Miniature Schnauzer (Zwergschnauzer)
The Zwergschnauzer (Miniature Schnauzer) is a miniature but brawny and lively breed of German origin. Since XV century its direct ancestors helped German farmers to get rid of rats and other rodents. It was also kept as a companion animal and today it enjoys immense popularity in this role not only in its homeland but also all over the world.
Nothing is known about the exact date or even period of birth of the Zwergschnauzer as a distinct breed but it’s fairly certain that it was well-established by the end of the XIX century. It was developed by crossing the smallest specimens of the Standard Schnauzer with resembling breeds of smaller size. The Affenpinscher and the Miniature Poodle may have been used in its creation. It’s also commonly suggested that the Miniature Pinscher was profusely added to the mix. Some canine specialists assume that the specimens of the Brussel Griffon, the Pomeranian, several Terrier varieties and even mutts can be found in the lineage of the Zwergschnauzer. Nevertheless, it’s rather unlikely since German breeders stuck to fairly strict rules in their work and strived to keep their dogs as pureblood as possible. The resulting dog became known under the names the Mini Schnauzer and the Miniature Schnauzer. Actually the Zwergschnauzer literally means the Dwarf Schnauzer.
The World War I led to sharp decline in number of the vast majority of modern breeds but the Zwergschnauzer was a fortunate exception. At that period numerous military men came across this lovable companion dog while they did a military service in Germany. So they actively brought its specimen to their homes and contributed to promotion of the Zwergschnauzer in other countries. Moreover an on-going growth in urban population across Europe stipulated the increased demand for toy breeds.
The first members of the Zwergschnauzer were imported to America in 1924. The American Kennel Club (AKC) granted its official acceptance to the breed in 1926. The United Kennel Club (UKC) recognised it only in 1948.
Over the time the Zwergschnauzer acquired a huge international following and currently it’s on the list of the most recognisable breeds of canines in the whole world. The dog preserves much of the working drive of its forebears so lots of its members still serve as skilful ratters and mousers. Naturally in most cases its role is reduced to one of a cheerful family pet and this mini version of a Schnauzer fits it perfectly.
Generally the Zwergschnauzer posses all distinctive traits of a typical terrier: unreasonable barking, chewing and digging, snappiness and tenacity. However some of these dogs seem to be more like a Poodle in personality: docile, even-tempered and tranquil. So make sure you put in enough work in choosing a Zwergschnauzer breeder, otherwise you may end up with an unstable and even vicious animal. Anyway it’s inadvisable to introduce this dog into household with small kids. It’s quite unlike the Zwergschnauzer to be tolerant to rough handling or too harsh games of children.
The Zwergschnauzer behaves itself respectfully but slightly reservedly in the presence of strangers. Despite the fact that this breed is much less human aggressive than other Schnauzers only appropriate socialisation will ensure its good manners in interaction with new people. The Miniature Schnauzer always gives the alarm once it spots something unusual. Its resonating voice won’t let an intruder to get into the house undetected so it can become a very good watcher. This dog is very territorial and it’s definitely capable of performing guarding duties although it’s probably too small to confront a gate crasher effectively.
On the whole the Zwergschnauzer is fine with other dogs although some of these dogs inherited the propensity to pugnacity from their terrier ancestors. It will be grateful to have a constant canine companion of a similar size and boisterous nature. The dog also gets on reasonably well with household cats and other domestic animals as long as it has been exhibited to their existence in a young age.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· canine hip dysplasia;
· elbow dysplasia;
· eye problems;
· von Willerbrand’s disease;
· bladder stones;
· comedrone syndrome;
· autoimmune disease;
The Zwergschnauzer has fairly extensive grooming requirements. Since its coat is prone to matting it’s essential to brush this dog three to four times per week to keep it neat and healthy. Additionally the dog’s hair should be trimmed or hand-stripped every five to eight weeks. Both procedures require certain skills so majority of owners choose to entrust its performance to a professional groomer. It’s rather a bad idea to shorten the coat of this dog by clipping as it may soil its original colour and unique texture. If your dog participates in Dog Show it must be rolled.
Bathe your pet only occasionally but always clean its beard from remainders of food, water and saliva after every single meal. Examine the dog’s ears regularly and clean them as needed in order to prevent the development of ear infections. Teeth should be brushed at least once a week as well as the dog’s nails need monthly trimming. The Zwergschnauzer is a minimal shedder and therefore it can be reckoned a suitable breed for allergic sufferers.
The training of smart and responsive Zwergschnauzer is commonly a pleasant task but it can be complicated by its stubborn streak. This dog doesn’t like following orders and prefers to do its own things. In order to minimize the influence of this tendency on the learning process the handler should show the dog who is in charge of the situation and become for the dog an unquestionable leader.
Make sure to keep your lessons short and diverse since the Zwergschnauzer is quickly bored by repetitive assignments. Delicious treats and verbal encouragement are the best motivators for this dog.
The Zwergschnauzer is a moderately vigorous dog that is capable of adapting to life in both city and rural environment. It definitely requires daily walks and playtime in a securely enclosed area at least once a week. On the whole this dog will put up with virtually any living condition as long as it receives enough care and attention from its masters.
The breeds’ passion for digging and chasing can be redirected to other types of more meaningful activities, for example earthdog trials or an advanced agility course. Without essential stimulation of its mind and body, the Zwergschnauzer will manifest serious deviations in behaviour, including extreme nervousness, hyperactivity and destructiveness.