Giant Schnauzer - Lots of Questions

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Giant Schnauzer - Lots of Questions

Post  Peepers on Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:04 pm


Hi all,

I find myself in a peculiar position as it’s been a long time since I considered getting a pup of a breed I’m not thoroughly familiar with. I’m trying to learn as much as I can before I decide if this breed is right for us. I’m going to apologize in advance if I ask dumb questions.

I don’t want to bore anyone but I don’t know a good way to ask my questions without telling you a little bit about where I come from. I grew up with old style working Dobermanns & an assortment of terriers. We had mini schnauzers (salt & peppers who were pretty laid back but were excellent at sounding the alarm if something was wrong). As an adult I’ve spent most of my life living with Dobermanns, German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Collies & Great Pyrenees (livestock guardians). I’ve trained dogs for a little bit of everything over the years, both professionally & for myself. While I’ve done work for others preparing dogs for various types of show & sport, I prefer different types of work like military agility courses, man tracking (such as Search & Rescue type), guardian work, even some light work with livestock & of course obedience.

We live on a good sized farm in Missouri (US) with horses & chickens. Where we live is remote without close neighbors & it is necessary to have well trained dogs who will discourage intruders & if necessary protect (last resort). In fact, even our local law enforcement has said it’s good that we have the dogs because it would take them awhile to get to us – this is said because our dogs are well trained. We've also been called upon from time to time for our dogs to assist in tracking

The last of my working dogs have passed except my collie & she’s got two paws in the senior citizen category. I also have two very tiny Chihuahuas. Sweetie is in the 3.5 pound range & Cricket is about 2.5 pounds at a year old. We didn’t go looking for extremely small but that’s what we’ve got. We have no children at home. Just my husband & I & the critters.

Now, the reason I’m here is one of the breeds I’m considering is the Giant Schnauzer or an Airedale Terrier. I have gotten a lot of opinions about the GS but here in the states they’re pretty rare & many of the folks that are offering advice have never owned or lived with a Giant. So I am cautious of taking that kind of advice. I’ve been told that if I start out with a GS puppy & use good judgment that the pup will understand that it can’t play rough with the birds or the Chihuahuas. On the other end of the spectrum I’ve been told that the Giant Schnauzer may have been a farm dog in the past but will likely view the little dogs as vermin & will probably end up seriously hurting or killing them.

So if anyone out there would care to offer their opinion, I’m really interested from those who have a lot of Giant Schnauzer experience. I’ve also been told that the GS & Airedale are a lot alike in temperament? My Grandparents had a smallish Airedale who was just the best family dog. But I don’t know the validity of the statement that the 2 breeds are alike.

My next set of questions are concerning coat, color & temperament. I’m trying to separate fact from old wives tales. I’ve seen GS dogs with the different coat types. Over here what’s called the American coat which is thick & soft & the European coat which is harder & less profuse. I’ve been told the dogs with the European coat are better suited in temperament to working lifestyle than the American coated dogs. Do any of you find this to be true? Or is this all more just based on the individual? I’ve been told the Pepper & Salt & the all black GS are totally different in temperament. Do you find this to be fact?

Thank you for your time & for any words of wisdom or experiences you might share. I’ve been a long time admirer of the breed but do not want to bring a pup in that will not be a good fit & have everyone miserable – including the dog. Our dogs are family so I try to do my homework so we get the best fit for our family.

Peepers


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Re: Giant Schnauzer - Lots of Questions

Post  Jo on Thu Aug 04, 2011 5:53 pm

Giants like to be around their families rather then left to their own devices (thought I would get that in early as you haven't mentioned whether this would be an outside guard dog or live in the home family dog)

Giants are great all round working dogs, they did start of as droving dogs (standard schnauzer) and then the giants were more towards the guarding side too. They have bee used in may ways over the years, from war dogs, police dogs ad also compete in agility, obedience, IPO, tracking, ski joring, cani cross..... etc etc

Training wise I find them pretty easy, they are intelligent with a stubborn side, so you need to give them a reason to do something - keep it fun and not to repetitive (i find if you keep doing the same exercise, they will decide they have got it worng and try various other ways to do what you are asking, so best to keep it short and change to another training task before going back to work on the task of the day)

It is often said, soft coats = soft brains - I can't say how true that is as mine have hard coats and good brains Very Happy and also come from euro lines (even the bit of american is euro based!). I thnk you will find that those who are interested in working their dogs tend to breed dogs with harder coats - there are a few breeders in america who have working line giants, if you decide they are the breed for you then the Giant Schnauzer Club of America should be able to point you towards breeders who have the type of dog you are after.

There is also grooming to consider, soft coats need much more upkeep, trimming more often and more brushing, hard coats are easier and look at their best when stripped (I wouldn't waste my time trying to strip a soft coat)

Giants do need plenty of socialising as a youngster, which maybe a problem where you live??

Overall they are similar to minis, they are more dog and not yappy though!
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Re: Giant Schnauzer - Lots of Questions

Post  Peepers on Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:35 pm

Hi Jo,

Thanks for the information. Sorry, I should have stated that I'm not looking for an outdoor dog. The pup will be allowed free time in a safe yard but not to live. The only of my dogs who weren't in the house more than out were our livestock gaurdian dogs & that was their choice. The house seemed to be a spooky place for the Great Pyranees dogs. Still when home, I'd leave the doors open & they'd lay with their heads inside & that made them happy. Everyone else lives in the house with us, has free time in the yard to be dogs & goes for rounds with us when we do chores.

I don't think socialization will be a problem. I live in a remote location but I do have access to some city parks where I can take my dogs on leash. My dogs love to go to the park where the playground equpiment is & we take advantage of that for training different things.

I would prefer the harder coat for ease of grooming but also for practical purposes on the farm. I have nightmares about picking burs out of all that beautiful furnishings of the soft coated dogs. Also can't imagine that would be fun for the dog either. You also answered the question I forgot to ask about the barkiness. My mini was so quick to bark & in a big working dogs I prefer a little quieter. On rare occassion we've had to be quiet to let a big bull pass & be on about his business so we don't end up in an arguement. I didn't realize how important it was to be able to ask the dog not to bark & have the dog listen... my male Dobermann(no passed on now) was super quick to bark but on that day when I put my hand over his muzzle he understood the need & was silent. We were able to sneak off & call the neighbor. Our livestock are gentle to work with but this one was a neighbor's bull & he was 2,000 pounds of bad temper.

That's one of the things I was looking for most is a dog that's versatile & intelligent. I enjoy training with my dogs & try to do it as often as possible but maybe I'm a little like the Giant in that I hate busy work (repetetion) with no purpose. I'm building an obstacle course out of man-made & natural obstacles & it's designed so the same exercise can be done but in many different ways so neither of us are bored.

Thanks for the info.

Peepers


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Re: Giant Schnauzer - Lots of Questions

Post  Peepers on Sun Aug 07, 2011 5:40 pm

Joe, do you find any differences in the temperament or working ability between the different coat colors? I've been told to buy a black if I want a working dogs but again, I don't have enough Giant experience to know if there is truth to this or not? scratch

Peepers


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Re: Giant Schnauzer - Lots of Questions

Post  Jo on Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:57 pm

I haven't seen any p/s working to be able to comment, but if you want the hard coat (especially on the legs) then you'd want a black.

Would recommend you contact the breed club to put you in contact with breeders of working type dogs.
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Re: Giant Schnauzer - Lots of Questions

Post  Guest on Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:07 am

Hello, I have a neutered, 3 1/2 y.o., black Giant. His name is Trav. We used to have chickens and a couple of geese, but he "played" them to death. No biting, he would just run them down and stand on them.

Trav has a soft coat and I have him groomed every six weeks. I brush his beard and legs maybe twice a week. It takes me just about ten minutes. I use a special detangler product before brushing him and it makes a huge difference in my attitude and Trav's attitude when it's brushing time.

We live on a couple of acres and at this time of the year, the foxtail stickers and clover burrs are terrible. Every evening when Trav is settling down before bedtime, we have a little quiet time together. That's when in petting him, I remove any stickers or burrs that he hasn't pulled out yet. Sometimes there's a lot, and sometimes just a few.

The Giants are barkers. Because of the way that Trav was raised before I got him at 4 months, he is not a "mouthy" dog, not does he put his teeth on me. One should NOT play tug with a Giant, nor engage in rough-housing. They seem to not have an "off" switch, and it can become a bit dangerous.

I don't trust any dog, large or small, around toddlers. So I have never allowed any dog of mine to be left in a room alone with a small child. As for small pets, I honestly don't know how Trav would be with a very small dog. I know he likes to dig for gophers. When he catches one, my other dog, a golden, will eat the gopher.. *shudder.

My hubby and I are both in our 70's. Trav was a handful the first two years, but he finally matured and is fine, now. He is sometimes wild in the evening if he doesn't get enough exercise during the day, but I just put him outside and tell him to run it off.

As for being in public, he's barking and noisy in the car on the way to town, but that's ok, because I have a hearing loss. When hubby is with us, I use the water spray bottle.. sometimes missing Trav and hitting hubby, which does not please hubby.. When we get to town and Trav gets out of the car, he's like the most well trained dog in the world. People are always stopping to pet him, some have even taken his face in both hands and kissed him between the eyes. He is fantastic with children who ask to pet him. Not jumping up on them or pawing. He's had his picture taken many times by people who are impressed with his looks and his demeanor. People holding babies have asked me if their child can touch Trav and of course, I say yes. Trav seems to sense the vulnerability of babies and very young children and his face and body posture seems to "soften", if that makes any sense.

Trav is very loving and hugable - but does not respond to recall if he is on important business, like seeing who's at the big yard gate.. unless I have a tennis ball in my hand. He likes being touched.

I can't think of anything else at this time. I think the most important thing is good breeding. Check out several breeders and ask questions...lots and lots of questions. If you do get a Giant, just remember, they don't mature until at least two years old.


Last edited by Willow on Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:10 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : making sure the "Notify Me" button is checked.)

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Re: Giant Schnauzer - Lots of Questions

Post  Jo on Wed Aug 24, 2011 5:21 pm

The Giants are barkers. Because of the way that Trav was raised before I got him at 4 months, he is not a "mouthy" dog, not does he put his teeth on me. One should NOT play tug with a Giant, nor engage in rough-housing. They seem to not have an "off" switch, and it can become a bit dangerous.

I disagree with these comments. Giants are not barkers - unless they have developed a behavioural issue.

It is perfectly fine to play tug games with a giant, I do with mine as well as rough houseing. Giants, like any dog need to be TRAINED and part of that is teaching them self control and when a game is finished. Tug games can be great for keeping motivation going during training sessions.
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Re: Giant Schnauzer - Lots of Questions

Post  Guest on Wed Aug 24, 2011 9:25 pm

I respect your right to disagree, but I still stand by my comment.

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Got a Giant

Post  Peepers on Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:11 pm

I lost my link to this board & it's taken me awhile to find you again Shocked

I did get a giant female pup. She is black with a hard coat. We've had her for 5 months now. She is a very interesting girl. Extremely protective of me. She's been very good with our tiny dogs although we do have to remind her to keep her feet off but I notice she's pretty careful with her feet. She tries to save up her rough play for the old Collie who has been known to pinch her pretty good if she gets carried away.

We started her out carefully keeping her on lead while we did chores so basically for the first 2 weeks she was at my heels as we did everything, gathering eggs, feeding horses, checking chickens at night, walking the perimeter of the yard & such. I set up some pretty strict rules about things like going in & out of doors. Then we turned her loose because this pup really needed to burn off some ornery energy. My husband would have her & I'd recall her. She'd run to me. Several minutes later he would call her... she's run to him. We didn't do it often but it was enough that we could begin to relax. I find with her (her name is Ilsa) that when she's in doubt of anything she mimicks the actions of one of the older dogs.

I don't find her particularly barky except when she is bothered by something. If she's in the living room & my husband drops something in the kitchen... she barks. Likewise she takes her responsibility of guardianship very seriously. If anyone unfamiliar is in the house & they behave in an odd way, she puts them on notice. We're careful to direct this. If I tell her something's okay, then I make certain she's quiet & steady. She's one scary dog - if you didn't know her. People who don't realize she's a pup would never come into our house uninvited.

As far as tug or roughhousing, I don't do too much of that with my dogs. I go out & encourage her to run. She runs at me, then dodges & I move my hands like a bullfighter as if she's running through my flag. Once in awhile she'll grab my hand playfully but if she touches to hard I only have to make an "aaaaaat" sound & she releases. I've also had her grab my arm & block me if she thinks I'm about to walk into danger. My collie rustled up a raccoon & had him mad. I didn't know it & started aroudn the chicken house. Ilsa grabbed & blocked & looked at me. This was the only way I guess she could think of to stop me... as soon as she saw I understood her then she released & took off to help my collie. The raccoon was smart enough to get up a tree by then so all was well. I've had her take my hand once to help me keep my balance. Very intelligent, very serious about her work. She's still got some goofey-puppy ways right now but that's to be expected as she's not an adult yet Very Happy

I'm impressed with this pup & with the breed. She trains up very differently than a doberman or any of the herding breeds I've handled. She's fast becoming one of the best general farm dogs I've had aside from the old Collie.

I'm still trying to figure out how to groom her face... body has been a breeze. The face has been a work in progress but we're getting better. I don't know if all Giants are like mine but she chose pretty much right off the plane who's dog she was - she picked me. She's fine with my husband & likes him but she'd throw him under the bus if she could only protect one of us. I'm lucky in that this is what he wants so he's fine with it. She is one of the most commical dogs, a regular clown but when something serious comes up... she's all over it. It's safe to say that I'm hooked!


Last edited by Peepers on Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:18 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : left something out.)

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