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.
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
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