Giant Schnauzers are a Working Breed, originally bred as a strong cattle driver and guard dog, as such they are high drive and protective of their home and family. They have the strength, stamina and determination to deal with wayward cattle. Giants will bark when strangers are within close proximity of their home/territory, rest assured if a Giant Schnauzer is barking, they will have heard or seen something, or someone, approaching. Once a visitor is accepted into the home, they are usually quite friendly, however, some may be aloof with strangers. Unless taught otherwise, Giant Schnauzers may greet people by jumping up and being generally boisterous. Giants need a considerable amount of training and socialising from early puppyhood through to adolescence and beyond, up to at least 2 years of age, in order to learn acceptable behaviour.
Being high drive, Giant Schnauzers may chase fast moving objects such as cyclists, joggers, birds, rabbits etc…early socialisation and training is required to prevent any undesirable chasing. They may also be unaccepting of other large breed dogs of the same sex in the household i.e. 2 males or 2 females may not live together amicably, depending on the individual dogs and also the owner. It is not really advisable to have 2 males or 2 female Giants together, as there is an increased risk they won’t get on when the youngest begins to reach maturity at around 18 months to 2 years of age.
Giants are a people dog and are devoted to their family, they often choose their friends and protect their family. They do not like to be excluded or isolated, they will follow you from one room to another and generally become involved with everything and anything. As such they do not like being left on their own for extended periods of time, and wouldn’t take kindly to being left alone in an outside kennel. Puppies need to become accustomed to being left for short periods, otherwise they may develop separation anxiety or may find their own entertainment.
They are a very intelligent breed, and learn things very quickly, whether it’s something you want them to learn or not! Therefore it is important to train Giants from the beginning and discourage unwanted behaviour as soon as possible. They are also large, muscular and very strong, and if they do not have a definite ‘boss’ they will begin to adopt the role as pack leader, therefore Giants require a firm, fair and consistent owner.
An adult Giant Schnauzer will require a considerable amount of daily free running exercise and mental stimulation, they do well at many different disciplines such as obedience, agility, IGP etc. Provided they receive the correct input in the early years, Giants are a very loyal, loving and amazing companion and will quickly become a large family member. They will however try your patience and sanity to the limit and will take over if you’re not the right type of owner for them. A good sense of humour is also essential. People often assume that Giants are just a big version of a Miniature Schnauzer, which is not really the case, as they are derived from different breeds, and for different purposes, in addition to the obvious size and strength distinctions.
Do not take on a Giant Schnauzer if you are not prepared or not able to put in the time and effort they require as puppies and youngsters.
Do Giant Schnauzers suffer from any health issues?
Giants are a relatively healthy breed, although the dam and sire require health testing before breeding. There is a requirement for annual eye testing, and a recommendation for; hip scoring, DNA testing for prcd-PRA, PRA5 and DCM, along with litter screening of puppies’ eyes. There are a few known inherited health problems that can occur in a small percentage of Giants such as epilepsy, hypothyroidism, SLO, toe cancer. Most breeders are aware of health issues, and try hard to minimise the risk of producing affected puppies by health screening, monitoring pedigrees and paying attention to minimising inbreeding. More health information can be found on the Health page and also the Giant Schnauzer Health website.
Do they need grooming?
Giant Schnauzers are a ‘trimmed breed’, they do not tend to shed coat as much as shorter haired breeds, and therefore require regular grooming. Legs and beard need brushing and combing frequently to prevent mats developing. Stripping, clipping and trimming is required roughly every 8-12 weeks. Ears need keeping clean, nails need trimming, and routine canine dental care. With a little practice you can learn how to groom yourself, and keep a Giant in shape, check out the Draxpark Grooming guide for help with home grooming.
How much exercise do they need?
They are a large, strong and active breed originally used to guard and drive cattle, and are classified in the working group. An adult Giant needs vigorous daily exercise, free running and mental stimulation; at least 1 hour twice a day, they must have at least 1 of the hours of their daily exercise off lead free running. However Giant puppies will require consideration for the type of exercise and also their environment, until joints are fully developed (up to approx 12-14 months of age). Free running exercise on soft ground with gentle slopes is great if the puppy can rest when required. In comparison, formal lead walking may encourage a puppy to do more than they naturally would. Therefore formal lead walking should be restricted to short socialising lessons, kept to a sensible limit for the puppies age. Care should be taken to prevent puppies from damaging their joints; no jumping from heights, no vigorous ball chasing, no repetitive steps/stairs, or running at the side of a bike etc. Puppies should also be supervised when playing with older dogs whilst they are growing, as an older dog can easily cause injuries to a puppy’s developing joints and growth plates. Slippy floors should also be avoided as much as possible. The wrong type of exercise can cause permanent damage to developing joints.
How big is a Giant Schnauzer?
The breed standard for males is 25.5 – 27.5 inches to the top of the shoulders, females are 23.5 to 25.5 inches. Giant Schnauzers are very strong, well boned and muscular, weight may range from 32-50kg depending on size and whether male/female. Although this is the breed standard, no guarantee can be given a Giant will be within this range, some may be slightly larger or smaller. Meeting both parents and relatives will give a good idea of the size of any puppies.
Are they easy to train?
Giants are highly intelligent and extremely trainable, they will require a considerable amount of training due to their size and strength. They do have a tendency to ‘think’ whether they want to do something, especially during the ‘teenage’ phase. Giants do better with short, regular training sessions, positive reinforcement, and whilever it is fun. They do however also require firmness, patience and consistency. Ongoing training is required from a very young puppy through to adulthood, ideally via a training club, in order to learn the ground rules.
Are Giants good with children?
Giants are a ‘people’ breed, they are loyal and devoted to their family. Their boundless energy makes them excellent play mates for older children. However, since they are strong and agile they could unintentionally knock over a small toddler during play. The level of responsibility and attention required by a large breed puppy, such as the Giant Schnauzer, is probably comparable with having another child. And careful consideration should be given as to whether a busy family life can accommodate the amount of time, attention and training required by a large breed puppy when children are very young. A considerable amount of socialising with visitors will also be required during the puppy/adolescence stage to ensure a puppy will grow up to accept school friends visiting etc into the home. Giant’s are not happy if isolated from their family.
Are they suitable for people with allergies/asthma?
Giant Schnauzers are quite often described as ‘hypo-allergenic’, which is not strictly correct, although some people do say they are not allergic to Schnauzers, when they have allergies to other breeds. Different people react differently to allergens. Most dog allergies are related to saliva or dander. Although Giants are classed as a non-shedding breed, they are ‘dogs’ and have both saliva and dander, we have known Giants cause a skin reaction in those allergic to dog saliva and also exacerbation of asthma and allergy symptoms in those who have problems related to dog dander. For anyone with allergies and/or asthma considering getting a Giant Schnauzer, it is better to spend time with a number of different Giants beforehand to gauge the response. And also consult with your health care provider for definitive advice.
Do Giant Schnauzers bark a lot?
Giant Schnauzers have outstanding guarding abilities, they were used in the past to watch over cattle and their herdsmen, in addition to police and security work. A Giant Schnauzer will be quick to alert if strangers approach their territory, such as post or deliveries. They only usually bark if there is stimulation to do so, Giants do not tend to bark incessantly, unless left alone for long periods and become very bored. They are a family protector and devoted companion, usually once a stranger has been accepted into the home they are often quite friendly.