The giant schnauzer is one of the most useful working dog breeds developed in the seventeenth century in Germany. There are three variations of the breed, which include the standard schnauzer and the miniature schnauzer. The giant schnauzer is the largest amongst all of them. The Kennel Club officially recognised the breed on 1st of April 2014.
The giant schnauzer is kind and even-tempered, which makes him an excellent companion dog. Funny and delightful, the giant schnauzer has a clownish nature that will lighten up everyone’s day. The giant schnauzer is a loyal and protective dog, making him a great guard dog.
As a highly active dog breed, the giant schnauzer needs ample amounts of exercise. At least two hours of exercise and mental stimulation will exhaust the giant schnauzer’s extra energy. In grooming, he only requires weekly brushing as he is a low-maintenance dog.
Although the origins are unclear, records suggest that the first giant schnauzer hailed from Swabia in the German state of Bavaria and Wurttemberg in the seventeenth century. The early breed was rough-coated to endure the harsh German winters and vermin bites. It is believed that the breeds contributing to the giant schnauzer's bloodline include Great Dane, German shepherd, Rottweiler, Dobermann, boxer, Thuringian shepherd, Bouvier des Flandres, and standard schnauzer.
With all its mixed ancestry, the giant schnauzer is considered the most useful and powerful amongst the working breeds, and was originally bred to be a multipurpose farm dog to guard properties and drive animals to the market. By the twentieth century, its purpose was elevated to that of a watchdog to protect breweries and stockyards in Bavaria. However, it only received its well-deserved popularity when it was utilised as a military dog during World War I and World War II.
In the 1930s, the first giant schnauzer was imported to America, but it was only in the 1960s that it became a favourite breed. It is KC-registered.
Appearance and Grooming
The giant schnauzer has an intimidating size, weighing 60–90 pounds and standing 60–70 centimetres at the withers. It is large and compact, giving an impression of power and resilience. The breed boasts of a strong head with a slight stop, emphasised by its trademark schnauzer eyebrows. Its powerful muzzle ends in a moderate wedge and also sports its other hallmark features, such as the stubbly moustache and whiskers under the chin. The giant schnauzer's eyes are oval-shaped, medium in size, and set forward, whilst the ears form a neat V-shape and set high on the dog's head. Lips are black and tight, whilst its nose is likewise black but with wide nostrils.
Adding to its powerful form is its moderately long neck that the giant schnauzer holds arched, supported by equally strong shoulders. Its chest is broad and deep, with well-sprung ribs and back that is levelled and strong, slightly higher in the shoulder area than at the hindquarters. In its compact form, the giant schnauzer moves in vigorous free strides. The breed sports a harsh, wiry topcoat and dense, soft undercoat considered as non-shedding and hypoallergenic.
The giant schnauzer comes in two colours—black, and pepper and salt. Since it is a non-shedding dog breed, it requires regular stripping every eight to ten weeks to keep its elegant look. Weekly brushing will keep its coat, especially in the legs and beard, from tangling or forming mats. The rest is basic care that includes trimming the nails, cleaning the ears, and brushing the teeth on a regular basis.
Temperament and Intelligence
The temperament of the giant schnauzer can vary, often opposite. Some may be excitable, whilst others can be laid-back and easy-going. Some giant schnauzers are people-oriented, whilst others are wary of new people. The key to making sure that you have the ideal temperament of your giant schnauzer is socialisation and training from an early age.
In general, proper training results to an excellent family pet that is well-mannered with strangers, good around children, and most especially, loyal and loving toward its family. In fact, given the right environment, the giant schnauzer is a clownish and silly breed that will bring laughter and joy. This breed is also territorial and protective, making it an excellent guard dog. In short, you get what you put into its training.
The giant schnauzer is intelligent and often exhibits a stubborn streak, which means it is best suited to experienced owners who can handle this breed, also considering its size and the training it requires. This giant dog breed is not suitable for families with small children since its size can easily knock over any toddler when playtime gets a little rough or unruly. When it comes to other dogs, the giant schnauzer can be unpredictable especially around males. This dog breed is also not good around small pets such as cat, ferret, guinea pig, and others.
Nutrition and Feeding
A typical serving for an adult giant schnauzer is 3 3/8–4 1/4 cups of high-quality dry dog food per day, which must be divided into two feedings. If you are not confident that you're giving your giant schnauzer the nutrition it deserves, don't hesitate to consult with a veterinarian.
As a rough guide, below is the typical daily calorie needs of an adult giant schnauzer that weighs 75 pounds:
- Senior and less active: up to 1,580 calories daily
- Typical adult: up to 1,780 calories daily
- Physically active/working dog: up to 1,975 calories daily
Large, active dogs require a balanced diet that is high in protein, which must come from animal-based sources. High-quality proteins include fresh meat, fish, eggs, and poultry. Feeding your giant schnauzer a protein-rich diet is essential for muscle growth. Make sure when you look at the ingredients list of a dog food, you see a high-quality protein at the top of the label.
Health and Exercise
The average lifespan of the giant schnauzer is between ten and twelve years. Albeit generally healthy, the breed can develop potential hereditary defects and disorders more commonly found, but not necessarily found, in its breed. These health disorders and defects include autoimmune haemolytic anaemia (AIHA), bloat or gastric dilatation, cataracts, epilepsy, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, narcolepsy, and progressive retinal atrophy.
The giant schnauzer is an active and athletic working dog that requires lots of physical and mental stimulation, at least two hours' worth daily. Aside from taking it for daily walks, the breed will need more challenging activities such as canine sports, including obedience, herding, and agility trials. If the giant schnauzer lacks the exercise it needs and becomes bored, it will get into all sorts of trouble to amuse itself.
Cost of Ownership
The cost for a well-bred Giant Schnauzer pedigree puppy from reputable breeders is 700-£1200. The cost for feeding it may be slightly more compared to other dogs due to its size. To feed this large dog high-quality food you would need 40–£60 a month. You also need to factor in the initial cost for dog accessories and equipment such as food bowls, leads, collars, and beds, which will likely be about £200 depending on the brand.
As to healthcare you need to be prepared in case your dog suddenly falls ill or gets into an accident. You can offset some bills if you get a pet insurance, which can range from £40 for a time-limited cover up to £120 for a lifetime one. These prices vary depending on your dog’s health and age, the type of cover you choose, and whether it has pre-existing conditions.
Other outgoings to consider are veterinary expenses that may not be included in a pet insurance coverage such as vaccinations, routine checks, neutering or spaying, and annual boosters, which can have a combined cost of £1200-£1500 annually. Roughly, you will be setting aside £100–£180 a month for recurring expenses, depending on the type of insurance cover you choose for your dog.
Giant Schnauzer Breed Highlights
- As the name suggests, the giant schnauzer is a giant dog breed weighing 60–90 pounds.
- It may not be the best breed for new dog owners and families with very young children.
- This breed is loyal, loving, territorial, and protective.
- It has a coat that is non-shedding and hypoallergenic.
- It is a multipurpose working dog that requires at least two hours of daily exercise.
- The giant schnauzer tends to be wary of new people or strangers, hence it will make an excellent watchdog.
Are you sure the Giant Schnauzer is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.
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