The Schnoodle is a hybrid, also known as a cross-breed, mixed breed or just plain mutt. Opening your heart and home to a hybrid dog is like opening a beautifully wrapped package on your birthday: you never know what’s going to be inside. It’s often assumed that a hybrid will combine the best of two or more breeds, but genetics doesn’t always work that way. The way genes combine and express themselves is not always subject to a breeder’s control, even less so when two different breeds are crossed. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering adopting a Schnoodle.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

The Schnoodle, a cross between a Miniature Schnauzer and a Miniature Poodle, is a charmer. At his best, he combines the intelligence of both the Miniature Schnauzer and the Poodle, plus the boldness of the Schnauzer and the friendliness and, yes, sometimes the vanity of the Poodle. He is usually a small dog, with a weight range of 10 to 20 pounds. Do your homework before buying one of these cute little dogs, and you'll be well rewarded with a wonderfully funny dog.

Schnoodles have a moderate activity level that is adaptable to their owner's lifestyle. They need a nice walk or active playtime each day, like any dog, and if you're interested, they are athletic enough to participate in such dog sports as agility, flyball, obedience and rally.

Both of the breeds used to create the Schnoodle are smart and learn quickly. Begin socialization and training early and use positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play and food rewards.

A professional groomer can help you figure out how best to groom your Schnoodle's coat, but frequently he is given what's known as a Schnauzer clip, emphasizing his bushy eyebrows and beard. In general, the Schnoodle needs a professional trim every couple of months. In between trims, it's essential to brush them at least weekly to prevent or remove mats and tangles. If the coat knots up, it will have to be shaved and can take a year or more to grow back fully.

Your Schnoodle doesn't need a bikini wax, but you do need to trim the genital area for cleanliness or have the groomer shave the lower belly area. This prevents urine from staining and stinking up the coat and feces from getting caught in the hair around the anus.

In addition, trim his nails at least monthly --more frequently if necessary --keep his ears clean and dry to prevent ear infections and brush his teeth as often as possible. Small dogs are especially prone to periodontal disease.

Schnoodles are companion dogs. They love their people and need to live in the house, never outdoors.

Schnoodle puppies are adorable, and it's one of the reasons they are so popular. Cute puppies sell, and that makes the Schnoodle a favorite of puppy mills and greedy, irresponsible breeders. But there's no need to pay big bucks for a Schnoodle. You can often find a wonderful example of this hybrid dog at your local shelter or through adoption organizations organizations.

If you do choose to buy one, however, select a breeder who has done the health testing to ensure that her puppies won't carry the genetic diseases common to both Miniature Schnauzers and Poodles. And while there are no guarantees in life, it's also a good way to minimize the possibility of big veterinary bills in the future.

Variations of the Schnoodle

Schnoodles can have different types of fur, ranging from soft and curly like that of the Poodle to wiry and coarse like that of the Miniature Schnauzer. Some Schnoodles have combination coats, with wiry hair on the body and curly hair on the head.

Health Issues Common to Schnoodles

You may have heard that cross breeds and mixed breeds are healthier than purebred dogs because of something called hybrid vigor. There's no scientific proof of hybrid vigor, and it's important to remember that crossing two breeds that share the genes for certain diseases can introduce those diseases to the resulting puppies. Serious breeders of hybrid dogs obtain the same health clearances for their breeding stock as those obtained by breeders of purebred dogs.

All hybrid dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the Schnoodle is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the Schnoodle and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

Schnoodles may develop health conditions common to both Miniature Schnauzers and Poodles, especially if you aren't cautious about whom you buy from. They include hip dysplasia, luxating patellas and eye diseases such as progressive retinal atrophy.

Many toy breeds and small dogs have a condition known as luxating patellas, in which one or both knees are unstable and occasionally slip out of place. Depending on the level of severity (1 being mild and 4 being severe), luxating patellas can be a minor issue that cause the dog little problem or pain or serious enough to require surgical correction.

At a minimum, ask the breeder to show evidence that both of a puppy's parents have patella and hip certifications from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and certification from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation that the eyes are healthy. Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Hip Dysplasia Medium $1,500-$6,000
Luxating Patellas Medium $1,500-$3,000

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Schnoodle Puppy

Finding a good breeder is more important than finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in Schnoodles aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an adult dog, most of them can be ruled out. In addition, Schnoodles can live 15 or more years, so an adult dog will still be a part of your family for a long time to come.

Puppy or adult, take your Schnoodle to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues. Ask specifically about dental care, as most toy breeds suffer from dental problems, as well as tips on dealing with tear staining.

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You're more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to housetrain puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Schnoodles

Pet insurance for Schnoodles costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Schnoodles are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance offers full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Schnoodles are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Schnoodle is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.