Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Giant Schnauzer
Average Cost to keep/care for a Giant Schnauzer
Giant Schnauzers are powerful looking dogs with an imposing air about them. They are the epitome of agility, strength and unique looks which are just some of the reasons why the breed has become so popular with people all over the world. But it's not just their charming looks that get these dogs noticed because they boast wonderful personalities and rarely would a Giant Schnauzer display any sort of aggressive behaviour, unless they feel threatened that is.
These distinct looking dogs are a good choice for first time owners as long as they realise the cost of keeping such a large dog and are able to meet all their exercise and grooming needs which are to say the least, substantial.
The Giant Schnauzer has been around for centuries and were used in their native Germany by farmers on cattle drives. For a while the popularity of the breed diminished thanks to the fact Giant Schnauzers were no longer needed to drive cattle when the railways took over this task. However, they proved to be a hit with people in towns and cities where these large dogs were given a different job which was one of a guard dog. Giant Schnauzers were even used as mascots for both butcher shops and beer halls. Later, early in the twentieth century, they became a preferred breed used by many police forces across Europe. In their native Germany, they are called Riesenschnauzers which translated means "snout".
It was not until the early sixties that the first Giant Schnauzer was seen in the UK, joining the Miniature and the Standard Schnauzer, but it was only 10 years later in the seventies, that the breed finally made its mark in the dog world. Over time these larger than life dogs have been developed into intelligent, bold, reliable and nice natured characters that are not only popular as a companions and family pets, but also as therapy dogs, helping the police in their work, they are used as search and rescue dogs as well as doing valuable work as sniffer dogs.
Height at the withers: Males 65 - 70 cm, Females 60 - 65 cm
Average weight: Males 34 - 43 kg, Females 34 - 43 kg
Giant Schnauzers are impressive looking dogs known as a "groomed" breed because they are high maintenance when it comes to keeping their coats looking as they should. The reason they need more in the way of coat care is because they don’t cast it or shed hair like other breeds. The other thing to bear in mind is that once a Giant Schnauzer's beard has grown to its full length, it will get soaked every time a dog has a drink of water and it gets pretty messy when they eat too.
Although large the Giant Schnauzer is an athletic looking dog, they are extremely agile, well-muscled and they need to be given a lot of exercise to keep them fit and healthy. They boast strong heads with a medium stop that’s accentuated by a dog's bushy eyebrows. Their muzzles are powerful looking with whiskers under the chin and dogs boast a stubbly moustache too. Nose is black with nice wide nostrils.
A Giant Schnauzer's eyes are set forward, oval-shaped and medium in size and their ears are set high on a dog's head being a neat V shape and dropping forward. Their jaws are strong with dogs boasting a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Lips are black and tight. They boast a moderately long neck that dog's hold slightly arched and it is set very cleanly on their shoulders.
Shoulders are well laid back and flat with dogs having nice straight well-muscled front legs with lots of bone right down to their feet. Their chest is quite deep and broad with a nice strong, straight back which is slightly lower at the croup than it is at the shoulder. Their ribs are well sprung and loins slope slightly. Hindquarters are strong and well-muscled with dogs boasting strong upper thighs and back legs. Their feet point forward and are compact with well arched toes and dark, firm paw pads with dark nails. Their tails are set high which dogs carry at an angle just above their topline.
When it comes to their coat, the Giant Schnauzer has a wiry, harsh top coat and a good undercoat. The hair on their neck and shoulder is slightly shorter but it blends in well with the rest of a dog's body. The hair on their legs is harsher to the touch. Giant Schnauzers come in two colour types which are as follows:
Dogs have dark facial masks that go with their coat colour which adds to their good looks and overall appeal.
Giant Schnauzers are known for their good natures and their calmness. They have a natural ability to protect and guard their owners and their property which sees them become valued members of a family. These big dogs like to be involved in everything that goes on in a household and if left to their own devices, they quickly become bored which can result in them becoming unruly and hard to handle. They are not however, the best choice for families with young children.
Giant Schnauzers mature very late which means sharing a home with one of them can be challenging for the first 12 months or so. They are often likened to living with difficult, adolescent teenagers. With this said, they are a good choice for first time owners as long as the people know just how much exercise and mental stimulation is needed to keep them happy. Then there's the cost of keeping one of these large dogs which is that much higher than many other breeds thanks to the cost of having them professionally groomed several times a year.
Giant Schnauzers are highly intelligent, but they have a bit of a stubborn streak which many experts believe is because these dogs are so smart. With this said, in the right hands and with the correct amount of training, a Giant Schnauzer usually excels at things they are taught to do. If there is one thing these large dogs like, it's learning new things and enjoy taking part in canine activities like agility and obedience, but they need to know who is boss.
Giant Schnauzers instinctively protect their owners and their property making them loyal and extremely good watchdogs. They do however, need to be taught their place in the pack and who is alpha dog in the household which is particularly important when they live with families with children. They are not the best choice of dog for people with younger children because of their strong instinct to guard.
Male dogs tend to be a little bit more unpredictable when they are around other male dogs and Giant Schnauzers are not good around cats and other small pets commonly found in the home, so care has to be taken when these dogs meet them.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Giant Schnauzer is between 10 and 12 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Giant Schnauzers are known to be a healthy and robust breed, but they do suffer from a few hereditary disorders which are worth knowing about if you are hoping to share your home with one of these lively, large dogs. The health issues that seem to affect the breed the most includes the following:
As with any other breed, Giant Schnauzers need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, they need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Giant Schnauzers are high maintenance in the grooming department all thanks to the structure of their coats which need to be frequently and regularly maintained in order to keep these dogs looking at their best. Dogs also benefit from being hand stripped on a regular basis which is best left up to the experts. The same can be said of clipping a Giant Schnauzer because when their coats are clipped by a professional dog groomer, maintaining them in-between visits is made a lot easier. Ideally, a Giant Schnauzer's coat needs to be clipped every 8 to 10 weeks or so to keep them in top condition and looking good. Their coats also need to be dragged out from time to time using a fine-toothed comb and this applies to Giant Schnauzers that have been clipped too.
With this said, their coats need regular brushing and the best tool to use on a Giant Schnauzer is a slicker brush which will effectively get rid of any loose and dead hair. Regular brushing also helps prevent hair from matting on a dog's legs and in their beards. Their ears need to be checked regularly and any hairs inside have to be carefully and gently plucked out so that air can circulate in their ear canals which prevents any moisture from building up in them. Too much moisture in a dog's ear provides the perfect environment for an ear infection to take hold and these can be notoriously hard to clear up. In short, prevention is a lot easier than cure.
The Giant Schnauzer boasts being a large, but athletic dog and as such they need to be given a ton of daily exercise for them to be truly happy, relaxed characters. This means taking a dog for a walk for a minimum of 2 hours a day. As previously mentioned, they are also highly intelligent dogs which means Giant Schnauzers also need lot of mental stimulation to prevent them from getting bored. A bored dog will get into all sorts of trouble and they will be that much harder to handle which is something to be avoided with such large dogs.
If you get a Giant Schnauzer puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature do twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
It's important not to feed a Giant Schnauzer just before they go out for a walk or when they have just come back from one. The reason being that these dogs are liable to develop bloat thanks to the fact they are so deep chested.
If you are looking to buy a Giant Schnauzer, you would need to pay anything from £700 to over £1200 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old male Giant Schnauzer in northern England would be £35.39 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £114.59 a month (quote as of March 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in a few things and this includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £40 - £60 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Giant Schnauzer and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1500 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for one of these dogs would be between £100 to £180 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree Giant Schnauzer puppy, bearing in mind that you also might need to go on a waiting list to own one.
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