Miniature Schnauzer Dog Breed

Salt & Pepper Miniature Schnauzer
  • Other names:
  • Zwergschnauzer
  • Mini Schnauzer
  • Dwarf Schnauzer

The Miniature Schnauzer is one of the most popular dog breeds of all time – and for good reason: it can be a handful. This breed is extremely intelligent, full of spunk, easy to train, and loud but lovable. In essence, if any dog breed were said to have a “Type-A personality,” the Mini Schnauzer would be it.

Originally bred in Germany to hunt rats, this breed is athletic, streamlined, and handsome. With its trademark facial hair, some Mini Schnauzer owners enjoy having their dogs professionally groomed – while others learn to do it themselves. This breed is somehow charming and selfish at the same time, and will undoubtedly assert itself as a member of the family. This breed is ideal for a single pet household and older or no children. They can get along with other dogs, however, of lesser or equal size. Minis are very versatile in regards to living space; whether you have a large house or tiny apartment, this breed will make itself right at home.

Miniature Schnauzer Breed Details

Breed Specs
Purebred12-14 yrs.12-14 in.11-20 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

The Schnauzer is a Terrier and special kind of Terrier at that. While this breed was originally produced to exterminate vermin, these ratters had to be small. They had to be easy transport and for getting after rats in small spaces. Today, these dogs are excellent companion animals. They are not exactly recommended for first-time dog owners, but if you're willing to learn patience, to endure the problems, and to maintain an active lifestyle, then you should be fine with a Mini Schnauzer.

Here are some interesting facts, good and bad, about Miniature Schnauzers:

  • Pros
  • Fun
  • Outgoing
  • Energetic
  • Easy to train
  • Highly intelligent
  • Great for children
  • Highly adaptable
  • Remarkably sturdy
  • Very low shedding
  • Superb watch dog
  • Excellent sense of hearing
  • Can be calm when indoors
  • One of the healthiest dog breeds
  • Cons
  • Very stubborn
  • Might bark loudly and a lot
  • Curiosity can easily lead to trouble
  • Requires significant outdoor daily exercise
  • Overly bold around far larger and more aggressive dogs

Miniature Schnauzer Breed Description

This is a small-size breed. Height ranges from 12-14 inches at the shoulder; weight, 11-20 pounds.

Behavior in a Mini Schnauzer can be hard to predict: the breed is spunky, intelligent, loyal, and extremely easy to train, but can also be stubborn, selfish, incredibly noisy, and territorial. These dogs make great family pets, but are best with older children; the Mini has known to snap at younger children who invade its space. The breed handles other pets fairly well, but does not tolerate rodents such as gerbils or hamsters at all, since it was originally bred to hunt and kill them.

A fairly high-maintenance breed, a Mini Schnauzer will require a good bit of care. Though it sheds very little, the breed needs a good deal of grooming; since most people prefer a “tailored” look for their Mini, most either have their dog professionally groomed or do it themselves. A Mini has only moderate needs with respect to other maintenance issues like baths and vet visits.

Miniature Schnauzer Breed History

Miniature Schnauzers originated in Germany in the mid- to late 19th century, when farmers sought to create an adequate "ratting dog" (used for catching rats) that was smaller than a Standard Schnauzer. This they did by breeding smaller Standards with other small breeds like AffenpinschersPomeranians, and Toy Poodles. Eventually the Miniature Schnauzer came to be recognized as a purebred all its own; records indicate Mini Schnauzers competing in dog shows around Europe as early as the 1890's.

The breed slowly made its way to the United States, and in 1926 it was officially recognized by the AKC. Interestingly, the Mini Schnauzer is in the AKC's Terrier class, while its larger Standard cousin is a member of the Working group.

Undoubtedly the most well-known Mini Schnauzer of all time was a dog named Dorem Display, who won Best in Show in the Terrier Group at the 1947 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Dorem Display went on to sire scores of prize-winning dogs; according to popular legend, every Mini Schnauzer currently in existence can be genetically traced to this one animal.

Today, the Mini Schnauzer is one of the most popular of all dog breeds. At one time, these dogs existed in colors such as yellow, red, and tan; but the black, silver, and black/silver combination varieties have been in such demand that through the years, other colors in this breed have virtually disappeared.

Miniature Schnauzer Appearance

A small-sized dog (but by no means a toy), the Mini Schnauzer has a square build, and is usually about equal in height proportionate to length. Perhaps its most distinctive feature is its “beard” (long hair around its mouth) and more hair over its eyes. (Depending on how it is groomed, a Mini will usually have thick fur on its front and rear legs as well.) The eyes are oval and deep-set, and the ears are fairly large, set high on the head, and forward facing; a Mini Schnauzer’s ears are often cropped, which points the ears upward in a sharp point.

The breed has a double coat, with a wiry, crisp outer coat and a soft undercoat. It has straight, rigid front legs, small, rounded feet (often referred to as “cat feet”), and a streamlined body that declines a bit from front to back. The tail is short and high-set, and is often docked.

Miniature Schnauzer Coloring

An overwhelming majority of Mini Schnauzers are black, black/silver or salt/pepper, as these are the colors recognized by the AKC and by the American Miniature Schnauzer Club, the breed’s official organization. But the breed does exist in other colors, such as tan, tan/ black, white, and white/tan. Some Mini Schnauzers have darker color combinations with patches of white (known as a “Parti”).

Miniature Schnauzer Size

This small breed is fairly consistent in size: 12-14 inches tall at the shoulder, and 11-20 pounds in weight.

Average Adult Height

12-14 in
*Height is measured in inches from the front paws to the top of the shoulder while the dog is standing on all four legs.

Average Adult Weight

11-20 lbs

Miniature Schnauzer Variations

There are two types of variations of the Miniature Schnauzer breed. One is the formal variety, coat color, and the other is an informal varietal: coat hair.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes only three colors: black; black and silver; and salt and pepper. The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) recognizes four color variations including white. The white variation is a matter of hot debate with the AKC and in the USA.

The white variety is not found in the other two Schnauzer breeds, the Standard and the Giant. It's unknown if the white gene in the Miniature Schnauzer was in the original breed or if it came later in unrecorded modifications. In Germany, where the original Schnauzer standard was developed and published, the white coat is not mentioned in that standard. It should be noted that white Minis are not albinos, as this is a congenital condition and is something altogether different.

There are also parti-colored Mini Schnauzers, but those are not really recognized by any of the big dog kennel clubs.

As all Schnauzers have wiry hair, there is not really a variety called the wire haired miniature schnauzer. They are advertised online with backyard breeders (BYB) often as a way to merely sell dogs. Schnauzers, prior to being labeled as such in the late 19th century, were originally called the Wire-Haired Pinscher. You might also find BYBs selling a "long hair Mini Schnauzer," and this is just a dog whose coat has been trimmed to be long or has simply not been groomed.

Finally, there are Teacup Schnauzers, which are neither a variation nor a breed. They should be avoided as they are rife with health problems and tend to come from mating dogs that have dwarfism or worse.

Miniature Schnauzer Temperament

Spunky, intelligent, loyal, and extremely personable, the Mini Schnauzer is considered by many to be the ideal family pet. This breed is normally alert, courageous, and at times territorial and rambunctious, but it is also obedient and extremely easy to train.

Some Mini Schnauzers are known for their selfishness, sensitivity, and stubbornness, and because it was bred to chase vermin, the breed may be feisty with smaller animals; but with a bit of training, experts say, a Mini will quickly learn manners. These dogs are also very noisy, and will give howl-like barks to express themselves quite often. Trainers recommend setting firm boundaries and practicing consistent punishment/reward methods to control this barking tendency. One advantage of a Mini Schnauzer’s vocal nature, though, is that it makes an excellent watchdog; it is intensely curious but not aggressive. This breed gives true meaning to the phrase “His bark is worse than his bite”!

Because of their breeding as ratting dogs, Mini Schnauzers often do quite well in agility and obedience competitions, and they are excellent a learning tricks, especially those that involve jumping. But because of their instinctive curiosity, this breed will often “run off” to chase other animals, so using a leash when the dog is outside is recommended, as is a fenced yard. Many experts recommend crate training a Mini Schnauzer, especially as a puppy, to help the dog learn a proper sense of place.

Miniature Schnauzer and Children

This breed is best with older children. Mini Schnauzers are very territorial, and have been known to snap at smaller children who invade their personal space and/or tease them. As with any dog breed, Mini Schnauzers will need to be socialized with children to feel completely comfortable around them, but experts say that these dogs mix best with older kids who will treat them with respect.

Miniature Schnauzer and Other Pets

Mini Schnauzers are often “Alpha”-personality animals, and respond to other pets in a variety of ways. They normally tolerate, and will often be very playful with, other dogs of equal or lesser size; interestingly, a Mini will often exhibit brave, “posturing” behavior with larger dogs, a trait that can be troublesome for the dogs’ handlers. A Mini will tolerate a cat, but not necessarily be friendly to it; the breed is known to chase cats, but will do so out of playfulness rather than aggression. And since it is bred to kill vermin, the breed will be very aggressive towards rodents, snakes, and even rabbits; its instinct is to kill them if given the chance. Regardless of the type of animal, socialization with other pets as puppies works best for this breed.

Miniature Schnauzer and Strangers

This breed can be aloof with, and suspicious of, strange people, and may bark; it will often take a cue from its owners on how to treat them. Proper training, especially when a Mini is young, is recommended.

Miniature Schnauzer Photos

Below are pictures and images of the Miniature Schnauzer.

Black and Silver Miniature Schnauzer
Black & Silver Miniature Schnauzer
Black & Silver Miniature Schnauzer
Black Miniature Schnauzer
Salt & Pepper Miniature Schnauzer
Black & Silver Miniature Schnauzer Head

Miniature Schnauzer Maintenance

Mini Schnauzers can be fairly high-maintenance, particularly when it comes to grooming. Many people prefer a distinctive, “tailored” look for their Mini, so they use a professional dog groomer every 2-3 months to keep their dog’s fur trimmed to their liking, while some do their own grooming at home; many also have their dog’s coat stripped, which removes dead tissue from the undercoat. While a professional groomer is not mandatory for this breed, brushing its fur almost daily to prevent matting and tangling is highly recommended.

Depending a Mini Schnauzer’s normal activity level, it will need a bath every 1-2 months. Because of its abundance of facial hair, it may need the fur around its mouth cleaned after eating. In addition, a Mini sheds very little, so little vacuuming or other cleanup will be necessary for dogs of this breed.

Grooming Requirements

A Mini Schnauzer’s fur tangles rather easily, so it will require frequent brushing; the long hair on its beard and legs should be combed about twice per week to keep the fur straight. Most people use a metal comb and/or a “slicker brush” with short, rounded metal pins, and start at the top of the dog’s front legs and work their way downward, brushing against the natural direction of the fur. (This process is repeated with the back legs.) The eyebrows are combed downward, as is the beard; the back is brushed with a softer comb because of the shorter fur.

Based on a dog’s needs, some use a professional groomer several times per year, while others learn to groom their Mini themselves. Home grooming is quite an involved and time-consuming process, but can be done quite successfully with some practice. Here are some basic steps:

  1. In addition to the comb and/or brush, tools needed include a sharp pair of scissors and an electric clipper – the best brands, professional groomers say, are Oster and Wahl – with adjustable numbered blades.
  2. Using a #10 blade, start at the base of the dog’s skull; clipping with the natural lay of the fur, move down the neck and over the back and sides, stopping at the tops of the legs. To clip the dog’s chest, use the same #10 blade, but clip against the direction of the fur, again stopping at the top of the legs. Against the lay of the fur, clip under the throat, over the cheeks, then on top of the head to the top of the eyebrows. Then, lifting the dog off its front feet, clip the underbelly, going with the fur, and paying close attention to the sensitive genital area.
  3. Using a combination of scissors and clippers with longer blades (#40, for example), trim the dog’s eyebrows, beard, and leg hair to the desired length.

Exercise Requirements

This breed will normally need a good deal of exercise. Going for a 30-minute daily walk (or two), with the Mini on a leash, is recommended; this breed also excels at games and tricks. Throwing a Frisbee to a Mini is always exciting, as these dogs have excellent jumping abilities.

Living Requirements

Provided the dog gets daily exercise, a Mini Schnauzer will do well in any living situation, even a small apartment. If a Mini uses a yard, a fence is recommended to keep the dog from wandering too far. And these dogs do not shed much, so little cleanup will be needed.

Temperature Range

This breed has no temperature issues, and will be comfortable in any climate.

Random Details

It's apparently rare to find an ugly Miniature Schnauzer. While they are popular on ugly Christmas sweaters and T-shirts, they tend to not be adorably ugly — just adorable!

Some people don't consider the dog cute, however, because of the beard. While most people agree that the unique beard is a sight to behold, it once served a purpose other than to distinguish the dog's appearance. As a ratter, these dogs used it as a shield against vermin attacks. When chasing down rodents, the hair can become wet, matted, and somewhat hardened..

Another odd and interesting fact about these little dogs is that they were often paired with German Shepherd Dogs. Together, this team was remarkably vigilant and extremely protective when on the farm, in the field, and protecting livestock.

According to American Kennel Club (AKC) data, the Miniature Schnauzer is in the top 20 of the most popular dogs in the USA. Some of the celebrities who have (or had) Mini Schnauzers are Mary Tyler Moore, Simon Pegg, Bruce Lee, and Bob and Elizabeth Dole.

Miniature Schnauzer Health

Life expectancy is 12-14 years. Mini Schnauzers are healthy dogs overall, but may suffer from eyes issues such as cataracts or progressive retinal atrophy, especially older dogs. Another issue found in older animals is a condition called Mycobacterium Avium Infection, also known as ATB, which is a genetically inherited disease of the immune system; ATB is usually diagnosed in dogs age 11 and older, and is often mistakenly diagnosed as lymphatic cancer. A veterinarian can examine a Mini to determine whether the dog carries the genetic material for ATB, and the vet can also check the dog for potential eye issues.

  • Cataracts
  • Mycobacterium Avium Infection
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Miniature Schnauzer Breed Recognition

The following dog breed registries and organizations recognize the Miniature Schnauzer as a dog breed:

  • American Canine Registry
  • American Kennel Club
  • America's Pet Registry
  • Australian National Kennel Council
  • Canadian Kennel Club
  • Continental Kennel Club
  • Dog Registry of America Inc.
  • Federation Cynologique Internationale
  • Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • National Kennel Club
  • New Zealand Kennel Club
  • North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • United Kennel Club
  • American Canine Association, Inc.
  • View all 14...

Miniature Schnauzer Breeders

Interested in the Miniature Schnauzer? Contact a breeder below:

Breeder Name
Snowflake Schnauzers
Texas T's Toy Schnauzers
Dream Maker's Puppies
All breeders with 'Quality Breeder' recognition have met our Quality Breeder Requirements.
* Please note - we are not endorsed or affiliated with any of the breeders listed above. However, we do our best to only list reputable and established breeders.