The Giant Schnauzer

descriptive textDog breed info
Giant Schnauzer
Weight: 65 — 90 lbs
Height: 24” — 27”
AKC Rank 2008 #85
Lifespan: 10—12 yrs
Group: Working
Origin: Germany

Dog Breed Info - The Giant Schnauzer

The Giant Schnauzer and a German Shepherd
out for a sunny Sunday stroll in the open fields.">

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Breed Overview

Origin: Middle ages. Original function, Cattle herding & guardian. Today, Security, police. This is an excellent, very protective family dog.

The Giant Schnauzer originated in the countryside of Bavaria. A Rough-Coated Sheep Dog, Great Dane, and probably the Bouvier des Flandres were crossed as well as possibly other dog breeds. The result was a dog capable of handling cattle, then known as the Munchener. “Schnauze” is the German word for nose or “muzzle.” Some of these dogs were trained for police work but they mostly served as guard dogs.. The Giant Schnauzer excelled at this but have not been well accepted outside of Germany. The breed is a little more popular as a pet and companion dog now but has been slow to climb in popularity in the States.


Yes, intelligent and fairly easy to train. The Giant Schnauzer does well with clicker training and positive reinforcement. You'd be amazed at how fast this method works and dogs love it. It's so simple to do. As a big dog with a guard dog nature, she must be properly trained and must be well socialized as a puppy. Check for that if getting one.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Giant Schnauzer puppy? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

Giant Schnauzer puppies are usually easy to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.


The playful, rambunctious German Giant Schnauzer is too boisterous for very small children. Otherwise, she is quite good with kids in her own family. She is bold and protective of her family and reserved with children. She can be aggressive toward other dogs. This intelligent and exuberant breed is a good choice for an active person who wants a partner in adventure and jogging, although at times the Giant may try to be the leader.

If you happen to get a Giant Schnauzer or puppy with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Friendly Toward Other Pets

No. Possibly if she grows up with them from puppyhood.


Friendly Toward Strangers

No. She's wary and a bit aloof. She's a guard dog at heart.


Very playful. This is an excellent family dog.


Not overly affectionate. The Giant Schnauzer is a serious guard dog.

Good with children?

Yes, very tolerant of children and very protective of her own family of kids. She’s a big dog so you have to supervise small children and watch out because this dog can be a bit wild!

Good with Seniors over 65?

No. Needs a lot of exercise and not very affectionate.

Living environment

House with a medium to large size fenced yard for the Giant Schnauzer to chase and fetch balls for exercise.

No apartment, as the dog is likely to encounter other dogs on stairs or an elevator.


Energy level

Moderate. Ranks 6 bars out of 10.

Exercise needs, daily

High. Needs to run or jog with her owner. The Schnauzer needs daily exercise and fun. Long hikes or walks supplemented with vigorous games are suggested to meet her needs.


Excellent. It’s what she does best.

Guard dog

Excellent. It’s in her genes.


No. Schnauzers don't shed.


The coat needs combing or brushing with a stiff bristle brush twice weekly. Also, shaping by a professional groomer 4 times a year to maintain the classic “Schnauzer” look is needed.



Suggested Reading For The Giant Schnauzer

  • 2nd book from left is "World Of Schnauzers" and talks about all 3 sizes of the breed. Excellent book. Scroll down the page a little for an editorial review.

  • 3rd book from left is "101 Dog Tricks" which contains so many things for your Schnauzer to learn his brain will be stimulated for a long time! I love the Schnauzer, have a female of my own, and they are really smart. They enjoy learning new things.

  • The book on the far right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog health, emergencies and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners. (Vol 2, 2008. and comes with a DVD.)

Giant Schnauzer Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Giant Schnauzer puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been VERY well socialized and started in obedience training. It's not often that Schnauzer puppies turn up in dog pounds and shelters but you might check anyway.
Giant Schnauzer Breeders with puppies for sale.

Giant Schnauzer Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of an older dog and are looking for a Giant Schnauzer Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Giant Schnauzer Rescue In the event you do adopt one, try to locate any dog health records and save for possible future reference.
Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site As this is written, Petfinder (above) is showing only 43 available Schnauzers for the USA. This breed is SCARCE! Go online and search for Giant Schnauzer Rescue groups, kennels, dogs and anything else that comes to mind.

Dog Health Issues For The Giant Schnauzer
Below are the dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Giant Schnauzer by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical problems this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain and difficulty walking. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • Atopic dermatitis's—Atopy. Hereditary. Shows at 1 to 3 years age. Skin allergy triggered by dust mites, pollen, poor quality foods and other garbage we put into the dog’s environment. Many breeds like the Giant Schnauzer are prone to this. The dog will lick, rub, chew and scratch the infected areas. Allergens can also come from fleas, bacteria and yeast infections. See your vet. There are many treatments ranging from medicines, antihistamines, diets, bathing, cleansing the house of dust mites and so on.

  • Gastric Torsion—Sometimes called Dog Bloat or “Twisted stomach.” Mainly in larger, deep-cheated dogs. Here's a brief description of the problem:
    Symptoms include excessive drooling, nervous pacing, agitation, weakness, attempt to vomit, bulging stomach area, heavy breathing, retching and gagging, shock or total collapse.

  • Epilepsy - A serious seizure disorder that appears at around 2 to 4 or 5 years of age in the dog.

  • Pancreatitis—A life-threatening disease commonly affecting middle age and older Miniature and Giant Schnauzers, Miniature Poodles and Cocker Spaniels. The pancreas produces enzymes that help process food. With the disease, the pancreas begins digesting it’s own tissue. Vomiting, loss of appetite and abdominal pain follow in most cases. Some dogs will die from lack of response to treatments PREVENT the disease by not allowing the dog to become obese, and not giving high-fast foods to the dog Info thanks to

  • Glaucoma - Eye problems - Painful pressure builds in the eyes and eventually causes total blindness.

  • Cataracts - Hazy or cloudy vision and if not treated will eventually lead to total blindness.

  • Follicular dermatitis—A skin disease that spreads and can cause hair loss. It’s very uncomfortable for the dog but not life-threatening and is treatable with bathing and medication.

  • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the Giant Schnauzer's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the dog’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy—(PRA) An inherited, untreatable disease of the retina affecting both eyes causing blindness. It’s in the genes of the dog and is not painful. Starts with night blindness and progresses as the retina gradually deteriorates.

  • Diabetes—The pancreas manufactures the hormone INSULIN. If the pancreas stops making, or makes less than the normal amount of insulin, or if the tissues in the body become resistant to the insulin, the result is called “diabetes.” The dog can NOT control her blood sugar without injections of insulin on a regular basis, but given the insulin, the Giant Schnauzer can live a normal life like a human can. If the dog does not receive the insulin injections at the same time each day of her life, the dog will go into a coma and she will die. Some causes of diabetes may be chronic pancreatitis, heredity, obesity or old age, but no one is sure. Symptoms are excess drinking and urination, dehydration, weight loss, increased appetite, weight gain, and cataracts may develop suddenly. Treatment is in the form of the insulin injections daily and a strict diet low in carbohydrates and sugars. Home cooking may be suggested in some cases. Frequent trips to the vet for blood monitoring will be needed but diabetes is not a death sentence.

  • Malignant Melanoma—A tumor in the cells that produce pigment, and probably hereditary. The source is commonly the mouth, around the toe nails back of the eyes and skin . The oral cavity is most common. These tumors are most likely to be found in dogs with dark skin. How fast the tumor develops, the probability of metastasis and how quickly it spreads (metastasizes) in the body depends on ‘where the tumor is located. A metastatic melanoma (a tumor that has spread) more often occurs in middle age and older Giant Schnauzers. Symptoms: Seizures and problems breathing as the cancer spreads. The death rate is high, even with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. This is a serious disease.

Other health problems could occur with your Giant Schnauzer. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.

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