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The Furry Critter Network
Riesenschnauzer Breed Description
Giant Schnauzer, Munich Schnauzer, Munchener, Russian Bear Schnauzer
Approximately 12-15 Years
Average 5-8 Puppies
Although the Giant Schnauzer is called 'Giant', this is not in comparison to other large dog breeds such as the Great Dane or the Rottweiler, but instead in comparison to the Standard and Miniature Schnauzers. Giant Schnauzers are square in shape, and should resemble a larger version of the Standard Schnauzer.
The tail is always docked where it is legal, and the ears are usually cropped. If the ears are uncropped, they are small button ears carried high on the head. The head is 1/2 the length of the dog's back, when the back is measured from the withers to the base of the tail. The cheeks are flat, but well muscled.
The coat is dense, wiry, and weather resistant. The fur on the Giant Schnauzer's face forms a distinct "beard" and eyebrows. Its stride is long and crisp. Giant Schnauzers come in two colors: solid black, and a pattern called salt and pepper, where strands of black, gray, and white fur speckle the dog, giving it the appearance of having been salted and peppered.
They have a dense coarse coat that protects them from the weather and from vermin. Giant Schnauzers come in three color varieties: pepper and salt, pure black with black undercoat, and black and silver. Where legal, they are shown with cropped ears and docked tails. Like other schnauzers, they have a distinct beard and eyebrows. Today, the Giant Schnauzer participates in numerous dog sports, including Schutzhund. Another sport that the dog excels in is that of nosework. Due to its alert nature, the dog is also used in police work.
Head: Strong, elongated. Pronounced stop. Rectangular nose bridge. Shaggy muzzle ending in a blunt wedge. Black lips.
Ears: If cropped, carried erect. If natural, v-shaped, breaking at skull level or small and held erect.
Eyes: Oval. Dark color.
Body: Square outline. Arched neck. Medium width chest with moderately sprung ribs. Belly moderately tucked up. Short back sloping gently toward the croup.
Tail: Set high and carried erect. Docked to three vertebrae.
Hair: Hard, wiry, thick. Dense undercoat. Wiry beard on the muzzle; eyes slightly hidden by bushy eyebrows.
Coat: Solid black or pepper and salt. Dark mask. White markings are not desirable.
Size: Giant Schnauzer: 60 to 70 cm (23.5-27.5 in).
Weight: Giant Schnauzer: 30 to 40 kg. (66-88 lb).
The first Giant Schnauzers emerged from Swabia in the German state of Bavaria, and Wurttemberg in the 17th century. These original Giant Schnauzers were considered a rough-coated version of the German pinscher breeds, and their fur was thought to help them withstand the harsh German winters and bites from vermin. The origins of the breed are unclear, but sources speculate it originated through some combination of black Great Danes, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Boxers, Bouvier des Flandres, Thuringian Shepherds, and the Standard Schnauzer.
The Giant Schnauzer was originally bred as a multipurpose farm dog for guarding property and driving animals to market. By the turn of the 20th century the Giant Schnauzer was being used as a watchdog at factories, breweries, butcheries, and stockyards throughout Bavaria. It was unknown outside Bavaria until it was used as a military dog in World War I and World War II. The first Giant Schnauzers were imported to America in the 1930s, but they remained rare until the 1960s, when the breed became popular.
In modern times, the Giant Schnauzer is used as a police dog; is trained for obedience, dog agility, herding, search and rescue, and schutzhund; and is shown in conformation shows. They are also used for carting. In Europe, the breed is considered to be more of a working dog than a show dog. The focus in many European Schnauzer clubs is not so much on conformation shows, but on the working ability of the breed. In several countries, including Germany, dogs must achieve a Schutzhund Champion title before they can qualify to be a conformation champion.
Giant Schnauzers are usually a quiet breed. Due to its breeding, the Giant Schnauzer is inherently suspicious of strangers and can be very territorial. Once introduced, it is usually accepting of people or situations. It has the potential to be aggressive, but Giant Schnauzers are usually reserved, and a commanding figure when aroused. Giant Schnauzers have been described as trustworthy with children. They are very intelligent, and can become bored easily. They are also very energetic and highly spirited, which, when coupled with boredom, can lead to unwanted and destructive behavior. They are easily trained, and deeply loyal to their owner. Some breeders believe that salt and pepper colored Giant Schnauzers are more docile than their black-furred counterparts.
Giant Schnauzers should not be confined indoors. They are active dogs and need space and considerable exercise to stay fit and maintain their mental health. Daily brushing and professional grooming once every three months is required.
Working Dog, Guard Dog, Defense Dog, Military Dog, Police Dog, Pet.
Giant Schnauzers require regular grooming. Their beard can collect drool and food particles, making frequent cleanings essential. If being shown, their coat needs to be stripped every two to four weeks. If they are simply a companion animal, the coat can be clipped instead. Some Giant Schnauzers have an allergy to shampoo.
Hip and elbow dysplasia are common. Giant Schnauzers are also prone to eye problems such as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, glaucoma, cataracts, multifocal retinal dysplasia, and generalized progressive retinal atrophy. They are also prone to skin diseases, such as seasonal flank alopecia, vitiligo, and follicular cysts. Cancer of the skin is common in dark-colored dogs, with the most frequently occurring varieties being melanoma of the limbs and digits, and squamous cell carcinoma of the digit. This susceptibility occurs because melanoma is caused by a defect in the melanocytes, the cells that darken the color of the skin. Noncancerous skin tumors are also common.
Some Giant Schnauzers develop central diabetes insipidus, autosomal recessive hypothyroidism, selective malabsorption of cobalamin, narcolepsy, cataplexy, and various seizure disorders. Some are also sensitive to sulphonamides and gold. Bone diseases and joint problems are also an issue. The most common causes of death in Giant Schnauzers are lymphoma and liver cancer, followed by heart attacks and heart failure.
"Don't Shop ... Please Adopt"
If you can’t find the pet you’re looking for on Petfinder, don’t give up. Some shelters maintain waiting lists for specific breeds, so don’t be afraid to ask! There are also breed-specific rescues for just about every breed, and most of them post their pets on Petfinder. (Petfinder can even e-mail you when a pet that fits your criteria is posted — just click “Save this Search” at the top of your search results page.)
Jeff Gold, Founder, Rescue Me! Animal Rescue Network
Jeff Gold lives in Watkinsville, Georgia on the same property as Rescue Me's Animal Rehabilitation Center, with 18 rescue animals. Shown with him in the photo to the left are Maggie, Izzie and Cortez. In 2003, after learning there was nobody doing boxer rescue work in Georgia, Gold founded Boxertown, an organization which helped find homes for over 500 boxers during its first two years. Based upon this success, Gold came up with the vision for Rescue Me! ― a network which helps all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals find good homes, anywhere in the world. RescueShelter.com is also a free service of Rescue Me! and provides the world's largest and most up-to-date directory of animal rescue organizations for all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals, including a comprehensive directory of wildlife rehabilitators in over 150 countries.