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The Standard is the oldest of the three Schnauzer breeds. German farmers and land owners kept him as a ratter, hunting dog, and watchdog, and he is still good at all of those jobs today, as well as being an entertaining companion and dignified show dog. He is a medium-size dog with a hard, wiry coat in salt and pepper or solid black.
The Standard Schnauzer was originally classified by the American Kennel Club as a terrier, but in 1937 the breed club voted to switch to the Working Group because of the breed’s history as a working farm dog and guardian. The change was made in 1945.
This is a thinking dog. His fanciers like to claim that he has a human brain, and indeed, you can almost see him stroking his beard as the wheels go round in his head, plotting his next move to take over your household and run it in an efficient German manner. The Standard Schnauzer is smart, smart, smart, and you should be too if you want to stay one step ahead of him.
You’ll need to give this mischievous, quick and active dog plenty of physical and mental exercise every day, or he will get bored and find his own job to do. Take him on three 20-minute walks at a fast clip or an hour-long hike, or schedule active playtime in a safely enclosed, traffic-free area.
As far as a job goes, daily training practice counts as “work,” as does guarding the house, greeting visitors, going with you to bring in the mail, helping you in the yard… you get the idea. The Standard Schnauzer is also a whiz at canine sports, including agility, herding, obedience, rally and tracking, and he makes an excellent therapy dog.
A proper Standard Schnauzer has natural guarding instincts, but he needs early, frequent socialization so he can learn how to distinguish between threats and normal situations. Purchase a Standard Schnauzer puppy from a breeder who raises the pups in the home and ensures that they are exposed to many different household sights and sounds, as well as people, before they go off to their new homes.
Continue socializing your Standard Schnauzer throughout his life by taking him to puppy kindergarten class, visits to friends and neighbors, and outings to local shops and businesses. He will welcome people that you invite into the house, but other strangers can expect a cold reception.
On the down side, a Standard Schnauzer can be messy to keep. His beard will drip water after he drinks and will need to be cleaned after meals. His coat must be combed a couple times a week and needs professional grooming or at-home clipping to maintain its distinctive appearance.
Begin training as soon as you bring your Standard Schnauzer puppy home. Use positive reinforcement training techniques such as praise, play and food rewards, combined with a nothing-in-life-is-free program that requires him to “work” for food, treats, toys and playtime by first performing a command such as sit or down. The Standard Schnauzer thinks for himself, but he learns quickly and will respond to kind, firm, consistent training. Don’t make him repeat the same action over and over again. He’s smart and becomes bored easily, so keep training sessions interesting. He’s a bit of a comedian, so expect him to put his own clever spin on anything you ask him to do.
The Standard Schnauzer is best suited to a home with a large yard surrounded by a solid fence that is at least five or six feet high. Do not rely on an underground electronic fence to keep him contained. The shock it provides is nothing to this tough dog, and he won’t let it deter him from leaving the yard if that’s what he wants to do.
Standard Schnauzers can be a good choice for families with children, but parents should always supervise. Standards can also get along well with other family pets, including cats, but they may be aggressive towards dogs they don’t know.
The Standard Schnauzer’s coat must be brushed or combed at least a couple of times a week to prevent or remove mats and tangles. To maintain the Standard Schnauzer’s distinctive look, you’ll need to trim his head and body regularly. You can take him to a professional groomer or learn to do it yourself. Other grooming requirements include cleaning the ears and trimming the nails as needed, brushing his teeth and bathing him when he’s dirty.
While you might think of him as an outdoor dog, nothing could be farther from the truth. Standard Schnauzers are guardian dogs, devoted to their people. A Standard Schnauzer should certainly have access to a securely fenced yard, but when the family is home, he should be in the house with them.
The Standard is the eldest of the three Schnauzer breeds. He is depicted in artwork by Albrecht Durer that dates to 1492. These were all-purpose dogs who guarded property and livestock, killed mice, rats, and other vermin, and protected the farmer or merchant on the road to or from the marketplace. Their ancestors were herding and guardian breeds.
Along the way, the wirehaired pinschers, as they were originally known, were crossed with the gray Wolfspitz and the black standard Poodle. The result was the familiar pepper and salt and black coats seen in the Standard Schnauzer today. The dogs were exhibited at shows in the 1870s and a breed standard was written for them that describes a dog much like the modern dog. The wirehaired pinschers eventually became known as Schnauzers, a play on words that referred to the dogs’ distinctive muzzle (schnauze in German) with its beard and mustache. That was also the name of a popular show dog of the time, and the breed took his name.
A few Schnauzers were brought to the United States in the early 20th century, around 1900, and the American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1904, but it wasn’t until 1925 that the Schnauzer Club of America was formed. The club split in 1933, with one group becoming the Standard Schnauzer Club of America, the other the American Miniature Schnauzer Club. The Standard Schnauzer has never had the same popularity as the Mini, which ranks 12th in AKC registrations, and falls just below the Giant at 95th among the breeds registered by the AKC.
Life is never dull with a Standard Schnauzer, courtesy of his sociable, intelligent and oftentimes comedic nature. He is also a serious protector, with a natural bent toward looking after his family.
The Standard Schnauzer thrives in a family, and he is a good and trustworthy companion of children. He is a clever and inquisitive dog and, at times, known to be stubborn and strong willed. But if raised with plenty of love, training and attention, he will grow into an irreplaceable family dog.
The Standard Schnauzer is naturally territorial and discerning, so don’t be surprised when he barks at newcomers to your home. Once he gets to know family friends, the Standard Schnauzer will accept such comings and goings. However, he will always guard his family against strangers.
Hardly a couch potato, the Standard Schnauzer is a high-energy canine. He needs a lot of exercise, not only to keep in good physical condition but also to keep him mentally stimulated. Plan on long daily walks, playtime romps in the yard, and activities such as obedience training. Expect a Standard Schnauzer puppy to constantly explore and investigate his surroundings.
Training should begin right away for the Standard Schnauzer puppy. Even at 8 weeks old, he is capable of learning good manners. Never wait until he is 6 months old to begin training, or you will have a bigger, more headstrong dog to handle. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed. These experiences as a young dog will help him grow into a sensible, calm adult dog.
Talk with a reputable, experienced Standard Schnauzer breeder. Describe exactly what you’re looking for in a canine companion, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Choose a puppy whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized by the breeder from early birth.
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
Some conditions affecting Standard Schnauzers include hip dysplasia; eye problems (including cataracts and retinal dysplasia); a heart condition known as pulmonic stenosis; hypothyriodism; hemophilia (a bleeding disorder); and bladder stones.
Not all of these conditions are detectable in a growing puppy, and it can be hard to predict whether an animal will be free of these maladies, which is why you must find a reputable breeder who is committed to breeding the healthiest animals possible. They should be able to produce independent certification that the parents of the dog (and grandparents, etc.) have been screened for these defects and deemed healthy for breeding. That’s where health registries come in.
Ask breeders to show evidence that a puppy’s parents have OFA or PennHIP clearances for hips and an eye clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation.
To help maintain the breed’s good health, the Standard Schnauzer Club of America participates in the Canine Health Information Center, a health database. Before individual Standard Schnauzers can be issued a CHIC number, breeders must submit hip evaluations from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and eye test results from the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF). Optional tests are OFA certification of heart and thyroid health. Breeders can also choose to submit a blood sample to the OFA/CHIC DNA Repository.
Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database. A dog need not receive good or even passing scores on the evaluations to obtain a CHIC number, so CHIC registration alone is not proof of soundness or absence of disease, but all test results are posted on the CHIC website and can be accessed by anyone who wants to check the health of a puppy’s parents.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Standard Schnauzer at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
The Standard Schnauzer has a double coat: a hard, wiry outer coat and a dense, soft undercoat. His distinct look — eyebrows, thick beard, clipped body — doesn’t come naturally, at least not completely. Regular grooming is essential, including brushing, bathing, haircut, nail trim and ear cleaning. Expect to trim your dog yourself or take him to a professional groomer every six to eight weeks, especially if you wish to keep the coat trimmed short and those eyebrows distinctive. Regular brushing every week between stylings will keep the coat in good condition.
Shop around before choosing a groomer. Grooming a Standard Schnauzer properly requires good clippering and scissoring skills. Make sure the groomer has experience with the breed, both styling and handling. There is a difference between grooming a Standard Schnauzer for the show ring and grooming a family pet. A show dog may require hand stripping, rather than clippering, by a professional groomer and handler. If you plan to show your Standard Schnauzer, ask the breeder for lessons in how to present him in the show ring.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every week or two. Keep the ears clean and dry to help prevent infections. Check them weekly for redness or a bad odor that might indicate infection. If the ears look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball moistened with a mild pH-balanced cleanser recommended by your veterinarian. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath. Introduce your puppy to grooming from an early age so that he learns to accept it with little fuss.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a good breeder is a great way to find the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks. Be wary of breeders who only tell you the good things about the breed or who promote the dogs as being “good with kids” without any context as to what that means or how it comes about.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes to avoid those problems. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life.
Look for more information about the Standard Schnauzer and start your search for a good breeder at the website of the Standard Schnauzer Club of America (SSCA). Choose a breeder who has agreed to abide by the SSCA’s code of ethics, which prohibits the sale of puppies to or through pet stores and calls for the breeder to obtain recommended health clearances on dogs before breeding them.
Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of a Standard Schnauzer puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and conformation (show) and, ideally, working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Standard Schnauzer might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Standard Schnauzer in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Standard Schnauzers available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Standard Schnauzer. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Networking can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. Most people who love Standard Schnauzers love all Standard Schnauzers. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Standard Schnauzer Club of America’s rescue network can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Standard Schnauzer rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Standard Schnauzer home with you to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a dog. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors, and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Standard Schnauzer, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, take your Standard Schnauzer to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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