The Giant Schnauzer originated in the Wurttenberg and Bavaria sections of Germany. During the years around the turn of the century, both smooth German Pinscher and coarse-haired Schnauzer pups appeared in the same litters. The German Pinscher Schnauzer Club initiated a policy requiring proof of three generations of pure coarse-haired Schnauzer coats for registration. This quickly helped set type and made them a distinct breed from the German Pinscher. These Schnauzers were given the name Standard Schnauzer. These Standard Schnauzers were crossed with the black Great Dane and the Bouvier des Flandres to form the Giant Schnauzer breed. The Schnauzer name derived from the German word “Schnauze,” which means “muzzle.”or “snout”, this word was chosen because the Giants snout and whiskers draw immediate attention. Few races have been more prolific in their development of new breeds of dog than the Germanic peoples. Not only have they evinced rare patience in tracking ancestries, but they have proved their ability to fix type. One of the most notable examples of their breeding skill is the Schnauzer, for there is a dog not only brought to splendid physical conformation and keen mental development but reproduced in three distinct sizes. The Giant Schnauzer is called the “Riesenschnauzer” in Germany, which means “the giant.” It is important to realize that the Miniature, the Standard, and the Giant Schnauzer are three separate and distinct breeds.

In unearthing the history of this breed, it must be remembered that occupations of men had a great deal to do with all development in dogs. There were no benched shows in those days, and when a new breed was produced, it was aimed at a specific work. Also, its characteristics were governed to large extend to weather and living conditions.

All Schnauzers had their origin in the neighboring kingdoms of Wurttemberg and Bavaria. These are agricultural sections where the raising of sheep, cattle, and other livestock has been a major occupation for years. Since railroads were not known, sheep and cattle had to be driven to market, which meant that dogs were necessary to help the shepherds.

There is little doubt that when Bavarian cattlemen went to Stuttgart they came across the medium-sized Schnauzer. Here was a dog to catch anyone’s attention, for even then it was sound, while it showed power throughout its trim lines. The Bavarians liked the dog, but they were not satisfied with its size. The sheep men could use this size of dog, but the drovers needed a larger specimen for cattle.

The first attempts to produce a drover’s dog on terrier lines, with a wiry coat, were no doubt by crossings between the medium-sized Schnauzer and some of the smooth-coated driving and dairyman’s dogs then in existence. Later there were crossings with the rough-haired sheepdogs, and much later with the black Great Dane. There is also reason to believe that the Giant Schnauzer is closely related to the Bouvier Des Flandres, which was the driving dog of Flanders.

The Giant Schnauzer was first used as a cattle driving dog in Bavaria, then later as a guard dog, and by the police and military. The Giant Schnauzer excels at Schutzhund and also makes a good companion. For many years the Giant Schnauzer was called the Munchener, and it was widely known as a great cattle and driving dog. Von Stephanitz places its origin as Swabia – in the south of Bavaria. And it was found in a state of perfection in the region between Munich and Augsburg.

When shepherds drove their herds through Bavaria, Giant Schnauzers were soon recognized as guard dogs by shopkeepers. In Germany, the Giant is the dog of choice for police work. Both in Canada and the U.S., Giants are used for rescue work and at airports for detection of illegal and or dangerous substances.

The Giant Schnauzer was practically unknown outside of Bavaria until nearly the end of the first decade of this century. Cattle-driving was then a thing of the past as the railroad took the cattle to market, but the breed was still found in the hands of butchers, at stockyards, and at breweries. The breweries maintained the dogs as guards, at which duty they were pre-eminently successful.

Not until just before World War I, when their numbers were greatly decreased during the fighting, did the Giant Schnauzer begin to come to nationwide attention in Germany as a suitable subject to receive police training at the schools in Berlin and other principal cities. He proved such an intelligent pupil that police work has been his main occupation since that time. Breeders worked to restore populations after the war and created the first written standard in 1923.

The first Giant Schnauzers to arrive in the United States did so in the 1920’s, although the breed was not established in that country until the 1930’s, mainly from German stock, but the breed remained uncommon until the 1960s. In 1962, there were 23 new Giant Schnauzers registered with the American Kennel Club; in 1974 this number was 386; in 1984 it was over 800; and at the highpoint in 1987, it was around 1000 dogs. The breed was ranked 94th in AKC registrations in 2011 and 80th in 2017. The first giant notes in Canada was in 1934 from the USA. There were very few less than ten registered in the following years. Canadian Kennel Club did not produce their first source stub book for the breed until 1986.  To this day numbers of registered giants in Canada are low.

There was no official breed club in America until 1962 when the Giant Schnauzer Club of America (GSCA) was founded to promote and protect the breed. And the Giant Schnauzer Canadian Club (GSCC) was founded June of 1977.

The finished product produced an agile deep-chested dog with a huge heart. That’s what makes up a true working dog. Once seen, the Giant Schnauzer is seldom forgotten. Its appearance speaks for itself.

Giant Schnauzer Breed

Origin and Purpose

The Giant Schnauzer is generally considered to have originated in the mountains of Bavaria in the 1810’s. Rather than being bred for a specific purpose he was bred, and is noted for, his versatility. He has been used over the years as a drover’s dog, a brewery guard, a cart dog, a herding dog, and a superlative police dog.

General Appearance

The Giant Schnauzer is a robust, more heavy­set than a slender dog, square in build. He should resemble a larger and more powerful version of the Standard Schnauzer. The sound, reliable temperament, rugged build, and dense, weather resistant wiry coat makes for one of the most useful, powerful, and enduring working breeds.


Combines spirit and alertness with intelligence and extreme reliability; amiable in repose and a commanding figure when aroused. Shy or vicious dogs shall be dismissed from the ring.


Height at the withers for males is 25 ­1/2 –­ 27 ­1/2 inches (64.7-69.8cm); for females 23 ­1/2 ­ 25 ­1/2 inches (59.6-64.7 cm), mediums preferred. Size alone should never take precedence over type, balance, soundness, and proper temperament. It should be noted that too small dogs generally lack the power and too large dogs the agility and maneuverability desired in a working dog.

Coat and Colour

Coat close, strong, hard and wiry, shorter on ears, skull, throat, and under tail. Slightly longer on legs and under chest, with beard and eyebrows adding to the rectangular appearance of the head. The eyes are not obscured by too ­long eyebrows. The undercoat is soft and dense. Colour may be black, or salt and pepper. Black: deep, solid black. A small white patch on the chest is allowed. Salt and pepper: outer coat to a combination of banded hairs (white and black) and some solid black and solid white hairs, appearing as a medium to dark grey, peppering evenly distributed with no trace of patterning, and a grey undercoat. Dark facial mask to emphasize the expression. Eyebrows, inside ears, whiskers, cheeks, throats, chest, legs, and under tail are lighter in colour but include peppering.


Strong and elongated, gradually narrowing from the ears to the tip of the powerful, ferreting snout, rectangular in appearance and in proportion to the sex and substance of the dog. The length of the head is one ­half the length of the back from withers to the base of the tail. The masseters (cheek muscles) are strongly developed, though no strongly- ­marked cheek form is to disturb the rectangular appearance of the head and beard. The skull is flat and unwrinkled, in width not more than two thirds the length. Occiput not prominent. Muzzle is well filled under the eyes, both parallel and equal in length to the skull, ending in a moderately blunt wedge. The lips are tight, not overlapping, black, and the nose is large, black and full. The tongue may be either pink, or pink with black or grey spots. Bite: a full complement of sound, white teeth (6/6 incisors, 2/2 canines, 8/8 premolars, 4/6 molars) with scissors bite. The upper and lower jaws are powerful and well formed. Eyes: medium sized, dark, oval, turned forward with tight lids. Ears: small and V-­shaped button ears, of moderate thickness, set high on the head, and dropping forward closely to the cheek, or cropped, evenly cut, not overly long, with as little bell as possible, placed high and carried erect in excitement with the inner edges parallel.


Strong and well arched, of moderate length, blending cleanly into the shoulders, with skin close­fitting at the throat, in harmony with the dog.


Shoulders slanting, well angled, and flat, but strongly muscled, well set on, giving no appearance of a terrier front. The upper end of the scapulae (shoulder blades) are, from the side, in a vertical line above the elbows. The angle between the scapula and humerus (upper arm) is 90 degrees. Elbows are set close to the body. Forelegs from the elbow down, seen from all sides, are vertical without any curve, with strong pasterns and good bone. Feet are short, round, extremely compact, with close, arched toes (cat’s paws), dark nails, and thick, tough pads.


Compact, substantial, short­-coupled, and strong, with great power and agility. Topline is short, strong and straight, sloping moderately to the rear, extending into a slightly rounded croup. Chest is moderately broad with visible, strong sternum (breastbone), reaching at least down to the elbow, and slowly tapering up and back to a moderate tuck up. The loin (distance from the last rib to the pelvis) is short, giving the impression of a compact body. The length of the dog from sternum to point of rump is equal to the height at the withers.


Strongly muscled, in balance with the forequarters; femurs (upper thighs) are strong and slanting, the stifles well bent, with tibiae (second thighs) approximately parallel to the extension of the upper neckline. The hocks are short, perpendicular to the ground while the dog is standing, and, from the rear, parallel to each other. The hind feet are slightly smaller than the forefeet. The hindquarters do not appear over­ built or higher than the withers.


Set moderately high, carried high in excitement, from 2­4 inches long (5­10 cm), should be docked to the second or third joint.


The trot is free, balanced, and vigorous, with good reach in the fore­ quarters and good driving power in the hindquarters. When moving at a fast trot a properly built dog will single track. Back remains strong, firm, and flat. Movement from the front and rear should be clean and true, the legs being thrown neither in nor out.


Soundness (both temperament and conformation) and type are of prime importance. The foregoing description is that of the ideal Giant Schnauzer. Any deviation from the standard must be penalized to the extent of the deviation. The Giant Schnauzer should always be considered and judged as a working dog.

Overshot, undershot.

The judge shall dismiss from the ring any shy or vicious Giant Schnauzer.


A dog shall be judged fundamentally shy if, refusing to stand for exami­nation, it repeatedly shrinks away from the judge; if it fears unduly any approach from the rear; if it shines to a marked degree at sudden and unusual noises.


A dog that attacks or attempts to attack either the judge or its handler is definitely vicious. An aggressive or belligerent attitude toward other dogs, while not desirable, shall not be deemed viciousness.


Health testing for GIANT SCHNAUZER

OFA-CHIC Health Testing Requirements

The OFA, working with the breed’s parent club, recommends the following basic health screening tests for all breeding stock. Dogs meeting these basic health screening requirements will be issued Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) numbers. For CHIC certification, all results do not need to be normal, but they must all be in the public domain so that responsible breeders can make more informed breeding decisions. For potential puppy buyers, CHIC certification is a good indicator the breeder responsibly factors good health into their selection criteria. The breed specific list below represents the basic health screening recommendations. It is not all encompassing. There may be other health screening tests appropriate for this breed. And, there may be other health concerns for which there is no commonly accepted screening protocol available.

Additional test




Progressive retinal atrophy is a group of genetic diseases seen in certain breeds of dogs and, more rarely, cats. Similar to retinitis pigmentosa in humans, it is characterized by the bilateral degeneration of the retina, causing progressive vision loss culminating in blindness.


Coagulation Factor VII Deficiency

Coagulation Factor VII Deficiency is an inherited bleeding disorder affecting giant schnauzers. Factor VII is an essential protein needed for normal blood clotting. Deficiency of this factor most commonly results in a mild bleeding disorder. An affected dog may bruise easily, have frequent nosebleeds, and exhibit prolonged bleeding after surgery or trauma. In rare cases, the bleeding may be severe. Due to the mild nature of this disorder, affected dogs may not be identified until a surgery is performed or trauma occurs at which time excessive bleeding is noted. Veterinarians performing surgery on dogs that are known to have coagulation factor VII deficiency should have ready access to blood banked for transfusions. Most dogs with this condition will have a normal lifespan despite increased blood clotting times


Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative Myelopathy is an inherited neurologic disorder caused by a Mutation of the SOD1 gene known to be carried by giant schnauzers. This mutation is found in many breeds of dog, though it is not clear for giant schnauzers whether all dogs carrying two copies of the mutation will develop the disease. The variable presentation between breeds suggests that there are environmental or other genetic factors responsible for modifying disease expression. The average age of onset for dogs with degenerative myelopathy is approximately nine years of age. The disease affects the White Matter tissue of the spinal cord and is considered the canine equivalent to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) found in humans. Affected dogs usually present in adulthood with gradual muscle Atrophy and loss of coordination typically beginning in the hind limbs due to degeneration of the nerves. The condition is not typically painful for the dog, but will progress until the dog is no longer able to walk. The gait of dogs affected with degenerative myelopathy can be difficult to distinguish from the gait of dogs with hip dysplasia, arthritis of other joints of the hind limbs, or intervertebral disc disease. Late in the progression of disease, dogs may lose fecal and urinary continence and the forelimbs may be affected. Affected dogs may fully lose the ability to walk 6 months to 2 years after the onset of symptoms. Affected medium to large breed dogs, such as the giant schnauzer, can be difficult to manage and owners often elect euthanasia when their dog can no longer support weight in the hind limbs.




Hyperuricosuria is an inherited condition affecting Giant Schnauzers. The SLC2A9 gene codes for a protein that allows the kidneys to transport uric acid from the urine. Dogs with mutations in both copies of the SLC2A9 gene are predisposed to have elevated levels of uric acid in the urine, hence the name hyperuricosuria. Uric acid can form crystals and/or stones (uroliths) in the urinary tract. Dogs with hyperuricosuria most commonly present with symptoms of recurrent urinary tract inflammation, which include frequent urination, blood in the urine, and straining to urinate. They may also have loss of appetite, lethargy, weakness, vomiting and pain. Urinary stones in the bladder can cause urinary tract infections or more seriously, blockage of the Urethra. Both male and female dogs can be affected, but obstruction of urine flow is more common in males due to differences in anatomy. Although an x-ray can be used to exclude other types of stones, urate stones cannot typically be seen using x-rays and must be evaluated by ultrasound. Not all dogs with mutations in both copies of the SLC2A9 gene will have symptoms of disease, though they will have increased uric acid excretion in the urine.

Genetic Diversity Testing for Giant Schnauzers

The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory (VGL), in collaboration with Dr. Niels C. Pedersen and staff, has developed a panel of short tandem repeat (STR) markers that will determine genetic diversity across most of the genome and in the Dog Leukocyte Antigen (DLA) class I and II regions. This test panel will be useful to breeders who wish to track and increase genetic diversity of their breed as a long-term goal.




The GSC and its members are committed to a standardized 4 step process to identify dogs that have the right traits to successfully perform a wide variety of tasks.

Required Traits Of The Working Dog:

– structural soundness, effective movement, fitness and strength

– courage, hardness and the will to handle adversity in a variety of forms

– persistence and determination to overcome obstacles and hardships

–  a balanced dog that is versatile and sure of character

The Process To Select and Develop Top Working Dogs

1. Training
2. Testing
3. Certification
4. Entry Into The Breeding Program
We believe that an effective way to select the kind of temperament and structure we value is to test the dogs in the sport of Schutzhund
The training and selecting breeding of dogs possessing those traits also benefit:

– Police and Military
– Service Organizations
– Search and Rescue