Miniature Schnauzers: the most honest dog breed review you'll ever find about Miniature Schnauzer temperament, personality, and behavior.

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Miniature Schnauzer Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Miniature Schnauzer Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2017


Generally speaking, the Miniature Schnauzer has a pleasant, playful, spunky temperament that fits well into a lot of homes.

The problem is that it's not very helpful to speak generally about this breed, because individual Miniature Schnauzers vary so much in personality.

You'll find some who are serious, some who are goofballs, some who are extroverted, some who are introverted. Some are very terrier-like (high energy, feisty, scrappy, stubborn). Others are so much calmer and sweeter-natured that they're almost like a different breed.

With such a range in temperament, it's hard to predict what kind of Mini Schnauzer you'll end up, if you acquire a puppy. If you know the temperament you want, it's safer to adopt an adult. Then you can see exactly what you're getting.

The Miniature Schnauzer loves his walks and needs a decent amount of exercise, but mostly he just wants to participate fully in the family. There should be people home during the day to play games with him.

Mini Schnauzers are alert watchdogs – sometimes too alert. They may welcome strangers with enthusiasm or be a bit standoffish, even suspicious.

The Miniature Schnauzer is usually good with other family pets. Though he may chase the family cat for fun, he's seldom serious about it. However, he may be scrappy with strange dogs of the same sex.

Although he knows his own mind and often displays an obstinate resistance to walking on the leash, most Miniature Schnauzers respond well to obedience training. Many individuals win top awards in advanced obedience.

This breed is adaptable to different homes, and makes an excellent traveling companion.


If you want a dog who...

  • Is conveniently-sized and a sturdy little athlete
  • Has a wiry coat that doesn't shed too much, and a whiskery face with a wise expression
  • Makes a keen watchdog, but is usually polite with everyone
  • Is usually good with other family pets

A Miniature Schnauzer may be right for you.


If you don't want to deal with...

  • Providing enough exercise and interesting activities to prevent boredom
  • Companionship throughout the day
  • Suspiciousness when not socialized enough
  • Boldness/feistiness toward other animals – chasing instincts
  • Stubbornness
  • Potential barking
  • Clipping the wiry coat every couple of months

A Miniature Schnauzer may not be right for you.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

More traits and characteristics of the Miniature Schnauzer

If I was considering a Miniature Schnauzer, I would be most concerned about...

  1. The variable temperament. This breed comes in all temperaments. Looking at a puppy's parents can offer clues as to the type of temperament their puppies might have inherited, but it's just a guess. If you have your heart set on a particular temperament (say, a really feisty terrier temperament, or a really mellow temperament, or a dog who loves everyone), you should opt for an adult Miniature Schnauzer from a rescue group. Then you won't be disappointed.
  2. Grooming. Miniature Schnauzers require clipping and trimming every few months. Breed purists may say that schnauzer coats should never be clipped because it makes the coat softer and more prone to matting. Instead they advocate hand-stripping (each dead hair pulled out so a new one can grow in its place). But in my opinion, stripping is too time-consuming and uncomfortable for the dog. Many groomers won't do it anymore. For pet dogs, I think clipping is just fine.
  3. Health problems. Miniature Schnauzers can live to age 15, but overall they're not a healthy breed. Inherited eye diseases that lead to blindness are all too common. Life-threatening urinary stones are more common in Miniature Schnauzers than in any other breed. Pancreatitis and hemorrhagic gastroenteritis are also more common in Miniature Schnauzers than in virtually any other breed. Then there is epilepsy, heart disease, diabetes, liver disorders, itchy skin conditions and tumors. Read more about Miniature Schnauzer Health
  4. Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Miniature Schnauzers need a fenced yard and regular opportunities to vent their energy – playing fetch games, or playing with other dogs at a dog park. Mental exercise would include agility classes (obstacle course for dogs) or ongoing obedience classes at the intermediate or advanced level.
  5. Potential barking. Some Miniature Schnauzers will put on a display of excited ferociousness (i.e. "pitch a fit") when other people or animals approach what is theirs. It's not funny, and if you don't curtail it, your Mini Schnauzer may end up a nuisance barker, suspicious of everyone.
  6. Potential animal aggression. Many Miniature Schnauzers are amiable with other dogs. But some are bold and dominant and will challenge other dogs of the same sex. Similarly, one Mini Schnauzer might live very happily with the family cat, while another insists on chasing anything that runs.
  7. Independent thinking. Miniature Schnauzers can exceed at the highest levels of obedience competition. But although they're very smart and capable of learning a great deal, they must be taught at an early age that they are not the rulers of the world. The toughness that makes them suited to killing vermin can frustrate you if you happen to get a Mini Schnauzer who is dominant and manipulative.

    You must show this breed, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say. To teach your Miniature Schnauzer to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Miniature Schnauzer Training page discusses the program you need.

To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

book cover My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.

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