If you’ve been considering the Schnauzer as a breed, then you might be weighing the differences between the Standard and the Miniature Schnauzer.
First of all, while the Mini and Standard are both Schnauzers, they’re also distinct breeds, which means the Mini is not just a smaller version of the Standard in terms of temperament, personality, and requirements.
Both breeds have different qualities, and you might find that one will suit you better than the other.
You’ll find dedicated Standard Schnauzer owners who wouldn’t dream of ever downsizing to a Miniature Schnauzer. And of course, there are plenty of Mini aficionados who are truly passionate about their pups too. What side of the fence do you think you’ll end up on? The only way to find out is to take a close look at both breeds so you can decide for yourself.
A Quick Overview
Here, we’ve rounded up the key points of both the Standard and the Miniature Schnauzer. If you have certain criteria to meet in terms of exercise or the ability of each breed to live with kids or other pets, everything you need to know is right here.
Visual Differences Described
It’s true that at first glance, these two breeds look extremely similar to each other. The Mini Schnauzer does look like a tiny version of the Standard.
Both Standard and Miniature Schnauzers have wiry coats of either pure black or a mixture of black and white known as “salt and pepper.” Minis can also have a black and silver coat color.
Both these breeds have a chunky square body shape, with a long and elegant head. Their full eyebrows and extensive mustache across their muzzle mean that it’s hard to mistake a Schnauzer for any other breed. In fact, the word Schnauzer is derived from the German word “snout” and can also mean “whiskered snout” or “mustache.”
Of course, the main difference is their size! When measured to the shoulder, a male Standard should measure 18.5 to 19.5 inches tall and a female between 17.5 and 18.5 inches.
A Miniature Schnauzer of either sex should stand somewhere between 12 and 14 inches tall.
So, if you saw these two breeds side by side or somewhere where it’s possible to judge scale, it’s easy to tell them apart simply by their size. But if you were faced with a photograph of either breed on a white background with no scale, it would be difficult to visually tell the difference!
History of the Schnauzer Breeds
The visual appearance of both the Standard and the Mini Schnauzer is similar. But that doesn’t mean they are the same in terms of personality and care requirements.
To find out why, let’s take a quick look at the history of these breeds.
The Standard Schnauzer is the founding breed of all other Schnauzers (there’s also a Giant Schnauzer!).
It’s thought that the Standard Schnauzer has been around since the 15th century, used as an all-round farm dog. They excelled as guard dogs, herders, hunters, and ratters.
The Standard was too big to be a truly effective ratting dog, so it was decided to try and breed a smaller version. In order to achieve this, Poodles and Affenpinschers were introduced to the breed. That means that while in terms of appearance, the Standard and the Mini Schnauzer look almost identical, their personalities are different due to the fact that the Mini is influenced by other breeds.
The Standard Schnauzer was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1904, with the Miniature Schnauzer following in 1926.
Of the two breeds, the Mini is far more popular as a breed in the U.S.A. than the Standard. The Mini ranks 19th out of 196 breeds in the American Kennel Club’s breed popularity charts, whereas the Standard comes in at 89th place.
Both Schnauzers are people-oriented and will want to be involved in all aspects of family life. They enjoy spending as much time with their humans as possible and won’t enjoy being left alone for long periods.
Standard Schnauzers get along with absolutely everyone in their family, whereas Minis can often form a stronger bond with one member of the family. That’s not to say they won’t enjoy spending time with everyone, but they will often have a preference for one person.
As breeds that were originally intended for guarding and protecting, both Schnauzers do have a tendency to bark. This is a little more pronounced in the Miniature Schnauzer. These pups are vocal and will use their bark to try and communicate with you. If they’re hungry or bored, want to play, or have seen someone approaching your house, a Miniature Schnauzer might bark at all of these things! Good socialization and training can minimize how much your pup barks, but this breed will always be more vocal than some others.
Suitability for Living With Other Pets
Both Standard and Miniature Schnauzers have a high prey drive for smaller animals, thanks to their historical use as ratters. As such, care needs to be taken around rodents and cats. Standard Schnauzers will generally quickly learn to respect and avoid smaller pets, but Minis are a little harder to train in that respect.
Neither the Standard nor the Miniature Schnauzer should ever be left unattended with smaller pets, including rodents, kittens, and timid adult cats. Bolder cats may well be able to stand up to a playful Schnauzer, but still, leaving them unattended together would be a bad idea.
Standard Schnauzers will often be wary of other dogs, although if you introduce them when your Schnauzer is still a puppy, they will likely grow up to get along just fine. Minis will often react to other dogs initially but soon settle down to comfortably living in a multi-dog household.
Socialization when your Schnauzer is a young puppy is the key to helping them adapt to and thrive in a multi-pet household.
Slowly and steadily introducing your Schnauzer to other pets and not expecting them to get along straight away is also important.
Suitability as Family Pets
Both the Standard and Miniature Schnauzer can make wonderful family dogs as long as they’re integrated in the right way. They do both have a natural urge to protect their families, so you want to make sure your Schnauzer knows when a situation is safe, such as visitors coming to the house. This way, your dog can relax rather than be on guard.
Standards are large and can be boisterous. This can be a little much for smaller children or elderly family members who could accidentally get knocked over during an energetic play session. Again, training your Schnauzer to know when they can play rough and with whom will make a difference.
Miniature Schnauzers can have a tendency to nip if their initial warning growls or barks have gone unheeded. An inexperienced dog groomer or a child who doesn’t know how best to interact with dogs are examples of situations where a Mini may be tempted to give a little nip. Both these scenarios can be avoided by socializing your Mini Schnauzer, making sure everyone respects your dog’s space, and knows the warning signs that your dog gives off first.
The size difference between these two breeds will give you a clue that the Standard Schnauzer requires significantly more exercise than the Mini.
Standard Schnauzers are incredibly energetic and athletic dogs. You’ll need to spend at least 90 minutes per day making sure they get enough exercise. That’s the minimum, as a Standard will basically take as much exercise as you can throw at them! While they do love to hang out in the backyard with their families, they also need plenty of active walks and training sessions to keep them physically and mentally challenged.
Standards love to come on family outings, whether that’s a long hike or a day at the lake — these dogs want to be included in it all!
When it comes to the Miniature Schnauzer, their smaller size means they don’t need as much exercise as the Standard. But for a dog of their size, they still need plenty of time to run and stretch their legs. An hour per day is the minimum you should spend exercising these little dogs.
As long as they do get enough exercise, Minis are happy to curl up and watch over their families between walks. This means they’re a good choice for apartment or city living.
Minis do have a stronger prey drive than Standards, so on-leash walks are recommended when you’re not in a securely fenced area. If your pup sees a small furry animal scampering away (domestic or wild), they may not be able to stop themselves from giving chase!
Both Schnauzer breeds will benefit from a securely fenced backyard where they can be freely allowed to explore off-leash. They won’t appreciate being left out there on their own, though, while you do something else. Both these breeds need to be with their families as much as possible.
Standard Schnauzers are incredibly intelligent and can pick up new commands with ease. The trouble is that they soon get bored and will switch off, which can be seen as stubbornness.
Socialization at a young age is essential for Standards. They need to learn how to interact with a wide range of humans and other pets in various scenarios. As a large breed that enjoys protecting their families, it’s important to be able to contain this trait so your dog doesn’t become unmanageable when older.
These clever dogs need an experienced handler who can pick up on the signs that they’re starting to lose focus in a training session and quickly shift the focus to keep these dogs focused. If you aren’t careful, the Standard Schnauzer will take their training into their own paws and teach themselves. Just be prepared for the fact that they may teach themselves bad habits that will be difficult to break!
Miniature Schnauzers are far keener to please their owners than the Standard, so they make willing and eager training partners. Their intelligence means they’re quick to pick up new commands and relish the challenge of learning complex tasks.
Again, socialization is an important part of your responsibility as a pet owner. Minis can veer toward becoming overly protective of their families if they’re not well socialized as a puppy. This can result in excessive barking, which can then become difficult to control.
Both the Standard and Miniature Schnauzer have a wiry coat that requires plenty of grooming in order to stay looking clean and smart. Their wiry coats don’t shed much at all.
The double coat of both breeds can be hand stripped or clipped to make them easier to maintain, but you’ll still need to brush them two or three times a week.
Clipping a Schnauzer of any size will eventually cause their coat color to become lighter. While a clipped coat is definitely easier to maintain, it also removes the wiry top coat, which means that your Schnauzer’s coat won’t be as resistant to dirt, water, and brambles.
The Standard Schnauzer has an average lifespan of 13 to 16 years and the Mini an average of 12 to 15 years.
Both breeds are robust and healthy dogs, although on the whole, the Standard Schnauzer seems to suffer from fewer conditions than the Mini.
The Standard Schnauzer Club of America recommends that breeders test their male and female dogs for hip dysplasia, as well as having a full ophthalmologist evaluation to check for vision and eye defects. Standard Schnauzers used for breeding should also have a DNA test for the recessive gene that can cause dilated cardiomyopathy. Breeders should make all tests freely available for potential puppy purchasers, as well as explaining the significance of the results.
Miniature Schnauzers can be prone to the following conditions:
In addition, the American Miniature Schnauzer Club recommends that puppies should have an ophthalmologist evaluation before purchase, as well as a veterinary check to confirm their health and carry out vaccinations. Some breeders will also have their male and female dogs checked for cardiac conditions, and you can ask to see the results of these tests.
Both the Standard and the Mini Schnauzer can suffer from follicular dermatitis, which is sometimes called “Schnauzer comedo syndrome,” although this is more common in the Mini. This skin condition is caused by a build-up of oily sebum produced by your dog’s skin and creates bumps in their skin, usually across the dog’s back. It’s relatively harmless unless the bumps rupture in which case they can become infected.
Breeding & Pricing
Miniature Schnauzers are the more expensive of these two breeds. You can expect to pay anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000 for a Mini Schnauzer puppy.
Standard Schnauzers cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000.
With both breeds, it’s important to take your time to find a reputable breeder who has experience producing these puppies to a high quality. You should be welcome to visit the puppies, as well as meet both parent dogs. A breeder should be more than happy to talk to you about the health tests they’ve carried out and the socialization that each puppy has received to date, and they should provide references when requested.
If a breeder is offering a price that seems too good to be true or if they seem unwilling to answer your questions or allow you to visit the puppies, you should proceed with extreme caution. They may actually be a puppy mill or backyard breeder. Neither of these operations take much care regarding the welfare or socialization of the puppies they’ve bred. As a result, your bargain puppy could end up with serious health or behavioral issues that will end up costing you time and money in the long run.
And the Winner Is
The answer to whether the Standard Schnauzer or Miniature Schnauzer is best will totally depend on your circumstances and personal preference! Both of these breeds have so much going for them, and share quite a few personality traits. They’re loyal, intelligent, and charismatic, not to mention loving and entertaining.
We hope that we’ve helped you learn more about both the Standard and Miniature Schnauzers. It’s true that in appearance and certain characteristics, they can seem similar indeed. But dig a little deeper, and you can also see that there are key differences, which means choosing between these two breeds isn’t simply a case of size.
While you might love the idea of a Standard Schnauzer, if you live in a city and are a first-time dog owner, then this active and demanding breed may simply not be the right match. Standard Schnauzers are a great deal of dog. They need plenty of exercise and interaction and will demand to be involved in every aspect of day-to-day life with their families.
Miniature Schnauzers need less exercise due to their smaller size but still require plenty of time and attention from their owners. They’re a little easier to train than the Standard Schnauzer as well. These dogs love spending time with their families and won’t necessarily adapt well to being left alone for long periods. They also have a high prey drive and love to chase after local wildlife, so on-leash walks are safest when you’re out and about.
No matter which of these two breeds you think would suit you and your family better, you’ll be guaranteed love, loyalty, and plenty of laughs!
Featured Image Credit: cynoclub, Shutterstock/ NH, Shutterstock