Description & History

The Giant Schnauzer, as its name implies, is the largest member of three Schnauzer breeds, and comes from the cattle and sheep farming country in southern Germany - Wurttemberg and Bavaria.

The ancestors of the Giant Schnauzer are not known; but it is known that it has existed for centuries and also that in the later 1890's a number of German kennels played a large part in developing the breed.

An article entitled "What is a pinscher?" appeared in Der Hund after a show in Hanover in 1879. The writer reports: "Gentlemen, this question was put to me by an English reporter. In our Pinscher we have a breed corresponding to the English Terrier." He alludes to the variety of types and to the dog with the pet name Schnauzer, which had won the first prize in the class Rauche Pinscher. He gows on to say that the Schnauzer was far too large and appeared likely to have originated from a cross with a Bulldog. "Terriers and German rough-haired Pinschers" he continues "are principally used for destroying rats and mice. The Schnauzer, however, would be more at home with a pack of Boarhounds."

Great Danes were once called German Boarhounds, as in earlier times they were used for hunting wild boar. Those dogs were very large animals, so perhaps the ancestry of today's Giant Schnauzer is connected with the Great Dane as well as with other large herding dogs of the past.

However, although it seems we will never know the breed's exact origin, we do know it was used on the farms in rural Germany. An independant breed with a working ability and capable of enduring all types of weathers — owing to its weather resistant coat — it was used by farmers as a drover's dog and as a guard.

The introduction of transportation gradually brought to an end long-distance droving and other uses had to be found for the Schnauzer, as with other drover's dogs. Butchers and brewers used them as guards for a time. In spite of this, however, there was a steady decline in the breed until the First World War when Schnauzers, like other herding breeds, found a useful role with the army and the police.

Today's Schnauzers, as well as making successful show-dogs and fine pets, are still used by the army and police. They work for the police in Germany and Holland and have been used for sniffing-out explosives in Israel and Bosnia.

The Schnauzer comes from a long line of working dogs and although today few of the breed are required to carry out the demanding work of their ancestors, they can still do useful jobs, such as pulling small carts, and this helps to keep them mentally and physically content.

Rosamund Walters.

Copyright © 1997 The Complete MultiMedia Co. Ltd.