Giant Schnauzers


Giant Schnauzers

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Breed notes:

The Giant Schnauzer is also called the Riesenschnauzer. He has the build of a terrier but the strength and agility of a working dog. He is the largest of the Schnauzer family but conforms fairly closely to the standard and miniature varieties. The world schnauzer means muzzle and draws attention to the distinctive mustache and beard on the muzzle created by longer coat there. He originated in the Bavarian region of southern Germany as a cattle drover before the era of the railroad. Later, he became a guard dog for the butchers and brewers of the region. He also became a dog used in police and military work. Although his exact ancestry is undocumented, it is believed that crosses were used of Standard Schnauzers (for coat type and salt and pepper color), Thuringian sheepdogs (for ear set), and Great Danes (for size and black coat color). He was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1930.
The Giant Schnauze is alert, energetic and makes a good family pet and guard. He is easily trained with a solid, reliable temperament. The coat needs periodic stripping to retain its harshness and avoid becoming wooly.
The Giant Schnauzer's head is strong and elongated and narrows gradually from ears to eyes and then to the tip of the nose. The nose is black. The upper part of the skull is broad between the eyes, with a flat, creaseless forehead. The ears are small and v-shaped. They drop forward close to the cheek or are cropped to sit erect on the head. The lips fit tight against the jaw without drooping. The coat hair is longer on the eyebrows as well as along the side and under the muzzle. The neck is slightly arches without loose skin. The chest is moderately broad and deep, reaching to the elbow. The back is strong and straight. The length of the back is equal to shoulder height, giving the appearance of a square shaped dog. The tail is cropped to the third joint and carried high. The legs are straight and strong. The feet are short, round, and cat-like. The coat is a double coat with a soft, short undercoat. The outercoat is close, strong, hard and wiry. Coat colors include pepper and salt or pure black. Average height is between 21 1/2 inches to 25 1/2 inches. Average weight is between 70 and 75 pounds.


Name withheld by request of Athens, Greece writes:

"Joie de Vivre!" (means "love of life!").
I have trained over 500 dogs (privately and in group lessons) and have been showing for about ten years. I also consult people in picking a puppy, and am very familiar with many breeds in various life stages. I have a nine-year-old FCI Champion Giant (still in his prime!) stud whom I've bred for several years in Europe.
Giants are by far the most intelligent dogs I've met. They are avid thinkers and will invent games, try to outsmart you, and manipulate their environment and other animals to their advantage.
This would be a problem with a breed that wasn't willing to please, but once a Giant finds you worthy of his/her love they LIVE to make you grin! They WILL still take advantage of everyone else, though, if they feel the need to! This intense loyalty in Giants is what is their downfall when they are forced to change homes or handlers. They love to work with a specific person NOT every joe-shmo (like German Shepherds) and this combined with their expensive cost and grooming requirements is what has kept the German Shepherd more popular with police departments.
They can be stuborn and independent and most lie to "lesser" family members, i.e., "Grandma, I haven't eaten for a week! I SWEEEEAR!" Or "I know it's raining but I got the runs - I SWEEEEEAR!" but they are stubborn and independent only compared to German Shepherds and Dobies, not any REALLY stubborn and independent breeds (like livestock guardians). Also, when raised right and well bonded they are very rarely stubborn (and never lie to their master :) just everyone else).
They are IMMENSELY powerful, totally fearless (mine stopped a Jeep that didn't see me sleeping on the beach, with a full head-on attack!) and have a very high tolerance for pain and most anything else (i.e., bad weather). They are usually bigger (especially the males) than stated above. Even the standard says 28 inches tall for the males and very few weigh as little as 77 pounds! I have a 100-pound 28.5-inch male and he easily got his championship here in Europe. He was bred in Germany where they are bred more for work than show, but still turned out to be drop-dead gorgeous too. Though he's very strong, dominant and fearless his incredible intelligence and devotion has made it always easy to get through to him. He seems to understand EVERYTHING! And you can see him trying his best to understand when he doesn't, by tilting his head a little.
Giants are also incredibly fast (faster than 60km/hour, faster than Border Collies, Dobies and Huskies) incredibly agile (very difficult for trainers to play keep-away with any form of object) and incredible jumpers (five-foot fencing is easy without a running start). Their bite power has been statistically measured and equals the Rottweiler's in pressure. So, try not to get one mad at you!
They are VERY alert (they go from sleeping deeply to running to check things out in half a second) but most don't bark unless it's necessary (don't bark at people passing your yard, just the one who stops) and all Giants bark less than Standard and Minis.
Giants need lots of grooming (especially if shown) but when groomed properly they don't shed much, don't smell and look like a million bucks. The high pain tolerance makes it rather easy for owners to teach Giants to LOVE being groomed and bathed. All you have to do is put music on and sing while you do it, kissing a wet nose when you're done!
Speaking of kisses, Giant kisses are my very favorite thing! Most Giants (at least here in Europe) don't kiss a lot and when they do they kiss soft, quick and very, very dry (only a tiny bit of the tongue comes out). This feel almost like a human kiss and is very cute and polite.
Most are very protective of family, home and property and very dominant. Submissive people will end up living with a tyrant in no time at all. This doesn't mean they need lots of repetition or harsher treatment (like most Rottweilers, who have a MUCH lower intelligence as a breed) it only means that owners need to be clear in setting their limits and stubbornly but CHEERFULLY not let themselves be taken advantage of. If your puppy learns that you are "Mr./Ms. Stubborn" at an early age, they will quit being stubborn and testing your limits all the sooner. But this should be done with love, lots of affection and lots of games, fun and exercise.
Giant puppies learn surprisingly fast and ADORE learning new things (unless you are a complete jerk and don't make it any fun!). Their stable, fearless and intelligent attitude makes them an awesome well-rounded dog, well suited to do practically anything with you, from horseback riding to windsurfing. We do both plus many other activities like hiking, fishing, tracking, Schutzund, and even find lost dogs for people on the side (which my Giant gently but effectively nudges back to their owners!). Giants love most activities (well maybe not pet therapy) and have a very
"game attitude." I believe this comes from their bravery as much as from their playfulness. It takes courage to try new things head-on like that. Courage and "Joie de Vivre"!
Lastly, most Giants are very dog aggressive and LOVE to fight. This can be turned around with a good trainer and can be avoided in many cases with proper socialisation. But all prospective owners should be aware of this problem and make a plan to remove it from their dog's character BEFORE it shows itself, because more often than not -it does. Obedience training around other (well-behaved) dogs is the best way to curb this and prevent it too.
They are usually very good with children of any age (they are smart and know kids are fragile) but are very clumsy for the first couple of years of their life, so care must be taken to avoid accidents around small children and the elderly. Mine almost killed a little girl in the park by accidentally "ramming" into her at a tremenous speed and knocking her (more like "throwing" her) down. She cried and cried in her mother's arms and my clumsy, teenaged Giant felt so bad he went over there and rested his head sadly in the little girl's lap. When I said, "Look, he's trying his best to say he's sorry," the little girl broke out into sweet glorious laughter, hugging the Giant tightly and I sighed with relief.
In a home with young children, a good rule, even with a great and well "tested" dog is this: always make sure the dog can get away from the child if he's had enough. Most dogs won't bite even a nasty child if they have the choice of just leaving. It's common sense really but most parents don't think of the dog's needs - they are just glad the child is being "entertained." Big mistake!
Giants are playful and inquisitive well into their old age and a joy to live with (I've never used a crate except for shows) if you have time to give one lots of exercise and love. They will repay you by guarding you and yours (better than any other breed, in my book) and by being a superbly intelligent, entertaining and handsome best friend!


llarivers@hotmail.com of Dallas, TX writes:

Impressive, intelligent and highly energetic.
This is my first Giant Schnauzer and I am so pleased with this dog. This breed is so intelligent! So easily trainable, I would not believe it if I did not own one myself, and I'm not a patient person. They are also highly demanding of your time. They need to be with people who are willing to be active; if you are not an active outdoor type person, don't get this dog. We go hiking, biking every weekend and during the week we walk approximately two miles morning and night every other day and play/train her. And she is still wanting to go at 11 at night. She has a personality like no other dog I have had and the rewards are never ending! We are looking for our second.


Brightday20@cs.com of Henryville, IN writes on 10/9/00:

The most Gentle Giants of them all!
I have owned three Giants. My boys are loyal and affectionate, and they get along well with everybody. They seem to love everyone, and they definitley enjoy being around people. Although they are clumsy in their youth , they grow to be quite elegant creatures. I would recommend this breed for their loyalness and teachability. They are the perfect large breed to keep inside as compared to the Great Dane, the Mastiff, or the St. Bernard, they are the intermediate size , perfect for all , I think . Anyone who hasn't experienced the love of one of these Giants, should visit a breeder, and see what they are all about.


rimfire@shoal.net.au of Australia writes on 12/27/99:

Gentle giant.
Stunning, big, cunning, smart and sense of humour are all words that I would use to describe my Giant Schnauzer. He is a huge 95 pound, 27 inch boy, with a great love of meeting people, especially children. My three children (8 yrs, 6 yrs, 4 yrs) adore him and he is a true gentle giant with them, one of the few dogs I would trust their well being with. They can reach into his bowl of his food and with a wagging tail he says "Help yourself, I'll share!" (Not that I'm recommending you let your kids do this.) They get angry with him when he comes over to them while they play their games, he just wants to be an interested bystander, but how is he to know he has just stood on carefully constructed dirt and stick roads? With and apologetic grin off he comes to me "Geez, what have I done?" and a reassuring pat. I love him. He has a sense of humour that is to be seen to be believed. I have to say though that I could have cheerfully posted him back to the breeder when he was going through adolesence - the chewing, the not obeying commands (feigning deafness), the attempts at manipulating the relationship! If you are willing to give up your position of Kingpin, he'll gladly
take the title in a non-aggressive cunning way. What with the care of coat and their size, they are not the dog for everyone but they are for me. (He is good with small-medium dogs/bitches, but meet up with a dog around his size and he will challenge them to a fight given half a chance.) Because my boy is so big, I obedienced trained him from eight weeks on, and would recommend this as par for the course when owning any large, strong dog.


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