Get to Know the Miniature Schnauzer: The Most Popular Terrier in the United States

Among dog breeds, the Schnauzer is known for being loyal and loving but also adventurous.

Caroline Coile  |  Aug 5th 2013


The Miniature Schnauzer is both loving house dog and active adventurer — he’s a mover, a lover, a snoozer, and a schmoozer. He’s an independent sort, though, and more than capable of finding trouble on his own.

The breed is the most popular terrier in America, but there are some who say Schnauzers aren’t true terriers at all. That’s because they don’t come from the same origins as most of the other terriers, which began as go-to-ground vermin hunters in the British Isles. The Schnauzer, in contrast, never pursued its quarry underground, and came from Germany. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t share the same terrier sense of spunk and adventure.

Some bits on the Miniature Schnauzer:

  • Minis weren’t the first Schnauzers, but they are certainly the most popular. The Miniature Schnauzer is derived from the original, the Standard Schnauzer, which originated in Germany in the Middle Ages. The Standard Schnauzer worked as a vermin hunter, guardian and all-around farm dog.
  • The Schnauzer was probably derived from crosses of Spitzes, wire-haired Pinschers, and German Poodles.
  • The name Schnauzer, first recorded in 1842, probably comes from the German word for “snout” or “beard.” The early English-language name for the breed was Wire-Haired Pinscher.

  • In the early 1900s, they were the most popular dogs for guarding German farmers’ carts at market.
  • Miniatures Schnauzers probably resulted from crosses with Affenpinschers. The earliest identified Miniature was a dog named Findel, born in 1888. The first ones came to America in 1924, and the Miniature Schnauzer was recognized separately from the Standard Schnauzer in 1926.
  • Minis bark the most of any of the Schnauzers!

  • Minis come in black, black and silver, salt and pepper, and white. White Minis were first recorded around 1900. White Schnauzers are not allowed to be shown in AKC conformation shows, but can be shown in most other countries and in other AKC events. It is not true that they are albinos or deaf. Instead, the color is caused by a single recessive gene (“e” for you genetics buffs).
  • Despite currently being the most popular terrier with the public, no Miniature Schnauzer has ever won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, and only one has won the Terrier group — and that was back in 1947!
  • Schnauzers in AKC shows usually have docked tails and cropped ears. That’s not the case in many other countries, where docking and cropping is illegal. Uncropped dogs are being seen more often in AKC shows, but undocked dogs are still rare.

  • To obtain the desired harsh coat in the show ring, Schnauzers must be stripped; that is, the longer hairs are pulled out by hand rather than being shaved or clipped. Since clipping is easier and faster, most pet owners choose it over stripping.
  • Celebrity owners include Janet Jackson, Bill Cosby, Paul Newman, Rob Lowe, Steve McQueen, Mary Tyler Moore, Bruce Lee, Sugar Ray Leonard, Katherine Heigl, Avril Lavigne, Amy Grant and Bob Dole.
  • The Miniature Schnauzer is currently the 13th most popular AKC breed in America.

Do you own a Miniature Schnauzer? Have you spent time with one? Let’s hear what you think about this fascinating breed in the comments! And if you have a favorite breed you’d like us to write about, let us know that, too!

About the author: Caroline Coile is the author of 34 dog books, including the top-selling Barron’s Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. She has written for various publications and is currently a columnist for AKC Family Dog. She shares her home with three naughty Salukis and one Jack Russell Terrier.

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