The Breed History
This breed was derived from the Standard Schnauzer by crossing with the Great Dane, and also the Bouvier des Flandres. First breed records appeared in Southern Germany in the late 1800s. The AKC registered the breed in 1930.
Breeding for Function
The dog was used in the South Bavaria and Wurtemmburg regions of Germany for driving livestock, specifically cattle because of the great size and strength of this type of dog. Other tasks were as a watchdog and butcher's dog. Since the World Wars, this breed has been used extensively in Germany as a guarding and police dog.
Height at Withers: male 25.5-27.5" (65-70 cm), female 23.5-25.5" (59.5-65 cm).
Weight: 70-77 lb (32-35 kg).
Coat: The weather resistant dense double coat consists of soft hair underneath, and a hard, wiry medium length overcoat. Salt and pepper or solid black are the standard colors. Salt and pepper is produced by a mixture of white/black banded hairs mixed with solid black and solid white hairs. A dark face mask is present on both colors. Needs to have the undercoat stripped twice per annum and the beard and moustache area may need to be cleaned after eating; classified in the moderate to high grooming needs category. Low shedding tendency is present if the coat is stripped.
Longevity: 10-12 years
Points of Conformation: A larger version of the Standard Schnauzer type, this breed shares the same basic conformation points. Square conformation, with well muscled straight limbs, a significant brow and beard and wiry haircoat distinguish the Schnauzer type. The head is rectangular, a slight stop is evident, and they possess a flat and moderately wide skull. The large nose is black. Triangular ears are medium in length with fairly thick leathers, and carried high and close to the head. Ears may be cropped. Eyes are deep set and colored dark brown, medium in size and oval. The neck is moderate in length and muscling. Not throaty. The thorax is deep and ribs well sprung. Moderate abdomen tuck up is present. The back is short and straight; gradually lowering towards the rear quarters. Limbs are straight boned. The tail is carried high when active, and usually docked to be 1.5-3.0" (3.5-7.5 cm). Feet are compact and the toes well arched. Black nails and thick pads are standard. Dewclaws are usually removed from forelimbs; if present on hind limbs, they are removed. The gait is strong, straight, low, and has a spring to the stride.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed characteristics include: Good endurance, highly intelligent, high trainability, obedient, alert, reliable, loyal and playful. Good guard for home and family, courageous and territorial. Good in city or country settings. Has high exercise and mental stimulation needs, if not fulfilled, will lead to boredom. Early socialization and obedience training are recommended.
Normal Physiologic Variations
Giant Schnauzers have much lower red blood cell thiopurine methyltransferase activity (7.9-20 U of RBC per milliliter; median, 13.1; P < .001) than other breeds. This could affect thiopurine (azathioprine) drug toxicity and efficacy in canine patients.
Hip Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing degenerative joint disease and hip arthritis. OFA reports 18.1% affected.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. OFA reports 7.8% affected.
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. Too few Giant Schnauzers have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.
Cobalamin Malabsorption: An autosomal recessive selective intestinal malabsorption of cobalamin (Cbl) occurs in Giant Schnauzers. Affected puppies exhibited chronic inappetence and failure to thrive beginning between 6 and 12 wk of age. Neutropenia with hypersegmentation, anemia with anisocytosis and poikilocytosis, and megaloblastic changes of the bone marrow occur. Serum Cbl concentrations are low, and methylmalonic aciduria and homocysteinemia are present. Treat with vitamin B12 supplementation. A genetic test is available.
Congenital Hypothyroid Dwarfism: Rare inherited disorder, with affected puppies showing dwarfism, lethargy, somnolence, gait abnormalities, and constipation. Laboratory tests show anemia, hypercholesterolemia, and occasional hypercalcemia. Radiographic skeletal surveys disclosed epiphyseal dysgenesis and delayed skeletal maturation. Affected dogs have low basal serum thyroxine concentrations that fail to increase following the administration of TSH, and markedly reduced to absent gamma camera imaging of the thyroid gland. Reported as a secondary or tertiary, rather than primary hypothyroidism. Pedigree analysis suggests an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance.
Hyperuricosuria (HUU)/Urate Bladder Stones: An autosomal recessive mutation in the SLC2A9 gene causes urate urolithiasis and can predispose male dogs to urinary obstruction. Estimated at a carrier frequency of 11.20% in the breed. A genetic test is available.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. 15.5% positive for thyroid auto-antibodies based on testing at Michigan State University. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%) Another study found 16% affected in the breed. A specific DLA class II (major histocompatability complex) haplotype produces a 6.5x odds ratio of developing the disorder. Dorn reports a 2.28x odds ratio versus other breeds.
Persistent Pupillary Membranes: Strands of fetal remnant connecting; iris to iris, cornea, lens, or involving sheets of tissue. The later three forms can impair vision, and dogs affected with these forms should not be bred. Identified in 5.95% of Giant Schnauzers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Cataracts: Intermediate and punctate cataracts predominate in the breed. Age of onset from less than a year to 7 years. Identified in 4.46% of Giant Schnauzers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Inherited Epilepsy: Grand-mal or petit-mal seizures. Control with anticonvulsant medication. Dorn reports a 9.97x odds ratio versus other breeds. 1.23% of first time admissions of Giant Schnauzers to Veterinary Colleges are for epilepsy.
Retinal Dysplasia: Retinal folds, geographic, and generalized retinal dysplasia with detachment are recognized in the breed. Reported in 2.60% of Giant Schnauzers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Hormonal Urinary Incontinence: Multiple studies show a breed prevalence for urinary incontinence in spayed female Giant Schnauzers.
Everted Cartilage of the Third Eyelid: Unilateral or bilateral scroll-like curling of the cartilage of the third eyelid, everting the margin. May cause mild ocular irritation. Identified in 1.49% of Giant Schnauzers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture (ACL): Traumatic tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament. Treatment is surgery. Dorn reports a 2.44x odds ratio versus other breeds.
Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (Bloat, GDV): Polygenically inherited, life-threatening twisting of the stomach within the abdomen. Requires immediate veterinary attention. Diagnosed at an increased frequency in the breed. Giant Schnauzers with the deepest thorax relative to width have the greatest risk for GDV.
Digital Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Toe cancer seen at an increased frequency in black Giant Schnauzers. Treatment is digital amputation.
Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy: Disorder causing loss of toenails. Onset between 3-8 years of age affecting 1-2 nails, then progressing to all toenails within 2-9 weeks. Requires lifelong treatment with oral fatty acid supplementation. Diagnosed at an increased frequency in the breed. (See GSCA website.)
Brachygnathism, Cryptorchidism, Glaucoma, Narcolepsy, Prognathism, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia, and von Willebrand's Disease are reported.
Isolated Case Studies
Immune-Mediated Neutropenia and Thrombocytopenia: Neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, and splenomegaly were recognized in 3 unrelated adult female giant schnauzers. Antineutrophil antibodies were demonstrated in 2 dogs. Splenectomy and steroid and azathioprine therapy reversed the condition.
Nasal Philtrum Arteritis: A Giant Schnauzer was identified with a solitary, well-circumscribed, linear ulcer on the nasal philtrum, with repeated episodes of arterial bleeding. Histopathological findings included lymphoplasmacytic dermatitis, proliferating spindle cells of either myofibroblast or smooth muscle origin, and deep dermal arteries and arterioles subjacent to the ulcer. The lesion responded to steroidal treatment.
Lymphocytic Leukemia: A 7-year-old male Giant Schnauzer had a history of severe vomiting, lethargy, weight loss, polydipsia and polyuria. Diagnostics revealed leucocytosis with a marked lymphocytosis, mild non-regenerative anaemia, thrombocytopenia, hypercalcemia and azotemia. Circulating lymphocytes were small and well-differentiated, and the same lymphoid population was present in bone marrow. Chronic lymphocyctic leukemia with associated paraneoplastic hypercalcemia was diagnosed.
Central Diabetes Insipidus: A 9-year-old male giant Schnauzer with polyuria and polydipsia was diagnosed with central diabetes insipidus by vasopressin measurements during hypertonic stimulation. A large pituitary tumor, was visualized by CT scan, and identified as a melanotrophic tumor of the pars intermedia.
Tests of Genotype: Direct test for Cobalamin Malabsorption is available from PennGen. Direct test for HUU is available from the UC-Davis VGL and the Animal Health Trust.
Tests of Phenotype: CHIC Certification: Required testing includes CERF eye examination, thyroid profile including autoantibodies, and hip radiograph. Recommend elbow radiographs, patella evaluation, and cardiac evaluation.
- Breed name synonyms: Rieseinschnauzer, MР¬nchener (historical), Munich Schnauzer (historical), Russian Bear Schnauzer (historical).
- Registries: AKC, UKC, CKC, KCGB (Kennel Club of Great Britain), ANKC (Australian National Kennel Club), NKC (National Kennel Club).
- AKC rank (year 2008): 87 (751 dogs registered)
- Internet resources: The Giant Schnauzer Club of America: www.giantschnauzerclubofamerica.com
Giant Schnauzer Club (UK): www.giantschnauzerclub.co.uk
Giant Schnauzer Club Canada: www.giantschnauzercanada.com
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