Giant Schnauzer

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Giant Schnauzers are loyal, protective and energetic. Here's what makes them unique—besides their iconic beard and eyebrows!

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:
12 to 15 years
Size:

Large

Maintenance Level:

High

Shed Level:

Medium

Temperament:
WatchfulLoyalProtective
Coat Color:
Solid BlackSalt And Pepper

Best For

Giant Schnauzers are best for experienced dog parents committed to providing their pup with constant and consistent training, grooming and exercise, and mid- to large-size homes with a tall, fenced-in yard.

Giant Schnauzer Traits

What makes the Giant Schnauzer a Giant Schnauzer? Let's find out how they stack up.

Giant Schnauzer Temperament

Giant Schnauzers are amiable yet commanding, and make a great guard dog. The Giant Schnauzer size—and big bark to match!—make them intimidating to strangers. But with family? They are wonderfully engaged, friendly dogs who want nothing more than to be with their pet parent. (Yep, that would be you!)

Giant Schnauzer dogs can exhibit a healthy skepticism of newer people. Less prone to biting or aggression, their guard dog instincts and temperament make it very likely that they’ll bark at people and animals they don’t know.

They’re highly intelligent—Giant Schnauzer puppies can be downright mischievous!—and if socialization and exercise needs aren’t met, they’ll make it their job to create a job for themselves that may be difficult to undo—digging holes and destroying furniture or slippers are not unheard of! For this reason, make sure you give them a job to do that you actually approve of, like fetching your slippers or the morning paper.

Giant Schnauzer dogs can be good with older kids once they’re properly trained and socialized, but they don’t make the best of companions for the littles. They can also be trained to live happily with other furry family members, but make sure they’re of the barking variety—best to steer clear of the meowing kind!

How to Care for a Giant Schnauzer

Giant Schnauzers need a higher level of exercise than most dogs. The same goes for mental stimulation, as well as the cost of extensive regular grooming (trimming, baths, teeth cleaning and nail trimming). The most distinctive Giant Schnauzer traits are their beard and brows—which give them a look of nobility—but they’ll both need to be cleaned after every meal to catch drool and debris that naturally accumulate. They’ll repay your attentions with lots of love and protection, though!

Giant Schnauzer Health

The Giant Schnauzer has a lifespan of 12 to 15 years. Health problems are common in pure breeds but with Giant Schnauzers, it’s highly important to find a reliable, ethical and reputable breeder who outlines potential health risks of their lineage and performs multiple health screens. The most common Giant Schnauzer health issues include:

  • Autoimmune Thyroiditis: Giant Schnauzers are prone to hypothyroidism, a condition in which the body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. Signs can include dry skin and coat, hair loss, weight gain or behavioral changes. Treatment is typically replacement hormones given in pill form.
  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: Giant Schnauzer size makes them prone to hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia, both of which often result in arthritis. Early detection enables treatment to minimize pain, and in more serious cases of arthritis, surgery may be an option. Giant Schnauzer weight issues will only worsen hip dysplasia, so be sure to monitor food and keep treats to a minimum.
  • Bloat or GDV: The Giant Schnauzer size and the shape of their chest place them at higher risk for Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus, also known as GDV or Bloat. When a dog bloats, the stomach twists on itself and fills with gas. Left untreated, the condition is quickly fatal, sometimes in as little as 30 minutes. If your dog retches or dry-heaves, acts restless, has an enlarged abdomen or lies in a prayer position (front feet down, rear end up) take your pet to an emergency hospital immediately! You can help protect your pup from GDV by feeding smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day using a slow feeding bowl.
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease: Von Willebrand’s Disease is a blood clotting disorder frequently found in Giant Schnauzers. Ensure that your veterinarian performs diagnostic testing to rule out von Willebrand’s Disease and other similar disorders prior to any surgical procedures for your beloved companion.

Giant Schnauzer History

The Giant Schnauzer dog is the largest of the three Schnauzer breeds (Miniature and Standard being the other two). The Giant Schnauzer breed’s origin dates back to 17th century Germany to the “bear Schnauzer” of Munich, a long shaggy-haired dog related to the Old German shaggy shepherd dog primarily tasked with cattle herding.

The Giant Schnauzer breed is a cross between the “bear Schnauzer” and black Great Dane, which accounts for their shorter hair and larger body, creating an elite working dog who can also serve as a family guard dog.

Similar to the Belgian Bouvier des Flandres, Giant Schnauzers were originally bred to drive cattle from farm to market. The breed gained popularity after World War I and, since then, Giant Schnauzers have been trained to serve as police dogs, military dogs and search and rescue dogs.

The Giant Schnauzer gained American Kennel Club breed recognition in 1930, and the breed is a frequent competitor in the dog sports/competitions circuit. In modern times, the Giant is still bred throughout Europe as a companion and useful working dog rather than as a “fancy” breed.

Are you considering a Giant Schnauzer as a pet? The cost for a Giant Schnauzer puppy ranges from $1,000 to $1,500 for a purebred. For that price, you’re likely to get a pup who’s been screened for health and temperament issues and may come with pedigree papers. To find reputable breeders, visit the American Kennel Club’s website. To adopt a Giant Schnauzer, consider one of these Giant Schnauzer rescues.

FAQs

Do Giant Schnauzers shed?

Giant Schnauzer shedding isn’t a big problem, but they do require consistent and careful maintenance. They’re known for their beard (a look of nobility) which needs to be cleaned often due to drool and debris from meals. The Giant Schnauzer’s double coat and hallmark beards and brows require consistent and careful maintenance with regular haircuts and baths.

How big do Giant Schnauzers get?

Giant Schnauzers are known for their imposing size and can grow to be up to 27 inches tall at the shoulder and nearly 90 pounds.

Are Giant Schnauzers aggressive?

Giant Schnauzers aren’t aggressive when properly trained and socialized. Giant Schnauzers are dogs who enjoy having a purpose or a job to do—they’ll love to grab your slippers or the morning paper—and giving them one allows them to channel their energy to minimize aggression.

Early socialization with humans and other dogs is not only strongly recommended, it’s imperative. Giant Schnauzers instinctively want to protect their family, making proper training essential to ensure protection doesn’t morph into aggressive behavior. The Giant Schnauzer possesses one of the highest “bite forces” recorded in dog breeds: 556 pounds per square inch. With this enormous about of bite force, the breed can easily break any bone in your body.

Are Giant Schnauzers good dogs?

Yes, Giant Schnauzers are good dogs for the right pet parents. Giant Schnauzers are known for their high energy, playful nature, loyalty, friendliness and strength. They make good dogs for active families who enjoy intense activities with a companion at their side.

What are the most popular Giant Schnauzer names?

The noble presence and history of the Giant Schnauzer make a distinctive or timeless name a wise choice. Winston, Bentley or Spencer for males; Lucy, Sophie, Molly or Daisy for females. Or choose to be a little playful and consider Pepper or Coco. Still unsure? Get more dog names here.

What are the most common Giant Schnauzer mixes?

The most common Giant Schnauzer mixes include:

  • Giant Schnauzer-Poodle mix (Giant Schnoodle)
  • Giant Schnauzer-Doberman mix (Giant Dobie Schnauzer)
  • Giant Schnauzer-German Shepherd mix (Schnauzer Sheperd)
  • Giant Schnauzer-Great Dane mix (Giant Schnauzer-Great Dane)
  • Giant Schnauzer-Labrador mix (Giant Schnauzer Lab)
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Top Takeaways

Your Giant Schnauzer requires lots of exercise, attention, patience and devotion, but you’ll be rewarded with exceptional loyalty, companionship and protection in return. Ideal for the experienced pet parent, Giant Schnauzers not only seek a job to do but their care can also be considered a job in itself. Early training and socialization—and commitment to their higher-than-typical exercise and grooming needs—mean a level of dedication best left to experienced dog parents who thrive in high-energy activities.

Expert input provided by veterinarian Katia Correa-Chaves, DVM, founder of Animals First Vet Care in Medford, Mass., and certified dog trainer Ali Smith, owner of www.rebarkable.com.

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