by Doris Donnerman
(last updated April 6, 2009)
There are only a few breeds that can boast three different sizes to choose from. The Schnauzer is one of these breeds. This German breed comes in Giant, Standard and Miniature size. This article is concerned with the Standard Schnauzer, oldest of the three types.
The breed is a very old one. A Stuttgart statue, dated 1620, is supposed to show a watchman and his Schnauzer dog. Though there is some doubt as to this, there is little questioning that the sculptor owned a dog which conforms closely to present day Schnauzers. He painted his dog a number of times between 1490 and 1504. At about the same time his Elder, placed a Schnauzer type dog in a tapestry which is still extant.
Most authorities state that the dog was never a Terrier, but was always a cattle dog and a ratter. It is true that he comes from the great shepherd dog: countries of Germany, Wurttemberg and Bavana. The breed came to the attention of show dog fanciers rather early in the period when Germany was becoming interested in Shepherds.
Still, one of the few guesses as to the exact origin of the breed states that it was developed from crosses of the black "pudel," or Poodle, and the gray Wolfspitz, that is, the breed conforming in the Pomeranian and Keeshond. The soft under coat was supposed to have come from the Poodle and the harsh pepper and salt gray from the Wolfspitz.
At least one English student of the breed feels that the Schnauzer was developed entirely from Shepherd blood. This author states that the dog was never considered a Terrier, and never called a Schnauzer Terrier.
It is true that the typical Schnauzer is rather heavier throughout than a true Terrier. Neither is his gait typical of the modern Terrier. Yet he was originally shown as the Wire-haired Pinscher, and the word pinscher has the meaning of terrier.
The first recorded importation into the United States was of a dog brought to Rochester, N. Y., in 1905. From that time until July ten, 1945, the dog was officially classified in the United States as a Terrier. He then was placed in the Working Group. Similarly, in Canada, Doberman Pinschers and Schnauzers were imported at about the same time. The Canadians listed them as Pinschers, Doberman, and Schnauzer.
The dog's extraordinary ability as a ratter would seem to make him more of a Terrier than a working dog. Ratting trials are still held in Europe for the breed, so that this Terrier characteristic is still being fostered.
In Canada, the Schnauzers arrived a year or two after heavy importations to the United States began. One of the first official importations was in June of 1926. The breed has prospered in both countries, but has not enjoyed the popularity of the Miniature. In 1948, in the United States, Miniatures outnumbered the larger dogs almost two to one.
The Standard Schnauzer is a robust, sinewy, heavy-set dog of the Terrier type, sturdily built, square in the proportion of body length to height, with good muscle and plenty of bone. His nature combines high spirited temperament with extreme reliability. His rugged build and dense, harsh coat are accentuated by arched eyebrows, bristly mustache and luxurious whiskers. The height for the males is from eighteen to twenty inches and for the females from seventeen to nineteen inches.
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