Breed Characteristics According to the Breed Standard


Giant Schnauzers are just as happy laying on the sofa watching TV with you as they are doing activities and sports such as obedience, agility, dock diving, showing, IGP etc. They are an extremely loyal companion, very affectionate with their family, and can turn their paws to many different disciplines. They like to be involved with whatever you are doing, and often described as velcro dogs; they will follow you to the toilet, and greet you every time as if they haven’t seen you for days. Whatever you are doing they will want to join in with everything and anything, from stealing ‘tools’ to joining in ‘helping’ with gardening. Should strangers approach your property, they will quickly switch roles and step up their guarding abilities to protect, and warn you someone is near with their loud and intimidating bark. Left to their own devices they can be quite resourceful and find their own entertainment, especially as youngsters.


Everything about a Giant is strong, they have a strong brick shaped head that can strike like a mallet if you happen to bend over at the same time as they are being exuberant. They have good strong bone, and care should be taken that puppies do not over exercise and damage growing joints. They are well muscled, sturdy, with a strong back and strongly muscled thighs giving them the power to drive from behind, and the strength, stamina and determination to deal with wayward cattle as they were historically bred. Due to their strength, a Giant will need consistent training to learn how to walk on a lead from early puppyhood, otherwise they have a tendency to pull. A female can weigh around 32-38kg and males around 38-45kg depending on height, bone and substance. They can also be strong minded and independent thinkers, with a strong personality and character that requires a definite boss, consistency and a good sense of humour.


Giant Schnauzers are generally tough and hardy and tend to just get on with whatever comes their way. Most Giants live a healthy life with little reason to visit a vet, and so appearing ill can often be a sign of something more significant. They are bold, brave, and good natured, although they will protect their family if so required.


The breed was originally developed to drive cattle and protect farmsteads which required decision-making, problem-solving and concentration, and as such they are bright and fairly easy to train. However, their independent thinking can on occasions make training a challenge especially during the junior/teenage phase. Giants are mostly not interested in completing repetitive commands over and over, and do best with positive, short training sessions. Their busy minds means that without the brain exercise they need, they’ll create their own entertainment to keep their mind occupied, which often leads to mischief. Puppies are keen to learn new things and will pick up new commands very quickly. It is best to start training very early as soon as you take a puppy home, as they will also learn bad habits very quickly too. Therefore, it is important to train Giants from the beginning and discourage unwanted behaviour as soon as possible. The adolescent phase, around the age of 10-18 months, can be the most challenging, as they may go through an awkward phase, which can be worked through with patience and perseverance with training.


Due to their origins as a working dog, Giants are high drive in that they are highly active both mentally and physically, especially when young. Some have more drive than others and as such may want to chase fast moving objects such as cyclists, joggers, birds, rabbits etc. Early socialisation and training is required to prevent undesirable chasing. They may also be unaccepting of other large breed dogs of the same sex in the household, therefore 2 males or 2 females may not live together amicably, depending on the individual dogs and also the owner. They are very energetic, exuberant and enthusiastic, unless taught otherwise, Giant Schnauzers may greet people by jumping up and being generally boisterous. A considerable amount of training and socialising is required, from early puppyhood, through to adolescence and beyond, up to at least 2 years of age. They are always ready for their next adventure, owners often wonder at what age they may start to slow down, which generally isn’t until they are over the age of 4 years and are still very active into their veteran years. Due to their vigorous nature, whilst they are good with children, then may unintentionally knock over a toddler, and is a consideration for families with very young children.


As long as a Giant has the exercise and mental stimulation they require, they are happy to go along with variations in day-to-day life. They tend to get on with whatever comes their way, they usually love water, and don’t mind whatever the weather, although black Giants absorb heat much quicker and like to keep cool.

Once a visitor is accepted into the home, they quicky switch from alert barking mode to being quite friendly and affectionate, however, some may be aloof with strangers. Whilst they are adaptable, they do not adapt well to being excluded or isolated, as such they do not like being left on their own for extended periods of time, and wouldn’t be happy left alone in an outside kennel. In order to prevent separation anxiety, as part of puppy socialisation, short periods of alone time is necessary. They also manage to determine quite quickly which family members allow them to can get away with things, and may take advantage. Giants are real characters, and will make you laugh on a daily basis.

Capable of Great Speed & Endurance

Giant Schnauzers have a deep and broad chest with a large lung capacity, meaning they can take in more oxygen to fuel their muscles, enabling them to run very fast. Their size also provides a long stride making it easier to reach higher speeds with minimal effort and without tiring easily. They can run at around 28 mph and are surprising agile for their size and substance, and are a great choice for an active family. Giants have a lot of stamina and can run for around 10 miles without tiring too much. Their endurance also gives them the ability to run around with older children outdoors, and play for lengthy periods without getting tired too quickly. N.B. puppies will require careful exercise in order to prevent damage to growing joints up to the age of around 18 months. If running with a Giant, exercise levels will need to be gradually built up. Younger dogs need only a moderate amount of exercise, while active adult dogs may require up to two hours per day.

Resistant to Weather

Giants have a double coat, a harsh wiry top coat, and soft downy undercoat. The top coat and oils from the skin help to repel dirt and water, whilst the undercoat keeps them warm in winter, during hot weather it also traps cool air and helps to keep them cool, and offers protection from the sun. Their harsh leg harsh enables wet furnishings to dry quicker, and also prevents clumps of mud and snow from sticking too much in winter. The coat doesn’t tend to shed, unless left without grooming for over 6 months, although small clusters of undercoat may be found under furniture. The coat is generally stripped to keep the weatherproof double coat intact, however most groomers will clip the coat. Two different types of coat have arose over the years, nowadays a different type of Giant also exists with a longer, softer coat and thicker, soft leg hair that tends to offer less weather resistance and requires much more grooming. However, the original harsh wiry coat and harsh leg hair is still defined in the breed standard. It is usually possible to tell the type of coat at a very young age from around 5-8 weeks of age.