The Miniature Schnauzer, though part of the terrier group, does not tend to display the same temperament as most terriers. They're a goofy, easygoing breed with an independent streak. The fearless little dog can be stubborn and feisty, but is a loving companion who enjoys spending time with family—including children. Miniature Schnauzers are clever and alert, eager to please and ready to learn. This spunky dog is considered one of the most intelligent dog breeds and will impress you with their ability to learn. The robust Mini Schnauzer is quick and energetic, usually equally cuddly and active. Though they aren't very terrier-like in regards to temperament, they do possess one terrier habit—barking. They're always on alert and will let you know the moment someone has arrived in the driveway, or if they're in need of attention.
Miniature Schnauzers are also known as Mini Schnauzers, Dwarf Schnauzers, and Zwergschnauzers.
Miniature Schnauzer Mixes
Miniature Schnauzer mixes may be available in shelters and rescues. Mixes may display some of the physical traits and temperament of the Miniature Schnauzer, but characteristics of the other breeds in the dog's family tree will likely also be present. Mixed breed Mini Schnauzers may not be hypoallergenic. Most shelters do not perform DNA testing on the animals they care for—breed is often determined based on physical characteristics, as well as information provided at the dog's surrender.
To adopt a Miniature Schnauzer mix or AKC registered Mini Schnauzer, contact shelters and breed-specific rescues as they often maintain waiting lists for specific requests. Miniature Schnauzer mixes adopted from a shelter may share physical characteristics of the breed, but due to lack of information about their genetic history, their temperament may not match the breed standard. Shelters and rescues attempt to determine each dog's personality through a series of evaluations—even if the dog's temperament may not follow the breed standard, you can get the dog that suits your home.
Miniature Schnauzer mixes may include Poodle or Maltese as well as various hound and terrier types.
The Miniature Schnauzer's wiry double coat sheds infrequently and is considered hypoallergenic. The three colors allowed for the Mini Schnauzer are solid black, salt and pepper, or black and silver. The eyebrows and beard are the most easily recognized features of the Miniature Schnauzer.
Average Height: 12-14 inches
Average Weight: 11-20 pounds
Breed Standard & History
The Miniature Schnauzer is an active terrier-type dog with a solid, square build. They should appear alert and interested. The strong muzzle and long face are whiskered. The Miniature Schnauzer's deep body should be short, with a straight backline. The tail, docked, is carried high and erect. Ears may be cropped or uncropped and should be set high and well-balanced. The wiry double coat is plucked for show and should never be soft or too smooth. Accepted colors are solid black, black and silver, or salt and pepper with a solid black nose. The trot is smooth and should be easy and straight with no toeing in, and no crossing or moving out at the elbows. Friendly and eager to please temperament, never aggressive or timid. – AKC Breed Standards
The Schnauzer originated in Germany as a farm dog. Evidence of the original larger-sized dog appears throughout art from the 15th century, but the smaller Schnauzer wasn't established until the 19th century. The Miniature Schnauzer was developed by crossing smaller examples of the Schnauzer with Affenpinschers and Poodles. The miniature version of the hardworking Schnauzer was perfectly sized and determined enough to catch rats on farms.
The Miniature Schnauzer was recorded in 1888, exhibited in 1899, and was recognized by the AKC in 1926. They were known as Wirehaired Pinschers when first introduced to the United States.
AKC Breed Category
The Miniature Schnauzer is a spunky, spirited breed. They are alert and active, fearless, yet friendly. They're known for their playful nature and clever antics. Mini Schnauzers are loyal family pets and enjoy spending time near people. They may be aloof with newcomers, but are not aggressive. They're intelligent and can become bored without enough to keep them busy—exercise and mental stimulation can prevent undesirable behaviors due to boredom. Some Mini Schnauzers display a more independent nature, while others are devoted to their family and like to be involved in everything. Temperament can vary within the breed, so consideration of the parents' temperaments is important.
Are Miniature Schnauzers Good with Kids? Miniature Schnauzers are considered wonderful family dogs. They're loyal and protective, without being aggressive. The breed is known to get along with children.
Are Miniature Schnauzers Good with Other Pets? Mini Schnauzers tend to do well with cats and other dogs in the home, but they may try to amuse themselves with games of chase. Their intention is usually just to chase, and they do not try to hurt cats. They are generally good with other dogs in the home, but may try to assert dominance over other dogs they do not know. Smaller animals like hamsters, mice, and rats aren't likely candidates for peaceful coexistence as the breed was originally used to catch vermin in homes and on the farm.
Loyal and alert, the courageous Mini Schnauzer is always in watchdog mode. Because they were bred to hunt rats, they have a keen sense of hearing and will notice even the slightest sound. They'll bark to alert you to strangers, as well as vehicles or other animals going by. They're fearless and brave, but are not as likely to bite an intruder as bark at them. They relax quickly after you have welcomed your guest into the home.
Because they were built to defend farms from rats, the Miniature Schnauzer has plenty of energy. They're busy little dogs who need to burn energy through play. Games like fetch and flyball can help keep this peppy breed happy and in good shape.
- May chase pets in the home or be dominant with strange animals
- Plenty of exercise and activity outdoors is necessary
- Known to bark
- Desires attention and companionship throughout the day
- Obedient, but can be stubborn and cunning
- Tendency to dig yards and gardens
- Temperament may vary from outgoing and friendly to aloof
The family-oriented Mini Schnauzer prefers to spend time with people and dislikes being left alone for long periods of time. While they're generally easygoing, boredom can lead to destructive behaviors. They are compact and do well in an apartment or city environment, but enough exercise is key to keeping them happy and healthy.
Adventures outdoors are the perfect way to run some energy out of the robust Miniature Schnauzer, but they should not be left outdoors without supervision. They're a family-oriented breed and are social with family by nature, so time spent outdoors is best in the company of people. They may be intolerant of heat. Mini Schnauzers aren't generally good swimmers and should be supervised near water.
The frisky Miniature Schnauzer needs daily opportunity to run and play. This breed doesn't tire quickly and can be troublesome or mischievous if not given enough exercise. From 45 minutes to one hour of exercise per day is necessary for a Mini Schnauzer.
The terrier-like endurance is ever present in the Miniature Schnauzer. They're happy to zigzag around the yard, jump and play, and chase tennis balls. They are not tolerant of the heat and may have less stamina if it is hot or humid out. Providing plenty of water and watching for discomfort is essential to keep Mini Schnauzers from overheating.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: If healthy and fully developed, a Miniature Schnauzer may be able to run three to five miles.
- Hiking Miles: The rugged Miniature Schnauzer may be able to hike up to 10 miles, if properly conditioned.
A special diet may be necessary to prevent urinary stones or food allergies. The general recommendation for how much high-quality dry dog food (based on average weight and activity level) to feed a Miniature Schnauzer is ¾ - 1 cup of food per day given in two meals.
Food guarding behaviors may present in the Miniature Schnauzer, so it is important to build trust with the breed from an early age and contact a behaviorist at any sign of resource guarding. Children should never be allowed to touch or remove food while any dog is eating.
Though the Miniature Schnauzer is fond of family and enjoys time together, they can be left home alone for part of the day without much concern and with enough exercise during the rest of the day. Without enough exercise or mental stimulation, the Mini Schnauzer may become barky and loud or cause damage to furniture or other belongings. It may be helpful to hire a dog walker if she will be left alone for more than five hours. Crate training, and a comfortable crate they can call home, may be necessary to prevent damage and to keep a Mini Schnauzer safe.
Health and Grooming
The wiry hair of the Miniature Schnauzer sheds minimally, but it requires regular grooming to prevent matting. Breed standards call for stripping or plucking loose hair from the body, but pets not meant for show may be clipped instead. Clipping the hair causes it to become softer and less wiry with time. Trips to the groomer are necessary every eight weeks. The fringe or 'furnishings' on the belly of the Mini Schnauzer must be brushed regularly to prevent tangles. The face features a beard and eyebrows. Too many baths can irritate the skin, so one bath per month is plenty for a Miniature Schnauzer.
Trimming nails regularly will help prevent painful splitting, cracking, or a broken nail.
Common Health Issues
The Miniature Schnauzer can be prone to breed-specific health concerns, including:
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Urinary stones
- Heart disease
- Skin growths (benign and cancerous) and 'blackheads'
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Miniature Schnauzer by purchasing her from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
Because the Miniature Schnauzer is ranked as one of the most intelligent dog breeds, they are easy to train and they learn basic commands easily. They are witty little dogs who enjoy learning new things, though the stubborn breed loves asserting independence at any opportunity. Short, varied training sessions are best in order to hold the attention of a Mini Schnauzer.
Once the Miniature Schnauzer has mastered the basics, moving on to advanced training is the perfect next step. Agility will keep this active breed happy and well-exercised, and advanced tricks are ideal for keeping their mind busy as well. The Miniature Schnauzer will benefit from additional training as she can be a strong-willed dog. Establishing your place as leader early on, and training throughout the dog's lifetime, sets up a Mini Schnauzer for success. They may excel at competitive obedience and agility, but are also pleased to perform at home as well.
Sporting Dog Training
The Miniature Schnauzer may be trained as a sporting dog, though their independent streak may be problematic. Their instincts as former ratting dogs may be useful when it comes to tracking or flushing birds, and their keen senses of smell and hearing mean they don't miss anything. They're happy to learn and are thrilled to accompany their people anywhere. They are intelligent dogs, but they are natural barkers and aren't always interested in following the rules. Teaching a Miniature Schnauzer to hunt will take consistent training from an early age.
Here are a few commonly asked questions about Miniature Schnauzers.
Because they were originally bred to catch rats and other rodents on the farm, the thick, wiry hair on the face of a Miniature Schnauzer protected their face from bite wounds from their prey. Their wiry body hair was also useful while hunting—it repelled dirt and debris naturally.
There are three different types of Schnauzer—Giant, Standard, and Miniature. While all three are lively and affable, they are three distinct types. It's not just size that's different—personalities vary as well. While all three are wonderful companions, differences in temperament may dictate which is the ideal Schnauzer for your household. The Miniature Schnauzer is tenacious and independent but well-behaved. The Standard Schnauzer is laid back, and the Giant is often aloof. The Miniature is the only Schnauzer classified as a terrier, while Giant and Standard Schnauzers are part of the working group. The Miniature Schnauzer is considered the best with children.
Schnauzer literally translates to 'snouter'—a reference to the Schnauzer's long, bearded face. The term may be used to mean 'mustache,' as well.