If you're considering adding a miniature schnauzer to your life, consider the pros and cons. The former far outweigh the latter, but there are issues that may make the breed incompatible with your lifestyle or just not the best dog for you.
The Miniature Schnauzer
The miniature schnauzer is a separate breed from the standard or giant schnauzer, although they're all related. The American Kennel Club describes the breed as "friendly, obedient and smart." He's a good watchdog, although he may bark too much. The miniature schnauzer originally was developed to hunt vermin in his native Germany, so he's basically a terrier. Like most small terriers, he thinks he's a much bigger dog, and has no compunction about taking on a canine twice his size.
Miniature schnauzers retain their love of hunting small animals. Channel this instinct by competing your pet in earthdog trials.
The Shadow Knows
The miniature schnauzer has a tendency to become his person's shadow in the household. He's definitely a member of the family, and extremely loyal to his people. However, strangers are another story, so don't expect him to instantly fall in love with every visitor.
Smart But Stubborn
His innate intelligence makes the miniature schnauzer fairly easy to train, but his native stubbornness can prove exasperating. When you live with a miniature schnauzer, you must be the alpha in the relationship. This isn't a breed for the timid, because if he thinks he's the boss, he's soon running the show. A trainer can help you if your miniature schnauzer becomes a problem pup.
If you don't want to spend a lot of time grooming your dog, the miniature schnauzer is not for you. On the plus side, the breed doesn't shed much. However, the dead, wiry hairs require regular removal, so there's a lot of brushing involved, as well as combing out of the beard and eyebrows. The former, especially, needs daily cleaning to remove any errant food particles.
If you show your dog, his coat must be professionally stripped regularly. If he's simply a pet, you can learn to clip his coat every other month or so or send him to a groomer.
Probably the biggest "cons" regarding miniature schnauzers relate to health issues. The breed is prone to quite a few conditions, although dogs often live into their mid-teens. Schnauzer comedo syndrome, unique to the breed, is a type of canine acne. Other common health problems include:
- Progressive retinal atrophy.
- Retinal dysplasia.
- Pulmonic stenosis.
- Mitral valve disease.
- Sick sinus syndrome, which results in abnormal heart rhythm.
- Mytonia congenita -- a genetic skeletal disorder.
- Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, a congenital hip problem.
Other diseases afflicting the breed include urinary stone formation, von Willebrand's disease -- a sort of canine hemophilia -- and congenital megaesophagus, which results in frequent regurgitation.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.