The Giant Schnauzer's origins are a bit murky. Some historians claim that the breed's beginnings date back to the Middle Ages; others place the breed's start at the mid- to late-nineteenth century. However, all agree that the Giant Schnauzer's native land is Germany, specifically the Bavaria and Wurttemburg regions. The breed's original purpose was to drive cattle, much like the Bouvier des Flandres, who bears a close resemblance to the Giant Schnauzer. Beginning in the early twentieth century, the dog also began to work as a police dog and in the military. The breed began to appear in the United States in the late 1920s and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1930. In 2006, Giant Schnauzers ranked 83rd among the 154 breeds registered to the American Kennel Club.
The Giant Schnauzer is not the most affectionate guy on the block; he won't cuddle up to you on the couch as readily as other dogs do. Despite such reserve, he nevertheless becomes deeply and strongly attached to his people, and can be fiercely protective of those he loves and their property. This dog requires considerable physical exercise in order to prevent destructiveness and other misadventures that result when a dog tries to ease his boredom and restlessness on his own. He does best in a household without young children; generally well-behaved teens and slightly younger kids do better with him than little ones.
This very large dog stands 23.5 to 27.5 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs 65 to 90 pounds. His double coat, which is either salt-and-pepper or pure black, is harsh and thick on the outside, but soft and dense underneath. His ears are usually cropped and his tail is usually docked. The hair on the legs is longer than on the body, and he also sports bushy eyebrows and a droopy mustache and beard.
Giant Schnauzers do best when trained by confident but friendly individuals who understand the importance of positive reinforcement. They need intense socialization, particularly as puppies, and consistency throughout their lives. When trained properly, this intelligent breed learns quickly. Those who want to take their Schnauzer's training beyond the basics should consider taking up agility, obedience, and therapy work.
Grooming & Care
This dog requires more than a lick and a promise to stay well groomed. The double coat needs brushing at least once a week to remove mats from the undercoat. The mustache and beard require daily attention to remove food residue and crumbs. In addition, a professional groomer should clip the coat four times a year. As with all dogs, weekly pedicures and ear cleanings will help the Giant Schnauzer look and feel his best.
Like all purebred dogs, Giant Schnauzers have their share of health issues. The most common are hip dysplasia, osteochondritis dissecans (a growth disorder that affects the joints), progressive retinal atrophy, glaucoma, and heart defects. Dogs intended for breeding should receive OFA and CERF clearances before being bred. Prospective buyers should ask to see these clearances before they buy a puppy or dog.
Famous Giant Schnauzer
3 time National Specialty winner, CH Rusters the Dark Command, whose friends call him Koal
|Challenges||Can be aggressive if not well-socialized|
|Height||23 to 28 inches|
|Weight||70 to 100 pounds|
|Life||12 to 15 years|
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