Complete Guide To The Giant Schnauzer: Care, Grooming, Exercise and More

Schnauzers come in three sizes starting with Miniature and Standard, but why not double your fun? The Giant Schnauzer is a statuesque example of everything the breed has to offer from protection to affection.

Honestly the Giant Schnauzer is my favorite Schnauzer. As a veterinarian with over 20 years experience, the Giant Schnauzer has consistently shown both good health and great temperament. I’m surprised they are not more popular than they are.

How Big Do Giant Schnauzers Get?

Male25.5-27.5″ at the shoulder60-85 lbs
Female23.5-25.5″ at the shoulder55-75 lbs

Just for reference, this size is only a few inches smaller than the height of your average Great Dane. These are big dogs.

What Do Giant Schnauzers Look Like?

Their wiry, mid-length coats come in only two colors — Black and Pepper and Salt. Small spots of white on the chest are allowed, but any other markings are a disqualification. Eyes are dark brown and deep-set.

Muzzles are wedge-shaped with a prominent nose. Ears are typically cropped to tall points — natural pinnae are V-shaped. Tails are set high and docked short.

Giant Schnauzers have an uncommon appearance and are rarely confused with other breeds. But dogs with untrimmed coats and natural ears may be mistaken for the Bouvier des Flandres.

What Is The Personality Of A Giant Schnauzer?

Giant Schnauzers are earnest dogs. They’re playful and affectionate yet always alert. Excellent guard dogs, their mission is to protect their family — they form fast, unbreakable bonds with their social group.

Bred to drive cattle, they’re ranked 35th among breeds in intelligence. They’ll be happiest with room to run but will be content in a large apartment with active owners. Giant Schnauzers are excellent companions for runners and bicyclists, and they enjoy nearly any canine sport.

Despite being territorial, they can be devoted family dogs with early socialization and training. A firm hand is required to prevent dominant behavior. Though spirited, they’re quick learners and highly responsive to training.

How Much Grooming Does A Giant Schnauzer Need?

Giant Schnauzers have wiry double coats that protect them from the elements. Trimmed, they shed little and are straightforward to maintain. Untrimmed, they look unkempt and are almost impossible to keep clean — despite brushing, their heavy fur mats and makes regular maintenance challenging.

Dogs with the typical Schnauzer cut not only look spiffy, but they also suffer from fewer skin disorders — owners have fewer headaches. Bearded, they’re prone to doggy odor near their face, so a trim and bath every few months is the best way to keep them huggable.

Should Giant Schnauzers Get Their Ears Cropped?

I’m not at all a big fan of the procedure and I’ve never learned how to do it on purpose. Right now I don’t know of anyone within 20 minutes of my own veterinary practice that actually does it. I would imagine that any breeder who has been doing this a while has their own veterinarians that still agree to doing the procedure.

However, the vast majority of veterinarians have refused to do these types of cosmetic surgeries. It’s only a matter of time before cropping ears isn’t even an option and the Giant Schnauzer look will change.

How Much Exercise Does A Giant Schnauzer Need?

Contrary to many other giant-sized dogs, the Giant Schnauzer is very active and very much wants to play and run. These are not good for apartments unless the owner exercises the dog vigorously every day.

For that reason, I prefer for Giant Schnauzers to have access to a large yard or head to a dog park regularly. Thankfully these dogs are also incredibly intelligent which makes them great candidates for agility and advanced obedience trials. In many European countries, this breed of dog is trained to pull a sled in competitions.

As smart as these dogs are, if they do not get the exercise that they need to burn off their burning energy they will make life difficult. A tired dog = happy dog = happy owner.

What Kind Of Food Is Best For Giant Schnauzers?

For Giant Schnauzer puppies, you will need to make sure you don’t feed them too much too fast. It’s easy because they are usually chow hounds, but you want to control their growth. Growing too fast can cause some early bone and joint problems that are easily avoided.

Best Puppy Food For Giant Schnauzers:

Best Adult Food For Giant Schnauzers:

Please don’t listen to the folks at the pet store trying to convince you to buy a grain-free diet for your dog. There’s zero science behind that and vets are actually seeing diseases now related to feeding grain-free foods.

It’s very important they remain at their optimal weight throughout their life. Have your vet go over with you exactly where to feel to know when your dog is too big.

How Long Do Giant Schnauzers Live?

12-15 years based on information from the AKC

What Health Problems Can Giant Schnauzers Have?

There are a few diseases that Giant Schnauzers can be afflicted by but there really isn’t anything that they’re known for. You can check out the stats for yourself on the OFA site that records hundreds of test results for hips, elbows, thyroid disease, etc.

Because they are a giant breed, the most common health conditions that I would expect include:

  • Arthritis
  • Obesity
  • ACL tears

I want to note that none of these conditions are any more likely in the Giant Schnauzer than any other breed. They are simply the types of issues I see in dogs that are this large.

Where Can I Find Out More About Giant Schnauzers?

Giant Schnauzer Club of America

AKC Breed Page

Where Can I Find A Giant Schnauzer?

Breeders Directory from the GSCA

AKC Puppy Page

Looking for a Rescue?? Check out this Rescue list here

Interesting Facts About Giant Schnauzers

Giant Schnauzers have a distinguished heritage. Did you know?

• They’re a Distinct Breed

Standard, Miniature and Giant Schnauzers look alike, but they’re distinct dogs. Developed in the 1800s in the Bavarian and Wurttemberg areas of Germany, they should share similar characteristics, but each breed has a unique standard that reflects their lineage.

The Standard Schnauzer is a descendant of the German Pinscher. Miniature Schnauzers were developed through crossbreeding with Affenpinschers or Miniature Poodles. Giants Schnauzers, not surprisingly, were the result of pairing Standard Schnauzers with the Great Dane and Bouvier De Flandres.

• They’re Hard Workers and Athletes

Giant Schnauzers still work as herders, but they’re so intelligent they’ve been recruited by law enforcement, the military and search and rescue organizations. Their sense of smell is 220 times greater than a mere mortal’s.

Tireless, they’ve earned dozens of titles in tracking, conformation and obedience contests. Ingebar’s Tynan Dances With Wildflowers, affectionately known as Ty, won the 2019 AKC National Championship in the Working Group category.

The Schnauzer’s Whiskers Once Served a Purpose

Schnauzers once hunted rats, small but agile vermin with sharp teeth and a painful bite. To protect them, owners matted down their facial hair with water or mud as a type of armor against attack.

• They’re Good for Allergy Sufferers

No dog is hypoallergenic — they all produce dander, the fur and skin cells blamed for allergy symptoms. But the less a dog sheds, the less dander they create, making the Giant Schnauzer a good breed for people with asthma.

• German Shepherds Are to Blame for Their Limited Popularity

Some of Germany’s top Giant Schnauzers were imported to the US in the 1930s as foundation stock — they’d recently been recognized by the AKC. Popular among fans, however, the breed took a back seat to the German Shepherd, arguably the most popular dog of the day.

Conscientious breeders, concerned about their stock’s integrity, were unwilling to breed them in large numbers until there was a proven demand. Today, they rank 67th on the AKC’s list of most popular breeds, far behind the 19th place Miniature Schnauzer but before the 92nd place Standard Schnauzer.

• Their Name Means Giant Nose

The name Schnauzer, derived from the German word “schnauze,” meaning nose or muzzle, evolved sometime in the 19th century, replacing the less descriptive name, Wirehaired Pinscher. Similar to the word shnaz, a slang term for a large nose, it stuck. In Germany, the Giant Schnauzer is called the Riesenschanuzer, translating literally to “giant nose.”