Q. I was considering getting a Standard Schnauzer and I was wondering if they shed. Is it an expensive dog to take care of and would it be good for an 18-month-old child? The dog we’re considering adopting is 12 weeks old.
A. You have good taste in dogs! The Standard Schnauzer, the oldest of the three Schnauzer breeds and the middle-sized one in the bunch, is handsome, smart as a whip, the steadiest in temperament of the three sizes and a great family pet. Either salt-and-pepper or solid black in color, these dogs have coarse wiry coats are not heavy shedders, but do require frequent brushing to keep their undercoat from building up, causing pockets of shed hair that can result in tight tangles.
Standard Schnauzers are extremely versatile. They worked as messenger dogs in World War I and as vermin hunters, guardians of stables and livestock on the farm and retrievers in the field. Today they excel in conformation, obedience, agility, tracking, herding and therapy work, and make devoted companions with their trademark aura of dignity and almost-human understanding of the emotions of the people they love best. Several artists have depicted them in paintings, including Rembrandt and Durer, who both fancied their own Standard Schnauzers.
They have a playful side and a mind of their own so they require an owner who will set limits and let them know what is expected of them. As far as living with children goes, I do not think there is any dog that is truly suitable for an 18-month-old toddler. Babies and young kids need to be taught how to act around dogs and that’s asking a lot of such a young child.
If you do bring a puppy into your home at this point, it will take constant supervision on your part to make sure your little one does not pull the dog’s tail or whiskers, snatch away his food and toys or smack him. Small children are unpredictable and most biting incidents that befall them are not the fault of either the youngsters or the pets but the result of a lack of supervision by the adults who should be in charge.
In other words, a properly bred, raised and trained Standard Schnauzer will be a reliable and protective companion for your child, but you’ll need to be on top of their early days together. Since kids and Standard Schnauzers puppies both love to play, investigate strange things and romp around outdoors, you’ll have your work cut out for you, but in my opinion, it will be well worth it.
These dogs make great family pets but are territorial and not immediately accepting of everybody. In other words, they are not Golden Retrievers. They can be wary of strangers and will bark to announce their arrival on the scene, so they will need a proper introduction to let them know who belongs to your circle of family and friends.
As far as grooming goes, we usually hand-strip their coats a few times a year to maintain the coarse texture that is their trademark but some pet owners opt to have them clippered instead. If you have your dog clippered, you will need to see the groomer every six to eight weeks to maintain that neatly tailored look.
The pattern we put on them adheres to their bone structure and musculature, and after they have been groomed, no clipper tracks or choppy scissoring marks should be visible. We use thinning shears to blend their lines. On their heads, the lines are crisp and well-defined, the top of the skull clipped close and their erect cropped ears shaved short and scissor-trimmed. Their eyebrows are long arched triangles and their beards and mustaches left long and natural. Always sharp in appearance, their heads are rectangular in shape.
Feathering on the undercarriage and the columns of their scissored legs should be short and tight. There is nothing soft or fluffy about these distinguished dogs. Between groomings, use a curved metal-bristled slicker brush all over your pet’s body at least once a week but be careful not to brush with too heavy a hand, causing an irritation known as “slicker burn.”
They also need ample exercise for their physical and emotional well-being. An adult dog should get is the equivalent of a brisk one-mile walk daily at least once a day and more would be better. Just like a human child, the Standard Schnauzer puppy is constantly exploring, learning and testing his limits. As an adult, your Standard Schnauzer will always be up for a walk in the woods, a ride in the car, a training session or any other activity where he can be with you. Even when snoozing by your feet, your Standard Schnauzer will be on the alert. Why wouldn’t he be? It’s his job.