Another breed with primary roots in Germany is the Miniature Schnauzer, which originated in the latter half of the 1800’s when the Standard Schnauzer was crossed with smaller dogs, including Miniature Poodles and Affenpinschers. The goal in these crossings was to produce a smaller, more manageable sized farm dog that was adept at ratting. Although the first Miniature Schnauzer was recorded in 1888, the breed was not introduced to America until 1924, and not recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1926.
Miniature Schnauzers are spirited, versatile dogs that can take on many roles within the household. Originally used to kill rats on the farmstead, they also proved to be wonderful watch dogs, minus the aggressive tendencies of more commonly used breeds, such as Dobermans. Miniature Schnauzers are friendly and intelligent, easy to train and eager to please. This breed requires vigorous exercise in order to remain a well-behaved member of the household and does well with organized activities such as agility, obedience, fly ball, lure coursing, and tracking. Their high prey drive makes them unsuitable to homes with smaller animals, such as cats or rabbits. They are fairly tolerant of children, especially when properly socialized.
The Miniature Schnauzer is the smallest (and most popular) of the three Schnauzer varieties, weighing 11 – 18 lbs for males and 10 – 15 lbs for females. They are a double-coated breed, with a soft undercoat and a wiry top layer. Three colors are recognized by the American Kennel Club: black, salt and pepper, and black and silver. A fourth color, white, exists as well; however, there is controversy over whether the white gene is contained within the Schnauzer gene pool or if outside DNA was used to create the modifcation. Miniature Schnauzers have high grooming needs, and require regular grooming appointments to keep their fur from developing thick and painful mats and tangles. Depending on the clip, they will also require regular brushing to keep their appearance well-maintained between grooming sessions.
Miniature Schnauzers are prone to a range of unique health problems. In particular, they are often unable to efficiently process fat (called hyperlipidemia), which increases the chances of developing pancreatitis. Diabetes and bladder stones are also common, so it is extremely important that Miniature Schnauzers are fed a high quality diet throughout their lifetime that is low in fat. A healthy weight should also be maintained with regular exercise. As puppies, Miniature Schnauzers should be tested for von Willebrand disease, which is a genetic bleeding disorder that appears disproportionately within the breed. Ear health should be a priority for Miniature Schnauzer owners, with regular ear cleanings and exams. Overall, Miniature Schnauzers have a life expectancy of 12 – 15 years when proper preventative measures are taken.