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The smallest of the Schnauzer breeds, the Miniature Schnauzer is every bit a Schnauzer and does not let its diminutive size impact its stature as the most popular of the Schnauzer breeds. The other Schnauzer breeds are the Standard and Giant Schnauzer. These small dogs make excellent watchdogs and have cheerful, eager, obedient personalities with an intelligence that makes them easy to train. They can be aloof with strangers but once guests have been welcomed, the Miniature Schnauzer settles down and treats everyone as part of the family.

The Miniature Schnauzer has its ancestry in the Standard Schnauzer, from Germany. The word "Schnauzer" is a German word which means "muzzle." At about the turn of the 20th century, smoothhaired German pinscher dogs and coarse-haired Schnauzer dogs appeared in the same litters. The German Pinscher Schnauzer Club required proof that the fourth-generation descendants appearing after three generations of pure coarse-haired, Schnauzer-coated puppies be registered to qualify as true Schnauzers.

Then, the Miniature Schnauzer was derived from mixing the breeds of Poodle and Affenpinscher (German Pinscher) with smaller Standard Schnauzers. The Miniature Schnauzer was recognized as its own breed in 1899, specifically bred to be a farm dog. Excellent at controlling vermin, it’s likely been a part of German history in some incarnation from as far back as the 15th century, since dogs that appear to be Miniature Schnauzers appear in paintings from that time.

Although it is included in the American Kennel Club’s Terrier group, it is somewhat different because it was bred in the British Isles specifically to attack vermin by "going to the ground" and has bloodlines and origins that are very different from that of the Terrier. Consequently, it has a happy, hardy, extremely cheerful and obedient temperament, unlike some Terrier breeds.

Sometimes called the "little gentleman" because of its elegant, tidy appearance, stocky build, profuse whiskers and fur "leggings," this small dog is blessed with an eager, friendly, cheerful temperament that is truly a joy to be around. Of superior intelligence and very obedient, this dog’s personality is evident in the Miniature Schnauzer’s charming expression – bright eyes, an eager countenance, and a general air of energy, goodwill, and exuberance that delights all with whom it associates.

The Miniature Schnauzer has a double coat that sheds very little; the outer coat is wiry and stiff, and the undercoat is soft. Most owners opt to trim the body fur very short while retaining the lush "beard," bushy eyebrows, and fur "leggings." The eyebrows and mustache are also usually left intact, thus giving the Miniature Schnauzer a quizzically "professorial" appearance, hence the "little gentleman" moniker assigned to the breed. The tail is very thin and is usually docked. Ears are usually cropped to be sharply pointed and upright, but when left natural, fold forward in a V shape.

Although small dogs, Miniature Schnauzers are not truly "miniature" as the term is applied to most dogs. Instead, they are small dogs that weigh between 10 and 15 pounds and stand 12 to 14 inches at the shoulder in adulthood with a sturdy, stocky build. They are, however, much smaller than the Standard Schnauzer, which stands between 17 and 20 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 30 and 45 pounds in adulthood, and the Giant Schnauzer, which stands between 23 and 28 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 55 and 105 pounds in adulthood – thus the term "miniature."

Energetic, cheerful, lively and agreeable all at once, your pet wants nothing more than to be with you and your family, engaging in fun and adventure. Extremely obedient and very smart, the Miniature Schnauzer is easy to train and eager to learn for those looking for these traits when buying a dog. If not properly socialized, the Miniature Schnauzer "can" become temperamental, but this is usually not a problem as long as standard boundaries and gentle discipline are part of daily life. Again, your pet is eager to please and wants firm but gentle direction.

Although prone to be aloof with strangers, your new puppy will make friends very quickly once you say it’s okay. They love to be lapdogs, love to play, and will provide hours of entertainment and fun for adults and children alike. Ideally suited equally for apartment life and robust outdoor living, this energetic little dog does fine just about anywhere as long as you give your pet enough exercise. Mental and physical stimulation both are required for this very bright dog to avoid personality problems – but again, your pet is so energetic, cheerful, and eager to please that you’ll have no problems if you provide plenty of attention and structure.

Health The Miniature Schnauzer is one dog that has a very long and healthy life; as a very hardy breed, your pet won’t even show many signs of aging until quite old. With a life expectancy of about 15 years, the breed can be prone to breed disorders like hip dysplasia and von Willebrand disease (with similarities to the bleeding disorders of hemophilia in humans). Your pet’s ears should also be dried after swimming or otherwise immersing in water because the risk of infection is present especially in dogs that have uncropped ears. Regular veterinary visits that include regular checks of the ears are required.

Grooming The Miniature Schnauzer is very easy to groom. Although it is not quite a non-shedding dog as many believe it to be, it sheds very little and has a coat that is very easy to take care of. Family pets usually are given a short-coat cut that is seen as standard in most Miniature Schnauzers (while leaving the abundant whiskers, eyebrows, and "leggings" intact); show dogs must be stripped to avoid matting.

The areas of abundant growth left intact (beard, leggings, eyebrows), are called "furnishings," and these must be combed regularly to avoid matting and tangling. Owners often handle trimmings of the furnishings themselves (with blunt scissors) between groomings.