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One of 3 Schnauzer breeds, the Giant Schnauzer is, as its name suggests, the largest and most powerful of them all. The word 'Giant' does not, however, mean it is a cumbersome and clumsy dog - far from it. The Giant Schnauzer is a graceful, athletic dog with a charming temperament like its Standard and Miniature cousins.
It is widely agreed upon that the Giant Schnauzer originated in Germany, where the aim has always been to preserve the Schnauzer character and temperament which are so highly prized. The name 'Schnauzer' means 'snout' and it is easy to see why these dogs were given this name. They have been described in literature since the 1830's and were used in the hilly uplands of Germany for herding and guarding. With the First World War looming, the Giant Schnauzer began to be used as a guard and police dog due to its size, powerful stature and trainable nature.
In the 1960's this breed started to make an appearance in the UK to take its place alongside the smaller Schnauzer breeds and it gained in popularity until the 1970's when the first owners club was formed proudly in its name. Being such a versatile dog, it has continued to gain a solid following of people who love them and is still used in a working capacity as a guard and police dog, search and rescue dog and as PAT dogs.
Average height to withers: Males between 25.5-27.5 inches and females between 23-26 inches
Average weight: The average weight for a male is around 47kg with females weighing in at around 35-42kg.
Without due care and grooming to the wild and wiry coat, the Giant Schnauzer could be at risk of being confused with a woolly teddy bear! Most dogs of this breed will have a careful grooming and stripping regime which helps them retain the classic Schnauzer profile, complete with 'beard' which will get sodden with each trip to the water bowl.
These large dogs are of a powerful appearance with a commanding presence. They are extremely well muscled when in good condition and appear almost square in shape. The head and muzzle follows this pattern with a flat forehead, a blunt snout and a wide, black nose. The eyes show intelligence, and are clear, dark and oval shaped. The dog's neck should be long and arched, tapering into clean shoulders, straight legs and a deep chest. The hindquarters are angled into the stifle joint and hocks with the tail carried at an angle to the top line of the body.
The Giant Schnauzers coat is tough and wiry, with a well developed undercoat. It should not be too long. The coat comes in black or 'salt and pepper' with shades ranging from dark iron grey to light grey with hairs that are banded black/light/black. The characteristic darker facial mask should contrast with the rest of the coat colour.
The Giant Schnauzer is a great combination of playful companion and loyal protector. But as a larger dog that has retained it guarding instinct, early socialisation with smaller children and other animals in the family is essential to prevent accidental nips and shoulder barges.
This is a dog that welcomes being part of the family, whether on walks, playing or simply at home watching the TV. Whatever your activity this breed needs firm but gentle leadership or it can become unruly and dominant in the home. Prevent this by spending enough time with this dog and enjoy all that it has to offer. Best suited to a family or environment where it can have at least 2 long daily walks or runs and access to an outside space, to prevent boredom and undesirable behaviours, the Giant Schnauzer will be a very enjoyable member of the family who loves to give and receive affection.
This is generally quite a healthy breed of dog who can live up to the age of 14 years on average. It has a tendency to Hip Dysplasia, like many larger breeds. Hip Dysplasia (HD) can affect all breeds of dog but is more prevalent in some breeds than others. It is caused by the abnormal formation of the hip ball and socket joint. Normally the ball would form a pivot point in the socket; however, some dogs are born with a genetic predisposition for HD. This means that at birth their hips are normal but as they grow, the hip joint does not grow correctly and as a result the ball no longer fits as it should. After the age of a year or so, the owner can opt to have their dog 'hip scored'. Hip scoring is a method used by vets to determine the degree of HD in dogs and involves the vet assessing a number of criteria during a diagnostic examination. If the dog is then found to have a high probability of HD, remedial action can be taken.
Giant Schnauzers can also be more prone to Epilepsy; however, this is usually something which can be controlled, under veterinary advice.
Brushing and grooming are the name of the game to keep your Giant Schnauzer in tip top condition. It is worth investing in some good tools to do this given how tough and wiry the coat is, including a fine tooth comb and clippers, if you feel confident enough to do this yourself. If not trips to a professional should be factored into the costs of keeping this breed of dog at least every 8 weeks or so.
You cannot be a slouch when it comes to exercising this dog. At least 2 walks a day are needed to keep up a good level of fitness and to relieve boredom.