Origins of the Miniature Schnauzer
About the Breed
Although small, Miniature Schnauzers are a sturdy breed. A healthy weight ranges from around 5kg to 9kg, with the females generally being smaller. Their height at the shoulder is approximately 12 to 14 inches.
They have two coats, with the top coat being wiry. Show dogs tend to be hand stripped to keep the wiry coat, but many others are groomed with electric shavers which removes the top coat. They are very low shedding, so they may be a good choice for allergy sufferers.
Miniature Schnauzers are classed as terriers, but tend to be less feisty than some other types of terrier. That's not to say you won't meet the odd feisty Schnauzer! They generally like people and other dogs, and can make good family pets.
They are a fairly intelligent breed which can make training easier, although they can also be stubborn! Personalities vary between individual dogs, but Miniature Schnauzers are generally friendly and affectionate.
A Brief History of Schnauzers
There are no written records of Schnauzer origins, but they are thought to have originated in the 14th or 15th century in Southern Germany. It is likely that the first Schnauzer was created by crossing a German Poodle and a Wolfspitz with a bit of Wire-haired Pinscher. They were originally bred to be rat catchers and guard dogs.
The breed appeared in several paintings by German artist Albrecht Durer of the High Renaissance movement. Schnauzers also feature in a statue in Mecklenberg dating from the 14th century and another statue in Stuttgart from 1620.
The appearance of the original Schnauzer has a close resemblance to the Standard Schnauzers that are around today.
There are now three sizes of Schnauzer - the Miniature Schnauzer, the Standard Schnauzer and the Giant Schnauzer.
Beginnings of the Miniature Schnauzer
It is believed that Miniature Schnauzers were bred by crossing Standard Schnauzers with Affenpinschers and Miniature Poodles. Although there are no clear records on how they were developed, it seems obvious that the intent was to create a smaller version of the Standard Schnauzer. Like the Standard Schnauzer, they were bred to be ratters and guard dogs.
The first record of a Miniature Schnauzer is in 1888, which was a black female called Findel. They were first imported to America in 1924, and in 1926 they were registered as a separate breed by the American Kennel Club. They reached the UK in 1928, and quickly became popular.
The Breed Today
There are four main colours of Miniature Schnauzer - salt and pepper, black and silver, all black and all white. There have historically been Schnauzers in other colours, such as liver and parti colour, but although these are still bred today they are not generally accepted for exhibitions.
One area of controversy is the white Miniature Schnauzer. Although recognised by the World Canine Organisation, they are not accepted for shows by the American or Canadian Kennel Clubs. There is dispute regarding the origins of the white version, relating to whether they come from the genes of the recognised breed or whether they are the result of modifications.
The UK Kennel Club accepted the white breed in 2010. In 2015 a white Miniature Schnauzer was entered at Crufts, and returned the following year along with four other white minis.
Of the three Schnauzer sizes, the miniature is the most popular. In the UK, the United States and Germany, the Miniature Schnauzer places in the top 20 most popular breeds.
Famous Miniature Schnauzers
There are a number of famous Miniature Schnauzers, either belonging to well known personalities or celebrities in their own right!
One well known Miniature Schnauzer is Atticus M. Finch, who took part in a 48 high peak challenge with his owner, newspaper reporter Tom Ryan, for charity. The book Following Atticus was written about their experience.
The role of Toto in the West End show The Wizard of Oz was won by a black and silver mini named Dangerous Dave. He won the role by taking part in the UK TV talent show Over the Rainbow.
Another star is Ada, who played Colin in the British comedy series Spaced, which also starred Simon Pegg. The actor himself is a Miniature Schnauzer owner.
Other famous Miniature Schnauzer owners include actress Katherine Heigl, US Senator Bob Dole and boxer Sugar Ray Leonard.
This article is not intended to provide advice on buying or caring for the breed, it's just a bit of background information on these delightful dogs!