- AKC recognized in 1926
- Lifespan: 12-14 years
- Size: Small
- Energy: Medium
- Recommended Crate Size: 30” dog crate*
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Table of Contents
The mini schnauzer was originally bred for farm work as a 'ratter'; it is classified within the terrier family. Their small figure makes them suitable for city living. This highly intelligent dog is also a good guard dog with excellent hearing, vision, and loud bark.
The American Kennel Club formally recognized the Miniature Schnauzer in 1926. These small sized, medium energy dogs are known as the 20 most popular breeds in England, Germany, and the US. The miniature schnauzer has the standard schnauzer, poodle, and affenpinscher in his ancestry.
Despite the small size, Miniature Schnauzers are sturdy with a squarely built body. It has the unique schnauzer beard and wiry coat which comes in various colors such as black, silver, salt, and pepper.
Their eyebrows are bushy with a small and deep set of eyes which give the impression of grouchiness. The ears may be cropped or not; if it is uncropped the ears are a small V-shaped. The head is rectangular with a blunt and strong muzzle and covered in a unique schnauzer beard.
The Miniature Schnauzer has a double coat with soft and thick undercoating and a more wiry topcoat. The dead and loose hairs naturally shed but tend to get stuck on the topcoat which makes them seem to not shed. Therefore, this dog is suitable for people with asthma or allergies since schnauzer sheds little hair.
It is recommended to provide feed formulated to small sized breeds. It is highly recommended to discuss your dog’s food with your veterinarian or breeder to determine the size and frequency of meals in order to ensure optimal health and lifespan. As always, it is important to readily provide clean and fresh water every day.
The miniature schnauzer requires regular grooming at least once every week as well as a periodic bath. It is advisable to brush away loose hair twice or three times per week to avoid matting and reduce potential allergies in the household.
As this breed sheds very little because the undercoat gets stuck in the topcoat, the dead hear should be removed manually by brushing it. After each meal, owners may want to wash the beard to prevent tangles and also keep your pet looking good and smelling fresh.
Owners can trim their nails on a monthly basis if your miniature schnauzer does not wear down the toenails by being outside. Regular checking on Schnauzer’s ears is also important to check debris and wax buildup and to prevent infection or irritation. Finally, brush your pet's teeth once a week to avoid tartar buildup and prevent bad breath.
Miniature Schnauzers are high-spirited, lively, and energetic. They are extremely intelligent too. If you don’t keep them busy, both physically and mentally, they are apt to create their own entertainment, much to their owners’ chagrin. Keeping your Mini exercised is a must for his good health as well.
For Mini puppies, a couple of ten-minute walks per day and some playtime in the backyard or even in the house is usually enough. As he grows, however, it’s important to walk him longer and to incorporate mental exercise into the mix.
Thirty minutes of exercise a day is a decent amount for some Minis. It can be spread out in two, or even three walks. For those with extra energy, up to ninety minutes per day, spread out, is ideal.
Don’t forget to exercise his mind! Along with a game of fetch or an agility activity, you can incorporate dog brain games into his daily routine. He will most likely surprise you with his abilities. Minis love to please so be sure to show him lots of love and praise when he learns something new.
Pet Crates Direct recommends 30” dog crates* for most adult Miniature Schnauzers.
Return to the main Dog Crate Sizes Breed Chart.
* Links for crate sizes will bring you to the most appropriate Amazon page.
Dynamite in a Mini Package
The Miniature Schnauzer is a pint-size pup, loaded with personality. He’s an adorable package of intellect, humor, and affection. Complete with his super-sized signature mustache and beard, the Miniature Schnauzer is on a mission to make sure you never get bored...and that you are never alone. This little fellow will follow you to the ends of the earth...to the bathroom, or wherever you happen to be going.
The lively, pint-size Miniature Schnauzer is charming indeed. Despite his small stature, he is huge in might and if you don’t believe it, just ask him. He is fearless, bred to rat, and not at all afraid to tangle with a rodent or most any other creature, large or small. He is actually a great guard dog too, believe it or not.
Mini Schnauzers are adored for their tenacity but also for their tiny size. With their mustache, beard, deep-set eyes, and bushy, “angry-looking” eyebrows, at first glance, they give the appearance of a grouchy old man - so cute it’s almost comical. Don’t tell him that though. The high-spirited Miniature Schnauzer is a very proud little fellow.
A Bit of Breed History
The Miniature Schnauzer has direct roots with the Standard Schnauzer that was originally bred in Germany in the late 19th century. Actually, there are pictures of the breed that go as far back as the 15thcentury so there is some ground for questioning there. Oh, and...he IS the number one most popular terrier in America.
The Standard Schnauzers were intended to be farm and ranch dogs of medium size and were useful for herding, ratting and guarding the property. But farmers and ranchers wanted a more compact model. The mini version allowed the farmers to carry their dogs in their carts but provided usefulness on the land as well.
By 1899, the Standard Schnauzer had been mixed with the Affenpinscher and perhaps the Miniature Poodle and thus, the Miniature Schnauzer was born.
Some people stick with the theory that the Standard was just downsized through selective breeding of the smaller ones but most believe Affenpinschers, Miniature Poodles, and perhaps a few other breeds were involved.
Both the Standard Schnauzer and Affenpinscher had been in Germany since the 17th century and were easy to access so the breeding wasn’t a difficult feat to arrange. The goal was to create a small ratting dog. Spunky and determined, the Miniature Schnauzer aced the challenge.
The first Miniature Schnauzer on record came on the scene in 1888. Her name was Fidel. The new breed turned out to be not only excellent ratters but great help around the farm, full of spunk, personality, and charm and breed with good temperament and good health as well.
The dogs were admitted in the distinct dog breed exhibit in 1899 overseas and have been bred in the US since around 1924 when four Miniature Schnauzers made their way to America.
One-hundred and eight of the breed soon followed, including Doren Display who many Minis’ bloodlines to this day can be traced back to. They were then bred in the country and by 1926, they had earned official recognition in the American Kennel Club. The American Miniature Schnauzer Club originated in 1933.
Since their beginning, the Mini Schnauzer has been employed as a “drover’s dog”, or working dog, with the job of pulling produce carts from farm to market (and vice versa).
The breed was also used to herd animals like cattle, sheep, and hogs. Because of their irresistible happy little personalities and small size, they were eventually welcomed into the home and loved as house pets.
Initially, the mini versions were dubbed “Wirehaired Pinschers” but within time, became known as Miniature Schnauzers.
Interestingly, the breed has differing classifications around the world. In Canada, they are in the working group. In Australia and the United Kingdom, they are part of the Utility Group.
But as far as the AKC is concerned, they are terriers, a breed class that originates from the root word “dirt”. The word “schnauzer” means “snout” or “beard” in German which is highly appropriate because both the Standard and the Miniature Schnauzer has the classic beard.
Although the breed has absolutely no British blood as most terriers do, he is still classified as “terrier”.
The Miniature Schnauzer is the 17th most popular breed in the United States now, falling from their spot at number 11 he held just a few years back. If you consider there are upwards of three hundred and fifty breeds in the ranking, coming in 17th place isn’t so bad.
Actress Zendaya from “Spiderman: Homecoming” had a beloved Schnauzer named Midnight as a child but tragically lost him. Now, she has a Miniature Schnauzer named Noon who she truly adores.
American singer Keyshia Coles, singer Usher, actress Katherine Heigl, former pro boxer Sugar Ray, actor and martial artist Bruce Lee, actor Simon Pegg, actor Rob Lowe, actress and comedian Mary Tyler Moore and comedian Ronnie Corbett all have or have had Schnauzers. United States Senator Bob Dole and world-famous dog trainer Cesar Milan have these mini mustache-bearing dogs too.
“Tin Tin”, “The Man with the Golden Arm”, “A Streetcar Named Desire” and many other movies and cartoons have featured the breed. Tramp from “Lady and the Tramp” was a Schnauzer mix. With such intelligent and adorable traits, it’s not surprising they are a smash hit at the box office.
You Can Take the Dog Out of the Ranch, But...
Because the Miniature Schnauzer is bred to work on the ranch, there are some physical and personality traits that are just part of the package deal.
Spunky yet aloof, they are pros at herding cattle yet quite comfortable chasing small critters too. After all, that’s what the breed was created to do - help with the livestock while serving as an excellent rattier too.
Let's Take a Closer Look
Sturdy, stout, stocky, and somewhat square in shape, Mini Schnauzers stand only about 12 to 14 inches tall. Their proportions were intentionally bred down from their Standard Schnauzer cousins who are considerably larger at around 18-20 inches in height. Female Miniatures tend to weigh in at about 10-15 pounds where males average 11-18 pounds.
Miniature Schnauzer’s heads are rectangular and their muzzle is distinguished and blunt.
Their ears are small and shaped like a “V” and tend to fold a bit forward. It is not uncommon for them to be cropped, which shapes them in a “V” without the lopping down at the top, but the practice of cropping is becoming less popular among non-working dogs and is restricted or actually illegal in a number of places.
Their teeth come together in the front like a pair of scissors, which is referred to as a “scissor bite”. The eyes of a Mini are oval, dark in color, and so deep set, they almost appear to be sunken in.
Along with their easily identifiable bushy eyebrows, whiskers, mustache, and beard, the Mini Schnauzer sports a double coat - wiry on the exterior but their undercoat is soft.
Their outer coats come in one of three patterns of color: black and silver, solid black, and salt and pepper. The fourth color is pure, snow white but is quite controversial and is not universally recognized although they are shown worldwide.
They are not, however, allowed into the American Miniature Schnauzer Club and forbidden to be in Conformation shows.
The rigid, straight front legs of the breed give way to a walk all its own. Their feet are round and short much like cat’s feet. They have pads that are thick and dark black. Last, but not least, is the Mini Schnauzer’s tail that is short and thin (and usually wagging). It is sometimes docked but the practice is also becoming less popular and less accepted.
The Mini sports some very unusual traits, from a head with his full, bushy beard all the way down to his feet that are thickly padded. It’s all for a reason though - he was born to carry out specific duties back in the day.
You might be surprised at how muscular and strong the Miniature Schnauzer is. Despite his small stature, he is quite compact. His strength is a huge plus for doing all he needs to do in a working environment.
The Miniature Schnauzer is super quick and agile which helps him keep livestock in line and avoid their kicks of protest at the same time.
His thick paw pads are even a reminder of his ranching roots. His passion for digging dates back to his small creature hunting skills.
While his outermost fur is not the most desirable for petting purposes, the texture is handy down on the farm because it keeps dirt and debris at bay.
Oh, those eyebrows! And...that beard! Although the manly-like characteristics resemble a cartoon, they are bred in for a very important purpose. Both his mustache and bushy eyebrows help keep the dust off when he’s in pursuit of a burrowing small animal. His thick “whiskers” protect him against bites that he might receive during a small animal hunt.
His tail is thin and short, thoughtfully designed to prevent injuries that could be incurred by a long tail while ranching. Sometimes it is docked where such a practice is permitted.
His ears are v-shaped and point forward...the better the hear sounds of a threat with. The scissor bite that he is known for is conducive to ratting and tearing into small critters.
He is loyal beyond measure, a plus because he will obediently take commands from his beloved owner and has a heart for protecting the livestock too.
While he is a good guard dog, barking attackers off if nothing else, he doesn’t have the overaggressive tendencies some guard dogs have. He is smart - able to figure out potential problems that can be encountered while working on a farm or ranch. He is also alert, spirited and eager to please.
Miniature Schnauzers are the most consistent barkers of the Schnauzers. Perhaps a tinge of small dog syndrome seeped in but they do get their point across be it to the predator attempting to harm the herd or the mailman at the front door. While the relentless barking can be obnoxious when dwelling in the city, you can appreciate the need for it out on the ranch.
All of the Mini Schnauzer traits add up to a great dog to have out in the country, but given his adaptable nature, he also can be quite at home in smaller dwellings as well. You’d be hard pressed to find a dog that is more flexible.
As mentioned before, Mini Schnauzers are very smart and they aim to please which makes them prime candidates for training. In fact, all Schnauzers have that trait in common and are often recruited for assistance in the Red Cross and other government agencies. They even served in World War l.
When you get your Schnauzer’s attention and cooperation, you have a very enthusiastic student on your hands. And as it goes, you will want to be sure you keep this smart guy challenged as not doing so lends way to unruliness. It is vital to channel his unbridled physical energy and his boundless mental energy as well.
By embracing his natural drives, you will have a much better outcome when it comes to training your mini-mustached fellow. Capture his interest and the sky is the limit. You will also promote a unique bonding between you and your beloved pup.
Miniature Schnauzers, like all breeds, respond best to positive training techniques. Although they love a good treat for a good deed (or trick) done but usually do just as well for a heaping helping of praise and affection.
Still, you will want to establish yourself as the leader of his pack, his “boss”, so that when it comes down to giving a command, he obeys, regardless of it there is a treat in hand or even a praise in store. Such obedience can prevent spur of the moment disasters like him getting hit by a car or in a tangle with a large dog.
The ideal time to train your dog is immediately when you bring him home. If he is a puppy, all the better. If not, you CAN still teach an older dog new tricks so...do it! You can teach them obedience too so don’t neglect to do so or you may just get run over by him. He is used to being the boss and being very territorial so teaching him a few manners will go a long, long way.
As with all breeds, consistency is key. Try your best to keep his training on a specific schedule, especially when potty training. It is important for your Mini Schnauzer to be able to know what to expect and when to expect it. Smarter breeds tend to be pickier about things like that. They like to be in the know.
Learning to walk well on a leash is imperative. Your Mini needs plenty of exercise, given his vibrant energy level. While playing in the backyard or at the dog park are great forms of exercise, leash walking with you regularly cannot be matched. It’s a time together where you are in charge and he is following which gives way to a deeper bonding.
He is quite strong so you will need to nip tugging of the leash in the bud. Beware of his tendency to want to go after anything running like children, the neighbor’s cat or a scampering squirrel.
Not only will your Miniature Schnauzer likely be receptive to fetching, sitting and perhaps singing, but he is also very agile so he is able to perform physical feats too. You might consider creating an agility course for him. Playing fly ball or Frisbee with him is a great idea too.
Training your dog should also include getting rid of bad behaviors. The breed is notorious for such acts as digging, excessive barking and chewing on things they shouldn’t. All of these undesirable traits can be addressed through proper training.
Don’t forget to teach your Miniature Schnauzer new, intuitive tricks. He is a performer at heart and eats up attention. Often referred to as a clown, take advantage of his talents and guide him to greatness.
Grooming the Mini-Moustache Guy
Mini Schnauzers are downright regal looking with their bearded faces and unrelenting eyebrows. You will want to keep him sharp in appearance by grooming his coat or having him groomed every six weeks or so to keep his top coat from getting out of control. Please note that there is a standard cut that is used for the Schnauzer family.
While the breed is often said to be “non-molting”, that isn’t one hundred percent true. Stripping or clipping of the coat is a must. Stripping, or hand-stripping, is a requirement in order to show a Schnauzer, be it a mini, standard or giant. Some non-show dogs are hand-stripped too. The term refers to the guard hairs being removed without breaking or cutting but rather by the use of your fingers as in plucking. Sometimes a stripping knife is used between the thumb and forefinger but it is not to cut the hair, but simply to pull it out. The process is not painful to the dogs.
Clippers can also be employed to groom a Mini Schnauzer as long as he is not going to be shown. The use of mechanical shavers or clippers yields a silk, soft trim that is close to the skin. If the beard (or mustache) is left unstripped or clipped, it can grow from two to four inches and often gets tangled with mats or end up in unsightly curls.
Be sure to brush and bathe him too. His top coat is very wiry so you will need to take care when brushing him. Some Miniature Schnauzers have extremely sensitive skin that tends to be on the dry side so bathe him with a gentle, moisturizing soap. Although it is often thought or said that the breed doesn’t shed, you may not find that to be true if you don’t stay on top of the situation.
Giving some loving attention to his ears is a must. Mini Schnauzers are not strangers to ear infections. Keep them clean and dry and take him to a vet clinic at the first sign of irritation or infection.
The Minis love to dig. It is vital to keep his nails clean and trimmed in order to prevent ripping, tearing, cracking or chipping. He might not be a fan during the process but he will thank you later. If you find the task too difficult to do on your own, have his nails clipped by a groomer or at a vet clinic.
Minis aren’t super high in maintenance, but failure to keep up with what they do require will result in a less than healthy, perhaps motley-looking dog, so be sure you tend to his grooming needs in a timely manner.
Miniature Schnauzers are pure personality. From their tiny but zealous barking to line the livestock up (or to tell you someone is at your front door), to their tenacity to put a cow (or big dog) in their place, the pint-sized pup is quite the big little dog. It is hilarious to observe which is fine by him since he loves to entertain and to be the absolute center of attention.
Despite the Miniature Schnauzer’s highly spirited nature, he always seems to make some snuggle time. He is very affectionate and loves his human family. He makes a good guard dog due to this fact, to an extent, that is. He will certainly let you know if someone is outside or a stranger has entered. Doubtfully will he become aggressive though which is a big plus, especially for families with little children.
Mini pups can get pretty rambunctious. They may not know when to stop. That is something you will want to teach him and a trait he must outgrow before he’ll be a good playmate for a child. Since his aim is to please and he is extremely smart, it shouldn’t be a difficult task though.
As long as you socialize your Mini Schnauzer, he will usually be very receptive and comfortable around people such as guests who come to your home or a mailman who delivers him a treat. Failure to socialize him early on may make his protective tendencies spiral out of control. Be sure to socialize him with other dogs too. He can be domineering despite his pint size.
Minis are great for families and are one of the best breeds to have with the elderly or very young as long as they get their energy out through regular exercise, otherwise, they may be too hyper. Shyness is said to be a major fault in a breed of this kind, possibly an indicator of a deeper problem so be wary of such a trait prior to bringing the pup home. That is not to say you should not adopt or purchase a shy one but do check into it further.
The same is true for the opposite. If a Mini Schnauzer is vicious or overly aggressive, think twice. The characteristic is not one generally found in the breed so proceed with caution.
Most any undesirable habit your Miniature Schnauzer might pick up can usually be turned around by lots of tender loving care and positive training. Once that is done, the Mini is a near-perfect companion for a home or an apartment or even for a ranch.
Although the Miniature Schnauzer is a healthy breed, in general, there are some culprit medical issues to watch for. The most predominant one is fat. If not exercised enough and if their diet is too fatty, they can be prone to diseases such as diabetes. Hyperlipidemia is another possible medical woe to be on the lookout for that is caused by high-fat levels. Pancreatitis is yet another.
Bladder stones are not uncommon in Mini Schnauzers. Eye problems may arise as well. Be sure to check him regularly for Comedone Syndrome which is recognizable by pus-filled bumps which usually occur on their backs, under their coat.
The breed can be prone to skin irritations. Keeping him groomed properly is a must. You will also want to investigate if he spends too much time scratching or if you notice bumps, swelling or redness.
Especially with uncropped eared Miniature Schnauzers, be sure to keep a watchful eye out for ear infections. Carefully dry his ears after a bath or swimming session.
Other maladies that you want to be aware of are:
- Willebrand disease (an internal bleeding disorder)
- thyroid disorders
- Mycobacterium Avium Infection
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Cushings disease
- Liver Shunts
It is important upon choosing your dog especially a Miniature Schnauzer puppy, to give him a good “once over”. Be sure he appears healthy and that he is not from a breeder with questionable ethics. A Miniature Schnauzer rescue is a great place to start if you are especially wanting the particular breed.
Is a Mini Schnauzer a Good Pick for You?
Intelligent, energetic, fun-loving, playful, loyal and affectionate, the Mini Schnauzer seems to have it all rolled up into one very small package. The rest may be up to you and your situation.
Are you willing to spend some time and money every six weeks or so to groom him?
Are you available and able to train him and keep him exercised?
Do you have the patience to work with him on his seemingly never-ending barking tendencies?
Another good question to ask yourself is if you have allergies. If so, this might be the perfect breed for you to own.
Although Miniature Schnauzers do shed some, it is usually hair coming from the bottom layer which sticks to the top coat. That means the hair isn’t flying around in the air so you are not as likely to allergically suffer from it.
And one last question you might want to ask yourself is if you are up for a new member of the family. While some dogs are content to be in the backyard and others are just happy to have a home whether outside or in, the Miniature Schnauzer is not going to go for that. Nope. He will want to be a member of the family with all the perks of lap snoozes and perhaps even going with you in the car to the grocery store and beyond. He will want your undivided attention much of the time and will do all he can to secure it. Are you ready for all that and then some?
If you are willing and able to go the extra mile for this little-bearded fellow, he will return the favor by going the distance for you in more ways than you ever dreamed.