With their muzzle beards, heavy brows and expressive ears, what’s not to love about the miniature schnauzer? Not only are minis the most popular among the schnauzer breed but they were also the eleventh most frequently registered breed in 2007, according to American Kennel Club registration figures.
As you can probably guess based on their schnitzel-sounding name, schnauzers are German dogs. Minis were originally bred on farms to hunt and catch rats and mice. By the late 1800s, this top dog became its own distinct breed. The miniature is believed to have been bred by mixing small standard schnauzers with poodles and affenpinschers.
Three Kinds of Coats
Schnauzers usually have either a black, silver-and-black or salt-and-pepper colored wiry coat. These heavily whiskered pups are stocky and have fuzzy leg furnishings. Minis are not heavy shedders but they need to be carefully groomed about every 5-8 weeks.
Minis aren’t your typical “toy” dog either. These robust and muscular pups are usually 12-14 inches tall and 13-15 pounds. The standard schnauzer, on the other hand, is about 17-19 inches and 30-33 pounds. The giant schnauzer ranges from 25-27 inches and 70-75 pounds.
Fun Schnauzer Facts
- Some 1,500 videos of mini schnauzers are on youtube.com including at-home grooming tips.
- Its double coat that requires hand stripping for the show ring. The AKA reports owners prefer clipping the outer coat to avoid the massive grooming required to keep this breed in show condition.
- Minis live on average for 15 years.
- Bob and Elizabeth Dole, Bruce Lee, Mary Tyler Moore and Bill Cosby have all owned miniature schnauzers.
- Miniature schnauzers have been bred in the U.S. since 1925.
- Gray mini schnauzers are the most common.
Common health problems associated with the minis are kidney stones, liver disease, skin disorders and diabetes.
Happy Go Lucky
While minis are considered part of the terrier family they actually have a much sunnier disposition than their close cousins. Mini schnauzers are known for their charm, intelligence and devotion.
They might have been bred as ratters but their size subsequently made them a good sized house pets. Today this translates into a pup that is equally happy in a country setting as it is in a small urban environment.
The American Miniature Schnauzer Club says that minis are active and have great temperaments. This attitude qualifies them as excellent pets for people with children. They don’t tend to bark too much either. When they do speak, says the AKA, they make more of a "woo-woo, roo-roo,” gruntish-groaning sound. That said, they make better alarm dogs then they do guard dogs.
Walking and sticking close by the side of their owners is another characteristic of minis. They are good trainees but be warned these little guys border on stubborn and tend to be very crafty when it comes to tricking their unsuspecting owners into getting their way.
Medical History for Schnauzers
Common health problems associated with the minis are kidney stones, liver disease, skin disorders and diabetes. Here are some other possible medical issues:
- Canine Neuronal Ceroid-Lipofuscinosis: A neurologic disorder with an average age of onset around 2-4 years. Symptoms include visual problems, aimless wandering, loss of memory for learned tasks, and trembling episodes.
- Hyper-sensitivity to vaccines.
- Cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy, which can lead to blindness.
- Weight gain. Regular exercise and low-fat diets can help them avoid the poundage and subsequent pancreatitis problems.
While every dog may have the tendency to develop breed-specific medical conditions, this does not mean your dog will necessarily be diagnosed with them. One of the best things a pet owner can do for his dog is to visit a veterinarian regularly to monitor his health and take preventive measures to ensure his well being.
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