Standard Schnauzer Temperament, Size, and Traits

Updated October 17, 2022
Image of a Standard Schnauzer dog

The Standard Schnauzer is the original Schnauzer breed from which Miniature Schnauzers and Giant Schnauzers were developed. Smart, strong, and playful, these medium-sized dogs can make excellent family pets for owners who are up to the task of raising them properly.

Origin and History

A tapestry created in 1501 by Lucas Cranach the Elder and paintings by Rembrandt and Albrecht Durer demonstrate the Standard Schnauzer's effect on the Renaissance period and prove this breed has been around for several centuries.

In the breed's early days, they were developed to defend farmland and their families, act as a source of protection, and herd livestock. German breeders had a special interest in this breed in the 1800s and started breeding them with black German Poodles and Wolfspitz, which is where their salt-and-pepper fur color and unique fur texture originated.

Up until 1900, the breed was known as the Wirehaired Pinscher. Once the German breeders began their bloodlines, they developed their name as the Schnauzer. The first club was formed in 1907 and was known as the Bavarian Schnauzer Club. Families who immigrated to America in the early 1900s carried this breed with them, but it wasn't until World War I that they began to arrive in greater numbers.

In 1904, the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Many people who were introduced to this breed in the United States fell in love with it and founded the Schnauzer Club of America in 1925. The American Miniature Schnauzer Club and the Standard Schnauzer Club of America were formed from the club's division in 1933.

Standard Schnauzer Dog Breed Traits

According to the AKC, the Standard Schnauzer's general appearance is of a sturdy, energetic dog with a thick, wiry coat that protects the animal from the elements. This dog is also known for its signature long eyebrows and shaggy muzzle. When viewed from the side, it presents a fairly square outline.

Standard Size

The AKC maintains Standard Schnauzer males are slightly larger than females. Average males weigh 35 to 50 pounds, and average females weigh 30 to 45 pounds. Males also tend to be slightly taller at 18.5 to 19.5 inches, while females tend to stand 17.5 18.5 inches tall at the shoulder.

Standard Schnauzer dog outdoors

Coat Texture and Colors

According to the AKC standard, these Schnauzers should have a very thick, wiry coat. The outer coat has a harsh texture while the undercoat is soft. Acceptable colors include a combination of pepper and salt in any shade as well as solid black.

Standard Schnauzer Temperament and Personality

Standard Schnauzers are working dogs that are as useful on the farm as they are at various dog sports. They were originally bred in Germany to guard and herd livestock and hunt vermin. While they still carry these instincts, today they are mainly family companions with good-natured and somewhat dignified personalities, even if they can be a bit stubborn at times.

Need for Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Standard Schnauzers are strong, energetic dogs, so regular exercise and mental stimulation is a must. Taking daily walks and having plenty of time to run in the yard helps them burn off excess energy.

As far as their intelligence, a bored Schnauzer can become a destructive one. In addition to plenty of exercise, this dog needs chew toys and loves to take part in sports that require the animal to concentrate and cooperate with its human companion. They excel at sports such as agility, obedience competitions, and hunting.

If you choose not to participate in sports activities with your dog, activities like playing fetch or going for several brisk walks are acceptable. Take note of your individual dog's needs and remember a tired dog is a happy dog.

Guard Dog Instincts

These Schnauzers tend to have strong guarding instincts, and this extends to their home territory as well as their human family. Early training is crucial to gain control over this behavior so it doesn't get out of hand.

Not Particularly Good With Small Pets

Due to the hunting instincts that were originally bred into these Schnauzers, they generally aren't the best companions for small dogs, cats, and especially rodents like Guinea pigs and rats. If you want to have the best chance of a Standard Schnauzer getting along with cats and smaller dogs in your home, it's best to raise your puppy with these other pets so it becomes accustomed to them right from the beginning.

Basic Trainability

This breed is keenly intelligent, which can be a bonus or a drawback depending on the situation. They train relatively quickly, but they also have a bit of a tendency to be stubborn at times. Training should begin with general puppy socialization classes and commence with obedience classes in order to help them become the best companions they can be.

Grooming Needs

To keep your Schnauzer looking its natural best, plan to brush it completely several times a week. The coat should be hand-stripped every four months at the minimum or weekly if you are showing the animal at dog shows. This simply involved plucking out dead hairs with your thumb and forefinger.

If you're just keeping your dog for a pet, clipping the body and head with an electric clipper may be an easier way to manage the coat, but it will remove the desired wiry texture. Whether you hand strip or clip the dog, you'll finish by trimming the eyebrows, beard, legs, and feet with scissors.

Plan to bathe your dog about once a month if needed. Clean the ears and trim the nails every week. You should also try to brush their teeth once a week to keep tartar buildup to a minimum.

If their grooming needs are too much for you to handle, consider enlisting the help of a professional grooming service. Many dog owners with difficult-to-groom breeds take their dogs to the groomer every couple of months to maintain healthy skin and coat.

Do Standard Schnauzers Shed?

Standard Schnauzers do shed, but shedding can be kept to a minimum with proper grooming. As mentioned, brushing and hand stripping removes loose hairs before they can collect on your clothing, floors, and furniture.

Older Standard Schnauzer trotting on grass

Cost of a Standard Schnauzer Puppy

The average cost of a puppy runs about $800, but the price can vary greatly based on the quality of an individual puppy and if you want breeding rights with it. It's not unheard of to pay $1,500 or more for a show prospect. Check with the Standard Schnauzer Club of America (SSCA) to connect with breeders and find out what kind of health testing and vaccinations they provide for their puppies before they go to their new homes. The SSCA also keeps a list of Standard Schnauzer rescues if you're interested in giving a home to a dog in need.

Image of a Standard Schnauzer puppy

Health Concerns

Standard Schnauzers are a healthy breed overall. However, they have been known to be affected by several health issues, including:

  • Hip dysplasia, a condition that leads to degeneration of the hip joint causing pain and progressively limited mobility.
  • Cataracts, an eye condition that causes an opaque area to form in a dog's lens, and it can affect one or both eyes. Cataracts can eventually lead to blindness.
  • Retinal dysplasia, a malformation of the retina which can lead to blindness.
  • Pulmonic stenosis, a heart defect that affects blood flow between the heart and lungs.
  • Hypothyroidism, a disease of the thyroid gland which causes it to malfunction.
  • Hemophilia, an inherited bleeding disorder that prevents blood from clotting normally.
  • Bladder stones, minerals that form stones in the bladder and impede urination.


The general lifespan for this hearty breed is 13 to 15 years. Of course, a lot depends on the level of care given to an individual, including regular veterinary care, a high-quality diet, and regular exercise. The better the care, the longer the dog will live on average.

Focus on a Standard Schnauzer's head

Get to Know the Breed

Now that you understand a bit more about Standard Schnauzers, you should spend time with a few before you decide if this is the breed for you. Track down local breeders and ask if you can visit their kennels so you can interact with these dogs firsthand. Get to know a few members of the breed before you make the commitment. Learn their characteristics and behavioral patterns. If you like what you find, you can take the next steps toward making one of these amazing dogs your own.

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Standard Schnauzer Temperament, Size, and Traits