Giant Schnauzer

PetMD Editorial
Written by:
PetMD Editorial
Published: June 18, 2009

The Giant Schnauzer is one of the most useful, powerful, and enduring working breeds. Calm, watchful, courageous and loyal, but playful and amiable, they make for excellent family companions as well.

Physical Characteristics

This dog has a nearly square, strong, and compact build, combining agility and great power. It resembles a more powerful and larger form of the Standard Schnauzer.

The Giant Schnauzer has vigorous and free strides, which give it a good drive and reach. Its distinctive harsh eyebrows and beard, in addition to its smart silhouette, make it a striking breed. The Giant Schnauzer's double coat, meanwhile, is comprised of a harsh, dense, and wiry outer layer and a soft undercoat that can withstand cruel alpine weather conditions.

The reliable temperament, rugged body and weather-proof coat of the Giant Schnauzer combine to form a versatile and powerful working dog.

Personality and Temperament

The Giant Schnauzer is protective of its family, bold, and can show aggression towards other dogs. It may be too boisterous for very small children, but otherwise it is very good with kids from its own family.

Although the Giant Schnauzer is shy with strangers, it is an exuberant and intelligent breed that is perfect for an active, adventurous person.


The dog’s harsh coat can be shaped by professional trimming, hand-stripping, and clipping, which is usually required two to four times a year. It enjoys long hikes, walks and vigorous games, and though it can live outdoors in cool or temperate climates, the Giant Schnauzer does best when it can spend equal amounts of time outside and in the home.


The Giant Schnauzer, which has an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years, suffers from minor health issues such as Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD), hypothyroidism, and gastric torsion. This breed is also prone to canine hip dysplasia (CHD), a serious health concern. To identify some of these issues early, a veterinarian may recommend regular hip and thyroid exams for the dog.

History and Background

It was in the rural areas of Wurrtemburg and Bavaria in Germany that the popular Giant Schnauzer originated. The smaller Standard Schnauzer attracted the eye of the cattlemen, who emulated the breed on a greater scale to drive cattle. They might have crossed smooth-haired, cattle-driving dogs with the Standard Schnauzer to produce a wire-haired drover. Soon crosses were made with the Great Dane, rough-haired Sheepdogs, Bouvier des Flandres, Wirehaired Pinscher, the black Poodle, and Wolf Spitz.

Ultimately, the result was the Munchener: a good, smart-looking, and weather-resistant dog that could handle cattle. Later the Giant Schnauzer became more popular as a stockyard or brewery guard dog, and a butcher’s dog.

The breed had a low profile until the First World War, when there were plans to train the dogs for police work. These dogs did really well in their new role in Germany. In recent years, the Giant Schnauzer has become modestly popular pet in the United States.

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