Miniature Schnauzer

PetMD Editorial
Written by:
PetMD Editorial
Published: September 22, 2008
Miniature Schnauzer

The Miniature Schnauzer is a small terrier originally bred in Germany in the 19th century. Its appearance is distinguished by its "small beard." Known for being less aggressive than the typical terrier, Miniature Schnauzers are lovable members of many families today.

Physical Characteristics

The Miniature Schnauzer dog has a double coat comprising of a close undercoat and a wiry, hard outer coat, which is longer around the eyebrows, legs, and muzzle. The abundant facial "furnishings" compliment its keen expression. The Mini Schnauzer, with an almost square proportioned and robust body, has a sturdy build. As it was developed to catch rats, it is tough and quick, with a far-reaching stride.

Personality and Temperament

The companionable, playful, spunky, curious, and alert Miniature Schnauzer is a well-mannered and gentle house dog that loves to be surrounded by engaging activities. It is less aggressive towards dogs than many terriers, and less dominating than other larger Schnauzers. And although it is generally submissive, it can be stubborn or sly. Some Miniatures occasionally have a tendency to bark a lot, but all enjoy the company of children.


The Miniature Schnauzer's wire coat requires combing every week, plus shaping and scissoring. Stripping is good for show dogs, while clipping (or styling) is sufficient enough for pets, as it softens the texture of the coat. The exercise requirements of the energetic Miniature Schnauzer can be met with a moderate on leash walk or a playful game in the garden. And although the dog is capable of living outdoors in temperate or warm climates, its emotionally needs are best met with a cozy "dog area" indoors with its family.


The Miniature Schnauzer, with a lifespan of 12 to 14 years, sometimes suffers from health problems like mycobacterium avium infection, cataract and retinal dysplasia. Other major health issues that may affect it are urolithiasis and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), while some minor health problems include von Willebrand's disease (vWD), myotonia congenita, Schnauzer comedo syndrome, and allergies. A veterinarian may run DNA or eye exams to identify some of these issues.

History and Background

Developed in Germany in the late 19th century, the Miniature Schnauzer was originally bred as a small farm dog to keep the rats and vermin away. It was not only the most popular Schnauzer, but the tiniest of its class, and touted to be the only terrier that did not originate from the European Isle stock. It is also believed the Mini Schnauzer was derived from crossbreeding Affenpinschers and Poodles with small Standard Schnauzers. Incidentally, the name "Schnauzer" comes from an eponymous show dog exhibited in Germany in 1879; translated from German, the word schnauzer means "small beard."

In Germany, the Miniature Schnauzer was displayed as a distinct breed from the Standard Schnauzer in the late 1890s. However, it was not until 1933, that the American Kennel Club grouped Miniature and the Standard into separate breeds. In the United States, the Miniature is the one and only Schnauzer under the Terrier Group. In England, this breed became part of Schnauzers under the Utility Group.

The Miniature Schnauzer dog was introduced to the United States much later than the Standard and Giant Schnauzers, but after World War II, the Mini became more popular than the other Schnauzers, eventually becoming the third most popular breed in the U.S. This alert and smart-looking family pet and show dog remains a constant favorite among dog lovers.

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