The Miniature Schnauzer descends from the slightly larger Standard Schnauzer and is believed to also include Affenpinscher and Poodle in its ancestry. Some authors speculate that Miniature Pinschers, Wire Fox Terriers and Zwergspitz may also have contributed to the mix. While paintings suggest that Miniature Schnauzers date back to the 1400s, they were not recognized as a distinct breed until the late 1800s. Georg Riehl and Heinrich Schott, both fanciers of Schnauzers and Affenpinschers, are credited with miniaturizing the Schnauzer by cross-breeding and line-breeding the smallest puppies in Schnauzer litters. In 1888, the first Mini Schnauzer was recorded in a German stud book. The breed first appeared at a dog show in 1899. Miniature Schnauzers have been bred in North America since roughly 1924 and have steadily gained in popularity. The Wirehaired Pinscher Club of America was formed in 1925, covering both Miniature and Standard Schnauzers. The breed was moved to the Terrier Group and renamed “Schnauzer” in 1926. In 1927, the breed was split into two varieties: the Miniature Schnauzer and the Standard Schnauzer. In 1933, the Schnauzer Club of America was divided into the Standard Schnauzer Club of America and the American Miniature Schnauzer Club, with both breeds competing in the AKC Terrier Group. The Standard Schnauzer was moved to the Working Group in 1945.
The Miniature Schnauzer was developed as a farm dog, with a particular aptitude as a ratter. He is equally at home in rural and urban environments, and his small stature makes him particularly well-suited to apartment and city living. Today’s Miniature Schnauzer is predominantly a charismatic companion: naturally happy and completely devoted to its people. This breed also excels as a guard and watch dog, with keen hearing and a sharp bark. Miniature Schnauzers are highly intelligent, obedient and trainable, making them competitive in both obedience and rally trials.
The Miniature Schnauzer is a long-lived breed, with an average life expectancy of 14 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include allergies, canine neuronal ceroid-lipofuscinosis, Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism), diabetes, epilepsy, congenital idiopathic megaesophagus, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, myotonia, pancreatitis, patent ductus arteriosus, pulmonic stenosis, endocardiosis, portosystemic shunts, keratoconjunctivitis sicca (“dry eye”), lens luxation, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, renal dysplasia, retinal dysplasia, hyperlipidemia, melanoma, canine cutaneous histiocytoma, Schnauzer comedo syndrome, seizures (“fly-biting” and “star-gazing”), urolithiasis (urate, calcium oxalate, struvite, calcium phosphate, silica) and cryptorchidism (undescended testicles).