are usually excellent with children, and often form extremely close friendships with them. This breed is considerably less snappy than most terriers, and some are willing to take a fair amount of abuse from a child being a child. However, they may not be quite as well behaved around strange children as they are with family members.
This breed was developed partially as a guard dog, and they are typically wary of strangers. With proper socialization and training, the Standard Schnauzer is capable of being extremely discriminating of who is and who is not a friend. Without proper socialization, this breed may become somewhat aggressive towards new people. If you are looking for a dog which can be both a guardian and a family companion, a Standard Schnauzer is one of the better options available. While some Standard Schnauzers are relatively easy going, others have a considerably harder temperament which may be somewhat difficult for inexperienced dog owners to deal with.
Standard Schnauzers do not get along particularly well with other dogs. Most breed members are wary and aggressive towards dogs of the opposite sex and intolerant of dogs of the same sex. Proper training and socialization will help a Standard Schnauzer act properly around other dogs but will never turn one into a pack hound such as a Beagle. This breed also tends to be quite territorial and possessive when around other dogs. Additionally, Schnauzers tend to be dominant, and almost always take the role of pack leader. Although almost all dogs prefer the company of other dogs, the Standard Schnauzer would probably prefer to be in either a single dog home or a home with a single dog of the opposite sex.
The Standard Schnauzer was bred as a working farm dog and generally gets along well with larger non-canine animals. This breed has a reputation for being relatively good around cats if they have been properly socialized. As is the case with all breeds, non-socialized Standard Schnauzers will likely be cat chasers. However, this breed was also bred as a ratter and they love to hunt small animals. If you own a Standard Schnauzer, you must be prepared to have it leave you “presents” on your porch, which may consist of anything from an insect to a squirrel. Additionally, it is highly inadvisable to allow a Standard Schnauzer access to small pets such as rabbits or hamsters, as their instincts could take over at any time.
Canine intelligence tests regularly include the Standard Schnauzer as one of the most intelligent of all breeds. These dogs are gifted problem solvers and are capable of learning complex tasks. Excluding a few very challenging herding maneuvers, a Standard Schnauzer is probably capable of learning anything that any dog can. This breed is famous for its ability to learn tricks. Standard Schnauzers are certainly more trainable than most terriers. However, many Standard Schnauzers are difficult to train. This breed has an inherently independent nature and prefers to do what it wants rather than what its owner wants. Any training regime involving a Standard Schnauzer should involve a heavy amount of treats and positive reinforcement. The biggest training problem that Standard Schnauzers will give owners is due to their dominance. This breed is always looking to take control and will do so the moment it feels that it can. A Standard Schnauzer that has come to the conclusion that it is the pack leader is unlikely to obey commands. It is therefore important that Standard Schnauzer owners are always sure to make it clear that they are in charge.
The Standard Schnauzer is an energetic breed. These dogs need regular daily exercise. A long daily walk, with the Standard Schnauzer going no slower than a trot is an absolute necessity. That being said, this breed does not need hours of strenuous exercise as is the case with a dog such as a Jack Russell Terrier or a Border Collie. Do to their dog aggression issues, many Standard Schnauzers should not be taken to the dog park. However, when well-trained, and either carefully supervised or properly confined, this breed loves to run around off-leash. While Standard Schnauzers do not crave a job, they prefer their exercise to be purposeful and mentally stimulating. This breed very much enjoys agility courses and obedience trials. Unlike many breeds with comparable energy levels, the Standard Schnauzer is quite active indoors and does well in an urban environment. Although the Standard Schnauzer is normally thought of as an indoor breed, they enjoy the outdoors and are capable of doing fine in a wide range of climates, including the cold. A Standard Schnauzer that becomes bored due to lack of exercise will almost certainly entertain itself. Their version of entertainment may result in destruction.
Along with the Poodle, the three Schnauzers are the breeds most commonly associated with requiring professional grooming. Although it is possible for owners to learn to properly groom a Standard Schnauzer themselves, most choose not to do so. This breed needs to be trimmed and stripped twice a year at the very least. Some groomers will not perform a stripping, if this is the case, the dog must be trimmed considerably more frequently. All Standard Schnauzers must be thoroughly brushed on a very regular basis to prevent matting. Standard Schnauzers with softer outer coats present additionally grooming problems as it may be impossible to strip them. However, careful breeding means that this is much rarer in the Standard Schnauzer than the Miniature Schnauzer. Although this breed requires a great deal of coat maintenance, they shed very little. Many standard Schnauzers hardly shed at all, although some do slightly. Prospective owners should ask their breeder if a dog’s parents were or were not shedders.
The Standard Schnauzer is considered a very healthy breed. These dogs have the benefit of being a very old breed with a substantial amount of genetic diversity. Additionally, this breed has never been particularly common in the United States and has long been carefully bred. A Standard Schnauzer is expected to live from 12 to 15 years, quite long for a dog of this size. A health survey conducted by the SSCA determined than less than 1% of all Standard Schnauzers had serious health problems, and that the median age of death was 12.9 years. This means that including accidental deaths, as many Standard Schnauzers lived to be over 12.9 years as those that died before 12.9 years. There are only two major genetic health conditions which are somewhat common in this breed, hip dysplasia and hereditary eye disease, although both are less common in the Standard Schnauzer than many purebred dogs. The health survey also indicated that efforts to reduce hip dysplasia in the breed are paying off, as rates were somewhat less than in previous studies.
Luckily, tests exist for both hip dysplasia and hereditary eye disease. It is always advisable to get your pets tested by either the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and/or the Canine Eye Registration Foundation, particularly if you intend to breed. The OFA and CERF test for various genetically inherited disorders such as blindness and hip dysplasia that may impact either your dog or its descendants.
Health issues which are known to affect the Standard Schnauzer include: