The Breed History
In artwork of the 15th century, a dog with features consistent with the Miniature Schnauzer is pictured. By 1900, the breed was well established and was being shown. The origin of this dog is thought to be a mixture of Standard Schnauzer, with perhaps Poodle, Miniature pinscher, and Affenpinscher. They were brought to America around the year 1925. The name derives from the German word for nose (schnauzer). The AKC recognized this breed in 1933.
Breeding for Function
These dogs were widely used on the farm to control vermin such as rats, but the temperament of this breed varies from the classic terrier. Currently, they serve primarily as companion animals. Physical Characteristics
Height at Withers: 12-14" (30.5-35.5 cm).
Weight: 14-16 lb (6.5-7.5 kg).
Coat: The double wiry, thick coat is commonly seen in salt and pepper (black and white intermixed in bands on some hairs to produce a grey appearance). Silver and black, and solid black are also seen. A small white patch is sometimes found on the black-coated dogs. Coat color may fade with age. The undercoat varies widely in color and can be beige, black, or gray.
Longevity: 14 years
Points of Conformation: This alert expressive terrier-type dog is similar in appearance to the Standard Schnauzer. Miniature Schnauzers are stocky in build, and the head is rectangular, and the flat forehead is free of wrinkles. The stop is slight, and oval ears are small, triangular, high-set, and lie close to the head. Some ears are cropped to have pointed tips, and to rest pricked up; if not cropped they fold forward. The eyes, overlain with bushy brows are dark brown, deep-set and small. Body skin is pigmented. Whiskers on the chin are left long to accentuate the face. The black nose is prominent with wide nostrils. The neck is well muscled and arched, and no throatiness is evident. The topline is straight but descends slightly as it goes toward the rear, the thorax is deep and ribs well sprung. No tuck up of abdomen is evident. The tail is carried up, and often docked short. Limbs are straight boned and feet are round, with well-arched toes and possessing thick, black pads. The gait is quick and agile.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed characteristics include: Grooming requirements are moderate, and they are low shedding dogs, though the coat must be stripped at least every 6 months; ideally they should not be clipped to maintain the outer coat. Daily grooming, with emphasis on limbs and whiskers should be done. Whiskers need a wash clean after meals. The Miniature Schnauzer dogs are obedient and friendly and like close human companionship. They are of high intelligence, possess high trainability, are active, affectionate, and are good with children. They do well in both city and country, and do well with other dogs; considered less scrappy than the other terriers. They possess a well-developed guarding instinct. Easy to train, but like to alarm bark; some lines have nervous temperaments. When off leash, should be in a fenced enclosure.
Normal Physiologic Variations
Idiopathic Hyperlipoproteinemia: Miniature Schnauzers have a non-pathological condition of hypertriglyceridemia, characterized by increased very low density lipoproteins with or without accompanying chylomicronemia. Both the prevalence and severity of hypertriglyceridemia increase with age. Dogs with high serum triglyceride concentrations can also have associated high serum alkaline phosphatase (AlkP) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT)levels.
Hereditary Stomatocytosis (HSt): Miniature Schnauzers can have an autosomal recessive HSt, characterized by a normal hematocrit with macrocytic and hypochromic erythrocytes. The cause is erythrocyte overhydration due to a defect in cation exchange.
Miniature Schnauzers are overrepresented for adverse reactions to potentiated sulfonamides. Clinical signs included hypersensitivity, thrombocytopenia and hepatopathy, and infrequently can include neutropenia, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, hemolytic anemia, arthropathy, uveitis, skin and mucocutaneous lesions, proteinuria, facial palsy, suspected meningitis, hypothyroidism, pancreatitis, facial edema, and pneumonitis.
Inherited and Congenital Diseases Myotonia Congenita: Autosomal recessive disorder causing hypertrophic skeletal muscles, difficulty in rising after a period of rest, a stiff and stilted gait when walking, and a bunnyhop-type movement when running. In addition, there are increased respiratory sounds, difficulty when swallowing, ptyalism, dental abnormalities, and superior prognathism. Worldwide genetic testing in the breed shows 20.4% carriers and 1.1% affected. A genetic test is available.
Hip Dysplasia and Legg-Calve Perthes Disease: Polygenically inherited traits causing degenerative hip joint disease and arthritis. Too few Miniature Schnauzers have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. Too few Miniature Schnauzers have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.
Type-A Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)/Photoreceptor Dysplasia (PD): Partially dominant form of PRA identified in Miniature Schnauzers causing progressive blindness with age of onset around three years of age. Dogs homozygous for the mutated gene are always affected. Heterozygous dogs can be clinically normal or affected. A genetic test for Type-A PRA is available. There are other forms of PRA in the breed that are not caused by Type-A PRA, and that do not have a genetic test. CERF does not recommend breeding any Miniature Schnauzer with PRA.
Retinal Dysplasia: Autosomal recessive congenital disorder of the retina causing regional retinal dysplasia and associated retinal detachment leading to blindness. The disorder is also associated with a mild unilateral or bilateral persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous (PHPV). CERF does not recommend breeding any Miniature Schnauzer with retinal dysplasia. There is no genetic test for carriers.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. Too few Miniature Schnauzers have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.
Congenital Cataracts and Microphthalmia: A simple autosomal recessive disorder of congenital cataract and microphthalmia occurs in the breed caused by a mutation in the MISRII receptor gene. The opacity is primarily in the lens nucleus and posterior cortex. There is no test for carriers.
Persistent MР¬llerian Duct Syndrome: Autosomal recessive intersex disorder in the breed caused by a mutation in the MISRII gene. Genetically normal males have a normal male karyotype (78, XY), bilateral testes, and a complete Mullerian duct system (oviducts, uterus, cervix and cranial vagina). A genetic test is available.
Mucopolysaccharidosis VI (MPS VI): PennGen reports MPS VI identified in the Miniature Schnauzer. This is an autosomal recessive disorder causing skeletal deformities, including defects in the sternum, vertebrae and particularly the hip joints. To varying degrees they may also experience corneal cloudiness and facial dysmorphia. A genetic test is available.
Urolithiasis: The breed has a high incidence of bladder stones compared to other breeds. Reported in 5.9% of Miniature Schnauzers examined at veterinary school hospitals. Of bladder stone submissions from Miniature Schnauzers in a Canadian study, 61.2% were Calcium Oxalate, 23.1% were Struvite, and 1.7% were Urate. Mean age of recognition of bladder stones in the breed is 4.9 years. Dorn reports a 7.77x odds ratio versus other breeds.
Cataracts: Anterior or posterior intermediate and punctate cataracts occur in the breed. Unknown mode of inheritance. 4.98% of Miniature Schnauzers presented to veterinary teaching hospitals had cataracts. The breed has a 3.7x odds ratio for developing cataracts versus other breeds mean age of onset of 5.4 years. Identified in 1.54% of Miniature Schnauzers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding any Miniature Schnauzer with a cataract.
Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's disease): Caused by a functional adrenal or pituitary 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. Reported in 4.3% of Miniature Schnauzers examined at veterinary school hospitals.
Diabetes Mellitus: Sugar diabetes. Control with insulin injection, diet, and glucose monitoring. Reported in 4.0% of Miniature Schnauzers examined at veterinary school hospitals. Odds ratios versus other breeds range from 10.01x (Dorn) to 9.87x (Hess). Genetic predisposition is linked to mutations in the CTLA4 promotior. Unknown mode of inheritance.
Chronic Mitral Valve Disease/Mitral Prolapse: Systolic heart murmurs caused by chronic mitral valve disease. Can progress to congestive heart failure. Screen with auscultation. Reported in 3.9% of Miniature Schnauzers examined at veterinary school hospitals. Unknown mode of inheritance.
Pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas causing vomiting and peritonitis. Can be life threatening if severe. Hypertriglyceridemia in the breed is not a risk factor for pancreatitis. Reported in 3.5% of Miniature Schnauzers examined at veterinary school hospitals. Dorn reports a 55.06x odds ratio versus other breeds. Breed prevalence may be related to mutations in the SPINK 1 gene.
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 2.78% of Miniature Schnauzers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Distichiasis: Abnormally placed eyelashes that irritate the cornea and conjunctiva. Can cause secondary corneal ulceration. Identified in 1.93% of Miniature Schnauzers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Schnauzer Comedome Syndrome: The breed is prone to developing follicular dermatitis with comedones (blackheads); hair follicles filled with keratin and sebum.
Sick Sinus Syndrome: Arrhythmia characterized by sinus bradycardia and sinoatrial arrest due to abnormal firing of the sinoatrial node. Clinical signs include lethargy and syncopy. Occurs at an increased frequency in older Miniature Schnauzers. Treatment is with a pacemaker. Reported in 1.9% of Miniature Schnauzers examined at veterinary school hospitals.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. 1.3% positive for thyroid auto-antibodies based on testing at Michigan State University. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%.)
Portosystemic Shunt (PSS, Liver Shunt): Undetermined mode of inheritance. Vessels can be intrahepatic or extrahepatic. Causes stunting, with abnormal behavior and possible seizures. Diagnose with paired fasted and feeding serum bile acid and/or ammonium levels, and abdominal ultrasound. In one study, 23% of Miniature Schnauzers with PSS were not diagnosed until they were over 7 years of age (due to hepatic encephalopathy). Treatment of PSS includes partial ligation and/or medical and dietary control of symptoms. Reported in 1.3% of Miniature Schnauzers examined at veterinary school hospitals with an odds ratio of 19.8x versus other breeds.
Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA): Auto-immune disorder where the body produces antibodies against its own red blood cells. Treat with immunosuppressive drugs. There is generally a female preponderance with this disorder. Occurs with an increased frequency in the breed versus other breeds. Reported in 1.0% of Miniature Schnauzers examined at veterinary school hospitals.
Atherosclerosis: Miniature Schnauzers have a higher prevalence versus other breeds. Most common clinical signs are lethargy, anorexia, weakness, dyspnea, collapse, and vomiting. Hypercholesterolemia, lipidemia, and hypothyroidism were common in affected dogs. Myocardial fibrosis, infarction, and thickened arteries with narrow lumens are found on necropsy.
Pulmonic Valve Stenosis: Miniature Schnauzers are a breed at increased risk (3.5x odds ratio) for this congenital heart anomaly. Clinical signs can include exercise intolerance, stunting, dyspnea, syncope and ascites, leading to heart failure. Screen with auscultation and echocardiography.
Fibrocartilaginous Embolic Myelopathy (FCEM): Acute release of fibrocartilage into the spinal cord. Causes spinal weakness or paralysis. Seen at an increased frequency in Miniature Schnauzers versus other breeds.
Sudden Acute Retinal Degeneration (SARDS): Degenerative retinal disease causing acute blindness. Age of onset from 1.5 to 15 years, with an average of 8.4 years. In one study, 10% of affected dogs were Miniature Schnauzers. Diagnose with ERG.
Neuronal Ceroid-Lipofuscinosis (NCL): Miniature Schnauzers have a fatal form of NCL that causes rapidly progressive blindness and mental deterioration from 2-4 years of age. An autosomal recessive mode of inheritance is suspected. There is no test for carriers.
Juvenile Renal Disease: Disorder of progressive renal failure in young Miniature Schnauzers. Affected dogs are polyuric and polydipsic, uremic, and anemic. Unknown mode of inheritance.
Achalasia, Megaesophagus: A neonatal condition of esophageal dysfunction is identified in the breed. Clinical signs are regurgitation, poor weight gain, and secondary aspiration pneumonia. The condition spontaneously resolves by 4-6 months in most affected dogs. Breeding studies suggest a polygenic mode of inheritance.
Superficial Suppurative Necrolytic Dermatitis (SSND): Rare, cutaneous and systemic reaction consisting of erythematous papules and plaques that progress to necrosis and ulcers. Systemic signs consist of fever, depression and leucocytosis. Most cases of SSND improve in 1 to 2 weeks with symptomatic treatment, but some cases may culminate with death. Thought to be caused by a severe contact dermatitis to elements in shampoo.
Aquired Aurotrichia, Allergic Inhalant Dermatitis, Anterior Crossbite, Base narrow Canines, Brachygnathism, Cleft Lip/ Palate, Cryptorchidism, Cutaneous Asthenia, Deafness, Factor VII Deficiency, Fanconi Syndrome, Glaucoma, IgA Deficiency, Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca, Muscular Dystrophy, OCD Stifle, Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, Prognathism, Seasonal Flank Alopecia, von Willebrand's Disease, and Wry Mouth are reported.
Isolated Case Studies
Mycobacterium Avium Infection (Tuberculosis): Several Miniature Schnauzers worldwide have been diagnosed with M. Avium TB. The primary clinical sign is lymph node enlargement. All affected dogs die of the infection. A genetic predisposition/immune defect is suggested.
Intraocular Xanthogranuloma (Foam Cell Tumor): Three Miniature Schnauzers whose eyes were enucleated secondary to diabetes mellitus, chronic bilateral uveitis, and glaucoma were diagnosed with this solid intraocular mass of foam cells and birefringent crystals.
Cerebellar Abiotrophy: Rapidly progressive signs of cerebellar ataxia began at three months of age. The puppy was euthanized at six weeks. Diagnosis was confirmed with pathology.51 Cerebellar Vermis Hypoplasia: A 3 month old male Miniature Schnauzer with non-progressive ataxia, dysmetria, intention tremors, and loss of balance was found to have cerebellar vermis hypoplasia.
Microglossia: Three of five two-day-old Miniature Schnauzer puppies were diagnosed as having "bird-tongue", a microglossia that prevents normal nursing. A multi-system defect was suspected, though no primary neuromuscular abnormality could be determined.
Sperm Knobbed Acrosome Defect (KAD): Four closely related Miniature Schnauzer dogs had between 8 and 44% sperm with KAD. No reduction in fertility was found.
Demyelinating Polyneuropathy: A kindred of Miniature Schnauzers was identified with a demyelinating polyneuropathy characterized by varying degrees of megaesophagus, laryngeal paralysis, and/or mild proprioceptive defecits. Pathology includes demyelination with focally folded myelin sheaths. Most affected dogs stabilized if aspiration pneumonia was controlled. An autosomal recessive mode of inheritance was suspected.
Tests of Genotype: Direct test for PRA-Type A is available from Optigen.
Direct test for Myotonia Congenita is available from PennGen and HealthGene.
Direct test for Persistent Mullerian Duct Syndrome is available from the Meyers-Wallen lab: 607-256-5683, [email protected]
Direct test for MPS is available from PennGen.
Direct test for black color and mask is available from HealthGene and VetGen.
Tests of Phenotype: CHIC Certification: CERF eye examination, and cardiac evaluation. Optional testing includes the genetic test for myotonia congenita. (See CHIC website; caninehealthinfo.org). Recommend patella evaluation, hip and elbow radiographs, and thyroid profile including autoantibodies.
- Breed name synonyms: Zwergschauzer.
- Registries: AKC, UKC, CKC, KCGB (Kennel Club of Great Britain), ANKC (Australian National Kennel Club), NKC (National Kennel Club).
- AKC rank (year 2008): 11 (17,040 dogs registered)
- Internet resources: The American Miniature Schnauzer Club Inc.: amsc.us
Miniature Schnauzer Club of Canada: mscc.ca
The Miniature Schnauzer Club (UK): the-miniature-schnauzer-club.co.uk
Schnauzer Club of Great Britain: schnauzerclub.co.uk
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