I am a proud schnauzer parent—I simply love the breed. This is what I've learned along the way.
Welcome to the Schnauzer Zone
Welcome to Schnauzer Zone! I have written this article to provide a lot of valuable information about one of America's most popular dog breeds—the schnauzer. These dogs make great companions and friends and are very good family dogs. However, it is still essential to train your dog and to treat them correctly to avoid any common problems.
Many dog owners, regardless of the breed of dog, have experienced problems with their pets. Sometimes these problems can take all the fun and joy out of owning a dog. Almost all problems are avoidable when taken care of early enough or when addressed from the start.
Common Behavioural Problems in Schnauzers
Schnauzer problems are similar to most dog problems but can grow out of hand if you are not careful to nip them in the bud early. It's fairly simple: Spend enough time with your dog, address problems appropriately and build a relationship early so that they remain healthy and happy for the duration of their life. As a pet parent, it is very possible that you will experience some problems along the way, especially if your dog is not properly trained from a young age. To help with each of these problems, here are some common issues and solutions:
Schnauzers can be quite vocal if not trained correctly. In combination with their high energy level, the barking can develop into a real problem if not stopped at an early age.
Solution: Schnauzers were bred to work all day, therefore, they need real exercise (ideally about 45 minutes a day, not just a 20-minute walk around the block). If they don't get enough exercise, they will find other outlets for their energy—like excessive barking!
Like any dog, schnauzers like to chew at times. They were bred to remove pests and like to chase and "kill." Chewing can be a problem, but it is usually easily discouraged.
Solution: Get them a toy to play with and to chew on to stop them from chewing on your shoes.
Biting is not a huge problem for these dogs, but it does occur. The biggest problem is that most owners let the biting behaviour develop and continue when the dogs are puppies and still small and cute. A tiny puppy playing is very cute, yet all dogs eventually grow into a larger dog with big teeth and will continue to bite indiscriminately.
Solution: Teach your puppy that biting hurts and make sure to offer them plenty of chew toys.
The Different Schnauzer Breeds and Sizes
The word schnauzer (from the German word for 'snout') was first recognised in 1842. The breed takes its name from one of its kind—a show-dog winner by the name of "Schnauzer"—at the 1879 Hanover Show in Germany. Schnauzers have been a consistently popular breed over the past 600 years. These energetic dogs were very popular on farms as ratters for guarding livestock and for hunting.
There are three varieties or sizes of schnauzer dog:
The Standard Schnauzer is the original schnauzer from which the miniature and giant breeds were developed in the late 19th century.
The History of the Miniature Schnauzer
The Miniature Schnauzer is one of the most popular breeds worldwide, mainly for its temperament and small size. The breed originated in Germany in the mid-to-late 19th century as a cross between a Standard Schnauzer and a smaller breed, such as the Poodle or Affenpinscher. Originally bred to be medium-sized farm dogs from the Standard Schnauzer, they are equally suited to ratting, herding and guarding property.
The breed was introduced to the United States by immigrants from Germany. The first litter was born in 1925, and in the same year, the first Wire-Haired Pinscher Club of America was founded. Today the Miniature Schnauzer is placed in the Terrier Group, while the Standard Schnauzer and Giant Schnauzer are placed into the Working Group.
Miniature Schnauzers usually have a small and solid build. They are robust, reliable and agile, but above all, very adaptable to different circumstances.
- Height: 12 to 14 inches (30 to 36 cm)
- Weight: 11 to 15 pounds (5.0 to 6.8 kg), males; 14 to 18 pounds (6.4 to 8.2 kg), females
These dogs have a harsh and wiry double coat; the exterior fur is wiry and the undercoat is soft. They require a certain amount of grooming, but if you do not intend to enter dog shows, it is fairly straightforward. They are often described as non-shedding dogs, and while this is not entirely true, their shedding is minimal and generally unnoticeable.
Worldwide, the Miniature Schnauzer comes in four different colours: black, black and silver, salt and pepper and white. In the U.S., the American Kennel Club only recognizes three colors and considers solid white to be a point for disqualification.
Miniature Schnauzers are often described as alert and intelligent. They are usually friendly, willing to please and obedient to commands if trained correctly. They make excellent watchdogs and have good territorial instincts. They are more likely to alert by barking than attacking an intruder, and they are not typically aggressive. However, they will express themselves vocally and may bark to greet their owner or to express joy, excitement or displeasure.
Miniature Schnauzers make excellent family dogs. They are usually good with children and also make great companions for older people. They are very playful dogs and require a certain amount of exercise, otherwise, they can become bored and invent their own entertainment, which can be inappropriate activities like chewing or digging and more.
Tips for Obedience Training Your Dog
One of the first goals for a dog owner should be obedience training if you want your dog to be a good, livable companion. Nobody wants to live with an out-of-control or misbehaving dog.
Be a Leader
Schnauzers are a very smart breed—sometimes they are smarter than most of us— and we need to train them in order to have control and to stay on top of their numerous antics. They are smart enough to solve problems in order to get what they want, and they often want to see how much they can get away with. It can be quite cute in the puppy stage, but you really need to establish yourself as the leader early in order to prevent problems later on.
Keep Up With Their Quick Learning Ability
Obedience training will teach your dog how to behave in certain situations that it will almost certainly encounter at some point in its life. And don't forget—the intelligence of your schnauzer is not just a challenge, it is also great for training because it means they will learn faster than many other breeds.
Establish Your Desired Outcome
There are various ways to start obedience training. You could find a good training club in your area and attend classes for several months. This could be quite costly and you might like to undertake some training at home in your own time. Whatever way works for you—simply think about how you ultimately want to train your dog to achieve the best outcome. So, here is a brief rundown of what schnauzer obedience training can give you and how you and your dog would benefit from it.
The Benefits of Schnauzer Obedience Training
Schnauzer obedience training should be practiced on a daily basis. You're training your dog anyway every day, whether you are aware of it or not. You are sending out signals to your dog just by interacting and caring for them, so it is important to get the basic signals right.
Consistency Is Important
Use the "sit" command before feeding dinner every day. That way, you maintain your leadership position and your dog gets a chance to acknowledge you as the leader. That also means that you will learn how to give commands effectively. Many dog owners neglect their responsibilities and feel like the burden lies with their dog to learn the commands. Think of dog training as a two-way street, and it will be far more effective.
It is important that you establish yourself as a leader. Your dog needs to learn that he has to listen to you at all times. Schnauzer obedience builds the cornerstone of all good training. If you attend an obedience-training class, make sure you transfer your leadership role from the training class and into your home. Your dog will have a much easier time following your lead if you are consistent in your training and expectations.
Use Basic Commands
Obedience training will provide you with basic commands like sit, stay, heel, speak, and quiet. Keep in mind that schnauzers are very intelligent, and they might pick up these commands very quickly. These commands form the basics that will make your dog more respondent in situations when it really matters.
Discourage Biting or Barking
Two of the most common problems that schnauzers develop are biting and barking. Biting can unwillingly develop during puppyhood when nipping and biting are considered play. Biting, in particular, should be dealt with at a very young age.
Barking is a widespread problem which goes back to the breeds' history as they were bred as guard dogs that alert their owner by barking. Different levels of obedience training can deal with these behaviours and ensure that your dog does not act out of line.
Keep Them Safe
Good dog training will teach you how to control your dog's energy and movements and will keep them from running around on you. Ideally, you will teach them to sit and heel when needed at corners, crossing roads and when other dogs walk by. Schnauzers are full of energy and they definitely need an outlet for it. So, it is even more important to be in control of your dog when out and about.
How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking Excessively
Learning how to stop your dog from barking can be a time-consuming and challenging task. A lot of schnauzers love to bark, and barking can develop into a significant problem. It is a natural behaviour for your dog to do, just as it is normal for us humans to speak. After all, dogs are born to bark. They have a natural desire to vocalize their feelings and needs.
Barking Is in Their DNA
Historically, alerting by barking has always been a task for schnauzers who were bred as farm and watchdogs. They see themselves as self-appointed protectors of the home and family and they alert by barking. It's when your dog barks excessively that it becomes a problem for all concerned—including our cranky neighbors.
So, before you can stop your dog from barking, you need to understand why he or she barks and what forms of barking you can control. Once you've identified the cause or trigger, you can then plan the correct training solution.
Why Do Dogs Bark?
All dogs bark in a variety of situations: they might bark when they are angry; they might bark when they are excited; they might even bark when they are scared and want to defend themselves. Here is a list of possible reasons when you might expect your dog to start barking:
- Territorial Barking
- Alarm Barking
- Attention-Seeking Barking
- Greeting Barking
- Frustration Barking
- Compulsive Barking
As you can see, barking is a major part of your dog's natural instinct. This is normal and important and should not be taken from them, however, it is important to control the barking.
How to Stop Your Schnauzer From Barking
When your dog can't stop barking, first determine the reason for their behaviour. Nine times out of ten, the barking is excessive and can be controlled. If you decide that your dog's barking can and should be controlled, ask yourself these questions:
- When does my dog bark?
- What is he or she barking at?
- Do they have a specific trigger?
1. Determine the Trigger
If you determine that your dog is barking because it wants to protect its territory or is simply alarmed by something, you cannot simply tell it to stop. In fact, negative reinforcement for territorial barking can often lead to biting or aggression in other forms. Your schnauzer doesn't understand what you're trying to tell them. It might stop the barking, but the territorial issues are still there.
2. Establish a Safe Space
You need to create a situation in which your dog will not feel that territorial urge to defend itself. This starts by taking control of your household. Be the leader of the pack and show your dog that you are the one in charge of protecting that space.
3. Remove the Trigger
You can simply reduce the dog's ability to see those incursive threats to its territory. Draw your blinds so he or she cannot see the mailman, get an opaque fence so they cannot see outside the yard and make sure they don't have open access to the windows at any time.
4. Reduce Anxiety
If your schnauzer has anxiety issues, the barking is likely a symptom of something much greater. Maybe they want to reach you and will continuously bark until you return. Most of the time, this is because you have rewarded them for this behaviour in the past. When you return home and they are excited, you immediately give them attention. Rather than rewarding them in this instance, you should ignore your dog for 10–15 minutes so they stop associating your return with attention.
5. Teach Them How to Speak
Finally, to stop your schnauzer from barking, teach them how to speak and be quiet. By creating a command that allows you to control their behaviour, your dog will learn not to bark when it is not necessary. A benefit of this is that, if there is an intruder or something you want your dog to bark at, they will still alert you.
More Training Tips
Training Makes for Good Canine Citizens
Schnauzer obedience training is important in many ways because it provides the foundation for all the issues that might arise at home. Remember that your dog will only do what it is taught to do. You must be consistent, reassuring and effective at maintaining the commands you give.
Training is the key to solving any behavioural problems (including stopping your dog from barking), and also to building a strong bond with your dog.
John on May 13, 2020:
I hate fkng schnauzers (miniature) they look old, are very annoying with their high pitched barking and their ugly eyes look dead, like a doll’s eyes. Worse of all they are not obedient and cant be played with. One of the worse breeds ever!
June Blackmon on November 21, 2019:
I have a miniature Schnauzer that I love very much. My energy level is very low, I am worried about her and not being able to play with her enough.
firstname.lastname@example.org on March 21, 2019:
How to get 10 month old to walk without pulling and struggling?
Jess on February 09, 2019:
My miniature schnauzer is eight years old. When he was younger he used to dominate puppies aggressively. Recently he has started attacking them with the intention to cause serious harm. It is not only embarrassing when someone is in the park with a cute puppy that everyone is loving and then my dog runs up and attacks, but it also makes me incredibly anxious. I am now often too nervous to take him for walks, because I am scared he is going to kill someone’s puppy. Please help me fix this problem. Just a note that he has no problem with adult dogs
Shelly on August 12, 2017:
Hi, I have shared my home with a mini for 2 1/2 years now. She has fit in well, and is loved by hubby and our 11 yr old son. We are taking her with us more often now than in the past as I believe that us leaving her at home alone all day is only creating territorial issues. I do believe that she needs to be allowed to 'see more'. I see how nervous she can get around new people and animals. Camping is an interesting situation. Hubby and son actually make her more nervous with how they overreact trying to 'protect' the situation instead of settling the situation. She detests the squirrels coming into the campsite. But I just reassure her that it's not a big deal and she ignores them. It does seem that the more you allow a schnauzer to be the centre of things, the more vocal and nervous they get. If they are ignored, but checked for behaviour, the better they act. How my little dog acts is only an extension to how I feel and react to things. If I'm relaxed and comfortable, so is she. If I'm nervous and defensive, then so is she. She is definitely alert. Please enjoy your dogs, and be aware of what we create them to be. Cheers.
Ivan on May 04, 2017:
I have a miniature and she is a fusy eater. She will sometimes not eat all day to get her own way. We have tried premium dog foods and nothing.. what might be the problem?
Marcia on January 30, 2017:
We have a schnauzer (our second) which is a rescue. She is very protective of me especially. She doesn't mess in the house, never chews anything up, doesn't urinate in the house, the only thing she does do is bark. She is very aggressive with other dogs as her original owner died & she went to two different households which had other dogs & they jumped her. She was also jumped by a standard poodle which she was on the leash with me. The poodle went packin. She is vocal, but does have some separation anxiety due to original owner dying. These are great dogs & very loving. She thinks she is bigger than she is & doesn't back down from anyother dog. She minds me better than my husband. She has him buffaloed. KoKo does rule the home & we are controlled by this little cutie.
Adriana on December 23, 2016:
You spelled did wrong, you put gog.
@max on March 11, 2016:
eh yeah he does! But one more thing. A strong spray bottle does the trick to stop your schnauzer from being naughty. They hate it. Spray him when he bites things or is crazy
max on March 10, 2016:
you clearly state out all of the issues but dont have any solutions.
Mary Hyatt from Florida on July 09, 2015:
This interesting Hub showed as a related one to the Hub I just wrote about my Min. Schnauzer who is now blind from Glaucoma.
Your Hub is very informative, and you did point out the facts about the breed. I think this breed is ideal for those people like me who want a small intelligent and loving dog.
rmcooley on June 30, 2015:
How do you stop schnauzers from pottying in the house? We have 5 they go periods of time not going then one morning we wake up to potty all over the carpet. Sometimes we just walk in that one room and there it is. Getting rid of the carpet is in the plans, still saving for wood floors. The carpet was here when we bought the house. The other owner's had 2 terriers and they go in specific spots. I am assuming it was because her dogs went in thise spots. Enzyme products have not gotten rid of the scent. They hate the diapers and act depressed. When I am not home others I believe are not consistant in letting them out. We can't ever catch them. Help.
Sherry on May 27, 2014:
Why does our schnauzer tear up papers, bags , anything on the floor when we leave her? She is 16 months old and just started this behavior.
cfin from The World we live in on April 21, 2014:
Just bought a Mini Schnauzer puppy and he is wonderful. Very smart and a brilliant little guy. Boy does he like to snap his 10 week old teeth on my hand though. It's totally normal at his age but we are nipping it in the bud.
Leah on April 15, 2014:
Yea , schnauzers are a great choice .
Matt Edmondson from Tucson, AZ on February 22, 2012:
We have a shih tzu and have been looking for another small dog to play with him. Great info here!