Giant Schnauzer

  • Overview

    The largest of the Schnauzers is no joke. Although these dogs are big, they aren't big enough to be officially classified as giant. In fact, they aren't even the biggest of the terriers — that honor goes to the Airedale. They are bigger and more powerful than other Schnauzers, though. These big dogs can stand up to 2 feet, 3 inches tall and weigh as much as 90 pounds. Giant Schnauzers are working dogs who take their ability to protect and serve very seriously. Many work as police dogs in their native Germany and in the United States.

    Giant Schnauzers are intelligent, active companions for experienced owners who want a loyal, affectionate dog who refuses to be ignored and may require some extra training, socialization and grooming.

    View Grooming Diagram for giant schnauzer
  • Personality

    Giant Schnauzers are stoic, serious dogs bred to be practical working dogs. Like all Schnauzers, though, they have a playful side. In their native German, they would be called a nix-nutz. They're rambunctious dogs with a penchant for boisterous play that might make them overwhelming dogs for first-time owners. To keep them out of mischief, make sure they receive plenty of exercise, including a long jog or walk and some energetic outdoor play, every day. If they don't burn off energy, their curiosity can translate into destructive habits. Despite their bold temperament and boundless energy, Giant Schnauzers bond closely to their family and love to shower them with affection and protection and amuse them with their crafty antics.

    Giant Schnauzers consider themselves family protectors, and they can be aggressive or snappish around strange dogs and people, especially if they perceive them as a threat. They like to be dominant, but with the help of firm, consistent obedience training and socialization, they can become well-mannered, balanced companion dogs. Giant Schnauzers march to the beat of their own drummer, but they are smart and learn quickly once they realize the benefits of obeying their owners. Still, Giant Schnauzers may always be slightly wary of strangers and small children.

  • Coat Care

    The Giant Schnauzer's coat is no different than the smaller varieties. It's a thick, wiry double coat that stands up off the body. The dense coat is longer around the legs and face. Their face is framed with a long mustache, beard and eyebrows. Giant Schnauzers' coats come in salt and pepper colors and patterns, including solid black and silvery black. The Giant Schnauzer is more dog than the smaller Schnauzers, which means he's more dog to groom.

Giant Schnauzer
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Brush the Giant Schnauzer's coat carefully by focusing on the facial furnishings and legs, with a large slicker brush or a pin brush with large bristles. The long beard and mustache will probably need to be washed or at least combed through with a small metal comb after most meals.

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With preparation, perseverance and a positive attitude, bathing can become a fun and fulfilling part of the regular grooming cycle, while helping your dog avoid many diseases and infections.

The general rule of thumb for dog bathing is every three months but wire-coated dogs can be done with greater frequency, often within a four-to-six week range. The coat should end up fresh smelling, shiny, with no loose or shedding hair. First give the dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and mats. Place a rubber mat in the tub to provide secure footing and fill the tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray hose, pitcher or unbreakable cup to wet the dog, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears and nose. Massage in pet shampoo, saving the head for last. Immediately rinse thoroughly, starting with the head to prevent soap from dripping into the eyes. Towel dry. The coat should be fresh smelling, with no loose or shedding hair.

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Hair Clipping

Many owners choose to clip their Giant Schnauzer's coat once a month. This will eventually change the texture of the coat from wiry to soft, like the under coat. This is perfectly fine for pet Schnauzers — in fact, it makes caring for the coat much easier. If you plan to show your Giant Schnauzer, you'll need to hand-strip the coat and remove dead hairs about once a month.

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Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

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Eyes / Ears

Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.

It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Wire coated dogs have sensitive ears covered in hair that  need to be checked weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. West Highland Terriers and other small terriers with white coats are prone to developing tear stains around the eyes, so clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes.

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Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.