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The Miniature Schnauzer is a breed of small dog of the Schnauzer type that originated in Germanymarker in the mid-to-late 19th century. Miniature Schnauzers developed from crosses between the Standard Schnauzer and one or more smaller breeds such as the Poodle or Affenpinscher.

The breed remains one of the most popular, and as of 2008 is the 11th most popular breed in the U.S, primarily for its temperament and relatively small size. The American Kennel Club recognizes only three colors for the Miniature Schnauzer: salt-and-pepper, black-and-silver, and solid black. Solid white is considered a disqualification, although, a small patch of white is allowed on the solid black. In the United Kingdom, the small white patch on a solid black is also considered a fault . Solid white is a fully recognized color in most FCI-countries, but not in Australia, Canada, RSA, UK and the US. Other colors, such as parti (multi) colored, chocolate and liver colored schnauzers are available on the pet trade and can be registered as pure-breds by some organizations, but are not currently recognized by any legitimate clubs for conformation shows.


Miniature Schnauzers normally have a small, squarely proportioned build, measuring tall and weighing for females and for males. They have a double coat. The exterior fur is wiry and the undercoat is softer. The coat is trimmed short on the body, but the hair on ears, legs, and edge of the body, a.k.a. the "furnishings", are retained. The first Breed Standard for the Schnauzer, established in 1907, required specific color formation: "Color: All salt and pepper color shades or similar bristly equal color mixtures and solid black. Faults: ...All white, speckled, brindles, red, or bran colors."

Miniature Schnauzers are often described as non-shedding dogs, and while this is not entirely true, their shedding is minimal and generally unnoticeable. They are characterized by a long head with bushy beard, mustache and eyebrows; teeth that meet in a "scissor bite"; oval and dark colored eyes; and v-shaped, natural forward-folding ears. (When cropped, the ears point straight upward and come to a sharp point.) Their tails are naturally thin and short, and may be docked (where permitted). They will also have very straight, rigid front legs, and feet that are short and round (so-called "cat feet") with thick, black pads.

Salt-and-pepper Miniature Schnauzer at full run.
Schnauzers can be active pets, and will play fetch, frisbee, or jog happily with their owners.


The Official Standard of the Miniature Schnauzer describes temperament as "alert and spirited, yet obedient to command. Friendly, intelligent and willing to please. They should never be overaggressive or timid." Usually easy to train, they tend to be excellent watchdogs, with a good territorial instinct, but more inclined toward vocal notification than attack. They are often guarded towards strangers until the owners of the home welcome the guest, upon which they are typically very friendly to them; unlike some of their terrier cousins, they are not typically aggressive. However, they will express themselves vocally, and may bark to greet their owner, or to express joy, excitement, or displeasure. In German, the verb schnauzen means to snap vocally (as in repartee,) or to give lip to something, or to talk back.

Proper socialization with other dogs and people is important. The breed is generally good with children, but as with any dog, play with small children should be supervised. They are highly playful dogs, and if not given the outlet required for their energy they can become bored and invent their own "fun." Schnauzers have a "high prey drive" (appropriate for a ratting dog), which means they may attack other small pets such as birds, snakes, and rodents. Many will also attack cats, but this may be curbed with training, or if the dog is raised with cats.


Adult Black-and-silver with undocked tail and natural ears.
The dog's furnishings (the longer hair on his belly and legs) show the silver coat.
This dog is at a European show.
The earliest records surrounding development of the Miniature Schnauzer in Germany come from the late 1800s. They were originally bred to be farm dogs in Germany, to keep the rats and other vermin out of the barn. With their bold courage, the Miniature Schnauzer was originally used for guarding herds, small farms, and families. As time passed, they were also used to hunt rats, because they appeared to have a knack for it, and their small size was perfect to get into tight places to catch them.

In the breed's earliest stages, several small breeds were employed in crosses to bring down the size of the well-established Standard Schnauzer, with the goal of creating a duplicate in miniature. Crossing to other breeds, such as the Affenpinscher, Poodle and Miniature Pinscher, had the side effect of introducing colors that were not considered acceptable to the ultimate goal — and as breeders worked towards the stabilization of the gene pool, miss-marked particolors (mixed colors) and white puppies were removed from breeding programs. Since the 1950s, white puppies have re-emerged as a potential color variant, giving rise to the White Schnauzer Controversy (see below).


A black-and-silver adult, with natural ears.
The long eyebrows and full beard are trademark grooming characteristics of all sizes of the Schnauzer.
Although this cut can make them look very fierce, the hair actually helps them decide if they will fit through an opening.

The first recorded Miniature Schnauzer appeared in 1888, and the first exhibition was held in 1899. The AKC accepted registration of the new breed in 1926, two years after Miniature Schnauzers were introduced to the United States. The AKC groups this breed with the Terriers, because it was developed for a similar purpose and has a similar character to the terrier breeds of the Britain and Ireland.

The Miniature Schnauzer was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1948 and also groups the breed as a terrier. The United Kingdom The Kennel Club however, does not accept the Miniature Schnauzer as a true Terrier because it does not originate from the terrier breeds of the British Isles. Like the Tibetan Terrier and Boston Terrier, it lists the Miniature Schnauzer in the Utility group for shows run under the UK Kennel Club rules such as Crufts.

The World Canine Organization accepts the Schnauzer breeds but, again, does not list the Miniature Schnauzer as a Terrier, although it accepts the White Schnauzer for conformation.

The mini is also recognized by the CKC ( Continental Kennel Club).

Health and grooming

While generally a healthy breed, Miniature Schnauzers may suffer health problems associated with high fat levels. Such problems include hyperlipidemia, which may increase the possibility of pancreatitis, though either may form independently. Other issues which may affect this breed are diabetes, bladder stones and eye problems. Feeding the dog low- or non-fatty and unsweetened foods may help avoid these problems. Miniature Schnauzers are also prone to comedone syndrome, a condition that produces pus filled bumps, usually on their backs, which can be treated with a variety of protocols. Miniature Schnauzers should have their ears dried after swimming due to a risk of infection, especially those with uncropped ears; ear examinations should be part of the regular annual check up.
Salt-and-pepper Miniature Schnauzer.
This Mini's white furnishings contrast with his dark (pepper) coat.
The grooming of this dog shows the precision necessary for a show quality coat.
Schnauzers require regular grooming, either by stripping (the approved method), or by clipping (a short-cut usually reserved for family pets). Stripping removes the loose, dead coat; it may be done by hand, called finger stripping, or plucking, or with a stripping knife; either way, it is a laborious process. Many Miniature Schnauzers who are family pets have regular grooming appointments to have their hair clipped; clipping, using a mechanical clippers (or shaver), produces a soft, silky, skin-close trim. Whether stripped or clipped, the coat is close at the body, and falls into a fringe-like foundation on their undercarriage, called furnishings, which can be left to grow, but must be combed regularly. All Schnauzers, whether they are minis, Standards, or Giants, often sport a beard, created by allowing the hair around their noses to grow out. Left unclipped or unstripped, the body hair will grow two to four inches, and will often tangle into mats and curls.

White Schnauzer Controversy

The White Schnauzer is one of four color varieties of the Miniature Schnauzer recognized by the Pinscher-Schnauzer Klub of Germany and the World Canine Organization. Not all dog fanciers accept the white variety as a legitimate variation for conformation (show) standards and they are not accepted by either the American Kennel Club or the Canadian Kennel Club. The controversy rests on the disputed origins of the white variation, if it is a naturally occurring, albeit recessive, color, an albino characteristic, or an unhealthy genetic mutation.
Show-quality white with an undocked tail and natural ears

From pedigree research, the "white" (gelb or "yellow" as it was called in early German records) gene was introduced into the Miniature Schnauzer breed mainly through a German black Champion Miniature Schnauzer named Peter V Westerberg (PZ604), born in November 1902. Peter was obviously carrying one "e" gene because it is recorded that he was bred to a female named Gretel VD Werneburg (PZ1530) (color unknown) and produced a "yellow" female pup named Mucki VD Werneburg (PSZ 8) born October 1914. Mucki was bred to a grandson of Peter named Pucki VD Werneburg, a dark Salt and Pepper variation PSZ12, who in turn produced the black German Champion Peterle VD Werneburg, PSZ11 born June 2, 1916, who also had to have the "e" gene, since his dam was yellow. Peter V Westerburg or his grandson, Peterle (literally, little Peter), can be traced to nearly every Miniature Schnauzer line researched in AKC records. For example, if you trace every ancestor in the 5th generation of Dorem Display , you will find every dog goes back to Peter Von Westerberg. Any time one established breed is crossed with another, or when breeds are bred over generations for specific features, for whatever reason, part of that breed's characteristics are inherited through the DNA structure, whether it be color, structure, working ability, temperament, disease, or any other heritable trait. The only way to prove whether a dog carries a certain inherited breed trait is by DNA testing and DNA testing was not available when white first appeared as a coat color in miniature Schnauzers. Miniature Schnauzer breeders claimed they had eradicated the white gene in the early twentieth century. With so many line-bred crosses, it is statistically impossible to eradicate the "white" "e" gene by visual assessment alone.

Compounding the controversy, there is no known factual data to back up the assertion, that gelb is equal to 'white'. The originators of the breed in the late 1800 and early 1900s in Germany wanted an exact duplicate of the Standard Schnauzer. The Standard Schnauzer has never appeared in the white or even the gelb color variety. The original Schnauzer Club in Germany disqualified whites and told breeders of Parti colors and solid whites to not continue to produce those colors as they went against the ideal breed standard.

Coat color inheritance

After testing several unrelated white dogs from around the world, it has been recently proven by DNA testing that the genotype for the White Miniature Schnauzer is "e/e" at MC1r (commonly referred to as the "E" locus). "E", normal extension of black, allows the A-series alleles to show through, and "e", recessive red/yellow, overrides whatever gene is present at the A locus to produce a dog which shows only phaeomelanin pigment in the coat. Skin and eye color show apparently normal eumelanin, although some "e,e" dogs appear to show reduced pigment on the nose, especially in winter (snow nose), but after sunbathing in warm weather, they regain the black pigment on their noses, much like humans getting a tan in summer. Most white Miniature Schnauzers with original harsh coats will have a yellowish streak on their backs and head when their hair is hand stripped and the ends become blown or dead. It is assumed this is why they were originally called "yellow" in German records.

There are two forms of melanin (pigment) in mammals' hair coats. The first is called eumelanin. The base form of eumelanin is black. Eumelanin can also appear brown (often called liver in dogs) or blue-gray. The second pigment, which varies from pale cream through shades of yellow, tan, and orange/red is called phaeomelanin.

All dogs have alleles at every locus. Not all proposed alleles have been proven to exist. The generally recognized color loci in dogs are referred to as: A (agouti), B (brown), C (albino series), D (blue dilution) E (extension), G (graying), M (merle), R (roaning), S (white spotting) and T (ticking.) There may be more, still unrecognized gene series, and in a given breed, modifying factors may drastically affect the actual appearance. The newest proposed locus is the K locus for dominant black in certain breeds, including the Miniature Schnauzer.

White Miniature Schnauzers do not possess the "d" allele, which is commonly known as the Dilution gene responsible for diluting both eumelanin and phaeomelanin pigment. This stands to reason because true white Miniature Schnauzers have black skin pigment and dark eyes.

Genotypes for the white Miniature Schnauzer are proposed as follows, showing they can "carry" for any of the other 3 colors of solid Black,B&S or S&P:

aw,aw D,D e,e k,k (white carrying for S&P)
aw,at D,D e,e K,k (white carrying for S&P, B&S, and black)
at,at D,D e,e K,k (white carrying for B&S, and black)

This "e,e" genotype for the white Miniature Schnauzer proves that all of the other 3 colors can carry a gene for the white and also that any of the three colored schnauzers bred to another schnauzer of any color that is carrying one "e" gene can produce a white puppy from that mating.

Therefore, a B&S with the genotype of at,at; E,e; K,k bred to another B&S with the same genotype can produce a white puppy. The statistical odds are:
  • 50% will be: at,at; E,e; K,k, (B&S)
  • 25% will be: at,at; E,E,; K,k (B&S)
  • 25% will be: at,at; e,e; K,k (white)

Mating 2 white miniature Schnauzers together will produce 100% white puppies because white is a double recessive gene phenotype.

This black-and-silver puppy has "natural" (uncut) ears.

Controversy today

Today, the American Miniature Schnauzer Club and the American Kennel Club standard describes the White Miniature Schnauzers as a disqualification from conformation shows. The American Miniature Schnauzer Club and AKC maintain the colors from original breed standards. Breeders of the white variant claim that these dogs have no known congenital or lethal white gene theories. They are not albino dogs, and white dogs described as Miniature Schnauzers are affectionate and robust dogs who exhibit all the qualities of their colored counterparts.
White Miniature Schnauzer, 2 years old.
This dog has the docked tail and clipped ears.
The Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) now acknowledges white in the breed standards set forth by the countries of breed origins. The White Miniature Schnauzer may compete in other AKC sanctioned events such as agility, Canine Good Citizen, Obedience, or Earthdog trials, but not in conformation competition. The White Miniature Schnauzer may be shown in Conformations shows sanctioned by the FCI in international competitions, and the white variant is becoming very popular in Europe as a show dog.

The White Miniature Schnauzer Initiative was established in 2006 in Germany for friends and breeders of the White Miniature Schnauzers worldwide to promote interest and provide an informative network for sharing ideas and information and to give breeders the opportunity to exchange and expand the gene pool of the white Miniature Schnauzers worldwide.

See also


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