Giant Schnauzer History

Giant Schnauzers originated in the early 1900’s from the Bavarian and Wurttemberg regions of Germany. Although the true history of the breed is somewhat uncertain, initially German cattle farmers around Munich combined large and powerful, course coated, cattle protecting highland farm dogs known as Oberlanders, with the Standard Schnauzer’s vermin killing and watchful instincts. From them, the Munchener or Munich Schnauzer emerged and was used to drive cattle to markets, and also a guarding dog that protected both cattle and herdsmen.

Ch Roland Rolandsheim 1909

Later the Munich Schnauzer became known as Riesenschnauzer (Giant Schnauzer). Many of the first Giant Schnauzers were either pepper & salt or black, however grey-yellow and brown-yellow puppies were seen.

Bazi v Wetterstein (Born 1914)

Amongst the first Giant Schnauzers to be shown in Munich were Ch Roland Rolandsheim in 1909, and another declared worthy winner Bitru v Weinberg, and his son Bazi v Wetterstein born in 1914. Many generations proceeded in order to produce consistency and type.

It is thought that the black Great Dane, Bouvier des Flandres, and possibly other breeds such as Dobermanns, and Rottweilers may have been used to further develop the Giant Schnauzer. Breeders in Germany at the time did not disclose which breeds they had used in the progression of the Giant Schnauzer. In 1923 they officially obtained a breed standard which described their mental qualities as destined for the hard and strenuous life of a working dog.

After railroads rendered cattle drives to markets obsolete, Giant Schnauzers transitioned their skills towards police work, they had also acquired a reputation for guarding and began to be used as guard dogs by breweries and butchers shops, and were used to carry out war duties during World War I and II. During the early 1920’s they began to take part in working trial competitions with the setup of training centers for Schutzhund; consisting of tracking, adaptability and protection work.

In the 1930’s Giant Schnauzers were exported from Germany to other countries, however it wasn’t until the 1960’s that the first Giant entered the UK. Although the origins of the Giant Schnauzer stem from Germany, the initial dogs imported into the UK were from Sweden, Holland, Denmark, Italy, USA, Czechoslovakia, Norway, Finland, Canada, Switzerland and Belgium in the 1970’s. During this time importing dogs was much more difficult due to quarantine regulations. In the late 1970’s a group of breed enthusiasts set up and officially registered the Giant Schnauzer Club in 1979.

The vast majority of Giant Schnauzers in the UK today are companion dogs, show dogs, or compete in dog sports such as IGP, obedience, agility, man-trailing etc. They are a multi-faceted and versatile breed with intelligence, loyalty, and a keen family protector.