The Breed History
This breed is the original Schnauzer dog from which the Giant and Miniature were developed. The records of origin trace back to Germany in the year 1500, though they are depicted in artwork around the mid 1400s. Bavaria and Wurtemmburg are regions that provide earliest records of the breed type. The genealogy of the breed is thought to include Dog de Bologne, Wirehaired Pincher, black German Poodle, and gray Wolf Spitz. The first breed standard was published in 1880. AKC recognition occurred in 1904.
Breeding for Function
Vermin control and guard dog were the original functions that this breed was developed for. A fearless temperament was valued highly. Because of their obedience and tenacity, they were widely used in war for dispatch and aides, as well as for police work. Versatile, they have even been used for water retrieving work and sheep herding.
Height at Withers: female 17.5-18.5" (44.5-47 cm), male 18.5-19.5" (47-49.5 cm).
Weight: males 40-45 lb (18-20.5 kg), females 35-40 lb (16-18 kg).
Coat: They possess a double coat consisting of a soft undercoat and outer hairs that are stiff, wiry and tight. The coat is ideally maintained by stripping not clipping. Salt and pepper is most common (mixture of hairs with bands of white and black mixed with black hairs and white hairs) but solid black is also sometimes seen.
Longevity: 12-14 years
Points of Conformation: Bushy bristling brows, substantial beard, wiry coat, a compact, square conformation, and abundant whiskers characterize the Standard Schnauzer. Heavy muscling and bone, and alert, high head carriage is also characteristic. The head is rectangular in shape. There is a flat moderately broad skull, and a slight stop. The eyes are medium in size, oval, and dark brown in color. Medium-sized ears are triangular, high set and the leather is moderate. Sometimes the ears are cropped. The nose is black and large. The neck is of moderate length and arched, and no throatiness should be evident. The topline is straight, descending very slightly towards the rear. The thorax is medium in depth, and ribs are well sprung. Moderate abdominal tuck up is present and the tail is short, usually docked to 1-2" (2.5-5 cm) length. Limbs are straight boned, moderately muscled, and forelimb dewclaws may be removed. Feet are small, and toes are well arched, with thick pads and black nails. Rear dewclaws are generally taken off. The gait is quick, smooth and true.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed characteristics include: High intelligence, a good guard dog, devoted, reliable, sociable, good trainability, excellent endurance. High grooming needs, including at least a twice yearly stripping and daily grooming of whiskers and legs is necessary. The stripped coat is low shedding. Good for city or country settings, and generally good with children. Spirited temperament may result in an effort to dominate the household. Active dogs, they are in need of moderate exercise. These dogs do not do well in kennel situations; needing mental stimulation to prevent boredom. They have a moderate barking tendency. Early socialization and obedience training is important.
Normal Physiologic Variations
Hip Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing degenerative joint disease and hip arthritis. OFA reports 8.6% affected.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. OFA reports 6.1% 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 Standard Schnauzers have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. 7.0% positive for thyroid autoantibodies based on testing at Michigan State University. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%).
Pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas causing vomiting. In extreme cases, can cause peritonitis and require hospitalization. Dorn reports a 55.06x odds ratio versus other breeds.
Diabetes Mellitus: Sugar diabetes. Treat with insulin injections, diet, and glucose monitoring. Dorn reports a 10.01x odds ratio versus other breeds.
Calcium Oxalate Urolithiasis: The Standard Schnauzer is a breed with a predisposition to develop calcium oxalate bladder stones, with an 18.06x odds ratio versus other breeds. Dorn reports a 55.06x odds ratio for bladder stones versus other breeds.
Cataracts: Posterior polar and cortex cataracts predominate in the breed. Reported in 4.73% of Standard Schnauzers presented to veterinary teaching hospitals. Identified in 1.53% of Standard Schnauzers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding any Standard Schnauzer with a cataract.
Hyperadrenocorticism: Hyperfunction of the adrenal gland caused by a pituitary or adrenal tumor. Clinical signs may include increased thirst and urination, symmetrical truncal alopecia, and abdominal distention. Dorn reports a 3.77x odds ratio versus other breeds.
Distichiasis: Abnormally placed eyelashes that irritate the cornea and conjunctiva. Can cause secondary corneal ulceration. Identified in 1.65% of Standard Schnauzers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Retinal Dysplasia: Focal retinal dysplasia and retinal folds are recognized in the breed. Severe cases can progress to retinal detachment and blindness. Reported in 1.27% of Standard Schnauzers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Corneal Dystrophy: Epithelial/stromal form of corneal opacities. Identified in 1.02% of Standard Schnauzers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Portosystemic shunt (PSS, liver shunt): Congenital abnormal blood vessel connecting the portal and systemic circulation. Can be intrahepatic, extrahepatic, or microvascular dysplasia. Causes stunting, abnormal behavior, possible seizures, and secondary ammonium urate urinary calculi in the breed. Treatment of PSS includes partial ligation and/or medical and dietary control of symptoms. Tobias reports a 16.1x odds ratio versus other breeds.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): Inherited retinal degeneration resulting in blindness. Assumed autosomal recessive inheritance. CERF does not recommend breeding any Standard Schnauzers with PRA.
Stomatocytosis: Occurs in Standard Schnauzers causing stomatocytes in blood, increased osmotic fragility, and possibly hemolytic anemia. Circulating stomatocytes, macrocytosis, anisocytosis, increased erythrocyte fragility and high intracellular sodium and potassium concentrations are found, although stomatin levels are normal.
Liver Cancer, Epilepsy, and Dilated Cardiomyopathy are identified at an increased frequency in the Standard Schnauzer Club of America Health Survey of 2008.
Anterior Crossbite, Base Narrow Canines, Persistent Primary Vitreous, Prognathism, Pulmonic Stenosis, and Wry Mouth are reported.
Isolated Case Studies
Orbital Adenoma: A case of adenoma involving the orbit in a 13-year-old, female, standard Schnauzer is reported. Excision was curative.
Corticotrophic Tumor and Phaeochromocytoma: A 10 year old spayed female Standard schnauzer was treated for pituitary dependent hyperadrenocorticism by bilateral adrenalectomy. She was euthanized 3-1/2 years later due to neurological signs from a pituitary tumor, and was diagnosed with both a corticotrophic tumor and a phaeochromocytoma on necropsy.
Microgliomatosis: A 7-year-old male Standard Schnauzer presented with neurological signs, and deteriorated over an 8 week period. Necropsy of the brain revealed microgliomatosis.
Tests of Genotype: None.
Tests of Phenotype: CHIC Certification: Required testing includes hip radiographs, CERF eye examination (at 2 years of age, and then every other year until age 7), and one of the following: Cardiac evaluation by a cardiologist, thyroid profile including autoantibodies (every other year until age 7), or a blood sample in the CHIC DNA repository. (See CHIC website; www.caninehealthinfo.org). Recommend elbow radiographs and patella evaluation.
- Breed name synonyms: Mittelschnauzer, nicknamed "the dog with the human brain", Wire-haired Pinscher (historical).
- Registries: AKC, UKC, CKC, ANKC (Australian National Kennel Club), NKC (National Kennel Club).
- AKC rank (year 2008): 99 (552 dogs registered)
- Internet resources: The Standard Schnauzer Club of America: www.standardschnauzer.org
Standard Schnauzer Club of Canada: http://standardschnauzerclub.com
The Schnauzer Club of Great Britain: www.schnauzerclub.co.uk
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