Specific Breed Information

Breed Traits - Characteristics

Giant Schnauzers are a Working Breed, they were originally bred as a cattle herding and guarding dog, as such they are high drive and protective of their home and family. As a guarding breed Giant Schnauzers will bark at strangers within close proximity of their home/territory. Rest assured that 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 very friendly, and unless taught otherwise, Giant Schnauzers may greet them by jumping up and being generally boisterous. Giants need a considerable amount of training from early puppyhood right through to beyond the adolescent phase up to at least 2 years of age, in order for them to learn the boundaries of what is 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 be able to live together amicably depending on the individual dogs, the owner, and the amount of early socialisation provided.

Giants are a people dog in that they are devoted to their family and do not like to be excluded or isolated, they sleep with one eye open and will follow you from one room to another and generally keep an eye on where you are and what you are doing. As such they do not like being left on their own for long periods of time and do not generally like to be left in a kennel in the garden. Puppies need to become accustomed to being left for short periods on their own, otherwise they may develop separation anxiety if suddenly left alone with no family (or cattle) to keep watch over. Whilst being devoted to their family, Giants can often be aloof with strangers.

They are a very intelligent breed, and will learn things very quickly, whether it is 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 themselves will feel like they should adopt the role as pack leader, therefore Giants require a firm, fair and consistent leader.

Giant Schnauzers also require a considerable amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation, they do very well at obedience, agility, Shutzhund and many other disciplines. 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 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, 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 require 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 restricted exercise until their joints are fully developed (up to approx 12-14 months of age), as a rough guide they should receive only 5 minutes of formal exercise for every month of age twice daily (i.e. if lead walking). Therefore a 3 month old puppy will require 15 minutes exercise twice a day if formal lead walking. However free running exercise on soft ground with gentle slopes, for short periods, is fine 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 steps/stairs, supervised exercise only with older dogs etc. whilst puppies are growing as it 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 that those used for breeding should be eye tested annually for Hereditary Cataracts (HC). The Kennel Club and breed clubs also recommend breeders should litter screen puppies eyes for Multifocal Retinal Dysplasia (MRD), and hip score adults with regards to Hip Dysplasia (HD). Out of 86 Giants that were hip scored over the last 15 years in the UK, the median hip score is 10.

Epilepsy and thyroid problems have been know to occur in the breed. The latest breed health survey carried out by the breed clubs, shows that 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. 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. However 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 to 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 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.