Schnauzers are a popular breed that comes in three distinct sizes; miniature, standard, and giant. While all three types come with unique personalities, certain traits are shared with all three. Schnauzers are known for being alert, intelligent, highly active, and they like to be involved in family activities. But what about aggression? Does this also come naturally to this breed and is there anything an owner needs to be aware of regarding their typical temperament? Here is what you should know.
So, are Schnauzers aggressive? Schnauzers are generally not an aggressive dog breed, instead, they are typically friendly and obedient. However, Schnauzers do have a protective streak and do require early socialization and training to become well-adjusted and calm.
Aggression is always possible with any breed, and Schnauzers are no exception.
Therefore, any displays of aggression are likely to be for a reason or a cause; mainly fear, anxiety, or the perceived need to defend territory or their loved ones.
A Schnauzer may act with hostility if not adequately socialized, or if they were the subject of past abuse or mistreatment.
So, how this breed behaves is typically representative of how they have been raised, cared for, and looked after.
For the most part, a Schnauzer is more likely to bark and growl rather than bite. That being said, an owner should not take for granted the importance of dog training.
Angry vocalizations can develop and evolve over time. Attacking, biting, snapping, and so forth have been reported from this breed when this kind of behavior has not to be kept in check.
Let us now take a closer look at the average temperament of the Schnauzer breed, across all three types.
We will also cover whether they are dangerous to own, some potential causes and triggers of aggression, and how to manage and prevent aggressive displays if you do ever look to get one.
Typical Schnauzer Temperament
There is no typical Schnauzer temperament due to the fact that these dogs come in three different sizes, and each dog comes with its own traits.
However, there are specific characteristics that are shared by all three types in this breed. The main ones are that they are spirited, alert, active, and intelligent.
Schnauzers are also fiercely devoted to their family and although they are slow to anger – they are quick to defend.
Most Schnauzers are wary of strangers, which is part of their instinct to protect their families.
Let’s discuss the three sizes of this breed and personality traits associated with each one:
The Minaiture Schanuzer
The miniature Schnauzer is the most playful of the three, and despite its small size, they have a big personality.
Many miniatures don’t like to be treated like they’re small dogs, so avoid fussing over them.
Some minis are calm and confident, while others are boisterous. Some are timid and introverted, whereas others are vocal, like to bark, and extroverted.
The Standard Schnauzer
There is nothing standard about this Schnauzer like its miniature counterpart; these dogs’ personalities vary greatly from one dog to another.
Most standard Schnauzers are highly active and intelligent; many are smart enough to carry out jobs like bomb detection and rescue; others have even been used to identify skin and lung cancer!
These dogs need plenty of mental as well as physical stimulation, even as they age.
The Giant Schnauzer
The giant Schnauzer is generally quiet and composed, and they tend to have reserved natures.
Despite their calm and stoic demeanor, these dogs need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation – they are highly intelligent, love their owners, and are easy to train.
The giant Schnauzer is known to be especially wary of strangers.
Are Schnauzers Dangerous?
Schnauzers are not considered dangerous dogs; they are not aggressive breeds by nature.
However, the importance of training cannot be overstated, to ensure they learn exactly how to behave and what is to be expected of them.
This is all especially true for Giant Schnauzers. An untrained, stubborn, disobedient, and suspicious giant Schnauzer is a liability – mainly due to its gigantic size.
Giant Schnauzers are known for their rowdiness and enthusiastic jumping; because of this, they are not suitable for a household with small children as they can knock them over if they get too excited.
This giant breed is best suited to a home with older children and those who have experience with dogs, who are generally calmer and typically know how to behave around and in the company of dogs.
The giant Schnauzer is not an appropriate pet for everyone and they are not recommended for first-time dog owners.
People who take in this large dog usually have experience in caring for giant breeds. They also tend to understand the work involved in training dogs to behave without aggression.
Giant Schnauzers are territorial and are known to be a potential danger and risk around smaller pets and children.
Owning a dog of this size and nature, therefore, requires an owner who knows how to establish a hierarchy, lead and command respect.
More intense obedience training and early socialization is the key to softening this dog’s personality.
Keep in mind that this dog should never be left unsupervised for too long.
Bored, and lonely giant Schnauzers can become destructive, which often parallels with displays of aggressive behavior.
What Can Make Schnauzers Aggressive?
Schnauzers are generally not an aggressive dog breed. However, if and when they are aggressive, it’s essential to understand the root cause of the behavior.
Let’s discuss the four main factors that often are the cause of such displays:
Illness Or Injury
If your Schnauzer has suddenly become uncharacteristically aggressive, this might be because they are unwell or injured.
Dogs like to hide and protect their vulnerabilities so often will respond negatively if you are getting too close, or potentially touching a painful area.
If you feel like your dog is not themselves, it’s a good idea to take them to your vet right away who can inspect them and provide any treatment if necessary.
Schnauzers are generally wary of strangers and other animals. They are instinctively devoted to protecting their families.
If they perceive a stranger as being a potential threat, they are likely to act aggressively.
This could include barking, growling, stiffening of the body, lunging, snapping, and as a last resort, biting.
These dogs make excellent guard dogs, but it’s important that if you keep them as a pet they do not remain so hyper-vigilant.
They should not perceive every stranger as a threat. Thankfully, these dogs are intelligent and take well to training.
Fear is generally why most dogs act aggressively towards other dogs and sometimes humans, especially if they have a history of past abuse from a previous owner.
With many dogs, fear-based behavior is due to a lack of adequate socialization and being in an unfamiliar situation, context, environment, or experience.
A frightened Schnauzer may behave aggressively in an attempt to defend themselves if they feel they, or their owners, are in danger.
If there are any changes to your dog’s environment, this can make them anxious. They may begin exhibiting aggressive behaviors in response.
Reasons for his behavior can include the arrival of a new dog, a visitor, moving to a new house, or moving furniture around.
How To Prevent Aggression In Schnauzers
Preventing aggression in Schnauzers is easier to do when the Schnauzer is still a puppy, but thankfully, it is possible to re-train an older dog.
If you need more support, a professional trainer can help you to manage your Schnauzer and suggest some effective strategies for better all-round behavior.
Let’s look at how to prevent and manage aggression in Schnauzers:
Early socialization prevents territorial aggression. Your dog can be taught to sit and be calm when a stranger comes for a visit.
It helps if you get your dog used to seeing as many visitors as possible while they are a puppy.
So, be sure to get friends and family to come to your home soon after adoption. This will help to reduce your dog’s fear and anxiety of strangers.
Besides visitors, Schnauzer puppies need frequent exposure to new sights, sounds, people, and surroundings.
You can take them to many locations, such as parks, beaches, social gatherings, and even puppy play dates.
This type of exposure helps them to determine when a person or situation is safe and when they’re not.
Schnauzers are an intelligent dog breed. However, one downside to owning a smart dog is dealing with stubbornness and territorial behavior.
So, a Schnauzer needs an owner with a firm but fair approach.
Training must never be harsh; however, it must be consistent and well-structured.
The following obedience training tips will help you better control your dog:
- Establish yourself as the alpha; your Schnauzer must see you as their leader. This will ensure they obey your commands. Schnauzers once hunted in packs (apart from guarding their homes and livestock), and they were always loyal to the pack leader. Equally, most dogs like to be followers; it helps them feel safe, and it gives them direction. You can become and claim your position as the leader by putting yourself and your families needs first before your dogs. So, entering a room before they do, eating your meals before they eat; whatever you can do where you can come first, do it.
- You must consider the outcome you hope to achieve; a professional puppy trainer can help you achieve the desired result. You must decide how you want to train your Schnauzer. You can train them at home, a local club, or at a group class; either way, you need to be consistent, and know exactly how you want your dog to behave.
Provide Mental And Physical Stimulation
Schnauzers are highly active dogs, and they are also very intelligent. Both physical and mental stimulation are required to prevent boredom and keep them engaged and content.
When your dog is exhausted after their activities, they are also less likely to act out. So it works wonders.
Your Schnauzer will benefit from activities such as flyball, agility, and scenting games. For when your dog is indoors, consider interactive games and treat puzzles.
Reward Good Behavior
When your Schnauzer obeys your commands or when they make reasonable attempts, always reward their behavior by offering treats and lots of praise.
Rewards do not replace consistency and firmness during training, but they help your dog control their urges. It helps to keep the training sessions enjoyable as well as offering rewards.
Schnauzers are generally not aggressive dogs. But just like with any other breed, they have the potential to act out, and they may be triggered to be aggressive in certain contexts.
For example, this breed is known for being protective of its owners. They are territorial and historically, this trait served a purpose.
While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it must be controlled to suit their domesticated environments.
Ultimately, Schnauzers are lovely companions, and you can choose from the three sizes of Schnauzer to suit your own unique needs, preferences, and home.
Either way and regardless of type, consistent training, and early socialization are essential with this breed to help to control their instincts. They are intelligent and learn quickly, especially where rewards and praise are on offer.
At the end of the day, if you were looking at this breed; do not let potential aggression put you off.
Miniature and Standard Schnauzers are great for first-time owners, whereas Giant Schnauzers are more suitable for more experienced, knowledgeable, and firm dog owners.
Are Schnauzers A Good Family Dog?
Schnauzers can make great family dogs, so long as they have been properly and constantly trained from a young age.
Miniature and Standard Schnauzers are considered the best options for families, especially those with young children. They are loyal, devoted, slow to anger, and love to play games.
Giant Schnauzers are more territorial and are more likely to act out aggressively around strangers. They require a firmer approach to training and are not best suited for families with young children.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.