Breed GroupThe terrier group (in the US)
Life Span12 – 15 years
Height12 – 14 inches
Weight11-20 pounds
OriginGermany in the mid to late 19th century
Best ForA variety of families who want a playful companion dog

Miniature Schnauzer Breed Guide

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Miniature Schnauzer Overview

Dog Breed:
Miniature Schnauzer
Breed Group:
The terrier group (in the US)
Playful, bright, friendly, trainable. A small, sturdy dog with an outgoing personality!
12 – 14 inches
11-20 pounds
Life Span:
12 – 15 years
Coat Colors:
Salt and pepper, silver and black, plain black
Area of Origin:
Germany in the mid to late 19th century
Best For:
A variety of families who want a playful companion dog

Miniature Schnauzer Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Miniature Schnauzer

  • Expressive eyebrows and characteristic beard

  • Small in size, but sturdy

  • Friendly and will fit in with most families

The Miniature Schnauzer is a small to medium-sized dog, who is sturdy and lively. They are square-shaped with a strong rectangular head and classic beard, mustache, and eyebrow combination. This makes them quite an expressive-looking breed. Their ears are usually floppy though ear cropping is something seen in this breed on occasion (an illegal practice in many countries such as the UK or Australia). They have a tough wiry grey topcoat and the majority are salt and pepper in colour.

This breed is intelligent and usually charming, though they can be a bit standoffish with people they don’t yet know. They will enjoy play and exercise with enthusiasm, but also make good loyal, companions.

This breed is friendly with people it knows, and their good temperament will mean they will suit many different family situations. They will be just as happy living in the city centre as they will in the countryside, provided they receive enough daily exercise.

Miniature Schnauzer Breed History

  • First recorded in the late 1800s in Germany

  • A rat-catching breed originally used for pest control

  • Bred from the larger standard Schnauzer

The Miniature Schnauzer was first recorded in 1888, having been bred from the larger Standard Schnauzer breed. The name is derived from the which German word for muzzle is ‘Schnauze’, alluding to the beard on the muzzle of this dog (which has been retained in its miniature version). The Schnauzer is a much older breed, thought to have originated from as far back as the 15th century. This larger dog was a versatile working farm dog. They were used for pulling carts of produce, herding sheep and cattle, and acted as a guard dog too. They provided pest control too, keeping rat populations down on farms, something that was passed on to its smaller descendants.

It is thought that the Standard Schnauzer was bred with the Affenpinscher and/or miniature poodles, both much smaller dogs, which brought the size of the breed down. It’s unclear whether this was an intentional or chance mating. Either way, this created a dog with similar characteristics to its larger relative, but in a more compact size – making them perfect for ratting and keeping pest numbers down.

The Miniature Schnauzer’s past as a rat-catching dog means it has been placed in the terrier group of dogs in the US, alongside many other small breeds that were once used for pest control. However, unlike the rest of its group, the Miniature Schnauzer contains no British blood. Most terriers originate from the British Isles, so this makes this breed of dog unusual. They are also different in terms of personality from many others within the terrier group. Having inherited many traits from his larger ancestors the Miniature Terrier is less likely to have the feisty temperament that terriers are renowned for.

The American Kennel Club first registered the Miniature Schnauzer in 1926, a couple of years after the breed was first introduced to the US. This breed rose to popularity over the years and has become a familiar face in the show ring. The Miniature Schnauzer has become the most favoured of the three schnauzer breeds (miniature, standard, and giant), securing its place as a much-loved pet in many homes.

Miniature Schnauzer Size & Weight

  • Miniature Schnauzers weigh on average 11- 25 pounds and are 12 – 14 inches in height from foot to withers

  • Males and females are of very similar size and weight in this breed of dog

  • This breed is small and square, being fairly sturdy and lively.

The Miniature Schnauzer is considered a small breed of dog, with most weighing no more than 23lb (10kg) at a healthy adult weight. They’re sturdy, and often described as ‘square’, with their hips at a similar width and height to their shoulders.

Miniature Schnauzer Personality & Temperament

  • Friendly and suitable as a family pet

  • Intelligent and require mental stimulation

  • Can be suspicious of new people

Miniature Schnauzers usually have much more level temperaments than many of the other dogs in their terrier group (which are known for being a bit feisty or unpredictable). This is due to their breeding, originating from the larger Standard Schnauzer.

Their friendly personality makes them an ideal family pet for many people. They tend to be good with children and will enjoy lots of play and interaction. Care may need to be taken around other pets though, particularly small furry ones. Due to their rat-catcher past, they may still have that high prey drive. This could also mean they are more likely to chase on walks too, so ensure they have good recall training.

This breed can be suspicious or standoffish with people that they don’t know very well, in part due to their guard dog ancestry. For this same reason they may be more prone to barking than other breeds of dog, but they are rarely aggressive. Working on socialization from an early age will help to counteract these behaviours. Once they get to know people, they are usually very friendly and eager to please.

They are intelligent dogs and so mental stimulation will be important to stop them from becoming frustrated or destructive. They will benefit from things like training and obedience classes to help keep them busy. Their intelligence should help make training easier, but they can be known for being a bit stubborn at times, so keep things interesting. Engage them with plenty of consistent positive reward-based training and exciting toys.

Miniature Schnauzer Health & Grooming

  • Regular professional grooming is required

  • Doesn’t shed fur very readily

  • This breed is prone to several different health conditions

The Miniature Schnauzer has a very tough and wiry topcoat and a much softer undercoat. This topcoat provides protection against the elements for this breed, which would have helped in its working past. Having a double coat, which doesn’t readily shed, means regular grooming is required to keep it in order. Part of the attraction of this breed to some people is their classic groomed appearance, but this does take effort to maintain.

Routine brushing of your Miniature Schnauzer will be required at home to shift dead hairs, but also trips to the groomers every 5-8 weeks for clipping, to keep his coat trimmed. It is important to get him familiar with grooming from a young age so that he tolerates it well.

This breed is prone to several health conditions including bladder stones, which can affect urination and create cystitis symptoms. Pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas, is also common in Miniature Schnauzers which can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, and lethargy.

Other conditions that this breed is susceptible to include cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy (eye conditions affecting vision), follicular dermatitis (infected hair follicles in the skin), myotonia congenita (an inherited muscle disorder), hip dysplasia (abnormal development of the hip joints, causing pain and arthritis) and hypothyroidism (low levels of thyroid hormone which controls metabolism).

Miniature Schnauzer Training

  • Intelligent and quick to learn

  • Prone to chasing, so work on their recall

  • Would enjoy agility classes, as well as obedience

This breed is known for being intelligent and quick to learn. They should be relatively easy to train, as long as things are kept interesting and positive.

You should take your Miniature Schnauzer to dog training classes from an early age to make sure they are introduced to a variety of people and animals. Socializing them in this way may help overcome their tendency to be wary and standoffish with strangers.

As part of their training, it will be important to work on their recall. Their rat-catching ancestry means this breed has a high prey drive and may chase after small animals, so you will want to make sure your dog is under good control when off the leash.

Miniature Schnauzers may enjoy dog agility classes too, which will be a good way of keeping them mentally and physically stimulated. Having a tired and content dog will help counteract frustration and help improve negative behaviours like excessive barking or being destructive.

Miniature Schnauzer Exercise Requirements

  • Intelligent and quick to learn

  • Prone to chasing, so work on their recall

  • Would enjoy agility classes, as well as obedience

Miniature Schnauzers need moderate levels of exercise and are usually happy with up to an hour a day. As with most dogs, they will benefit from a garden to play in, but their size means they will be happy in a modest one.

This dog is suitable for life in both the city and the countryside as long as they get out and about every day. Plenty of positive interaction and games with their family will keep them happy. Dog training classes and interesting toys, such as puzzle feeders, will also keep them suitably stimulated.

Miniature Schnauzer Diet & Feeding

  • Prone to obesity and hyperlipidemia

  • Pancreatitis episodes are common in this breed

  • Feed a good quality diet appropriate for their life stage

Miniature schnauzers are prone to obesity and hyperlipidaemia (high circulating levels of fat/lipid in the blood). This can make them more likely to suffer from episodes of pancreatitis. To try and reduce this risk, avoid giving your dog fatty foods or table scraps, and feed them on a good quality commercial dog food.

You should ensure the diet is appropriate for their stage of life (puppy, adult, or senior) and weigh out their daily allowance using scales, as small differences in intake can make a big difference for this breed. Keep their weight in check by saving treats for training rewards, given in moderation.

Miniature Schnauzer Rescue Groups

There are fewer Miniature Schnauzers in rescue centres than many other breeds, probably due to their endearing nature. If you are looking for a rescue dog though you could try the following UK Miniature Schnauzer organizations –

The Schnauzer Club of Great Britain

Terrier S.O.S

UK Schnauzer rescue

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