If you enjoy the Standard, and like the Mini, well, you’re sure to love the Giant Schnauzer. While the breed is different from the other two, all three come from the same region. This large and powerful drover has become more visible since the 1960’s.
And with their sheer strength and size comes an easy to train and alert breed. Hidden in the beautiful slopes of the Bavarian Alps until the 20th century, the reveal of the Giant Schnauzer would prove to be just as beautiful.
So what makes the Giant such an intriguing breed and is this breed the right dog for you?
Here is what you need to know about the Giant Schnauzer.
The Giant Schnauzer has an interesting backstory like many breeds. Yet, there is a bit of conflict as to whether the Giant began its development in the 15th or 17th century. Holding true to popular convention, for the sake of telling the breed’s story, this profile begins in the Swabia region back in the 17th century.
In the German states of Bavaria and Wurttemburg came a dog today we call the Giant Schnauzer. Schnauzer in German simply means “Muzzle.” Before there were cars or trains, farmers and estate owners had to really earn their way getting cattle and sheep to the market. And the only way they could this was by using a capable dog to help drive them to the market. Meet the Giant Schnauzer, which has gone by the names, “Russian Bear Schnauzer” and its German nickname, “Riesenschnauzer,” which means “Giant.”
Many historians claim that the breed’s development took off in the 17th century, when an infusion of different breeds would make up today’s Giant. There is quite a lengthy laundry list of different breeds. It should be of note, that the harsh winter conditions and tough act of droving would require quite the crossing to get the appropriate end result.
Many historians claim the following breeds could possibly be part of the Giant Schnauzer foundation: Great Dane, Dobermans, Rottweilers, Boxers, Thurnigian Shepherds, the Standard Schnauzer and possibly the Bouvier Des Flandres. Indeed, the Bouvier Des Flandres does resemble the Giant Schnauzer.
Held away from the rest of the world, the Giant was relatively unknown around the world. That would change dramatically around the turn of the 20th century.
After the industrialization era, there was no longer the same need for the breed. Instead, the breed would find a role in guarding the livestock and as a companion.
Allegedly, the first Giant to appear at a dog exhibit was in 1909 in Munich. As the German army found out, the breed was very useful for military and police purposes. This would help their rise in popularity but not until after World War 2.
In the United States, where many believe the best breeding of the Giant took place, imports came in around the 1930’s. Furthermore, the American Kennel Club gave the breed full recognition in 1935. Due to other breeds growing in popularity, and the fact that the World War nearly brought the breed to their extinction, they were still unknown until the 1960’s.
With the formation of the Giant Schnauzer Club of America in 1962, and the breed’s ability to train with police, the stock of the breed went up. With only 23 registrations to speak of in 1962, the number shot up to over 1000 by 1987.
Although the breed is slowly becoming more of a hit with the dog community, today they rank 79th among AKC’s registry. Modern Giant Schnauzers enjoy life as a companion, as a show dog and in Europe is a working dog.
The Giant Schnauzer belongs to the Large Breed class. The American Kennel Club states that males should stand between 25.5 to 27.5 inches. Females should stand between 23.5 to 25.5 inches. This adheres to the UKC standard of a height between 23.5 to 27.5 inches.
With regards to weight, a male should weigh between 60 to 85 pounds. Females can weigh between 55 to 75 pounds.
The Giant is big and they are strong. Don’t let that fool you, although they will back it up when the need arises, this breed is a big teddy bear. They are loyal to a fault and have hard working ethos. Responsive and alert, the Giant Schnauzer loves and needs to exercise to remain happy.
The breed is happy to train and will obey commands 70 percent of the time, according to a study by Stanley Coren. This highly trainable trait makes them ideal workers for all types of purposes. From working with the military to the police.
Of course, the breed is good with kids they grow up with. They can be good with other dogs as well, and if they don’t have their master, would prefer a fellow dog. The breed isn’t big on being alone and enjoys being an integral member of the family.
All in all, the Giant Schnauzer wants to be close with their family especially while working. They love a role and having a purpose. They make for easy working dogs due to their high intelligence. Their ability to learn and accept commands makes them good for dog shows. While they are not an aggressive breed, the Giant Schnauzer is certainly protective and territorial of its belongings and family.
Clubs, writers, and kennels generally regard the Giant Schnauzer as a healthy breed. That said, when you buy a Giant from a breeder, you should always assure they can provide you the proper health clearances. There should be no problem with providing documentation with a reputable breeder. Always steer clear of breeding mills. Couple that with regular visits to your veterinarian’s office and your dog will have a better chance at living a long and fulfilling life.
On average, the life expectancy of the Giant Schnauzer is between 12 to 15 years. Most of the issues affecting the breed seems to pertain to their eyes.
For instance, two conditions with the same general consequences, Ectropion and Entropion, can be found with the breed. Both conditions involve the eyelids either rolling inward or outward. Each can result in scarring or ulcerations. It is important to pay attention to your Giant’s eyes for any signs of Entropion and Ectropion.
Staying with the eyes, Progressive Atrophy and Retinal Dysplasia can be seen with the Giant. Progressive Retinal Atrophy can lead to complete blindess when the photoreceptor cells systematically die. Retinal Dysplasia is a maldevelopment of the retina that likewise can affect the dog’s vision. Testing is available to help rule out these conditions before breeding.
Lastly, with the eyes, is Cataracts or a cloudiness impacting the crystalline lens of the eye. This can lead to temporary or complete vision loss as well.
Out of 4800 plus evaluations, the Giant Schnauzer ranks 52nd with a 18.1% dysplastic rate for Hip Dysplasia. The malformation of the hip joint affects many breeds like the Affenpinscher, Beagle and Chinook. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals also found in this survey from dogs born between 2011 to 2015, 12.8% dysplastic out of 383 evaluations.
Abnormal growth in the elbow joint, which is the leading cause of pain in the elbow, Elbow Dysplasia, is also a risk for the Giant Schnauzer. In fact, the Giant is 44th on the OFA survey with an 8.0% dysplastic rate. That ranks them among the Clumber Spaniel and Belgian Malinois.
The Giant Schnauzer needs to be your giant buddy in the sense that you need to involve them with family endeavors. That’s right, the breed doesn’t appreciate being alone and prefers the close bond and contact with their human. They are good with children, however, the one thing to be privy about is their herding instincts. Herding breeds tend to carry over certain characteristics like nipping and nudging. Just something to keep an eye out for. The breed should do just fine with other dogs as well. Setting up play sessions is a good to provide mental and physical stimulation.
That said, you’ll need to give this dog regular outdoor access. They should exercise regularly from a good romp to herding, agility and obedience. This is a highly energetic breed. This doesn’t mean they should be an outdoor do. On the contrary, this is an indoor breed better for someone with experience and the proper amount of space. Apartment dwellers may be out of luck.
Aside from providing the dog plenty of physical and mental stimulation, early socialization and training is a must. Especially as a puppy, when they may be a bit hyper and eager to run around. You’ll want to fence in your area, keep the dog always on a leash during walks and keep them out of extreme heat conditions. The breed does better in the colder weather thanks to their coat.
If you are looking for a specific diet plan, then your best bet is to consult a veterinarian. The Giant Schnauzer doesn’t require anything special but will require a meat first formula. Anything from chicken, turkey, beef, lamb and fish. You may want to shy away from raw salmon until you are able to consult your veterinarian. Fruits, veggies or leafy greens, sweet potato and rice are all suffice nutrients for the Giant Schnauzer.
Kennels and breeders suggest a daily feeding of 3 to 4.5 cups of top quality dry food per day. Most will recommend breaking that up into at least two meals a day so that your dog isn’t as likely to suffer from Gastric Torsion. How much your dog will eat depends on how active they are, their age and metabolism.
If your dog is a working dog, and weighs between 55 to 80 pounds, they will require 2300 to 3100 calories per day. For an ordinary house dog, you can get away with 1400 to 1850 calories per day.
As always, you should provide your Giant Schnauzer with fresh drinking water.
They do shed even though certain clubs have them as “hypoallergenic.” Mostly of what this means is that they are a better match for someone who has allergies to pet dander. In fact, they are a seasonal shedder and weekly grooming will be necessary.
Their double coat consists of a harsh outside coat that slightly stand off the back and an undercoat that is soft. Their coats were necessary early on to protect them from the brutal winters in Germany.
The American Kennel Club says regular stripping and clipping is essential in keeping your Giant Schnauzer coat a thing of beauty.
According to the breed standard, the Giant Schnauzer has two coat color options: pepper and salt, black.
The Giant Schnauzer is getting the recognition from the dog world it deserves. The club representing the breed does have their pauses about the growing number of interest and it should. To preserve the breed’s integrity and steer the breed away from harmful and immoral breeding practices. Thankfully, just as good as the dog is itself, the club representing them, and the country they come from, has been just as wonderful.
Their popularity grows because the breed continues to prove how effective and valuable they are. In the United States, they are wonderful companion and show dog competitors. In Europe, they serve wonderfully as K-9, military dogs, and are very strong versatile workers.
Above all, the Giant Schnauzer doesn’t just have a giant work ethic and personality, they have something many people cherish and look for…a big heart.