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The giant schnauzer is the largest but also the youngest of the three different schnauzer breeds. In 1910, the first giant schnauzers were registered in the stud book of the Pinscher and Schnauzer Club. Number 181 is the breed standard at the FCI in Group 2: Pinscher and Schnauzer, Molossoid, Swiss Mountain Dogs and other breeds, Section 1: Pinscher and Schnauzer, with a working test.

Giant Schnauzer Dog Breed Information

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Size: Males: 69-71 cm, females: 58-69 cm
Weight: 25-36kg
FCI Group: 2: Pinscher and Schnauzer – Molosser – Swiss Mountain Dogs and other breeds
Section: 1: Pinscher and Schnauzer
Country of origin: Germany
Colours: black, salt-pepper
Life expectancy: 8-12 years
Suitable as: service, protection, guide and family dog
Sports: obedience, agility, tracking, mantrailing
Character: Loyal, Dominant, Kind, Strong-willed, Powerful, Intelligent
Leaving requirements: high
Drooling potential: low
Thickness of hair: rather high
Maintenance effort: rather high
Coat structure: wiry, hard and dense
Child friendly: medium
Family dog: yes
Social: medium

Origin and breed history

The exact lineage of the Giant Schnauzer has not been clarified beyond doubt. As with the smaller Pinscher and Schnauzer breeds, it can be assumed that dogs of this type have helped people in many ways for centuries. The smaller ones tend to fight mice and rats in the yard and stables, the larger ones more as guard dogs and drovers. It is believed that dogs very similar to the Giant Schnauzer were brought to southern Germany by Hungarian shepherds, where they soon became very popular with farmers and carters as watchdogs and companions for carriages and carts. The giant schnauzer was also called the “beer schnauzer” because it was used to guard the beer brewery carriages in Bavaria. The stately dog ​​accompanied the carriage with the huge beer barrels and independently and impressively guarded the freight against unauthorized access, even at night. Other names for these big dogs were Russschnauzer, Bärenschnauzer or simply Munich Schnauzer.

Towards the end of the 19th century, dog owners in Germany began selectively breeding the various Pinscher and Schnauzer breeds. In 1895 the breeding club was founded. Since then, a distinction has been made between smooth-haired Pinschers and rough-haired Schnauzers. Finally, in 1910, six males and three females were entered in the stud book as “Munich Schnauzers”, and the targeted breeding of this largest breed of Schnauzer began.

After the stately and self-confident giant schnauzers were increasingly used as service dogs in the army during the First World War, the breed found its way to long-term use in police, protection and rescue operations. It was officially recognized as a service dog in 1925.

Nature and temperament of the Giant Schnauzer

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This imposing dog is very agile, strong and self-confident, at the same time extremely sensitive and devoted to its human pack, which it would defend at any time. His guard and protective instinct should not be underestimated and requires consistent and straightforward training. This must be conveyed to him calmly and with loving patience. He has to know what he is allowed to do and what not. The Giant Schnauzer is very reserved with strangers, but does not become aggressive without reason. He is considered incorruptible and absolutely loyal to his master.

His impetuous urge to move requires a lot of time and energy from his owner, because the Giant Schnauzer likes to use all his body to play or go for a walk. You have to be strong enough to withstand his onslaught. However, if he is sufficiently exercised and utilized, he impresses with his inner calm and balance, which make him a wonderful companion and family dog. However, children should not be too small and should already understand that the dog also needs its rest periods.

Is the Giant Schnauzer a family dog?

If the Giant Schnauzer is brought up well and consistently, then it is a loving and affectionate family dog. But since he can often be very boisterous, small children should not play with him yet.

The appearance of the Giant Schnauzer

According to the Standard, the Giant Schnauzer is a “defying, defensive dog with a formidable appearance”. With a shoulder height of between 60 and 70 centimeters and a weight of almost 50 kilograms, that’s no wonder. The strong, squat, almost square physique, the straight, long legs and the elongated head with the characteristic beard and bushy eyebrows make the large Schnauzer so unmistakable. The high set V-shaped folding ears used to be docked just like the long tail. Fortunately, this bloody practice has been banned in Germany for many years by the Animal Welfare Act. Today the Giant Schnauzer is only seen in its natural state.

In motion you can already see the power of the dog with the elegant, expansive gait, whereby the thrust comes from the far swinging hindquarters. The Giant Schnauzer’s coat is wiry, close-lying, and harsh with a very dense undercoat that needs regular trimming. The two breeds are distinguished by color: black and pepper salt, the latter being a gray in different shades with a gray undercoat and a dark face mask.

Education and keeping of the giant schnauzer – this is important to consider

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In earlier times, farmers, shepherds and carters valued the large Schnauzers for their independence, vigilance and strength, so it is not surprising that these characteristics are still anchored in this breed today. However, this means that the Giant Schnauzer is not a dog for everyone. He needs solid and safe basic training, consistent education with a lot of expertise and further training, for example in the rescue or protection service. Attending a good dog school is particularly recommended for this breed, as the dog comes into contact with different conspecifics at an early age.

This powerful, active and sometimes stubborn dog is unsuitable for beginners in dog ownership, senior citizens or those who do not like exercise. He needs clear announcements to make him a well-behaved and reliable companion. Unnecessary harshness or even violence in training are absolutely counterproductive and lead to counter-reactions or behavioral problems in this very sensitive dog.

Because of its size, the Giant Schnauzer is not a city dog. A house with a large, dog-safe fenced garden, in which he can let off steam freely and exuberantly, is the recommended accommodation for this breed. What is important, however, is the close connection to its people and a quiet dog area where it can withdraw undisturbed. In addition to being able to run around in the garden, the Giant Schnauzer needs a lot of activity in the form of walks, and he also enjoys working on the dog training ground, for example training to be a rescue dog.

Is the giant schnauzer dangerous?

A dog of this size and strength can always be dangerous if not properly trained or misbehaved when encountered. However, a well-behaved Giant Schnauzer will never become aggressive for no reason.

Diet of the Giant Schnauzer

Like all dogs, the Giant Schnauzer needs a high-quality, meat-based food to be healthy. Due to its body size, it is particularly important what food it gets, especially during the growth phase within the first 12-14 months of life. In specialist shops there are special feed mixtures for rearing large dog breeds, the composition of which supports the adapted growth of bones and muscles and thus avoids possible damage to the skeleton.

While puppies and young dogs receive their daily ration divided into several meals a day, two portions are sufficient for adult dogs to minimize the risk of stomach overload and dangerous stomach torsion. In addition to the recommendations of the food manufacturer, the amount of food depends primarily on the individual needs of the respective dog. This depends on age, activity, health and disposition. High-quality ready-made food is available as dry or wet food. If you opt for biologically appropriate raw feeding (= BARF), special attention must be paid to a balanced composition of the individual feed components in order to avoid deficiency symptoms. Fresh, clean drinking water should be made available free of charge for any type of feeding.

Health – life expectancy & common diseases

Despite its stately size, the Giant Schnauzer is largely spared many of the hereditary diseases common to other large breeds. Strict breeding selection of the parent animals by the breeders organized in the breeding association also keep hip dysplasia and various bone diseases in this breed comparatively low. Nevertheless, they occur. So you can assume an average life expectancy of about 12 years for your Schnauzer.

A thorough general examination of the dog by the veterinarian can be carried out regularly on the occasion of the annual vaccination in order to identify possible changes or diseases.

When is the Giant Schnauzer fully grown?

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Large dog breeds like the Giant Schnauzer grow more slowly than small breeds. Thus, he is only physically fully grown at around 12-14 months. Breed owners even say that he doesn’t reach spiritual maturity until around 2 to 2.5 years of age.

Grooming of the Giant Schnauzer

The Giant Schnauzer’s wiry coat is relatively easy to care for, but should be trimmed about 3-4 times a year to remove the loose undercoat. The beard and the lush eyebrows should also be combed through from time to time, for example to remove food residue. If the dog gets used to these care measures as a puppy, it will go through them without complaint and maybe even willingly.

Regular check-ups of the ears, eyes and teeth help to identify and treat problems or changes at an early stage.

Giant Schnauzer Activities and Training

When the large schnauzer was still used as a protector of the herds on the alpine pastures and as a companion for carriages and wagons, the main focus when selecting the breed was to get a self-confident, enduring and powerful dog. The breed has retained these characteristics to this day, and so the Giant Schnauzer still wants to move around a lot and keep his clever head busy.

In addition to the basic training to become a well-behaved companion dog, various dog sports such as agility or obedience are also suitable for the Giant Schnauzer. However, its size and weight must always be taken into account when considering the height of the obstacles to be overcome. This dog is also perfect for accompanying its owner when jogging, on a horse or on a bicycle after it has gotten used to it. Due to its high level of intelligence, it can also be trained very well as a search and rescue dog.

Classic protection dog training should only be carried out with a Giant Schnauzer if it is actually used in protection work. This training is rather unsuitable and not necessary for private owners and their dogs, since the giant schnauzer follows its guard and protective instinct anyway in really dangerous situations and will protect its human pack.

How much does a Giant Schnauzer cost?

A puppy from a reputable and recognized breeder costs about $1200-1500 with papers, depending on the pedigree it can be more.

Good to know: Peculiarities of the Giant Schnauzer

In the 1930s, the giant schnauzer was very popular with private dog owners and was considered the most commonly kept of the three schnauzer breeds. After the Second World War, however, his smaller “brother”, the medium schnauzer, overtook him on the popularity scale.

Disadvantages of the Giant Schnauzer

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The disadvantages of the breed are very close to its great advantages. Because the high level of alertness can quickly take over and develop into a problem in a dog that has not been raised safely and consistently.

Likewise, male Giant Schnauzers tend to behave aggressively towards other male dogs if they are not introduced and socialized with fellow dogs at an early stage and under supervision. Even a moderately pronounced hunting instinct in this breed must be brought under control early and consistently so that the owner can retrieve his dog at any time.

Do schnauzers have a hunting instinct?

In the past, Schnauzers were also used to fight rats and mice, and to defend livestock herds against predators. Therefore, this breed also has a hunting instinct, which can be mastered with patience and consistent training.

Is the Giant Schnauzer right for me?

Before you decide to get a dog as big and powerful as the Giant Schnauzer, you should ask yourself a few basic questions:

Am I suitable as a keeper for this breed and do I have enough experience in dog training?
Do all family members agree to getting the dog?
Do I have enough time and inclination to take the dog for a walk several times a day and to keep it sufficiently occupied in a manner appropriate to its species?
Who takes care of the dog when I can’t?
What happens to the dog on vacation? Not every landlord of a holiday home allows such large dogs.
Can I afford the cost of the dog? Not only the purchase price for the puppy (at least 1200-1500 euros or more) and the initial equipment, but also the running costs for food, veterinarian, dog school, dog tax and liability insurance add up to a handsome sum over the course of his life!

Only when you can answer these questions positively should you look for a good and responsible breeder to buy your dream dog from. Take a good look around him, let him show you the mother dog and see how he takes care of his dogs. A reputable breeder will want answers to many of your questions too, and will only give you his puppy if he is sure that you are the right owner for it. Tips on care and nutrition should be given by the breeder just as naturally as information about health checks on the parent animals before they are used for breeding. Good health of the parent animals is particularly important for Dobermanns, for example to avoid hip dysplasia.

Overall, the Giant Schnauzer is not a lap dog. If you hold him, the dog wants to be occupied and needs a lot of exercise. This dog breed also wants to be challenged mentally, it needs a task. The Giant Schnauzer can be suitable as a family dog ​​because of its gentle nature and friendliness – but only with the right training. Children also have to learn how to deal with the dog. Otherwise, he suits an owner if he acts as a service or rescue dog, for example. The giant schnauzer is only suitable to a limited extent for seniors, as it requires a lot of activity.

It is important that the owner of a Giant Schnauzer has enough space for the dog. He is seldom happy with a city apartment; he needs a house with a large garden.

How old does a Giant Schnauzer get?

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A well-bred Giant Schnauzer that is well-fed and sufficiently exercised has a life expectancy of about 12 years.