The Giant Schnauzer is one of the three Schnauzer breeds. Although, despite his name, the Giant Schnauzer is NOT just a larger version of the Miniature Schnauzer. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. Having a Mini or Standard Schnauzer is not the same as a Giant. They are three distinctive breeds with three very different personalities and breed characteristics.
The Giant Schnauzer's rugged build, and dense weather-resistant, wiry coat make him one of the most useful, powerful, and enduring working breeds. His coat, including the beard and eyebrows that are the Schnauzer hallmark, is solid black or salt and pepper. The dog's height is the same as the length, giving it a square look. The ears are set high on the head and are either cropped or kept natural. The tail is set high and is usually docked to the second or third joint. Dewclaws are almost always removed from the back legs, and may be removed from the front if they are present.
The Giant Schnauzer developed in the Wurttenberg and Bavaria sections of Germany. These are agricultural sections where the raising of sheep, cattle, and other livestock has been a major occupation for years. Since railroads were not known, sheep and cattle had to be driven to market, which meant that dogs were necessary to help the shepherds. The Giant Schnauzers were specifically bred to aid the shepherd in driving livestock to market, guarding herds against predators, and protecting their families. They were used as guard dogs by the butchers and breweries, and draft dogs to pull carts and small wagons. Though a wrtten breed standard was not established until 1923, Giant Schnauzers have been known as far back as 1832 from cattle and pig farms in the Bavarian highlands region of Germany.
The Giant Schnauzer breed was formed by crossing Standard Schnauzers with the black Great Dane and the Bouvier des Flandres. The Schnauzer name derived from the German word "Schnauze", which means "muzzle". The Giant Schnauzer is called the Riesenschnauzer in Germany, which means "the giant."
During World War I the breed was recognized in Germany for its intelligence and trainability, becoming one of the breeds used for police training.
The first Giants were imported to the United States in the early 1920s and by the 30s, some of the best German breeding stock was in the hands of Americans. Giants were used by the U.S. Army in World War II. Today, the Giant, although rare in the U.S. and Canada, is gaining in popularity.
Cick here to read more about the history of this breed.
The Giant Schnauzer is a playful dog with a sound and reliable temperament, and a guarding protector. An extremely intelligent, energetic, strongly territorial dog, the Giant Schnauzer loves his owners and feels great responsibility to protect them. Some tend to have a herding instinct at a young age so it is best to teach puppies or younger dogs to not nip or mouth at all. They can be aggressive, especially if not properly socialized when young. Without proper socialization they may be unwelcoming of strangers and aggressive towards other dogs. Giant Schnauzers are an intelligent, versatile working dog. They will be calm with enough exercise. Reliable, brave, loyal, bold and vigorous, they love to be with their owner at all times.
Giants need a lot of exercise, requiring daily walks, playtime with another dog or romps in the yard. They especially love having a job to do. They make an excellent jogging companion. Without enough exercise they can become destructive in an effort to entertain themselves. They are a water dog, loving any opportunity to jump into a pond or lake. Being very loyal to their owner, they are not prone to running off if off leash, and may stop and look back to see where their owner is.
Giants have been bred for generations as guard and watch dogs. They have a relentless, imposing bark when they hear, see or perceive anything out of the ordinary. Giant Schnauzers are very prey driven. They will chase any fast-moving critter, burrow and dig, and bark furiously, to annoy that prey out of its safe haven. They bark a lot and are and extremely loud and noisy breed. They are relentless when they want something.
The Giant Schnauzer is a fairly independent, yet dominant, breed. Generally good with other pets although they do have a high prey drive and some may see the family cat as prey. They are extremely territorial and highly dog-aggressive. This is not a breed you take to the dog park and turn loose. Giants WILL fight, they are dog aggressive, especially with the same sex.
Giants who know their place is below humans, are well socialized and who receive enough daily mental and physical exercise will usually love everyone, a sweet-natured goofball. Some of the great qualities of Giants are that they can excel at obedience, agility, carting and protection work. If properly trained they are a dog that can do it all.
HEIGHT AND WEIGHT
The Giant Schnauzer weighs between 70 and 100 lbs and stands 23.5 to 27.5 in tall.
Health problems in the breed include epilepsy, hip dysplasia, incontenence, toe cancer, and gastric torsion (bloat).
About 12-15 years.
GROOMING AND CARE
This breed requires regular grooming, including brushing and stripping, so owners should be prepared to spend time maintaining the breed’s coat. they are one of the very few large breeds with a non-shed coat. The animal should be clipped all over to an even length at least four times a year and ear care continually is important. A person can easily learn how to do it themselves. Trim around the eyes and ears with a blunt-nosed scissor and clean the whiskers after meals. They have no doggie odor and shed little to no hair.
The Giant Schnauzer is not suited for apartment life. They are fairly active indoors and will do best with acreage. Giants have a huge need for exercise and if not vigorously done at least twice daily they bounce off the walls and are difficult to deal with, even a very well trained one, they have to expend the excess energy they were originally bred for or they just can't settle at night. These energetic dogs will take as much exercise as they can get, and just love play sessions during which they can run free.
They are best with well behaved, considerate children. Reserved with strangers.
Giant Schnauzers are easy to train responding best to firm, calm, consistency, with a positive attitude, rewarding good behavior. Giant Schnauzers tend to be on the dominant side and need an owner who understands canine behaviors and knows how to display authority in a calm, but stern, confident manner and be consistent about it. Without it they may become over protective, serious, with a hard headed temperament, as they believe they are alpha to humans. Socialize well around many different people to avoid them becoming suspicious of everyone they are not familiar with.
Giants are notoriously stubborn. Training is a MUST. Professional training, with a trainer who teaches YOU and your Giant is a must. Any antics that you find amusing in a ten week old puppy (oh, listen to that cute little snarl) and ignore, will most likely escalate into major problems later on. By the time you realize it's a problem, that dog has had YOU trained for quite a while.
Proper training and socialization is necessary to curb any possible agression in this breed.
The Giant Schnauzer is a very alert dog, good at protection, and affectionate with family members. But this is a breed that is demanding and needs a lot of daily attention from you and daily exercise with you. Giants are not for everyone.
Training and socialization is impreative at an early age. When your puppy reaches puberty you will begin to see a totally different dog and most of his traits will come out rather quickly. Unless they have been worked with properly, this is when many people figure out they are in way over their head and this is not the breed for them.
The Giant Schnauzer is a powerful breed that demands a steady, yet very gentle hand, and with proper leadership, this large breed can not only be a couch companion and jogging partner, but a loyal friend that will take a bullet for its owner. If you get a Giant, plan on daily long walks, running, hiking, biking, swimming, or to get involved in agility (obstacle course), advanced obedience, schutzhund (protection), carting, tracking, or a similar canine activity. If you do not have time to devote to your Giant Schnauzer, this is not the breed for you.
Healthy oral hygiene is important for our pet for multiple reasons. Clean teeth are not only cosmetically pleasing; they also promote good smelling breath and better long-term health.
If poor oral health causes an infection in our pet’s teeth or gums, it can spread to their kidneys. This is especially true in cats. Older cats often suffer from kidney failure, which can be caused by an oral infection spreading to kidneys. Valvular heart disease can also be caused by poor dental hygiene. Bacteria from a pet’s mouth can travel to its heart valves, causing them to change shape and become leaky.
Original article by Marybeth Bittel, Tails Magazine
When I was a young music student growing up in Chicago’s western suburbs, my family adopted an Airedale puppy we named Beethoven. I picked Beethoven out at the shelter because all the other puppies rushed forward to greet me, while he hid shyly in the corner. Most trainers agree that’s not necessarily the ideal benchmark for selecting a furry friend, but we got lucky. Beethoven matured into an outgoing, even-tempered, fun, and affectionate family member who sternly guarded our front yard one minute, and romped through our sprinkler the next.
But then came the Fourth of July. Fireworks went off at random intervals around the clock. We discovered that when it came to loud noises and ear-popping explosions, Beethoven was absolutely terrified.
At first we wondered how this could have happened. After all, we’d never left our beloved boy outside while pyrotechnics peppered the sky. He hadn’t been exposed to extreme noises as a puppy. In all likelihood, Beethoven’s fireworks aversion, like so many pet fears and phobias, was just one of those things that took hold when his sensitive hearing encountered a sudden trigger he could neither see nor anticipate.
So we did what numerous pet parents do when their cherished companion is struggling: we cuddled him, coddled him, and cooed comforting words of reassurance. We also sat, feeling helpless, watching him cower and hide as the problem held steady each year. In fact, through all the years of Beethoven’s life, he never overcame this disabling sense of distress, no matter how soothing or supportive we attempted to make his surrounding environment.
When my husband and I began working with abused rescue dogs, we noticed that most arrived with an array of deep-rooted anxieties acquired over time. One Bichon was terrified of rotary fans. A Shih Tzu mix became a jittery mess during thunderstorms. A sweet and docile Foxhound routinely hid from houseplants. These fears ran the gamut, but they had one thing in common: They were exceedingly real to the dog, and they had a great impacts on the entire family.
We began working with local animal behaviorists, and that’s when we learned an invaluable truth: The way we, as caregivers, react to our pet’s anxieties can actually perpetuate the patterns.
Why would this be? As Abe Mashal, owner of Marine Corps Dog Training in St. Charles, explains, “Dogs form extremely solid bonds with their humans. That means most canines are highly attuned to any type of interaction with their human ‘pack’ members.” So when something a dog is doing earns our attention—whether that attention takes the form of praise, pampering, or peevish irritation— the behavior is often unintentionally reinforced.
“Reinforcement,” a common term in the world of animal behavioral training, is really just another word for strengthening. In reality, a reinforcer can be anything that strengthens a behavior.
So for those of you thinking, “I never reinforce my dog’s non-stop barking! I scold her on the spot,” see if these examples sound familiar:
“Every interaction with your dog has the potential to teach and reinforce, merely because you’re paying attention,” explains Sara Swan, owner of Narnia Pet Behavior & Training in Plainfield. How can you tell if this is happening? Simply observe over time. Dogs continue to engage in behaviors that provide some sort of payoff. If you’re dealing with a fear or anxiety response that’s ongoing—such as Beethoven’s abhorrence of fireworks—some kind of inducement is likely contributing to the pattern. In Beethoven’s case, his reactions earned him almost round-the-clock nurturing.
Fortunately, we as dog parents can leverage these same dynamics when it comes to re-programming undesirable behaviors. Let’s say your 80-pound “lap dog” excitedly jumps on you whenever you come home from work. When you withhold the coveted attention—immediately going back out the door, or turning your back on him—many pups gradually begin to seek out a different behavior.
The same thing can work with a fear response. If your pet is terrified of your Swiffer mop, for example, try propping it against the family room couch and just leaving it there. Then, simply act like it’s no big deal and go about your daily routine, even if your pup exhibits an unsettled reaction. Very gradually, over time, as your furry friend begins to approach the mop with quiet but tentative curiosity, reward that calm behavior with brief praise or a small treat. Keep it up, and eventually your dog can learn that “mop = calm = good.”
Helping your dog manage his stress is one of the keys to having a happy and healthy pet. If your animal companion has specific challenges beyond what you’re comfortable handling, always reach out to a certified animal behaviorist who can help you develop targeted interventional techniques that will work on your pet’s unique needs. It will not only help with unwanted behaviors, but strengthen your bond, as well.
Safe, Drug Free Ways To Soothe Your Pet’s Stress
The Thundershirt. The ThunderShirt leverages the age-old principle of swaddling an infant to promote calming reassurance. Simply fasten this snug, stretchy shirt around your pet’s ribcage. During anxious episodes of panting or hyperventilation, it provides ongoing sensory feedback that suppresses this common panic response. ( Thundershirt.com )
Music or ASMR. As a musician, I can attest firsthand that deep, resonant tones often work wonders on a nervous pup. You can also try leveraging something called ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), which is promoted by many hypnotists and human sleep therapists. ASMR is a subjective, perceptual phenomenon characterized by a distinct calming or scalp- tingling sensation in response to quiet, seemingly mundane sound triggers. Certain pets appear especially receptive, and may even be lulled to sleep. To gauge effectiveness, try playing low, calming music or ASMR audio with your dog in the room. Use a meditation CD, or visit YouTube to access ASMR recordings by reputable “ASMRtists” such as The Waterwhispers.
Calming Sprays. Help create a relaxing environment for your pet by using a calming spray on their bedding or by plugging in a calming spray diffuser. Many cats and dogs experience reduced anxiety and stress after being exposed to these non- sedating sprays, which use soothing scents such as lemongrass, cinnamon, and lavender to encourage relaxation.