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Giant Schnauzer FAQ's

~Deb Stover

So...you THINK you want a Giant Schnauzer?

You saw one at a dog show or walking with their owner or on TV, and now you want one. You might name him/her Harley, or Lucy , or Max. You and your puppy will live happily ever after, and he will charm you forever with his intelligence and antics. Right?

Think again. Giants are not for everyone. Unless you have a LOT of time (lifetime of the Giant) to devote to your new Giant (whether puppy or adult) for the next 10 - 12 years, this breed is not for you.

Giants are NOT larger version of the Miniature Schnauzer. If I had a penny for everytime someone has said,"Oh, I have had minis and now I want a Giant" I would be a wealthy woman, lol! Thats like saying, "I've had Great Danes." One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. Having a Mini or Standard Schnauzer is not the same as a Giant. They are three distinctive breeds with three very different personalities and breed characteristics. Giants are very strong physically and very high energy, they are loud and demanding and need a lot of daily hands on attention from you. They also need daily exercise with you.

This is not a breed you take to the dog park and turn looseas an adult dog in ost cases. Giants WILL fight, they are dog aggressive, especially with the same sex. When your puppy reaches puberty you will begin to see a totally different dog and most of these traits will come out rather quickly. This is when many people figure out they are in way over their head and this is not the breed for them as they require a lot from their owners..

How does this happen? You did your "homework." No, you didn't otherwise you would know the truth about our breed and know that this is a breed that requires a massive amount of daily training, attention and exercise. Thinking this is just another breed and you can ignore this information about Giants will do nothing but result in yet another Giant in need of rescue rescue because you chose not to listen to knowledgeable people in the breed. Or you thought, "I've had dogs all my life, this breed isn't any different than any other breed" Or you think you can "watch your little kids and the giant all the time and no one will get hurt" These are all things the less than reputable breeders will tell you. They will tell you whatever you want to hear to make that sale.

The Giant Schnauzer is a Working breed with a Terrier temperment. Historically, they were specifically bred to guard herds against predators, protect their families and used as draft dogs to pull carts and small wagons. Add the terrier temperment and you have a large dog who is very prey driven. They will chase any fast-moving critter, burrow and dig, and bark furiously, to annoy that prey out of its safe haven. When the prey is frightnened out of safety it will lose it's life. That is what prey drive (Terrier temperment) is and you can't make it stop or "train" it out of a dog.

The very characteristics that make a Giant Schnauzer a Giant Schnauzer are the same characteristics that make it unsuitable for many families and individuals. They bark a lot and are an extremely loud and noisey breed. They are relentless when they want something. (Prey, food, a sock, a Barbie Doll's head, food off your counter tops, you get the idea.) They are extremely territorial, they often don't get along very well with other dogs, especially dogs of the same sex. And according to many sources, they will kill your cat. It may seem like the dog and cat get along beautifully, but there are many stories of owners coming home to find a rather gruesome scene. Remeber that prey drive?

Giants also need enormous amounts of exercise. The most common phrase echoed around the country from breeders, owners and trainers is "A tired Giant is a good Giant." An hour a day of running, playing chasing, swimming, digging is not remotely enough exercise for this breed. Ask any self-respecting Giant himself, and he will tell you three hours is more like it. Do you as a family have this much time to devote to just playing with your pet? Do you have a fenced yard to keep playtime safe? If you don't have time to play, your Giant puppy will invent his own fun; shredding your furniture, digging craters in your yard, chewing every sock, shoe and toy he can find laying around.

Are you prepared for a 70-100 pound dog to live in your house as a family member? Giants do NOT make good "yard/outside" dogs. They can bark loud enough to wake the dead when they are unhappy....and they WILL let you know if they are unhappy or NEED you to do something. They are relentless and and very demanding of your time.

Giant Rescue is a nationwide network of caring Giant owners & people who literally rescue Giants that owners cannot deal with. We will first encourage an owner to seek out behavioral training for the dog, to correct any problems, if that is unsuccessful, we will try to place the dog in a new home. As a last resort, volunteers will take in and foster any dogs that are in danger of being "dumped," or dogs at shelters that have already been dumped when they have room.

Our adoption criteria is very strict; no children younger than 10 for first time GS owners adopting a rescue from a shelter (because we have NO history on the dog), no same sex dogs in one household, and we reserve the right to check on how your dog is doing for the rest of that dog's lifetime. But our motive is very simple; to place a dog in a permanent, loving, forever home. Adoption fees vary from organization to organization, from $350-$400, but for that fee you get a dog that is spayed or neutered, up to date on all shots, and heartworm tested. That fee may also include flea treatment and microchip identification. In comparison, a new puppy from a Back-Yard-Breeder or a Puppy Mill will cost you $500-$1500, just for the puppy, and that's whether it's a well-bred OR a poorly-bred puppy. THEN you go to the vet with your checkbook open.

According to most any Giant owner, most rescue dogs would make wonderful family pets, for families familiar with the breed. "Most of the dogs we get in rescue aren't given up because there is something wrong with them, but rather just because they're Giant Schnauzers and people didn't research our breed before purchase. The dog is FINE, it's the owner that should not have gotten this breed.

Giants are notoriously stubborn. Training is a MUST. Professional training, with a trainer who teaches YOU and your Giant is a must. Any antics that you find amusing in a ten week old puppy (oh, listen to that cute little snarl) and ignore, will most likely escalate into major problems later on. By the time you realize it's a problem, that dog has had YOU trained for quite a while.

If you still want a Giant puppy after doing all your research, you need to find a responsible, reputable breeder. What do you look for? A good breeder knows the history of both the Giant Schnauzer as a breed, and also has full and complete history of his/her own dogs. You should be able to see the mother and in some cases even the father. You should see clean, healthy pups, in a clean environment. A reputable breeder will be able to show you proof that the mother and father have been tested for genetic problems, CERF, (eyes), Brucellosis, hypothyroidism and OFA (hips). They should have no incontinence, epilepsy, auto-immune diseases or any other genetic health defect in their lines. If they do, thank them for their time and find another breeder.

The breeder should ask YOU a lot of questions about your family, your lifestyle and your current pets. A good breeder will truly care what type of home his/her puppies go into, and s/he should take the puppy back if for any reason it doesn't work out for you whether you have had the dog for 8 years or 8 days.

What type of breeder should you avoid? Your first clue will be a newspaper ad. If the ad says "AKC Giant Schnauzers, champion bloodlines" chances are that you would be dealing with a Back-Yard-Breeder (BYB), looking to make a fast buck, or worse, a puppy mill capitalizing on the fame of a "rare" breed. Remember, this is a Working breed, not a "status symbol" of the latest fad.

Anyone who says Giants are not dog aggressive, anyone who can't or won't show you the mother, anyone who doesn't know the history of Giant Schnauzers, ONLY WANTS YOUR MONEY. Run, do not walk, away from this type of breeder. Do your research on Giants, so YOU can quiz them on how much they know. Don't be afraid to ask the breeder questions about their dogs, ask for names of previous puppy buyers, medical problems that are breed specific or characteristic of their particular blood lines.

Remember, when you choose any pet, you should be willing to make a commitment for that animal's lifetime. In the case of a Giant Schnauzer, a lifetime is easily 10-12 years on average. Do your homework, and lots of research to find out if this type of dog is really right for you.







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