What the Standard is Not…

It was news to us.

Perhaps it is because we’ve been “in” dogs long enough to have “absorbed” awareness that the Standard Schnauzer is not a wire coated terrier.

Evidently, however, enough people believe the breed to be a wire coated terrier that the Illustrated Guide presented by the breed’s AKC parent club points out that the Standard Schnauzer has neither structure nor ancestry in common with the terriers of Great Britain.

While it’s true that both convey a focused and alert “world view” expression, and that both dispatched vermin as part of their farm duties, those attributes don’t make the Standard Schnauzer a terrier. Perhaps the fact that the Miniature Schnauzer is in the terrier group makes some people assumed the Standard is also a terrier, but it’s not. Though both Mini and Standard Schnauzer breeds were first assigned to the Working Group in 1925, they were moved to the Terrier Group the next year (where Minis continue to be shown) and after years of lobbying by the Standard Schnauzer Club of America, Standards were moved back to the Working Group in 1945.

But we digress.

Long legged terriers developed in the British Isles have narrower chests and bodies than a Standard Schnauzer, this to help them maneuver in tight spot while hunting vermin, the job for which they were bred. They have an upper arm that is typically shorter than their shoulder blades, and it’s more vertical, another structural facet that helps them go to ground. Their tail sets are high, and when trotting, one sees parallel movement

Standard Schnauzer, however, have upper arms and shoulder blades that are approximately the same length, and are set 45 degrees from horizontal. Their feet converge towards the center line of gravity when they trot, and their tail sets are moderately high. Standards have a solid, robust build, their strength and endurance coming from well sprung ribs which are clearly different from the long legged terrier’s narrower chest and body.


Standard Schnauzer,Wire-haired Pinschers,

Those are just the difference we see. Ancestrally, today’s Standard descended from early European herding and guardian breeds with which the Standard has more in common, genetically speaking.  In the mid 180s, crosses were made with gray Wolfspitz and black German Poodle which accounts for the distinctive pepper and salt, and black colors of today’s Standard.  The resulting dogs were called Wire-haired Pinschers, and they (what we call the Standard Schnauzer today) were the original.  Miniature and Giant Schnauzers were developed later to address different needs and environments.

Images: Top image by By WoofStudio; Collage Standard Schnauzer by bardoY/Shutterstock;  Irish Terrier by Irish Terrier by ©Andrey Medvedev | Dreamstime

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