**Disclaimer: All of my Breed of the Month posts consist of information that I have collected from sources on the internet. It is the result of just a few hours of researching (per breed), not an entire month's worth. Nothing I say is gospel, it's just what I've read or inferred from what I've read (the inferred parts consist of an "I think", or something along those lines). If you have a different opinion than what I state, or just want to add something, please feel free to post in the comments section.
The Miniature Schnauzer is part of the Terrier group. Terrier dogs were bred for killing vermin (ew!), which explains why they're all over the place. I wouldn't be surprised if this meant terriers were more prone to digging as well. The group is also known for their comical and energetic personality. Since terriers were bred to chase vermin, they are good at things like catch and frisbee, but it also means they're more likely to chase after passing squirrels or other dogs. Keep a handle on your puppy when you're out of your house until you get a sense of if s/he's likely to run off.
First words to describe this breed is energetic (read: hyper!), but also sweet, loving, and friendly...to humans. They can be dog-aggressive, so make sure you socialize this dog early and often, and make sure your dog doesn't decide to pick on a dog twice its size! They are ok indoor dogs, but they also have healthy (read: heavy) exercise requirements. Only get one of these guys if you're committed to giving him/her a long (can be shorter if brisker) walk everyday and lots of play, otherwise you'll likely wind up with a crazy, neurotic dog. A leisurely stroll won't cut it, you need to let this dog run around. Also, they gain weight easily, so watch what s/he eats, and give plenty of opportunities for exercise. Obesity is very unhealthy for dogs, as it increases the strain on their joints, hips, and backs, sometimes causing a much shorter lifespan.
They are described as a good watchdog, but be careful, this is sometimes code for they are big barkers! Make sure you read up on how to train your dog not to bark unnecessarily. When I say unnecessarily, I mean that if someone rings the doorbell your dog most likely will bark. That's ok (to me anyway), but when you show that the guest is welcome, your dog should no longer keep barking. They are obedient, intelligent, and want to please you; all good things. They are good family dogs, and want to be with you all the time. They are small, but not a toy breed. If you get this breed, definitely get him/her some obedience training. It sounds like this dog can make a really great family pet, but only if you teach him/her how to live with you. The obedience training is also good for dogs because it makes them feel like they have a job. With Corgis, this helps satisfy their herding instinct. With Mini Schnauzers, this will probably help satisfy their constant need for attention and play.
In terms of health, this is a pretty sturdy breed. They are prone to the same genetic eye problems that most breeds have, so make sure you check with your breeder that their dogs have been tested for this, or at least that they don't know of it popping up in their line. I've also read about kidney stones, liver disease, cysts, diabetes, skin disorders, and von Willebrand's disease (this is similar to anemia, it's not usually a serious issue, just something to be aware of). Do a quick google search if you want more information.
Make sure you check out the parents of the puppy. You can check for skin disorders, and also for temperament. They vary a lot from dog to dog, but the parents are likely to be a close temperament to your puppy. I read that there isn't a big difference in temperament and behavior between males and females, and that the personalities of the parents are better indicators than sex of what your dog will be like.
This is a breed with heavier grooming requirements. You have to comb them daily or their fur will get matted, though if you suffer from allergies, combing may be recommended anyway. Since they don't shed, that means their fur needs to be trimmed every so often. In terms of looks, they are small, but sturdy. Since their fur needs to be shaved, they can pretty much look however you want. The standard is to leave the fur on the face (like a beard!) and legs long, and short on the body. This breed normally has their tails docked, though I don't think their tail is full size naturally (three quarter tail?). If you're against tail docking, make sure you ask prospective breeders if they will forgo it for your puppy.
Schnoodle - the Miniature Schnauzer, according to dogbreedinfo.com, was bred as a cross between the standard schnauzer, affenpinscher, and perhaps the poodle. If this is true, it makes sense to me that there wouldn't be a huge different between a Schnauzer and a Schnoodle (in terms of hypoallergenic-ness). As with all hybrids, you can't pick and choose the qualities you get from each breed. Will it be hypoallergenic? Probably. Will it be a schnauzer in every other sense? No. If it's a standard poodle mix, it'll be larger, perhaps more independent. If it's a mini poodle mix, it might be more neurotic and hyper. I really don't see the point of a schnoodle. The schnauzer already doesn't shed, and is recommended for people with allergies. I recommend interacting with a few schnauzers to get a sense of your sinus' sensitivity to the breed before you go with a hybrid.
Even more trendy than the hybrid breeds are the "toy/teacup" breeds. The standard for the Mini Schnauzer is something like a 12 inch height minimum. But, of course, you can most likely get them smaller than your hand if you go to the right breeder. I wouldn't recommend the tea cup style puppy because it's against the standard of the breed, and I think the whole big SUV/small puppy trend is gross. By definition, a good breeder will not purposefully breed dogs that are not of the breed standard, since a good breeder is in the business of breeding for the betterment of the breed.
Bottom line: this dog with be as good as you let it. If you cram one in your house while you're at work all day, and don't give him/her enough exercise when you get home, you're probably going to end up with a crazy dog you have trouble living with. This dog needs and wants to be part of the family. If you spend the time to play with and train your schnauzer, you can expect to great companion and member of the family. I've heard them described as cuddly, but I would imagine you have to give them their walk first to get some of their energy out before they'll settle down with you. If you already own a dog, or there are dogs living very close by, this may not be the breed for you, unless you're willing to spend the time to socialize the puppy when it's young. If you want a dog that will sit at your feet while you watch tv all night, this may not be the breed for you. Schnauzers are energetic, and want lots of attention and playtime. Overall, they sound fairly well rounded. If you don't mind exercising, playing with, and training your mini schnauzer, you'll get the reward of a loyal, obedient, and loving companion.
Up next month: Pugs! -- Unless I hear a request for a different breed.
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