If you're looking for a small-breed dog with no frou-frou about him, the miniature schnauzer fills the bill. He shouldn't stand taller than 15 inches at the shoulder, but a whole lot of canine is packed in that relatively little body. He's smart, independent and affectionate toward his person. A miniature schnauzer adapts to your lifestyle. You're his best friend.
Miniature schnauzers descend from standard schnauzers. Much of their behavior is similar, although the miniatures are even more high-energy than already energetic standards. They're terriers, bred in their native Germany to hunt vermin. While your miniature schnauzer might have a strong prey drive, he'll probably work things out with the family cat over time, although strange cats are another story. He usually gets along with other dogs. Don't trust him with smaller house pets, like rabbits or guinea pigs.
If there's a miniature schnauzer in residence, no one gets near your home without your knowing about it. While he's an excellent watchdog, his barking behavior can get out of hand. In that sense, he differs from his standard cousin, who doesn't tend to yap. Resolve that issue with firm training. He's no attack dog, but he will try to protect you. His forte is alerting you to ... everything. You'll know if someone is walking down the street, if a cat's in the yard, if a siren goes off in the distance -- you get the idea.
Your miniature schnauzer wants to be with you. Get used to having a small canine shadow you around the house. If you don't let him actually sleep in your bed, consider putting his bed in your room. It makes him happy to protect you during the night. No matter what you're doing, the miniature schnauzer wants to be part of it.
Because they're so intelligent and want to please you, miniature schnauzers are easy to train. Your dog can shine at obedience, agility and other canine activities. Earthdog trials, designed for terriers, are a natural fit for a mini, as the trials simulate rodent hunting. Before you do -- because your miniature schnauzer might be wary of strangers -- socialize him as much as possible. Getting involved in group events is a great way to do that.
As a fairly high-energy dog, the miniature schnauzer requires a fair amount of exercise. If he doesn't receive a sufficient amount and is left alone a lot, he might become destructive. The mini schnauzer is a naturally well-mannered dog, but his energy gets pent up quickly and needs an outlet. Take him for regular daily walks and play with him a lot.
By Jane Meggitt
About the Author
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.