Specific Breed Information

Breed Traits - Characteristics

Giant Schnauzers are a Working Breed, originally bred as a cattle herding and guarding dog, as such they are high drive and protective of their home and family. They will bark at strangers within close proximity of their home/territory, rest assured if a Giant Schnauzer is barking, they will have heard something or seen someone approaching. Once a visitor is accepted into the home, they are usually quite friendly, however, some may be aloof with strangers. Unless taught otherwise, Giant Schnauzers may greet people by jumping up and being generally boisterous. Giants need a considerable amount of training and socialising from early puppyhood through to adolescence and beyond, up to at least 2 years of age, in order to learn acceptable behaviour.

Being high drive Giant Schnauzers may chase fast moving objects such as cyclists, joggers, birds, rabbits etc...early socialisation and training is required to prevent any undesirable chasing. They may also be unaccepting of other large breed dogs of the same sex in the household i.e. 2 males or 2 females may not live together amicably, depending on the individual dogs and also the owner. It is not really advisable to have 2 males or 2 female Giants together, as there is an increased risk they won't get on when the youngest begins to reach maturity at around 18 months to 2 years of age.

Giants are a people dog and are devoted to their family, they often choose their friends and protect their family. They do not like to be excluded or isolated, they will follow you from one room to another and generally get involved with everything and anything. As such they do not like being left on their own for long periods of time, and wouldn't take kindly to being left alone in an outside kennel. Puppies need to become accustomed to being left for short periods, otherwise they may develop separation anxiety or may find their own entertainment.

They are a very intelligent breed, and learn things very quickly, whether it's something you want them to learn or not! Therefore it is important to train Giants from the beginning and discourage unwanted behaviour as soon as possible. They are also large, muscular and very strong, and if they do not have a definite 'boss' they will begin to adopt the role as pack leader, therefore Giants require a firm, fair and consistent owner.

Giant Schnauzers also require a considerable amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation, they do well at many different disciplines such as obedience, agility, IGP etc. Provided they have had the correct input in the early years, Giants are a very loyal, loving and amazing companion and will quickly become a large family member. They will however try your patience and sanity to the limit and will take over if you're not the right type of owner for them. A good sense of humour is also essential. People often assume that Giants are just a big version of a Miniature Schnauzer, which is not really the case, as they are derived from different breeds and for different purposes in addition to the obvious size and strength distinctions.

Do not take on a Giant Schnauzer if you are not prepared or not able to put in the time and effort they require as puppies and youngsters.


General Breed Information

Description Paws out of 10
Giant Schnauzers are a 'trimmed breed', they do not tend to shed their coat as much as shorter haired breeds, therefore they will require regular attention. Legs and beard require regular brushing and combing, stripping, clipping and trimming is required roughly every 8-12 weeks. Ears need plucking and keeping clean, nails need trimming, and routine canine dental care. Keeping a Giant in show condition may require a considerable amount more grooming.
An adult Giant needs vigorous daily exercise, free running and mental stimulation; at least 1 hour twice a day. They are a large, strong and active breed originally used to herd cattle, and are classified in the working group of dogs. However Giant puppies will require more restricted exercise and consideration for their environment until their joints are fully developed (up to approx 12-14 months of age). Free running exercise on soft ground with gentle slopes, such as a garden, is great if the puppy can rest when they have had enough. Care should be taken to prevent puppies from 'over' exercising; no jumping from heights, no vigorous ball chasing, no repetative steps/stairs, or running at the side of a bike etc. Formal lead walking should also be restricted. Puppies should also be supervised when playing with older dogs whilst they are growing, as an older dog can easily cause injuries to a puppy's developing joints and growth plates. Slippy floors should also be avoided as much as possible. The wrong type of excercise can cause permanent damage to their developing joints.
Size Category: Large
Dogs are 25.5 to 27.5 inches to the top of the shoulders, bitches are 23.5 to 25.5 inches. Giant Schnauzers are very strong, well boned and muscular.
Health Problems:
Giant Schnauzers are a comparatively healthy breed, quite hardy and generally do not suffer from many ailments. However there is currently a requirement for annual eye tested, prior to breeding, for Hereditary Cataracts (HC). The Kennel Club and breed clubs also recommend breeders to litter screen puppies eyes for Multifocal Retinal Dysplasia (MRD), and any other congentinal eye abnormalities. It is also recommended to hip score adults before breeding, with regards to Hip Dysplasia (HD). Over the last 15 years in the UK, the average hip score is 12 and median score is 10. Elbow scoring is also often done at the same time as hip scoring. Elbows should ideally be 0.
As of June 2021 there is also a recommendation to DNA test before breeding. The three main DNA tests are for prcd-PRA and PRA5 (two blinding eye conditions) in addition to DCM (a heart condition).

Epilepsy and thyroid problems have been know to occur in the breed. The latest breed health survey carried out by the breed clubs, shows around 4% of Giant Schnauzers that took part in the survey had epilepsy, and 2.9% had hypothyroidism. However most breeders work hard to try and avoid such problems. The breed club health survey also shows that cancers are the largest cause of death within the breed.

Giants are highly intelligent and extremely trainable. However they sometimes have a stubborn tendency which is thought to be linked to their intelligence. Therefore they will require firmness and consistency. Giants require ongoing training from a very young puppy through to adulthood, in order to learn the ground rules. They like to be with people, and if left to their own devices for long periods may become bored, and find their own entertainment!
Compatability with Children:
Giants are a 'people' breed, they are loyal and devoted to their family. Their boundless energy makes them excellent play mates for older children. However, since they are strong and agile they could unintentionally knock over a small toddler during play. The level of responsibility and attention required by a large breed puppy, such as the Giant Schnauzer, is probably comparable with having another child. And careful consideration should be given as to whether a busy family life can accomodate the amount of time, attention and training required by a large breed puppy when children are very young. A considerable amout of socialising with visitors will also be required during the puppy/adolescence stage to ensure a puppy will grow up to accept school friends visiting etc into the home. Giant's are not happy if isolated from their family.
Suitability For People With Allergies/Asthma:
Giant Schnauzers are quite often described as being hypo-allergenic, which is not strictly correct. Different people react differently to allergens. Most dog allergies are related to saliva or dander. Although Giants are classed as a non-shedding breed, they are 'dogs' and have both saliva and dander, we have known Giants cause a skin reaction in those allergic to dog saliva and also exacerbation of asthma and allergy symptoms in those who have problems related to dog dander. For anyone with allergies and/or asthma considering getting a Giant Schnauzer, it is better to spend time with a number of different Giants beforehand to gauge the response. And also consult with your health care provider for definitive advice.
Guarding Instincts:
Giant Schnauzers have outstanding guarding abilities, they were used in the past to watch over cattle and their herdsmen, in addition to police and security work. A Giant Schnauzer will be quick to alert if strangers approach their territory. They are a family protector and devoted companion with a combination of courage and calmness.