Giant Schnauzer Temperament: Energetic, devoted and protective family dog
Giant Schnauzers are known for their loyal and faithful temperament. They are highly intelligent, alert, and protective, making them even go-to dogs for some police forces. They are also very affectionate with their family and are always eager to please their owners, which makes them a joy to train.
Choosing the right dog breed is an important decision that should be taken seriously. When deciding if a particular breed is right for you, many factors include temperament, history, size, activity level, potential health issues and lifestyle.
Giant Schnauzers need plenty of daily physical and mental stimulation; without it, they may become easily bored and destructive. So are you the right owner to make them thrive and be the best version of themselves? This blog post is here to help!
Giant Schnauzer History
This fuzzy and fun dog was first bred in Germany in the 17th century. They're the largest of the three breeds of Schnauzers, the other being the Miniature Schnauzer and the Standard Schnauzer.
The name comes from the German word for "snout" but also means as much as moustache. The beard is the trademark of the breed, making them easily recognisable.
Giants were also called Munich Schnauzer as the breed first appeared in the Bavarian region in southern Germany.
The Giant Schnauzer is believed to have common direct ancestry with Rottweilers, Dobermann Pinschers and the Black Russian Terrier. Therefore, their heritage is very multicultural but remains closely intertwined with that of Pinschers. They also resemble the Bouvier des Flandres and might have been crossed with this breed and black Great Danes.
Giant Schnauzers have been bred primarily as multipurpose farm dogs to guard property and people. However, their guarding instinct became evident, so people started using them for guarding breweries, factories and stockyards throughout Bavaria. They even earned the nickname "Beer" Schnauzer as they were sometimes tied to beer carts to protect them from thieves.
In the 1800s, they were exhibited as wire-haired Pinschers in Germany, and even the Club was called the "Pinscher-Schnauzer Club". The Schnauzer and Pinscher were only separated in 1879 when a dog named "Schnauzer" won the German International Dog Show.
As with many dog breeds, the origins of the Schnauzer breed are unknown. The first word, "Schnauzer", appeared in 1842 in a book. However, a Schnauzer-looking dog is visible in some of Albrecht Durers' work, a german painter, between 1492 and 1504. This suggests that similar-looking dogs were around at the time.
The Giant Schnauzer wasn't widely known outside Bavaria until the first World War when they became military and messenger dogs. However, their fearless nature was highly valued in those scary times and led to the dog becoming increasingly known outside the borders of Germany.
In modern history, many Giant Schnauzers made it into police forces and protection services. Highly intelligent, loyal and bold made for good traits for a dog working in protection. Their innocent appearance, in particular, makes them highly valued as family protection dogs.
The UK Kennel Club first recognised the breed in 1930. The American Kennel Club followed in 1960. Interestingly, the AKC classifies the Giant as a Terrier, while they're seen as working dogs in European countries.
The average litter size of Giant puppies will be around eight puppies.
Giant Schnauzer registration UK 2023
Giant Schnauzers aren't common in the UK, so if you want to own one, be prepared for a long waitlist. The UK Kennel Club recognises two breed standard colours.
Pepper & White
In Q3 2022, 33 Giant Schnauzer puppies were registered with the UK Kennel Club, which is less than last year at the same time. The below table shows the registrations since 2021. In 2022, 171 Giant Schnauzer puppies were registered with the UK Kennel Club, less than in 2021 and a 24% decrease.
Source: UK Kennel Club https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/media/2408/quarterly-breed-stats-working.pdf updated March 2023
Now that we have a rough idea about their breeding history let's dive into how your life with a Giant Schnauzer might look.
What is the Temperament of the Giant Schnauzer?
The highly energetic Giant Schnauzer stores much energy and good humour in its large body. In addition, they generally have a very people-orientated temperament, making them perfect family dogs.
Their temperament can also vary depending on the level of socialisation you allow and how much training they receive. Each puppy will have its temperament traits.
Giant Schnauzers adore being part of and in the middle of every family activity. Their playful yet obedient and protective side makes them a valuable asset to any person. Activities and new environments will additionally help socialise your dog.
Despite their high energy, Giant Schnauzers have an off-switch and can be lazy at home if they have burned off all their excess energy. The German Shepherd is constantly looking for a job, making them more dependable on human interchanges and interventions.
Giant Schnauzers have an eager play and prey drive. Therefore, they demand exercise as a right and additional mental stimulus. Re-direct all their energy toward brain games and physical stimulation, and you will have a well-behaved best friend for life.
Fail to provide these necessities, and your Giant will assume leadership of the house, bark noisily and potentially start chewing your furniture into pieces. This is not a dog for the faint-hearted dog enthusiast. They will require time and attention and shouldn't be left to their own devices.
Giant Schnauzers are incredibly trainable. In general, positive reinforcement methods work best with this breed. Constant praise and treats will make your dog a joy to train. Additionally, it helps that the Giant Schnauzer's intelligence ranks above average, and they need fewer repetitions to learn a task than other lower-ranked dog breeds.
If you're part of an active family and nature lover, the Giant Schnauzer is an excellent dog for you. They love exploring and are always up for any outdoor activities. An avid jogger, this dog is the perfect choice for a sports and nature-loving person. Always rest assured this dog will have more stamina than you.
Giants are very alert to environmental changes and can be naturally suspicious of strangers. Socialisation is crucial with this breed as they can be territorial. In general, they get on well with other dogs. However, as a dog owner, you'd need to expose them to different situations so they can expand their horizon and adapt their behaviour accordingly.
Puppy classes and visits to shopping centres and markets will all contribute to ensuring your Giant Schnauzer puppy grows into a confident and well-balanced adult to keep its protective enthusiasm under control.
Giant Schnauzers are not suitable for apartment living. They require a small house with a yard to eliminate all the pent-up energy.
Living with children and a well-trained dog will not be a problem with this breed. Ensure you have exposed your dog to younger children and older adults so they understand its size and strengths. The puppy stage may be difficult with younger children, as it's when the Giant Schnauzers learn about their capability. Never leave your dog unattended with children; always teach your children how to approach dogs respectfully.
Nothing escapes their hearing making the Giant Schnauzer an ideal watchdog. They know who to watch out for and will do this quite naturally. Ensure to teach the "Quiet" demand early, so the barking doesn't get excessive.
Let's now look at some common Giant Schnauzer questions.
Are Giant Schnauzers good guard dogs?
Looks can be deceiving. Despite their teddybear-like appearance, the Giant Schnauzer can be professionally trained as an exceptional guard dog. They have strong guarding instincts, and their loyalty is outstanding. Therefore, the Giant Schnauzer is an excellent guard dog and doesn't necessarily require training to portray basic guarding abilities. However, there are some hardcore trained Giant Schnauzers out there.
A well-trained protection dog will set you back at around £25,000 to £60,000. The training companies distinguish between show line dogs and working dogs. A working line Giant Schnauzer is en par on trainability with a German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois—a great choice if smaller children are scared of fierce-looking dogs.
Are Giant Schnauzer hypoallergenic?
Yes. Due to their wiry coat, Giant Schnauzers are considered hypoallergenic as they don't shed. That said, no dog is completely hypoallergenic as they will shed dander or saliva to some extent from their skin.
A dog might not be a good choice for people with severe allergies. To minimise allergic reactions, hoover regularly, clean the dog bed at least once a week, create doggy-free zones, and reduce soft furnishings like carpets that can trap dead skin cells. Also, don't let the dog sleep in your bed.
The dense and coarse coat of the Giant Schnauzer should be brushed regularly with a slicker brush which helps remove dead hair and keeps it free from knots and matting. If you plan to keep your dog as a family dog and not show it, it's probably easier to clip the coat by a groomer every 7-10 weeks—a show Giant Schnauzer would need to be hand-stripped.
Can I have a Giant Schnauzer without a beard?
Undoubtfully, the majestic moustache of the Giant Schnauzer can be hard to keep tidy and maintain. The beard can become matted and knotted if it isn't brushed regularly. Many are asking if there are Schnauzers without a moustache. There aren't, although the moustache can vary in length. As we elaborated in the history of the Schnauzer, the moustache is an essential part of their Schnauzerhood. They can be shorter or longer, fuzzy or silky.
You can, however, trim their moustache. Of course, your dog will look less like a Schnauzer, but it will help you to keep your dog tidy and helps to keep them clear of knots. The beard will grow back within 5 to 24 weeks, depending on how much you trim.
Remember that a halter harness can damage the beard, causing hair to fall out or break. Avoid a halter harness if possible and use instead a front clip harness to lead train your dog.
Giant Schnauzer Temperament in a nutshell
People-orientated, loyal and enthusiastic temperament towards their family
Has a love for everything that requires athletism and keeping their canine brain busy
Advanced knowledge of positive reinforcement training is required to keep your Giant Schnauzer on their paws
Very good watchdog and guard dog with a keen hearing
Not a good choice for low-energy people as daily exercise is crucial
Giant Schnauzer fun fact
Most of the Giant Schnauzers are black. A Pepper and Salt Giant Schnauzer is rare. It is believed that the first Giant Schnauzers might have been bred with black Great Danes, making the black colour gene dominant. However, pepper & Salt breeders are rare and many European breeders do not allow to mate the dog with a black counterpart to keep the colour gene clean.
Potential health issues in the Giant Schnauzer breed
The Giant Schnauzer has a long life span for such a big dog ranging from 12 to 15 years. They're generally a healthy breed but have some health issues they can be prone to.
However, budgeting for potential vet bills and the time required to care for your Giant Schnauzer is a good idea. Suppose they develop a particular condition. As a new owner, you should be equipped to pay medical expenses associated with the breed. Thus, always opt for comprehensive insurance. Medications are based on body weight; hence, treating a Giant Schnauzer can be expensive.
As with any breed, a dog can have inherited conditions or conditions due to environmental factors.
Not all Giant Schnauzers will experience the below non-hereditary diseases. However, it's essential to be aware of them to spot problems early on so you can follow up with immediate treatment.
The below list does not replace a vet visit. Always look for a vet if your dog displays symptoms; internet research never replaces a vet visit.
The below health conditions are more closely linked to the Giant Schnauzer breed.
PRA (Progressive Retinal atrophy): An inherited disease that can cause blindness. There is no cure, but dogs can adapt quite well to it. There is a DNA test to test if your dog is a carrier.
Hip- and Elbow Dysplasia: A reputable breeder can lower the risk of hip dysplasia and should provide certificates to prove the hip and elbow scores. Hip dysplasia develops in the hip joint, leading to stiffness and arthritis. Therefore, the KC makes this test mandatory for registered litters.
Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus Syndrome or simply bloat: Needs to be treated immediately as it can be deadly to your Giant Schnauzer. When it comes to Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus Syndrome or simply bloat, many deep-chested breeds are susceptible. It is recommended not to exercise Giant Schnauzers 1 hour before they eat and at least 1 hour afterwards. Please consult your vet for more details and tips.
Hyperthyroidism: When the body doesn't make enough thyroid hormones which can cause skin issues, hair loss and weight gain. We recommend a yearly thyroid panel test.
PRA (Progressive Retinal atrophy): An inherited disease than can cause blindness. A reputable breeder would have tested for this condition with a DNA test.
Von Willebrand's Disease: Inherited bleeding disorder causing blood clotting problems. A genetic test before breeding is recommended.
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM): This heart disorder causes heart enlargement and inefficient blood pumping. Decreased heart function can harm the lungs, liver and other body systems. This condition can be tested with a DNA test, and reputable breeders are testing before breeding.
Owners' voices about their Giant Schnauzer
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Conclusion: Is the Giant Schnauzer the right breed for me?
No matter what breed you're looking for and what abilities you want your future dog to portray, this decision should never be made lightly. A Giant Schnauzer is not the right breed for home-loving people or couch potatoes. If you enjoy your Saturday afternoon on the couch watching Netflix versus going for a walk in the countryside, we recommend looking for a lower-energy dog.
Giant Schnauzers are energetic, exuberant, and athletic and thrive in agility and obedience competitions. Anything less will not match their energy requirements. In addition, their positive attitude to life and enthusiasm for anything new will suit an adventurous family who loves the outdoors and visiting new environments.
Once socialised, the Giant Schnauzer will make for a bright student and will be a joy to train. However, training this dog requires a similar outgoing, adventurous, loving owner who can also portray a firm hand and strong canine leadership skills. Additionally, due to their territorial nature and instincts, a knowledgeable owner or someone willing to go through canine leadership classrooms themselves is recommended.
If you portray the willingness to learn and feel you can match the energy level of the Giant Schnauzer, you will get an extremely loyal, enthusiastic and protective best friend.
Giant Schnauzer Summary Breed Info box
Tendency to drool
Tendency to bark
Tendency to dig