The medium-sized Standard Schnauzer dates back to the Middle Ages and comes from the farming and ranching areas of Bavaria, which is now part of southern Germany. It is some combination of working, hunting and terrier stock. It was used as an all-around farm dog, which included exterminating vermin, guarding family and property, herding flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, and providing protection on travels to market. An interesting breed fact is that the German artist Durer owned a Standard Schnauzer in the 1400s, which was painted by both Rembrandt and Cranach.
In the mid-1800s, fanciers of the Standard Schnauzer crossed it with the black German Poodle and the gray Wolfspitz to get the rough coat and salt-and-pepper color of the breed today. Other enthusiasts crossed those Standard Schnauzers with other breeds to create the Miniature and later the Giant Schnauzer varieties. The first Wire-haired Pinschers were shown in Hanover, Germany in the late 1870s. The winner at that show had a pet name of “Schnauzer,” meaning “whiskered snout,” and one school of thought attributes the breed name to that dog. Most fanciers attribute the breed name to its hallmark, which is a long, square muzzle (a “schnauze,” or nose, in German) sporting a bristly beard and mustache. Regardless, by the turn of the century, the breed was becoming consistently called the Standard Schnauzer. The German Schnauzer Klub adopted a standard for the breed in 1907.
The Standard Schnauzer came to North America in the very early 1900s but did not gain much recognition until after World War I. It was accepted into the Working Group of the American Kennel Club in 1904. The Schnauzer Club of America was founded in 1925 to promote both the Standard and the Miniature Schnauzer. The first American breed standard covering both varieties was adopted in 1929. The Schnauzer Club of America split into the Standard Schnauzer Club of America and the American Miniature Schnauzer Club in 1933, with each becoming the AKC parent club of its respective breed.
Today’s Standard Schnauzer is an affectionate, spirited and often humorous family companion that also excels in agility, obedience and the conformation ring. They also make good therapy dogs, service dogs for the disabled, search-and-rescue dogs and drug and bomb-detecting dogs. Standard Schnauzers have become competitive in herding and are accepted for participation in AKC herding trials. Schnauzers are good hunters and retrievers as well.
The average life span of the Standard Schnauzer is 13 to 16 years. Breed health concerns may include cataracts, keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye), follicular dermatitis and hip dysplasia.