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Giant schnauzer

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Working group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height — 23-28 inches
  • Weight — 55-85 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — Wiry double coat that requires clipping or stripping
  • Coat color — Black, black and tan, fawn, salt and pepper
  • Exercise needs — High
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Vigilant guardian
  • Life span — 12-15 years
  • Hypoallergenic — Yes
  • Origin — Germany

Giant schnauzer temperament and characteristics 

Though their work as drovers and butchershop guardians may be over, the giant schnauzer retains its high energy and attention to detail. These large dogs are the perfect addition to an active family, especially if they live in the country with plenty of room to run. Giant schnauzers don’t mix well with cats since they have a high prey drive, and they may need socialization to thrive around young children. They tend to be very protective of their family but also are prone to barking and may be wary of strangers without proper training and ample exercise.

Schnauzer coat

Their wiry double coat is the giant schnauzer’s crowning glory. The breed standard dictates that the fur color should be a neutral solid or pattern. Unique among double-coated canines, the giant schnauzer has hair, not fur, which must be carded and stripped by hand or clipped regularly to control the shedding. Because they have hair and less shedding than other breeds, the giant schnauzer qualifies as hypoallergenic. However, allergies are caused by skin cells and saliva, which means there is no truly hypoallergenic dog . Loose fur simply spreads allergens faster, one reason why low-shedding dogs qualify as hypoallergenic.

Giant schnauzer fun facts

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Giant Schnauzers Otto and Winston. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Giant Schnauzers love Luna, then Penelope.

  • The giant schnauzer technically isn’t big enough to be classified as a “giant” dog since it weighs less than 90 pounds.
  • Schnauzer means snout in German, which refers to the breed’s iconic mustache.
  • The miniature, standard, and giant schnauzer are three separate breeds.
Giant schnauzer in a field

Common giant schnauzer health problems 

The giant schnauzer is generally a healthy dog. Like all breeds, they may be more genetically susceptible to certain diseases. As an attentive pet parent, here are a few disorders you’ll need to be aware of:

  1. Bloat. Also known as gastric torsion, bloat happens when excessive gas causes your dog’s stomach to distend. Sometimes bloat results in gastric dilation volvulus when the stomach painfully twists, cutting off the blood supply. Without emergency surgery, the dog may die within hours.
  2. Hypothyroidism. Some common signs of hypothyroidism include unexplained weight gain, a listless coat, and increased thirst and urination.
  3. Autoimmune thyroiditis. This disease occurs when your dog’s immune system attacks their thyroid. Autoimmune thyroiditis can cause hypothyroidism.
  4. Hip dysplasia. Unfortunately, large dog breeds like the giant schnauzer are more prone to hip dysplasia than most small breeds. Breeders may genetically screen for the disease before breeding, but there’s no guarantee that a dog won’t develop the condition as they age.

Cost of caring for a giant schnauzer

Although the giant schnauzer is a relatively healthy breed, pet parenthood is an expensive responsibility. It’s estimated that the average dog owner spends about $15,000 over a 12-year lifespan.

Pet insurance can help you tackle those bills in smaller payments rather than owing your credit card company a huge sum all at once. Most plans work by allowing you to pay a monthly fee and annual deductible in return for covering up to 90% of the vet bill when the need arises. However, most companies still require that you pay the total upfront and then file a claim for reimbursement. If you don’t have good credit, you might want to look into a pet savings account instead.

Giant schnauzer on a walk

History of the giant schnauzer

The giant schnauzer descended from the smaller standard schnauzer as Bavarian cattlemen realized they needed a large dog for droving, the practice of walking cattle over long distances. This larger version of the standard schnauzer retained their trademark characteristics, including its attentive nature and wiry coat. Giant schnauzers have been employed in military and police work in their native country but aren’t the top pick in the United States due to their higher grooming needs. Usually, the German shepherd gets the job instead since they don’t require clipping.

Caring for your giant schnauzer

After you buy or adopt your giant schnauzer puppy, you’ll need to take them to their first trip to the vet and schedule their vaccinations. As you settle in with your new best friend, we can even help you puppy-proof your home and prepare for teething. Although no one wants to think about their dog going missing, FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag in the event of an emergency.


Given their robust energy coupled with their high guarding and herding instincts, the giant schnauzer needs at least 45 minutes to an hour of exercise every day. A long walk or two 30-minute walks should suffice. Bored dogs are more likely to become destructive or bark excessively, which is sometimes already an issue since they have strong guarding instincts. Make sure you have enough time to attend to their physical needs before you commit to this energetic breed.

Giant schnauzer playing at the beach


Like every dog, giant schnauzers need daily tooth brushing and routine dental cleanings to lower their risk of developing periodontal disease. Trim their nails when necessary and bathe them no more than once a month with a gentle shampoo to prevent drying out their coat.

The giant schnauzer’s hair needs frequent cutting or hand plucking to stay in shape. Although they shed, the hair doesn’t fall out quite as easily as most double-coated breeds, so you’ll either need to pull it out by hand or shave it. Hand stripping is preferred, as it keeps their wiry outer coat intact. If you shave your giant schnauzer, you’ll remove their coarse outercoat, resulting in a smoother surface since only the undercoat will remain.

Diet and nutrition

You can expect to feed your giant schnauzer between 3 and 4 cups of dry kibble daily. To limit their risk of bloat, you might consider dividing their daily food into two meals instead of one big feast. Prophylactic gastropexy surgery is sometimes recommended for dogs with an increased risk of bloat because it helps hold the stomach in place, preventing it from dangerously twisting. Talk to your vet about finding food appropriate for your dog’s life stage and individual health needs. Treats are a good training tool, but too many can lead to obesity. Overweight pets are more likely to develop diseases such as diabetes, so keep your giant schnauzer’s portions under control.

Training your giant schnauzer

Giant schnauzers are highly intelligent and eager to please, two qualities that make for easy training. Early training coupled with positive reinforcement and consistency yields the best results. Giant schnauzers may need extra help socializing with other dogs and strangers early on to avoid possible aggression issues. This breed hasn’t left its guarding days behind them, so they typically won’t welcome other canines unless they were raised together. Giant schnauzers are very protective of their family, including small children. However, it’s important to train them not to overreact to child’s play from a young age to avoid nipped fingers.

Giant schnauzer running in a field

Breeds similar to the giant schnauzer

Not quite sure if a giant schnauzer is the right dog for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to compare similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  1. Standard schnauzer. The original schnauzer stands a few inches below the giant schnauzer and boasts a similar temperament. They’re the ideal breed for someone who loves the idea of a giant schnauzer but wants a medium-sized dog.
  2. Miniature schnauzer. If a small dog fits better on your scale, the miniature schnauzer may be the best choice for you.
  3. German shepherd. The German shepherd has a similar temperament to the giant schnauzer. This breed is known in the United States for guarding and doing military and police work. They make exceptional family dogs, too, if you don’t mind the shedding.

Frequently asked questions

Is the giant schnauzer a good family dog?

The giant schnauzer may not sit on your lap like a small dog, but they prove their loyalty by always standing guard, ready to defend if needed. They’re a great choice for families with older children and as the only pet. They’ll need to be socialized at a young age if small children or other animals are present.

Do giant schnauzers shed a lot?

Although they have a double coat, the giant schnauzer has hair instead of fur, which means they don’t shed like most dogs. Instead, their hair must be clipped or hand-stripped regularly to remove the loose fluff. Giant schnauzers are categorized as hypoallergenic since they have hair instead of fur. However, a hypoallergenic dog is a bit of a myth since all dogs carry the allergen known to produce a reaction.

Will a giant schnauzer bite?

Every dog is different. Giant schnauzers were bred to be guard dogs, so they may bite if they perceive a threat. Early training is essential to teach your giant schnauzer how to respond appropriately.

What two breeds make a giant schnauzer?

The giant schnauzer descended from the standard schnauzer. All three schnauzers come from the same line but are now considered three distinct breeds.

Would a giant schnauzer make a good service dog?

In Europe, the giant schnauzer usually fills the roles taken by the German shepherd in the United States. They’re excellent guard dogs, military workers, and service animals with proper training.

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