How to Train a Standard Schnauzer

The bold, bewhiskered Standard Schnauzer is a high-spirited farm dog from Germany. They are the sometimes-willful but ever reliable medium-sized members of the Schnauzer family of breeds. The Standard’s sporty look is a canine classic. A medium-size dog weighing between 35 and 45 pounds, the Standard Schnauzer is truly the standard Schnauzer: larger than Miniatures, smaller than Giants. Schnauzers of all three sizes share several breed hallmarks: a wiry, tight-fitting coat of pure black or ‘pepper and salt’; a robust, square-built frame; and an elongated head furnished with arched eyebrows and bristly whiskers, framing eyes gleaming with keen intelligence. Standards are sociable companions, alert watchdogs, enthusiastic backyard squirrel chasers, and are good with kids and protective of loved ones. Approached with a firm but gentle hand, Standards train beautifully. Owners must provide outlets for their dog’s upbeat athleticism and highly developed senses.


The Standard is the original Schnauzer, progenitor of the Miniature and the Giant. In Germany, the Standard Schnauzer is known as the Mittelschnauzer (“medium Schnauzer”). During the long centuries before mechanized agriculture, the world’s farmers strove to breed versatile dogs to use as all-purpose helpers. The farmers of different regions found diverse solutions to the same challenge, resulting in such varied breeds as the Kerry Blue Terrier (Ireland), Rat Terrier (United States), and Belgian Tervuren. Germany’s entry in the quest for an ideal farm dog was the breed that would come to be known as the Schnauzer.
A creation of the Middle Ages, the breed came of age in the verdant farm country of Bavaria. Like the world’s other barn-and-stable breeds, multitasking Schnauzers made their bones as ratters, herders, guardians, and hunters. Standards bear a superficial resemblance to several terrier breeds of Britain, but the breed is a product of Continental herders and working dogs.
During the birth of Europe’s organized show scene in the 1870s, the “Wire-haired Pinscher” proved to be a dashing show dog. By the turn of the century, fanciers began exhibiting the breed as the Schnauzer ‘whiskered snout’
Schnauzers were in America since at least 1900, but it took until the ’20s before they clicked with pet owners. In 1933, the Schnauzer’s AKC parent club divided into separate clubs for the Standard and Miniature breeds.


According to the health surveys the Standard Schnauzer Club of America does every five years, SS are a very healthy breed. SS are mostly free of many health concerns that affect other breeds. Breeders are conscientious about testing for health concerns such as hip dysplasia and eye disorders,and registering the results with the OFA at the University of Missouri. The new DNA test for cardiomyopathy (which in SS is a simple recessive) allows breeders to identify carriers and breed them to non-carriers so they can eliminate the expression of the disease in the breed.

Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
  • Hip Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy (Schnauzer) (DCM) – DNA Test


Standard Schnauzers require regular grooming. Washing beards and leg furnishings, dental care, keeping foreign materials from between foot pads, and nail trims are weekly tasks. SS have a double coat; if the harsh, wiry outer coat is clippered instead of hand-stripped, it loses its dirt-, bramble-, and water resistance, which results in more dirt and shedding of hair in the house. Clippering the coat also makes the coat soft, and each clippering lightens the coat color. Once a coat has been hand-stripped, it can be maintained over a long period of time simply by regular brushing and plucking out long hairs.


Standard Schnauzers are an energetic breed. They love to play, both with their people and with other dogs. They insist on being included in family activities and don’t do well left out alone or tied up in the yard. The love long hikes with their people. They’re excellent at performance sports such as agility, barn hunt, herding, and lure coursing. As long as their person enjoys an activity, most SS will participate with enthusiasm.


Early socialization in puppyhood is a must. Standard Schnauzers are extremely intelligent, wily, and crafty. They “get” an idea or an exercise with very few repetitions. A big problem with SS is over-training; after a few repetitions, they get bored and look at the trainer as though the trainer is stupid. Because of their intelligence, they do require training’and if their person doesn’t teach them, they learn on their own, but it may not be what the owner wants the dog to learn.


The Standard Schnauzer should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.


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