Owner's Handbook to the Miniature Schnauzer's Traits and Health

Updated December 8, 2021
Miniature Schnauzer lying down on the lawn

The loving Miniature Schnauzer will capture your attention with their affectionate personality and zest for life. They're a well-rounded companion and a hardy breed, making them a suitable option for those with families.

Origin and History

During the 1800s, German breeders set about changing their beloved Standard Schnauzers down to a more manageable size for house pets, and so Miniature Schnauzers came to be. The original purpose of any Schnauzer was to chase down vermin, keeping home and hearth pest-free.

Both World Wars had a significant impact on the number of Mini Schnauzers, especially in Europe. Fortunately, these dogs were introduced to the United States in 1924 and rapidly became popular. Today's dog is more of a family companion, yet they still retain some of their feisty nature.

Breed Characteristics

Miniature Schnauzers Breed Characteristics

Miniature Schnauzers may look small, but pick one up and you will quickly see that these are rock-solid little animals with a robust disposition.


According to the American Kennel Club, this breed is sturdy and presents a nearly square frame when viewed from the side. The chest extends at least as far as the dog's elbows, and the ribs are well sprung (meaning they are rounded outward). There shouldn't be any tuck up on the underside.

The front legs are very straight, and the rear legs should be muscular with enough angulation that the hocks extend farther than the dog's rear when they are in show stance. The feet are cat-like with well-arched toes. The tail is set high on the rear and carried erect. It is docked just long enough to be visible above the backline.

The head is rectangular and unwrinkled, with soft, brown eyes that convey a keen expression of intelligence. The ears are set high on the head and may be cropped to a point and held erect. If left uncropped, the ears fold over. It's important to note, tail docking and ear cropping are not permissible in all countries, so it's not abnormal for them to have a tail or hanging ears. These dogs have a scissors bite, which means the top teeth close just in front of the bottom teeth.

The Miniature Schnauzer stands 12 to 14 inches tall at the shoulder, on average. There is no ideal weight range, but each dog's weight should be in proportion to their frame.

Recognized colors include:

  • Salt and pepper
  • Black and silver
  • Solid black


Mocha miniature schnauzer

Mini Schnauzers are a whole lot of dog in a small package. The breed is blessed with a playful yet obedient personality, and their affection is freely given to their human companions. These tenacious dogs also have a lot of spunk, so unless you want to see them take off after a squirrel or some other small animal, be sure to keep them on a leash when you take them from the yard.

This breed is also known to become somewhat possessive of their special human, so if you consider adding a new pet to the mix, be prepared to take the time for a proper introduction, lest your Mini becomes sulky or aggressive.


Mini Schnauzers have a keen intelligence that makes them wonderful candidates for all sorts of training. Their high energy level and powers of concentration make them great candidates for obedience trials and agility competitions. They are also personable little fellows when used as therapy dogs, but be careful about setting them in someone's lap because they are a lot heavier than they look.

Exercise Requirements

Miniature schnauzer sitting on a bed

Although smaller than the Standard breed, Mini Schnauzers are full of energy. It's best to take them on long, daily walks or jogs. Daily jaunts will also help prevent a pup from becoming overweight. This breed is known for having a healthy appetite. Providing regular exercise for your dog, and for yourself at the same time, is a good bonding experience as well as a healthy one.


Miniature Schnauzers are generally hardy, but as with all breeds, they have their share of health problems. The American Miniature Schnauzer Club keeps a list of health issues. Some of the most serious disorders include:

  • Myotonia Congenita: A hereditary condition that causes the muscles to contract. Reputable breeders screen for this condition in an effort to prevent future generations from inheriting the disease.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: A genetic eye condition affecting the receptors of the eye often leading to blindness.
  • Bladder Stones: The formation of stone-like compounds comprised of minerals in the bladder.
  • Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses: Neurodegenerative condition affecting the central nervous system.

Dedicated breeders screen all their stock in the hope of eliminating these disorders from future generations. Be sure that you receive a health guarantee against these problems, because they may not all be apparent during puppyhood. Most breeders will agree to provide one replacement for an afflicted animal, and let you keep or euthanize your pet as the situation may warrant. However, you shouldn't assume this will be the case and get any agreement in writing.


A Mini Schnauzer's average lifespan is 12 to 14 years. However, a dog's life expectancy is influenced by a variety of factors, including their diet, living environment, exercise routine, and overall health. Some long-lived Miniature Schnauzers have been known to reach the age of 18.


Miniature Schnauzers have a double coat that is wiry on the top with a softer undercoat beneath. These dogs are usually kept in the standard Schnauzer type trim. For best results, take your dog to a professional groomer about every six weeks for a full trim and bath.

It is then very easy to bathe them in between grooming appointments, as needed. You should also brush out the beard and head fall every couple of days to prevent matting. Daily brushing sessions can be very short, as the dog's fur is trimmed close over much of their body. Trim your dog's nails regularly, and keep them relatively short. If you do not feel comfortable trimming nails to a shorter length, take your Miniature Schnauzer to a groomer.

Fun Facts About the Breed

The Miniature Schnauzer is an excellent pick for those who suffer from allergies, but there are other facts you should be aware of:

  • They're happy as long as you are. Whether you want to go for a brisk walk around the block or just hang out on the couch for a few hours, they will be your best buddy.
  • Even though they're small, they aren't like other small dogs. You should be careful with them due to their size, but don't mistake their small size for being delicate. They're a hardy breed, and unlike many other small breeds, can adapt well to living with children.
  • They don't have the terrier stubborn-streak like many others in their size range.
  • They were once called Wire-haired Pinchers.

Purchasing or Adopting a Mini Schnauzer

mini schnauzer dog portrait

If you're looking for a Miniature Schnauzer puppy, a good place to start is the American Miniature Schnauzer Club. They have a breeder directory available, as well as helpful tips on how to find responsible breeders with quality dogs. The AKC Marketplace also has a breeder search. Expect to pay around $500 to $1,000, although higher-end show dogs from champion lines can cost as much as $3,000.

Rescue Organizations

If you would prefer a rescued dog, and you aren't particular about the dog's age, you can search PetFinder and Save-a-Rescue for Mini Schnauzers and mixes. You can also contact these breed-specific Miniature Schnauzer rescues:

Is the Mini Schnauzer Right for You?

These little, bearded dogs make good family pets since they're very devoted and affectionate. They're just as comfortable with apartment living as they are in rural spaces. They're also a good choice for people who prefer low-shedding dogs. Whether you plan to train your pup to become a champion or you just want a sweet companion for the family, this hardy breed is a good choice for almost anyone.

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Owner's Handbook to the Miniature Schnauzer's Traits and Health