By Ben Morris, MA, RPA
---- — If you love dogs, here’s one you will be interested in: The Giant Schnauzer.
I first saw one of these magnificent animals several years ago, and it made quite a lasting impression on me. The Giant Schnauzer is thought to have come from crosses between the black Great Dane and the Standard Schnauzer. The word “Schnauze” means “muzzle” or “snout” in German. The word was chosen because the Giant’s snout and whiskers draw immediate attention.
The Miniature, the Standard, and the Giant are three separate breeds. Of the three, the one most known in America is the Standard Schnauzer, which is the medium-sized animal and the oldest. There are paintings of this one dating from 1492. The Schnauzers originated in Wurttemberg and Bavaria. Since railroads were unknown, sheep and cattle were driven to market by shepherds using dogs.
The Bavarians liked the Standard Schnauzer but the drovers needed a larger specimen; hence the development of the Giant. The Giant was first used as a cattle driving dog in Bavaria, then later as a guard dog and by police and the military.
In Germany, the Giant is the dog of choice for police work. In Canada and the United States, Giants are used for rescue work and at airports for sniffing out illegal and or dangerous substances. The Giant has proven to be such an intelligent pupil that police work has been has been his main occupation.
The first Giants were imported to the U.S. in the early 1920s, and by the 30s some of the best breeding stock was in the hands of Americans.
Giants were used by the U. S. Army in World War II. Although rare in the U.S. and Canada the breed is gaining in popularity. The Giant Schnauzer is a large, powerful, compact dog with bushy eyebrows, whiskers and beard. He has a harsh, wiry outer coat and dense, soft undercoat. The Giant’s height is the same as its length., resulting in a rather square look.The coat comes in solid black or pepper-and-salt. The tail is generally docked.
They are good with children if properly trained. The breed is dominant with other dogs and should be socialized extensively both with other dogs and people as a puppy. Giants need lots of exercise as a puppy to prevent restlessness. Giants are very protective, bold and spirited; they are also calm, loyal, responsible and intelligent. They are well behaved with considerate children and are reserved with strangers. They are also easy to train and are good with other pets.
Giant Schnauzers also make excellent jogging companions, however they are not recommended for novice owners.
Giants usually live for 12 to 15 years and are known to be excellent watch dogs.
Ben Morris, MA, RPA, is a retired archaeologist who writes a weekly archaeological/historical column for the Daily News. He can be reached at 812-932-0298 or firstname.lastname@example.org.