Indoor with regular exercise and a large fenced yard if possible.
The Standard Schnauzer is a distinctive looking dog with its beard and whiskers, bushy eyebrows and overall impression of power and dignity. The Standard is the actual original size of all Schnauzer's and is actually a medium size breed that gives of an impression of a much larger and more powerful dog. Usually described as a square shape in both body and head, the Standard Schnauzer is very muscular and athletic looking without appearing heavy or cobby.
The head of the Standard Schnauzer is highly recognizable. With the long beard and whiskers and very erect ears the shape is rectangular. The beard tends to give a scholarly or intellectual appearance to the breed, and the bushy eyebrows are constantly moving, providing an ever-changing expression to the face. The breed has a very noticeable stop between the muzzle and the forehead that accentuates the very dark, round eyes. The ears may be cropped or left natural and are erect either way. Uncropped ears will be slightly longer and less pointed than cropped ears.
The neck of the Standard Schnauzer is slightly arched and is carried straight up from the shoulders, not to the front as some breeds. The gradual arch makes a very strong profile and gives the impression of power and grace as the dog moves. The front shoulders are powerful but not overly muscular or heavy and move very smoothly when the Schnauzer is running or moving. The front legs are very straight from all directions and the feet are slightly arched, closely resembling the shape and arch found in a cat's foot.
The body is square in shape and the topline slopes gently from the front shoulders to the hips. The back legs are muscular and carried well under the hips to give a stable and balanced appearance. The tail is traditionally docked at the fourth vertebra but in some countries tail docking is banned and the tails are left long and natural. The coat is dense and thick with a rough texture and is either gray, black or salt and pepper. It cannot be curly or wavy and should be tight to the body with longer hair on the legs that add to the appearance of strength and sturdiness.
The coat of the Standard Schnauzer is harsh to the touch and wiry in texture. The undercoat is very soft and fine and should uniformly cover the dog's body but should not be visible under the thick outer coat. The coat should be straight and not wavy, curly or shaggy looking. The hair on the legs, known as furnishings, should be noticeably longer than the hair on the body but not exceedingly long.
As the original of the three Schnauzer sizes, the Standard Schnauzer was first developed in Germany in the fourteenth century. Named for the German word "Schnauze" or muzzle, they were likely developed by crossing black German poodles, spitz breeds and large terriers. The breed was a companion dog as well as a working animal and is depicted in both family portraits and hunting scenes from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In the late 1800's the breed became popular as a farm and watchdog, used to protect farmer's carts as public markets. In many households in German this dog was considered a "kinder watcher" or watchdog for children.
The first recorded showing of a Standard Schnauzer was in 1879 at the Third German International Show held in Hanover, Germany. At this time the breed was shown as a wirehaired pinscher. The Standard Schnauzer was used as a military dog in World War I and II and continues to be used as a watchdog, police dog and hunting and tracking dog. They are often seen in obedience training competitions as well as agility events.
The breed has since evolved into two other categories, the Miniature Schnauzer and the Giant Schnauzer, both which resemble the Standard in everything except size.
The Standard Schnauzer is a very well tempered breed and is not prone to extremely active or disruptive behaviors provided they have lots of attention, training and proper, regular exercise. They are very steadfast and loyal dogs that will protect their families and territories even in the face of much larger dogs or even strange people. They are excellent watch and guard dogs but with proper socialization and training can also be wonderful companion dogs even with other non-canine pets. They do have natural hunting instincts and will need training to interact properly with cats. They are not recommended for homes with smaller rodent pets. Intact males tend to be rather dog aggressive but socialization from and early age and neutering will prevent a lot of this type of aggression. Schnauzers often do best with other Schnauzers and are not recommended for homes that have another dog that is a dominant breed.
A true family dog the Standard Schnauzer is excellent with older children and loves to travel and go for long walks and romps. Smaller and younger children are often intimidated by the breed as they tend to be somewhat dominant dogs that can be highly protective of their food, toys and space. Older kids tend to be able to work with this breed better than many younger children. They are very hardy dogs that can tolerate both hot and cold climates and love to be outdoors as much as possible. They can tolerate being left alone for moderate amounts of time provided they have regular attention and time with the family on a daily basis. The more attention the Standard Schnauzer puppy gets with proper socialization and training the more of a family dog he or she will be as it matures. A Standard Schnauzer is not recommended as a good match for a family that wants a dog that requires minimum attention and companionship. Many breeders of Standard Schnauzers believe that this breed has a very long memory and will keenly remember people that have been negative towards it in the past. They are also not tolerant of teasing and will let people know when they have had enough.
The Standard Schnauzer is a very intelligent dog that will learn commands extremely quickly and does best with positive reinforcement and praise. They do not respond well to negative training methods and will become aloof and more independent when trained with negative methods. Naturally dominant, the breed does require a firm hand in training and consistent commands. It is important for the owner to establish with the Schnauzer that they are in command or the dog is likely to be very non-compliant. An obedience class is a wonderful way to both socialize and train these dogs.
The Standard Schnauzer is very similar in temperament to a terrier. They love to play and to entertain their owners, but dislike repetitive or monotonous routines and practices. They can be prone to chasing so should be kept either on a leash or within a fence until fully trained. Since they are somewhat dog aggressive it may be necessary to on a leash when in public places where there may be other dog's present.
A very healthy breed overall, the Standard Schnauzer has no major genetic or Health conditions inherent in the breed. Like all larger dog breeds they can be prone to canine hip dysplasia so test on the hip should be performed if this is a concern. Ask if either the of the Breeding lines have a history of canine hip dysplasia before choosing a puppy. The breed occasionally will develop follicular dermatitis, which is a skin condition that can be treated by a vet.
The Standard Schnauzer is a great indoor dog since they have almost none of the doggy odor of most breeds. In addition they shed very little, making them ideal as house companions. The coat is actually a double coat, with a slightly coarser and thicker outer layer of long hair protecting the denser, finer inner insulation layer. The outer layer is very easy to care for but the inner layer of hair in the Standard Schnauzer's coat can become matted if not properly cared for. To keep the coat free from mats and tangles start by brushing in the direction of hair growth with a pin or wire brush to remove tangles. Follow this with a brushing against the direction of growth to get to the undercoat. Mats and tangles should be clipped out if they cannot be loosened with dog hair detangler and some careful combing. Typically grooming every other day will prevent any problems. Stripping or plucking is used to shape the hair on the body for show dogs.
The longer hair on the legs is particularly difficult to keep free from knots. Many owners choose to clip their Schnauzer to an overall short length two or three times a year to decrease the grooming requirements. In addition the hair over the eyes and around the mouth should be trimmed with blunt-ended scissors to prevent irritation to the dog. The beard can become particularly dirty so be sure to use a warm cloth to remove any debris or food that may be trapped around the mouth.
Although the breed can live in an apartment or small house with proper, regular exercise they do best when provided with a yard and large space to move about in. This is a working breed of dog that needs to get out and run as well as be challenged with new commands and areas to explore on a daily basis. A Standard Schnauzer that is not given enough exercise will become difficult to deal with and may also begin to engage in problematic and destructive behaviors.
Typically the Standard Schnauzer will need one or two long walks a day. They can be excellent dogs for jogging and hiking but only after the hips are tested for any possible problems if there is a history of hip dysplasia in the line. These dogs love to travel and are likely to want to go with the family whenever they can rather than be left at home.
The Standard Schnauzer is a very intelligent dog that is very easy to train and work with once they understand that they are not the dominant member of the family. The breed responds very well to positive training methods and loves to please, but it can be very independent and somewhat stubborn at times. As with most of the terrier breeds the Standard Schnauzer becomes quickly bored with repetitive routines and being asked to do the same tricks over and over. To make training fun consider changing the routine frequently and finding new places for the dog to explore and new activities for the dog to engage in.
Socialization is a critical part of Schnauzer training to prevent aggressiveness and possessiveness as the breed matures. While needing a firm hand in training the Schnauzer is a very sensitive dog and will quickly learn to respond to the changes in the owner's tone of voice. While an excellent breed for older children and families it is important to have one person work with training until the puppy or dog understands the commands.
The Standard Schnauzer should always be exercised before training, especially if they are kept indoors. Until they have had a chance to burn off excess energy they will often be distracted and stubborn, but with a brisk walk or a time to run in the yard they will be ready to work and to follow directions. As a breed they are not prone to problem barking or digging, but some will become destructive to furniture and property if they are bored or stressed. Lots of different types of balls, toys and chewable play objects can keep the dog occupied when owners are not home.
The Standard Schnauzer is naturally somewhat wary of unfamiliar people and will become more distant with new people in the house as they mature if not properly socialized. By taking the dog out into public areas and taking them to areas where other people and dogs gather from a young age the wariness will be minimized and the dog will be much happier and social in all settings.