The standard schnauzer was named for his signature beard—the word "schnauzer" literally translates to "whiskered snout." As an active dog, the standard schnauzer makes a devoted companion to any family with an on-the-go lifestyle. These medium-sized dogs have a lot of energy, but their intelligence and attentive demeanor makes them easy to train. Potential owners should only adopt a standard schnauzer if they are willing to devote time to keeping them mentally and physically engaged.
The standard schnauzer is the original breed behind the giant schnauzer and the miniature schnauzer. He is commonly known (and well-recognized) across the U.S., but his cousins are slightly more popular. But, like his cousins, the standard schnauzer is a low-shedding breed that could be a good fit for some people with allergies, though no dog is completely hypoallergenic.
With bristly eyebrows and a long moustache, the standard schnauzer is easy to recognize. He is known for his "rugged build and dense, harsh coat," according to the Standard Schnauzer Club of America (SSCA). True to his history as a guard dog, his ears are perpetually perked and alert, ready to respond to any sudden movement.
He may not shed much, but owners should still schedule grooming sessions for their standard schnauzer to keep their fur at a manageable length. In addition to regular haircuts, regular brushing sessions at home will keep him looking his best.
As highly intelligent dogs, the standard schnauzer is easy to train but also requires a lot of mental stimulation. His history as a watch dog may make him want to stay close to his owner, but he also keeps an independent streak. Gail Mackiernan, the breed education chair for the SSCA for 19 years, says while standard schnauzers learn quickly, they also can give their pup parents an attitude.
"Standards are a very intelligent breed," Mackiernan says. "They're also a very determined breed. People say they're stubborn, but they're really more determined. They think they know what should be done and are not shy about letting you know."
The ever-active standard schnauzer will likely enjoy having other dogs around as playmates. But because of his history, it's important to ensure he is well-socialized as a puppy so he isn't wary of new people and animals.
"They are a breed that has an innate streak of suspicion in them, all of the breeds that have any guarding instinct have a thread of alertness in them," Mackiernan says. "If you raise them where they aren't exposed to strange noises, strange people, strange sounds, and so forth, then you could get a dog that's fearful."
Standard schnauzers have a hearty work ethic and are driven to watch over their owners. Because he's always on the lookout, he can be prone to bark at the mailman or houseguests. He's also not an indiscriminate barker, and he will only bark if there is a reason to alert you. Owners should rely on positive reinforcement training to help him become the best version of himself: clever, driven, and enthusiastic.
The standard schnauzer prefers serving as a watchdog over being a couch potato, though he is affectionate to those who earn his love; he just shows his devotion by looking over his family and remaining vigilant for visitors, rather than always lying around. He has a knack for problem-solving, so keep your schnauzer engaged with food puzzles, agility courses, and other frequent activities with the family.
As a working dog, the standard schnauzer loves having a job to complete. He will be happiest with a fenced-in yard or other outdoor area where he can put his keen senses to the test. He also makes an excellent hiking companion for active families as long as he is well-trained to not run after squirrels that may scamper by. Mackiernan advises keeping even a well-trained standard schnauzer on a leash in the park because of his high prey drive.
"They are very prey-driven. For this reason, almost no one just lets their standard run off lead freely," Mackiernan says. "They are determined and intelligent, but if you want a dog that is absolutely disciplined and does everything perfect all the time, it's probably not the breed for you because they are going to challenge you."
The standard schnauzer was not bred for boredom. He needs consistent outlets for mental and physical stimulation, which makes him an excellent fit for activities involving agility, tracking, or herding. With all his energy, the standard schnauzer will enjoy spending time with other dogs who want to play.
When it comes to grooming that distinctive, wiry coat, owners should prepare for weekly brushing. The standard schnauzer is a low-shed breed, but their hair can grow long. Regular brushing with a slicker brush and a natural bristle brush, along with the occasional haircut, will keep his coat looking its best.
Mackiernan, who currently owns four standard schnauzers and has raised several champion dogs within the breed, says the coat growth and grooming regimen can vary based on the dog. Some owners choose to strip out old hair—the choice of many who show dogs professionally and want to maintain the wiry coat—while other owners will just clip the hair when it gets too long.
The standard schnauzer is typically a healthy and robust breed, just like giant and miniature schnauzers. He has a lifespan between 13–16 years, and owners can expect minimal health problems. Later in life, he might experience hip dysplasia, which happens when a dog's hip joint is loose. Veterinarians are often able to work with owners to find joint supplements that can help alleviate pain.
Many of the health conditions standard schnauzers can experience are genetic, so prospective owners should ask to see health certificates for the parent breeds if they are working with a standard schnauzer breeder. The Canine Health Information Center recommends having standard schnauzers screened for hip dysplasia, eye problems, and a type of canine heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy.
The lineage of the standard schnauzer can be traced back to the Middle Ages, where they worked as watch dogs for farmers in Germany, according to the SSCA. Their medium-size frame made them the perfect size for simultaneously hunting vermin and protecting their owners, says Rick Allenput, obedience specialist for The Pampered Pup.
"Before the dog turned into a family pet, [he] would handle different duties, including hunting vermin, guarding livestock, and also ensuring their owners are protected as they traveled from one market to the next," Allenput says. "Standard schnauzers had the perfect size such that they could easily fit into a cart. Also, they were large enough to become guard dogs."
The standard schnauzer was originally known as wirehaired pinschers, but eventually became known as schnauzers (meaning "whiskered snout") because of their distinctly bristly muzzle. Standard schnauzer dogs made their way to the U.S. in the early 1900s alongside travelers from Germany, and the national breed club was established in 1933. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1904.
- The standard schnauzer is seemingly depicted in ancient illustrations of dogs of the Middle Ages, including in works by Albrecht Durer and Rembrandt van Rijn.
- In Disney's animated movie "Lady and the Tramp," the titular male character ("Tramp") is believed to be at least partially a standard schnauzer. His son, Scamp, is also modeled after a schnauzer.
- Owners of the standard schnauzer often call them "the dog with the human brain" because of their high intelligence.