Like its smaller counterparts the Standard and Miniature Schnauzers, the Giant Schnauzer originates from Germany. The name “Schnauzer” comes from the German word for “snout.” Colloquially, the word in German can also mean “mustache.” This, of course, is in reference to the Schnauzer’s iconic beard.
Giant Schnauzers, also called “Riesenschnauzers” in German, are dogs that like having a job. Not an ideal breed for beginners, these dogs will challenge even the most experienced owners. Even still, adopting a Giant Schnauzer means you will be welcoming an incredibly loyal and diligent dog into your home.
- Of the 3 types of Schnauzer, the Giant Schnauzer is the largest
- Developed and bred in the Bavarian Alps in the 1800s
- A popular military dog during the Second World War
- A breed skilled at nose work
The Giant Schnauzer is the largest of the 3 types of Schnauzer, the others being the Miniature and Standard Schnauzers. Giant Schnauzers were likely bred in the Bavarian Alps, a region of Germany, during the 1800s. Although we know that Giant Schnauzers were bred to be the larger version of the Standard version, we don’t know exactly which breeds Standards were bred with to achieve this.
Most likely, Standards were bred with larger dogs like Great Danes, Boxers, Rottweilers, and Bouvier des Flandres to create the Giant Schnauzer.
These dogs were bred to work on farms in a variety of capacities. Originally, they were used to drive cattle to markets for farmers to sell. Once trains and railroads eliminated the necessity for cattle drives, the Giant Schnauzer became primarily a guard dog. Their resilience and hardworking natures rendered them a popular choice for military dogs in the First and Second World Wars, during which time they began to receive international attention.
Today, Giant Schnauzers are known for their high levels of intelligence and drive, making them fantastic police dogs as well as dogs that thrive when given a job. Herding, search and rescue work, and various dog sports are all examples of the type of tasks Giants excel at.
Appearance and Vital Stats
Despite the name, Giant Schnauzers are not actually a giant breed, like the Great Dane. Rather, the name “Giant” refers to its size in comparison to Standard and Miniature Schnauzers.
Giant Schnauzers are recognizable by their large, muscular bodies, alert and engaged expressions, as well as their thick beards and eyebrows.
Dog Breed Group
Giant Schnauzers are part of the working dog breed group. These are dogs that love having a job and will perform their tasks with enthusiasm and concentration. In general, these are larger dogs that tend to be quite muscular.
Working dogs are known to be extremely watchful, intelligent, and strong. While many dogs in the working dog breed group might be too much of a handful for first-time owners, for experienced owners owning a working dog can be an incredibly rewarding challenge.
Male Giant Schnauzers generally stand between 25.5 to 27.5 inches tall, and females 23.5 to 25.5 inches tall. Males will weigh in between 60 to 85 pounds, and females 55 to 75 pounds. It’s not unheard of for some Giant Schnauzers to weigh up to 95 pounds.
Unlike many large breeds, the Giant Schnauzer has a relatively long life span. You can expect your healthy, well-cared-for Giant Schnauzer to live somewhere between 12 to 15 years.
Coat and Colors
One of the things that make Schnauzers unique is their coats. Giant Schnauzers have a thick, wiry coat made up of an under and an overcoat. This double coat was designed to be weather-resistant, allowing Giant Schnauzers to work even in the harsh weather of the Bavarian Alps.
Giant Schnauzers generally come in two colors. The first is standard black. You’ll also find Giant Schnauzers with a salt and pepper coloration.
Giant Schnauzers shed relatively infrequently, although they do shed. One of the greatest things about Giant Schnauzers is that you don’t have to worry about sweeping your floor too often.
The Giant Schnauzer’s tail is set high on his back and carried erect. Although some owners choose not to, to meet AKC breed standards the tail should be docked. Schnauzers that have had their tails docked should have tails standing between one and a half to three inches long.
A Giant Schnauzer’s ears can be cropped or uncropped. A Giant Schnauzer with uncropped ears will have v-shaped ears that flop over on his head. Cropped ears will stand erect at the top of the dog’s head.
Owning a Giant Schnauzer is not for the faint of heart. Although they are, in general, very calm dogs, they still have big personalities. Giants tend to be distrustful of new people right off the bat, and it can take a while for them to warm up to strangers. Once they do bond, however, their connections with the people they bond with become unbreakable.
Giant Schnauzers are incredibly intelligent dogs, which can make training both easy and difficult. They’ll catch on easily to new concepts, and as very hardworking dogs they love having a task to perform. That said, they also tend to be fairly independent. This means that you’ll need to be consistent and patient with training. It’ll be a challenge getting a Giant Schnauzer to do anything he doesn’t want to do.
Don’t write off the Giant Schnauzer as a killjoy, however! Although it can take some time for them to warm up, they are incredibly affectionate and playful once they do. It might just take some time for them to get there.
Giant Schnauzers are fairly quiet dogs, so having one in an apartment means you won’t have to worry much about barking. However, Giant Schnauzers do require a lot of exercise to keep them from finding their own ways to amuse themselves.
Since they are naturally wary of strangers, they may have a difficult time along with other people living in your buildings. For these reasons, Giant Schnauzers don’t tend to make very good apartment dogs.
Children and Other Pets
Giant Schnauzers tend to be best solo. They can get along with children, but it’s recommended that you don’t have any children under twelve in the house if you are considering getting a Giant Schnauzers. These dogs tend to be pushy and commanding. That, combined with their large size, can make tensions rise among the dog and children.
Even with older kids, you should always make sure to teach your children how to properly approach and interact with a dog. They should know never to pull on the dog’s fur, tail, or ears, and never to approach the dog while eating. This is especially true for a breed like the Giant Schnauzer, which won’t appreciate being poked and prodded.
Giant Schnauzers are best when they live without any other pets. These dignified dogs prefer to be the only receivers of their owners’ attention.
Giants Schnauzers are large, high-energy dogs, and therefore require a lot of food to keep them running. You should feed your Giant Schnauzer 3 3/8 cups to 4 1/4 cups of high-quality dog food every day.
These dogs don’t tend to become obese, but you should stay watch their caloric intake. Separate his food into two meals every day to keep him feeling full.
The Giant Schnauzer’s dense double coat requires regular upkeep and grooming. Three times a week, you should brush your Giant’s hair with a stiff bristle brush to prevent any mats from forming in your dog’s undercoat.
Your Giant Schnauzer will also require either hand stripping or clipping to keep his coat healthy. Hand stripping means removing dead hairs in your dog’s fur by the root and is best performed by a professional groomer. You can use a clipper instead, but be aware their doing this will change the texture of your dog’s coat, turning the wiry hair soft. It will also likely increase your dog’s shedding level.
For hygienic purposes, your Giant Schnauzer’s beard should be cleaned after every meal.
Giants are extremely active dogs and require a lot of exercise. This is not a dog that will be content simply lounging around the house.
Giant Schnauzers will need a couple of long, brisk walks a day. If you can take your Giant Schnauzer for hikes, bike rides, or swimming, then those are other fantastic ways to exercise your dog. You could also consider signing your dog up for dog sports like agility or flyball.
Because of their intelligence, Giant Schnauzers also require that their minds be thoroughly exercised. Playing brain games in the house will keep their mental facilities engaged. Giant Schnauzers are particularly adept at nose work.
In general, Giant Schnauzers are very healthy dogs. However, they can be prone to certain illnesses.
This is a genetic condition generally found in larger dogs, like the Giant Schnauzer. It occurs when the dog’s hip joint doesn’t fit together properly, causing the bones to rub and grind instead of gliding into place.
Dogs with hip dysplasia may limp or favor the affected leg. As the condition progresses, dogs might begin to experience arthritis in the joint.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Giant Schnauzers tend to be prone to eye problems. This includes progressive retinal atrophy or PRA. As the name implies, it occurs when the dog’s retina begins to degenerate, leading to eventual blindness.
Although there is no cure for PRA, most dogs can adjust to blindness and live happy and fulfilling lives.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in Giant Schnauzers, particularly liver cancer. They also tend to be prone to various types of skin cancer, including melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Discolored patches or abnormal growths on your dog’s skin can be signs of skin cancer.
Your vet should regularly check your Giant Schnauzer for signs of cancer.
One of the three varieties of Schnauzer, the Standard Schnauzer is smaller than the Giant Schnauzer but larger than the Miniature Schnauzer. Male Standards will stand between 18.5 to 19.5 inches tall, and females 17.5 to 18.5 inches tall. You’ll find male Standards weighing between 35 to 50 pounds, and females weighing between 30 to 45 pounds.
Standard Schnauzers are less active than Giants, and though will still require regular exercise won’t require as much intense activity as a Giant Schnauzer. Standards also do much better with children than Giant Schnauzers, as they lack the controlling, commanding natures.
The smallest of the three varieties of Schnauzer, Miniature Schnauzers measure 12 to 14 inches tall and weigh 11 to 20 pounds. Like the other two varieties of Schnauzers, the Miniature Schnauzer shares the same wiry coat, beard, and eyebrows as its cousins.
Miniatures require even more regular grooming than Giant Schnauzers. It’s best to bring a Miniature Schnauzer to a professional groomer, rather than trying to do it yourself.
Like Giant Schnauzers, Miniature Schnauzers will do best with older children and will require supervision when interacting with kids of other dogs. Unlike the Giant Schnauzer, however, you’ll find that Miniature Schnauzers are extremely eager to please, which makes training a much simpler process.
Black Russian Terrier
These large, curly-haired dogs stand slightly taller than the Giant Schnauzer. Male Black Russian Terriers generally measure 27 to 30 inches tall, and females 26 to 29 inches tall. These imposing dogs weigh between 80 to 130 pounds.
These dogs have long, curly coats that experience seasonal shedding. This means that a couple of times a year, the Black Russian Terrier will shed excessively and, and you might find yourself sweeping your floors daily. The Black Russian Terrier’s coat also requires a lot of maintenance, and daily brushing will be necessary to prevent matting.
Black Russian Terriers are extremely intelligent and calm dogs. Like the Giant Schnauzer, they were bred as protectors and guardians, and therefore have an instinctive distrust of strangers. Also like the Giant Schnauzer, these are incredibly willful and commanding dogs, that will require a patient and steady hand when it comes to training.