The Schnauzer comes in three sizes: miniature, standard and giant. They may look alike, but each size is a distinct breed. The Standard Schnauzer is the oldest of the three Schnauzer breeds, and the Giant Schnauzer is the youngest. The one thing to keep in mind with any breed is that they were developed because of man's need for a partner to help perform a job or task. In other words, a new breed was created because of the occupations of man. The Giant Schnauzer was developed to be a drover dog for cattlemen.
In the early years, the breed was known as the Wirehaired Pinscher, but that changed in 1879 when a dog named Schnauzer won first place in a dog show held in Hanover, Germany. People began referring to the breed as Schnauzer because of the dog's bearded muzzle (German translation for muzzle is schnauze) and because of Schnauzer's win at the dog show. In their native country of Germany, the Giant Schnauzer is known as Riesenschnauzer, which means “the giant.” This breed, however, is not one of the giant dog breeds; it's simply the largest of the three Schnauzer sizes.
The Giant Schnauzer became common as a guard dog around stockyards, butchers and breweries. Because of their strength, drive and courage, the Giant Schnauzer was used as a messenger dog in WW I and remains popular in Germany as a livestock guardian, all around farm dog, guard dog, military and police dog. On the American Kennel Club’s 2011 most popular dog breeds list, the Miniature Schnauzer is #12, the Standard is #91 and the Giant is #95.
I'm sure people who’ve always had dogs get tired of hearing “It's important to do your homework before adding a specific dog breed to your home.” Or “This dog breed isn't for the average owner.” However, there's a good reason why both phrases need to be repeated often. People don't listen to responsible breeders, dog trainers or experts who know the characteristics and temperament of a specific breed. Thousands of dogs end up in shelters every year when expert advice is ignored. The consideration of a dog shouldn't be just because the potential owner wants him. It should be “can you give the dog a proper home that keeps everyone safe, including other pets and the dog?”
A versatile working dog, the Giant Schnauzer needs a job to do to stay out of trouble. They excel in police and protection work, search and rescue, as therapy dogs, guide and hearing dogs, obedience, agility, Schutzhund trials and tracking. This is a dog that also enjoys winter activities like sled pulling and skijoring, and is skilled at cart pulling. He loves to be with his owner, but can become clingy.
The Giant Schnauzer is an intelligent dog that can become bored, frustrated and destructive if he’s not given lots of quality time. For the right owner, this is a good dog. Know what you're getting into before bringing a Giant Schnauzer home.
Photos by Christopher Macsurak
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