The Miniature Schnauzer is the smallest of the three Schnauzer breeds.
These small dogs tend to live longer lives than their bigger cousins with a life expectancy ranging from 12 to 15 years.
The Miniature Schnauzer was the 19th most popular dog breed in the United States of America in 2021, according to the American Kennel Club.
The AKC go to explain that their popularity is partly down to their “outgoing personality, portable size, and sporty good looks”, resulting in a “perfect family dog”.
First recognised by the AKC as a breed in 1926, Mini Schnauzers are extremely adaptable to their living circumstances and family life.
We’ll take a closer look at the Mini Schnauzer breed and some things to expect if you’re planning to welcome one of these canine companions into your family home.
In this article, we’ll hear from Kenji and Natalie (@lifewithkenijoy) to get an insider’s perspective into life with a Mini Schnauzer!
So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at Mini Schnauzer Pros and Cons.
Mini Schnauzer Pros
Easy to train
Mini Schnauzers are smart dogs so if you start training your pup early, you’ll have a clever and obedient companion by your side. Mini Schnauzers are ranked as the 12th most-intelligent dog breed in Stanley Coren’s Intelligence Of Dogs. According to his study, Mini Schnauzers should understand new commands in 5 to 15 repetitions and obey the first command 85% of the time or better. But let’s hear from a current owner who can share her experience training the breed.
Natalie, who has owned multiple Mini Schnauzers, shared that Kenji (@lifewithkenji) wasn’t difficult to train.
From my experience, really easy to train! With my last Schnauzer, I went on a short break and left him with my sister, and when I came back he could spin and dance and I was amazed! With Kenji, he learned to go outside for the toilet as soon as he got home and was housebroken in a day or two – no exaggeration! We only used two pee pads in his playpen – the rest was unused! We did however wake up consistently (during the night my partner and I took turns) to let him out for the first two weeks, and after that, he learned to hold and sleep through the night. At only 10 months old, he already knows more than a dozen tricks and commands!
If you’re looking for a hypoallergenic dog breed that doesn’t shed a lot, you may have noticed the Mini Schnauzer is a breed that fits the bill. Schnauzers have developed a reputation for being low shedders so they’re usually popular with dog lovers for their hypoallergenic qualities. The AKC lists Mini Schnauzers as one of their suggested breeds for dog owners looking for a hypoallergenic dog.
Natalie admitted that she loves Kenji (@lifewithkenji) doesn’t shed so no need to worry about dog hair on her clothes when she goes out.
So they don’t actually! One of the perks of owning a Schnauzer is that they don’t shed much if at all! I love how I don’t have to lint my clothes before going out to meet friends! BUT I would say if you want a lovely smelling Schnauzer and one that can see out his/her eyes, you must keep them groomed regularly! Before Kenji, I had Pepper when I was not even in my twenties, so I was always strapped for cash! So, I taught myself to groom Pepper, and by the time he was 6, 7, or even older, he looked like a proper Schnauzer! Bless, he did endure some bad haircuts before 5 years of age but I repaid my debt by making him the hunkiest senior Schnauzer ever and even got featured on a dog blog at the tender age of 12!
Although the AKC’s website describes these dogs as “tough, muscular, and fearless”, the Mini Schnauzer have a softer side that they display around their human companions. The respected dog organisation gives the Mini Schnauzer a five-star rating for being affectionate with family and friendly towards new people. However, every dog is different so the levels of affection may vary.
For instance, Natalie described Kenji (@lifewithkenji) as a particularly affectionate Mini Schnauzer but believes the breed as a whole is loving.
Oh, I think I hit the jackpot with Kenji because he is the most affectionate Schnauzer I’ve ever had! That’s out of three in my life so far! From my experience and seeing other Schnauzer families I definitely think that Schnauzers are affectionate! Kenji loves lots of cuddles in the morning! In fact, that’s how he gets us up.
However, a Reddit user explained that her Mini Schnauzers shows varying levels of affection depending on the situation and the time of day.
Mine is super varied depending on what else is going on. When I get home from work he goes bananas, jumps up and down like I’ve been gone a year. Which is lovely. Then after about five minutes he’s got no real interest in affection for the next couple of hours. Once he starts getting tired he may or may not decide that it is Cuddle Time, and he’ll drop onto you and prevent you from moving. Until he’s had enough, at which point he’ll retire to the rug. In the morning he’s not interested in affection until around 8am or so, which was when I went to work pre-lockdown and he’ll try and prevent that with love until he’s ready to sleep again.
These fearless watchdogs make good guardians of the home seeing as they’re alert by nature, but they’ve also got a softer side that makes them a potential contenders for a family pet. The AKC gives the Mini Schnauzer five stars out of five for being good with children, although you should never leave a member of the breed or any dog for that matter alone unsupervised with kids.
Natalie said that Mini Schnauzers are “1000%” family-friendly based upon her experience with Kenji (@lifewithkenji) and her previous two dogs.
[They’re] very family-friendly! However, like all dogs, they should be trained to be around unpredictable behaviours so they learn to be tolerant and gentle around young children. I thought about having a baby with Pepper because he was so calm and caring, sadly timing didn’t quite work out. I have every confidence that Kenji will grow to be even more affectionate as he matures and continue to be a playful friend for when I have children one day.
They’re small size makes them ideal for city life if you’re looking for a robust dog who can handle life downtown. With a height range between 12 and 14 inches, they don’t need a lot of space but will certainly require plenty of exercise.
A Quora reader wrote online that Mini Schnauzers can definitely thrive living in apartments.
You just need to ensure that he/she gets enough exercise. Schnauzers are terriers who have plenty of energy! We walk our Schnauzer before going to work in the morning and then walk her again in the evening. We also take her to doggy day care once a week, just to break it out. Doggy day care is fantastic because she gets to run around the whole day whilst playing and socialising with other fellow dogs. On weekends, we try to include in her in our lifestyle activities as much as possible eg take her out for drive with us, go to a cafe and sit outdoors al fresco style with her. We also take her to an off leash dog park where she can play with other dogs. Our Mini Schnauzer is a healthy happy dog living in an apartment.
Natalie (@lifewithkenji) explained why she considers Mini Schnauzers to be perfect city dogs.
[Mini Schnauzers] aren’t too big so they’re easy to travel with and suitable for apartment living. We travelled to Belgium (through France) with Kenji at 6 months old and he was absolutely wonderful in hotels and restaurants. We did learn that he was overstimulated (partly because of his age, and partly because of the new environment) and therefore was reactive as a result! We solved it by enforcing a full day of rest and he was back to his happy and calm self! See! He really is very adaptable and we just needed to pay attention to his needs and his communications!
Mini Schnauzer Cons
Require mental stimulation
As we’ve already touched upon, Mini Schnauzers are highly intelligent dogs so they’ll require lots of mental stimulation to satisfy their drive to explore and learn. Therefore, Mini Schnauzer owners should be prepared to give their diminutive dog lots of mental exercise as well as physical exercise.
Natalie (@lifewithkenji) emphasised the importance of keeping your Mini Schnauzer mentally stimulated.
Mental stimulation is one of the most important aspects of life I think. Even as humans, if we are not mentally stimulated we are bored, sad, or worse, depressed. Schnauzers are originally bred for killing vermin on farms so they do need to fulfil their instinct to chase and hunt (like all dogs in many ways) through trick training, puzzles, and other activities. It adds so much to their overall well-being and mental health too!
Bark a lot
Mini Schnauzers are often stereotyped as dogs that like to bark a lot. But every dog is different. While it does seem a lot of Mini Schnauzers will be alert with a tendency to bark, it’s not the case with every member of the breed.
Highlighting that every dog is different, Kenji (@lifewithkenji) isn’t a big barker but Natalie has encountered other Mini Schnauzers who are louder than her social media star.
Kenji is my third schnauzer (and maybe I got lucky), but he is generally very quiet, except for when something spooks him so he sounds an alert or warning. We also ‘accidentally’ discovered that he can howl. Here’s the story: when he was a small pup and licking my neck I got really ticklish and started laughing, and he howled in response to my laughing! Because my first Schnauzer (King) also howled I immediately felt connected to that side of Kenji, and now and then, we howl with him because it’s just so cute!
While Mini Schnauzers don’t shed a lot, you should be prepared for lots of grooming. They’ll require a good brushing at least two to three times a week to remove any debris or dirt from their coat. The AKC explain on their website that Mini Schnauzers have “a double coat with a wiry topcoat and a soft undercoat that requires frequent brushing, combing, and grooming to look its best.
Natalie underlined the importance of grooming where Kenji (@lifewithkenji) and other Mini Schnauzers are concerned.
Having learned from my experience with Pepper, I got Kenji used to grooming from a very young age. I recently learned hand-stripping so I can help maintain the shine and colour of his jet black coat! I also brush him before every single walk (no exceptions – no matter whether it’s a big park walk or around the block) so that he knows brushing means he gets to go meet new frens! He also gets wiped down all over after each walk and his beard wiped after each meal – this is just to keep his hygiene up so we can kiss him all the time!
While Mini Schnauzers are pretty healthy dogs, they can be prone to some problems. The AKC recommend Mini Schnauzer owners familiarise themselves with conditions such as cataracts, hyperlipidemia, pancreatitis, liver shunts, and urinary stones.
Natalie (@lifewithkenji) shared some of the health issues that she’s experienced with her Mini Schnauzers.
Being a ‘pedigree’ (like many pedigree dogs) they can have health concerns like skin issues. There are no perfect dogs and it’s up to us to do our best to take great care of them. Sometimes some things are just out of our control like when Pepper was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease two-and-a-half years before his passing. We took nearly a year to bring Kenji home because we were worried about potential health issues (like the issues Pepper had) and we were worried that we were ‘replacing’ Pepper out of grief (and we didn’t want to do that!). In the end, we decided for us that we want another Schnauzer because it’s a very low-shedding dog and it suits our needs and lifestyle. Kenji ended up being a completely different pooch to Pepper in personality and in needs, even though they are the same breed. None of our concerns have realised, and touch wood Kenji will remain healthy, and most importantly, as happy as Pepper was with us as a family.
Separation anxiety can affect any dog irrespective of breed or mix. So some Mini Schnauzers may struggle when left at home alone, but other members of the breed won’t be fazed at all. Signs of separation anxiety can include incessant barking, howling or whining, destructive chewing or digging, and in some extreme cases, defecating or urinating inside the home.
While Natalie didn’t have to contend with separation anxiety with her previous Schnauzer, Kenji (@lifewithkenji) does suffer from the chronic canine condition.
With Pepper, no, he was very good at being left (and on his own), because it was a different era then (no WFH option)! With Kenji, I was unwell when I first brought him home so I actually have developed separation anxiety from him, and he of course has difficulties in being left on his own. We are working on that, and with his keenness to learn, I am confident that we can improve on that.