A Schnauzer (plural Schnauzers) is a German dog type that originated in Germany in the 15th and 16th centuries. The term comes from Schnauze , the German word for "snout", because of the dog's distinctively bearded snout. The word Schnauzer also means moustache in German; some authorities, such as Encyclopedia Brittanica, say this is the origin of the name. Although the Schnauzer is considered a terrier-type dog, they do not have the typical terrier temperament. They seem to be kinder, calmer, less energetic, and easier to train than a dog such as a Scottish terrier would be.
The Schnauzer type consists of three breeds: the giant, standard and miniature. The original Schnauzer was of the same size as the modern standard Schnauzer breed, and was bred as a rat catcher, yard dog and guard dog. The miniature Schnauzer is the result of crossing the original schnauzer with breeds including the poodle and the affenpinscher.
Miniature Schnauzers are around 1 ft (30 cm) tall at the shoulder and weigh between 14 and 20 lbs. They have high energy levels and are very intelligent dogs. The American Kennel Club (AKC) approves salt and pepper, black, and black and silver as acceptable coat colors for a miniature schnauzer. They are often bred in pure white or even parti (multi) colored, but neither are approved by the AKC.
They can live outside, but love to spend time with their owners. They make excellent pets as they are loyal companions and are rarely aggressive toward strangers, although they are quick to sound the alarm at a perceived threat.
Standard Schnauzers are around 1 1/2 ft (46 cm) tall at the shoulder and weigh 30 to 45 lbs. They are in the group of working dogs. Standard schnauzers have been used to catch rats and as guard dogs. They have also carried messages in times of war, helped the Red Cross and been police dogs.
Giant Schnauzers are around 2 ft (60 cm) tall at the shoulder and weigh between 55 and 80 lb. They also are working dogs. Historically, Giant Schnauzers helped herd cattle and were also guard dogs at breweries.
== Friendly and loving, Schnauzers become part of their families and can get along well with children if raised and socialized properly. They are protective, energetic and they will also alert members of the household to any potential danger. The breed is of average intelligence and can be independent minded, so early training and daily exercise is recommended.
Schnauzers are known for their distinctive beards and long, feathery eyebrows. Typically, they are shaved down the back while the hairs on their legs are kept long and curly. Some show-schnauzers have their back hairs 'stripped' by hand.
It is traditional to have the tails trimmed and the ears clipped to give an alert appearance. The Schnauzer's beard and leg hair should be brushed often to prevent mats from forming. The body coat should be "stripped" (loose, dead hair is plucked) at least twice a year. Some schnauzers have wiry hair which is easier to shave but may have fuzzier soft hair which is harder to shave.