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Group Utility Dogs
History The Schnauzer is a breed of terrier dog originating from Germany. It was known as the Wire-Haired Pinscher until the mid-1800s, when “schnauzer,” which is German for “snout,” was popularized. The name is a reference to the hairy muzzle for which the breed is famous. There are actually three distinct breeds, classified by size: miniature, standard, and giant. “Schnauzer” usually refers to the standard variety, which is the original breed and the oldest of the three.
The Schnauzer’s origins have been traced to the early 15th century. Although it closely resembles the modern British terriers, the Schnauzer is more closely related to the Spitz group. Its ancestors are most likely the ratters, herders, and flock guardians of the Middle Ages. The Schnauzer as we know it today was developed by the Germans in the 19th century. The breed was first shown in the 1870s and was approved by the American Kennel Club in 1991.
Appearance The Schnauzer has a long, thick and wiry coat that grows longer at the face and muzzle, giving it its signature beard. It has a sturdy, robust stature and an alert expression. The ears are set rather high and may be cropped; cropped ears are usually fully erect.
Colours Most Schnauzers come with a salt-and-pepper coat. Pure black and pure white coats sometimes appear, but only pure black is accepted for show purposes.
Temperament Schnauzers exhibit many of the traits typical to terriers: high-spirited but not overactive, loyal to their owners, lively and affectionate. As pups, they are very playful, and crave human companionship; over time, their watchdog instinct kicks in and they become loving and fiercely protective. Schnauzers get along well with children, but they can get snappish if handled roughly. They also tend to be willful and independent, so owners should be equally firm.
Weight Standard sizes vary by association, but the usual range is 18 to 20 inches for males and 17 to 19 inches for females. Males weigh from 35 to 50 pounds and females from 30 to 45 pounds.
Problems Schnauzers are a very healthy breed with very few genetic problems. However, like most old breeds, they are not immune to common problems like hip dysplasia, retinal atrophy, and bone disorders. The biggest problem is usually just parasite infestation due to the dog’s long coat.
Living Conditions Schnauzers will do fairly well as indoor pets, but they need their space just like any other dog. The ideal home is one with at least a small yard where the dog can run free when it wants to. Apartment dwellers should give them enough room to walk around, stretch, and simply move around. They can sleep outside provided the weather is good and they have proper shelter. These dogs prefer cool climates.
Requirements Schnauzers are a very energetic breed, and they need lots of physical activity to stay that way. Exercise should start out light and gradually increase as the dog’s muscles get stronger. They need at least one long brisk walk or jog every day, with lots of play time throughout the day. These dogs will be happy to trot alongside a bicycle or simply play catch in a yard.
Training Requirements Schnauzers learn quite fast, but they can be pretty headstrong if not well-trained as pups. Owners should establish dominance while the dog is still young. This breed responds best to firm and consistent training, but physical punishment and repetitive commands should be avoided. Socialization is also important, as Schnauzers tend to be overprotective of their families.
Life Expectancy Schnauzers live around 13 to 15 years, sometimes more.
Grooming The Schnauzer’s outer coat doesn’t need much grooming, but the undercoat should be brushed daily to prevent matting. A short wire brush usually works best. The coat should be clipped twice a year, preferably in the spring in fall, keeping the length even throughout the body. The beard and muzzle should be cleaned thoroughly after feeding.
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