Standard Schnauzers

The Standard Schnauzer is the oldest of the three Schnauzer breeds. German farmers and land owners kept him as a ratter, hunting dog and watchdog, and he is still good at all of those jobs today, as well as being an entertaining companion and dignified show dog. He is a medium-size breed, weighing 30 to 50 pounds, and has a hard, wiry coat in salt and pepper or solid black. Here is what you should know if you are considering acquiring a Standard Schnauzer.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

This is a thinking dog. His fanciers like to claim that he has a human brain, and indeed, you can almost see him stroking his beard as the wheels go round in his head, plotting his next move to take over your household and run it in an efficient German manner. The Standard Schnauzer is smart, smart, smart, and you should be too if you want to stay one step ahead of him.

You'll need to give this mischievous, quick and active dog plenty of physical and mental exercise every day, or he will get bored and find his own job to do. Take him on three 20-minute walks at a fast clip or an hour-long hike, or schedule active playtime in a safely enclosed, traffic-free area.

As far as a job goes, daily training practice counts as "work," as does guarding the house, greeting visitors, going with you to bring in the mail, helping you in the get the idea. The Standard Schnauzer is also a whiz at canine sports, including agility, herding, obedience, rally and tracking, and he makes an excellent therapy dog.

A proper Standard Schnauzer has natural guarding instincts, but he needs early, frequent socialization so he can learn how to distinguish between threats and normal situations. Purchase a Standard Schnauzer puppy from a breeder who raises the pups in the home and ensures that they are exposed to many different household sights and sounds, as well as people, before they go off to their new homes.

Continue socializing your Standard Schnauzer throughout his life by taking him to puppy kindergarten class, visits to friends and neighbors, and outings to local shops and businesses. He will welcome people that you invite into the house, but other strangers can expect a cold reception.

On the down side, a Standard Schnauzer can be messy to keep. His beard will drip water after he drinks and will need to be cleaned after meals. His coat must be combed a couple times a week and needs professional grooming or at-home clipping to maintain its distinctive appearance.

Begin training as soon as you bring your Standard Schnauzer puppy home. Use positive reinforcement training techniques such as praise, play and food rewards, combined with a nothing-in-life-is-free program that requires him to "work" for food, treats, toys and playtime by first performing a command such as sit or down. The Standard Schnauzer thinks for himself, but he learns quickly and will respond to kind, firm, consistent training. Don't make him repeat the same action over and over again. He's smart and becomes bored easily, so keep training sessions interesting. He's a bit of a comedian, so expect him to put his own clever spin on anything you ask him to do.

The Standard Schnauzer is best suited to a home with a large yard surrounded by a solid fence that is at least five or six feet high. Do not rely on an underground electronic fence to keep him contained. The shock it provides is nothing to this tough dog, and he won't let it deter him from leaving the yard if that's what he wants to do.

Standard Schnauzers can be a good choice for families with children, but parents should always supervise. Standards can also get along well with other family pets, including cats, but they may be aggressive towards dogs they don't know.

The Standard Schnauzer's coat must be brushed or combed at least a couple of times a week to prevent or remove mats and tangles. To maintain the Standard Schnauzer's distinctive look, you'll need to trim his head and body regularly. You can take him to a professional groomer or learn to do it yourself. Other grooming requirements include cleaning the ears and trimming the nails as needed, brushing his teeth and bathing him when he's dirty.

While you might think of him as an outdoor dog, nothing could be farther from the truth. Standard Schnauzers are guardian dogs, devoted to their people. A Standard Schnauzer should certainly have access to a securely fenced yard, but when the family is home, he should be in the house with them.

Health Issues Common to Standard Schnauzers

All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed 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 breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

That said, Standard Schnauzers are pretty healthy, and breeders are working hard to keep them that way. Ask breeders to show evidence that a puppy's parents have OFA or PennHIP clearances for hips and an eye clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation.

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 Low $1,500-$6,000
Pancreatitis High $2,000-$5,000

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Standard Schnauzer Puppy

A breeder referral list can be found on the website of the Standard Schnauzer Club of America. Choose a breeder who follows the SSCA's Code of Ethics, which prohibits the sale of puppies to pet stores or wholesalers and outlines the responsibilities of member breeders to the dogs they produce and the people who buy them.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health and behavior problems in Standard Schnauzers aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an adult dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Standard Schnauzer can live to be 13 to 16 years old, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.

Puppy or adult, take your Standard Schnauzer 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.

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store or Internet site that offers many breeds and popular mixes, or that ships with no questions asked. If you buy a puppy from these sources, you'll be more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train 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 Standard Schnauzers

Pet insurance for Standard Schnauzers costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Standard Schnauzers are much 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 Standard Schnauzers are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Standard Schnauzer 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.