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About The Giant Schnauzer

The comments we as owners of Giant Schnauzers often hear  "It's a giant Scottie!" Whilst we all laugh at these comments and other such comments we always take them all in good fun, but they couldn't be further from the truth.

Whilst the Scottie is a Terrier, the Giant (as they are fondly referred to as) is a working dog that is found today in the Show ring as a member of the 'Utility Group'(Australia). This group also contains such breeds as the Alaskan Malamute, Dobermann, Rottweiler and of course the other two 'schnauzers' …the Standard and the Miniature to name a few. Bred and created in the Bavarian Alps at around the turn of the century, the Giant (or Riesenschnauzer as he is known throughout Europe), was an intelligent and tough dog with a weather resistant coat that was primarily used to drive cattle to market. It's smaller cousin, the Standard Schnauzer …or 'Schnauzer' as they are known in Australia, was the original of the three Schnauzer breeds. Although they were still excellent workers, it was necessary to use a larger and stronger dog to carry out this work more efficiently…hence the development of the Giant. Their even smaller cousins the Miniature Schnauzers were developed to hunt vermin on farms so of course the Standard Schnauzer who can stand up to 21 inches tall was much too large to carry out this task as well as a much smaller dog who could get into tighter spaces.

The overall intelligence, temperament, coat and robustness of the Standard Schnauzer was still required by the developers of the Giant Schnauzers but in order to create a stronger & more robust dog it was necessary to increase size. To keep the overall 'schnauzer' appearance and personality, larger specimens of the Standard Schnauzers were bred together with the combination of now extinct Shepherd breeds and the black Great Dane. It is debated as to whether Bouviers were also used in the early development of the Giant, as those early specimens were very similar in size and structure. As the German Shepherd Dog gained much popularity in Germany, the role of the Giant Schnauzer changed to a more varied one. These multi talented dogs were widely used as guards in butcher shops and breweries in Bavaria and later on in the German trenches in WWI.

The Giant first made is debut in the show ring in 1909 in Munich Germany, Ch Roland Rolandsheim was the first dog entered as a Giant Schnauzer.

Early examples of Giant Schnauzers

Ch Roland Rolandsheim 1909

Bazi V. Wetterstein 1914

Between 1918 to 1921, 567 Giants were registered and in 1922 a decision was made to stop the showing of unregistered dogs by the National Kennel Club of Germany and in 1923 the first breed standard of the Giant Schnauzer was developed. It basically was stated as "The Giant Schnauzer will be the best possible, considerably enlarged and strengthened copy of the Standard Schnauzer", exactly what the originators of the breed had in mind.

During WWII the Giant was once again used extensively in the trenches and as a result it nearly became extinct as people found its undying courage and strength a valuable asset in the trenches, after WWII and with only a few dogs left a few dedicated breeders set about to resurrect the breed and to these people we owe so much.

After years of breeding and developing the Giant we have today it is considered to be an extremely intelligent, imposing, trustworthy and above all loyal and loving companion. They are true to their masters and guard their territory with pride. They are however not an easy breed to keep and are not for just anyone. A rather complex breed in terms of their extreme level of intelligence, they can easily get the better of you if you let down your guard. They generally think they have a better idea! Give an inch and a Giant takes a mile! They can be clowns one minute or loving couch potatoes the next. They have a natural guarding ability, so this is not necessary to train into a Giant and not to be abused. Being such a large, strong dog it is wise to have them obedience trained as it makes for a much more rewarding relationship between you and your Giant. They are naturals when it comes to most outdoor activities such as tracking and many excel at obedience and agility.

Giants today are used in Guard and protection work, Police dogs, valuable members of Search and Rescue teams, Therapy dogs and Guide and Hearing dogs. Many have gained not only Championship titles in the Show ring but also as Endurance, Obedience, Agility and Tracking dogs. Some owners even do sled and cart pulling activities. It is easy to see that a Giant is most happy when he is with his owner. They have active brains and bodies and are happiest when they are using them. …Preferably not whilst destroying your wooden dinner table or television remote control!! This breed is most commonly found in the black colour variety but although rare in Australia, is also found in the pepper & salt colour. Their tell tale long beards and eyebrows are the hallmark of the breed and you will always recognize a Giant Schnauzer when you see one. They are a striking dog to look at when they are in full show coat running around the ring, but it must be remembered that they aren't born that way! This takes hours, if not weeks and months of preparation to get to that stage for the show ring and it is preferable to simply clip down the coat of a companion Giant as opposed to stripping and raking the coat. It saves both time and effort and is cheap and easy for almost anyone to do themselves. It is also worth remembering that grooming should be quality time with your Giant and most who have become used to this since puppyhood enjoy to spend even 10 minutes a day being brushed.

One last thing to remember is that when you have a happy, healthy Giant Schnauzer you have a friend to the end. A bond and a love for the breed that will have you hooked for life!

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