Giant Schnauzer hereditary health and longevity

Giant Schnauzer hereditary health and longevity

Health & Safety

The giant Schnauzer is the largest of the three Schnauzer breeds, which was developed in Germany in the 17th century. The breed was originally developed to be used as a farm dog for droving livestock, and also for guarding flocks and farm property. Later, the breed became more widely used in more urban working roles, and was used across Germany to guard premises such as stockyards and breweries. Various other breeds of dog were involved in the development of the Schnauzer breed, including the Great Dane and the German pinscher.

The Giant schnauzer has a thick, heavy medium length coat that provides them with protection from the elements, with a distinctive beard and bushy eyebrows topping off the face. They can be seen in either pure black, or salt and pepper colours, and historically, used to have their tails docked and their ears cropped.

Today, the giant Schnauzer is a popular pet across the world, and is also commonly seen taking part in canine sports such as agility. They are also used in some countries as police dogs. The giant Schnauzer stands up to 27.5” tall at the withers, and can weigh up to 43kg, with males being larger than females.

If you are wondering if the giant Schnauzer is the right choice of pet for you, in this article we will look at the hereditary health and longevity of the breed in more detail. Read on to learn more.

Giant Schnauzer longevity

The giant Schnauzer’s average lifespan is 10-12 years, which is around the average across the board for giant breeds of dog. Often, large and giant breeds have shorter lifespans than their smaller counterparts, and so 10-12 years is considered to be a reasonably long lifespan for a breed of this size.

Genetic diversity

The coefficient of inbreeding statistic for the giant Schnauzer breed as a whole is 3.4%, which places the breed well within the acceptable level for a pedigree dog. A coefficient of inbreeding figure of 6.25% or lower is considered to be desirable for pedigree breeds, and the low percentage held by the giant Schnauzer indicates that the breed is not particularly subjected to inbreeding.

Giant Schnauzer conformation

The size and conformation of the giant Schnauzer is considered to place the breed at a slightly elevated risk for certain health conditions, including bloat or GDV, due to the deep chest of the dog.

Medial canthal pocket syndrome is also a problem for some dogs of the breed, and this is an eye condition that causes the lids of the eyes to form “pockets” that may trap dirt and dust.

Health tests for the giant Schnauzer

In order to monitor the health of the breed as a whole and try to encourage the breeding of only healthy dogs, various health schemes and tests are available for the giant Schnauzer. These include:

  • Hip score testing, with the mean score for the breed as a whole being 11.8. Potential breeding stock should receive a hip score below this level.
  • Testing for multifocal retinal dysplasia, an eye disease that can lead to vision loss. Testing for hereditary cataracts is also possible.
  • DNA testing is available for factor V11 deficiency, a mild bleeding disorder. Tests are also available for cobalamin malabsorption, a condition that can cause anaemia, and dilated cardiomyopathy. However, all three of these conditions are more common within American breed lines than UK lines, and so testing for these conditions must be specially requested.
  • Giant Schnauzer breed clubs also advise the testing of parent dogs for eye disease prior to breeding, and litter screening of puppies of the breed for eye disease too.

Other health conditions

As well as the conditions mentioned above, the giant Schnauzer is also considered to have slightly elevated risk factors for various other health conditions too. These include:

  • A condition called pharmacogenic abnormality, a condition that causes the dog to be sensitive to certain veterinary drugs, meaning that all veterinary procedures must be handled and managed with extreme caution.
  • Urine stone formation or urolithiasis, which can be painful and lead to urinary obstructions.
  • Idiopathic epilepsy, although this can often be managed with medication.
  • Onychodystrophy, which leads to a weakness in the claws that can cause them to shed and crack, and generally be weak and fragile.
  • Hypothyroidism, an underproduction of the necessary thyroid hormones. This condition can often be managed with corrective hormone therapy.
  • Mitral valve disease, a condition that causes heart murmur and which can ultimately lead to heart failure.
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy, another heart condition that leads to the chambers of the heart to become dangerously enlarged, leading to potential heart failure.
  • Panosteitis, an inflammatory condition of the bones that can be very painful.
  • Urinary incontinence, particularly in spayed females. However, the chances of incontinence developing can be reduced if the dog is not spayed until they are fully adult.
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