Miniature Schnauzers are small dogs with big personalities that make them a very popular breed of dog. While their temperament varies widely from dog to dog, they are mostly friendly and sociable dogs that typically get along with family members and other animals. They are known to be barkers and can have some other inherent bad habits, but are also smart dogs who and eager and easy to train.
History Of Miniature Schnauzers
Miniature Schnauzers were originally bred in Germany during the late 19th century as small farm dogs to keep rats and other vermin away. It is thought to be a crossbreed of Affenpinschers and Poodles with small Standard Schnauzers. The name “Schnauzer” is German for “small beard” and originated from a show dog bearing the name in 1879.
In 1933, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the Miniature Schnauzer and the Standard Schnauzer as separate breeds. The Miniature Schnauzer is actually recognized under the Terrier group in the United States, while in England, it is part of the Utility group.
Although much newer than the Standard or Giant Schnauzers, the Miniature is now the most popular Schnauzer breed and has been since just after World War II.
At the height of their popularity, the Miniature Schnauzer was the third most popular breed of dog in the U.S. In the most recent rankings, the Miniature Schnauzer came in as the 17th most popular breed, and it has consistently been a favorite among dog owners for many years.
Miniature Schnauzer Temperament & Personality
Miniature Schnauzers are generally well-mannered and fun-loving dogs that make great additions to most families. They are loyal companions who are playful, curious, and alert, and love to be the center of attention.
Because of this tendency, they should be given constant engaging activity to be happy.
Because of their big personalities and need to be active, they will want to be involved in everything you and your family do. A Schnauzer will follow you around the house and never want to be left alone. This breed needs to know what you’re up to at all times.
While they are less dominating than their larger Schnauzer counterparts, they still may have issues with other dogs, animals, or small children, but this will be on a dog by dog basis. They also do have a tendency to be loud little barkers, but this behavior can be tempered with dog training.
And though their small size may make potential owners view them as lap dogs, they really aren’t. They prefer to be active, running around or digging, because of their instinct to chase vermin. They are sweet and loving dogs that also make excellent watchdogs should a threat ever arise. However, they probably should not be left alone in your yard for long periods of time or they may become a nuisance to your neighbors.
Miniature Schnauzers are also incredibly smart and have been known to get up to some mischief if allowed. They will quickly learn how to open cabinets to get to food or their favorite toys, or even your shoes. Since they love to be the center of attention, they also like to be in control. But with proper training, they can become more submissive and make great pets for active families.
Miniature Schnauzer Activity Level
Miniature Schnauzers need opportunities to blow off their energy or they could channel it to destructive behavior around your home. They will greatly appreciate daily walks and even some time to run around in your yard or a park. Though they are small, they will still take well to games of fetch with a little training. They also are gifted at and love agility training for those more ambitious owners who want to spend the time.
Though they do need daily activity, they are versatile enough that they should be well-suited to life in the city or out in the country. As long as they can get their daily walk and playtime outside, they should adapt well to any living situation.
However, if you have a yard, it should probably be fenced in, as Schnauzers tend to take off if they see a cat, rabbit, squirrel, or bird. Likewise, this breed should always be walked on a leash, since even the most well-trained dog could be tempted to chase after one of these animals. This is something to take into consideration if you are walking or running with your dog in an area that has car traffic.
Training A Miniature Schnauzer
Miniature Schnauzers are highly intelligent dogs that are generally easy to train, and their need for activity and mental stimulation will make them eager to use their minds. However, they are also very stubborn and independent, which means they may initially be resistant to dog training. They want to be in charge and generally don’t like being told what to do, so it will take some patience at the start, and they need to be given firm, consistent commands.
A calm, assertive manner is best for training, which should begin as soon as you bring your Miniature Schnauzer puppy home. They will respond well to positive reinforcement in short training sessions. Make sure you vary the activity as well because this breed can easily get bored with too much repetition.
And while they will be good at training with some work and should become well-behaved dogs, they are not German Shepherds, so do not expect immediate results.
They have short attention spans, which is why varied, short training sessions are best. But since they are eager to please and willing to learn, they should stick with it as long as you make things interesting for them.
As terriers, Miniature Schnauzers, are full of the classic terrier traits, such as chasing anything that catches their eye, barking, digging, being suspicious of strangers, and posturing toward large breed dogs.
Boundaries will need to be set to help curb some of these behaviors, although you may not be able to eliminate them completely. Don’t be discouraged, however, because they can’t help it! It’s in their nature. But extensive canine socialization and responsive training can help them minimize their bad habits.
Once you establish leadership and your dog has mastered basic obedience, you can continue training your Miniature Schnauzer for more advanced tasks and tricks. This can include agility training, which Miniatures actually excel at.
They also have an inherent need to chase and dig, so these behavior traits can be channeled through earth dog activities. These are classes in which your dog gets to track rodents and dig for them. But don’t worry animal lovers: the activity is safe because the rodents are hidden below ground in safe enclosures.
Any of these activities will help keep your Miniature Schnauzer stimulated and give you great bonding time together. If your dog’s mind and body stay active, he shouldn’t turn to destructive behavior in the house, and make for a great, lasting relationship.
You will probably never be able to train your dog to not bark, as there are constant triggers for these alert watchdogs, but you can teach him commands to stop.
Any time they encounter something unfamiliar, their instinct will be to bark, but with training, you can help curb how long the barking will last. Their bark can be quite shrill and high-pitched, so doing what you can to minimize their barking will be a big relief to you and your neighbor’s eardrums.
Relationship With Other Animals
Miniature Schnauzers were originally bred to chase vermin on farms. While they are mostly just kept as house dogs and companions today, they still have the instinct to chase small animals like mice, rats, squirrels, and even birds. Because of their nature, you may want to keep other small pets in the house separate from this breed until they can get familiar, although they may never be able to shake their inbred need to hunt small, furry creatures.
Cats, hamsters, gerbils, parrots, etc., may pose issues with a Miniature Schnauzer. You will need to slowly introduce your pup and watch closely when they get to know each other, as things can escalate quickly. It’s probably in your best interest not to leave them alone together even after they have gotten used to each other. You can limit the tendency with early socialization and training, but you may never be able to leave them alone together.
While many terrier breeds do not get along well with other dogs, Miniature Schnauzers generally are friendly around their fellow canines. They can be standoffish with dogs that are larger than them and may be bossy around those few who are smaller, but in general, they should not become aggressive. They aren’t great with strangers, however, so it may take some time for them to get used to new dogs, especially if you bring a new dog into a Schnauzer’s home.
Outside of your home, Miniature Schnauzers may not have much of a reaction at all to other dogs when compared to their love for other people. They generally would much prefer the company of humans to other canines.
Well-bred Schnauzers should have a better relationship with other dogs and animals, but it will still take some training and early socialization to make them most comfortable. They need to learn that other dogs and animals are their friends, not enemies, and that process may take some time.
Role In The Family
Miniature Schnauzers will often choose a favorite in your family and show great preference toward them. They will be friendly to other members of your family as well but will follow around their chosen leader and be protective of them.
They are typically wary of strangers, but if the dog sees that your family approves of someone new entering the home, they will warm up to them. Miniature Schnauzers generally seem to prefer being around their people rather than other dogs.
Your Miniature Schnauzer’s temperament will be especially important if you have any small children. They are typically good with children, especially if the child was there first before you brought the dog home, but they can sometimes have a hard time getting along.
Toddlers often don’t understand a dog’s boundaries and can sometimes be too rough with small dogs like a Miniature Schnauzer. Schnauzers will sometimes nip at them to get them to stop handling them too harshly, but they should learn to be patient and gentle with socialization.
Miniature Schnauzers are extremely social dogs who need to be a part of everything you do. They will follow you everywhere you go in the house and want to be involved no matter what. They aren’t fans of closed doors and will hate being left behind or left out. This makes them great companions for most, but not all people and families.
If you want a dog that loves to be the center of attention and will want to be taken everywhere you go, a Miniature Schnauzer will be a great breed for you. However, if you want a lazy lap dog who mostly does their own thing, needs little attention and activity, and is low maintenance, you should probably consider another breed.