The Miniature Schnauzer is a breed of small dog of the Schnauzer type that originated in Germany in the mid-to-late 19th century. Miniature Schnauzers developed from crosses between the Standard Schnauzer and one or more smaller breeds such as the Poodle and Affenpinscher.
The breed remains one of the most popular world wide, primarily for its temperament and relatively small size. Globally, the Miniature Schnauzer comes in four colors: black, salt-and-pepper, black-and-silver, and white. As of 2008 it is the 11th most popular breed in the U.S, though the American Kennel Club recognizes only three colors and considers solid white a disqualification. Colors such as chocolate, liver, and parti (multi-color or spotted) are available on the pet trade and can be registered as pure-breds by some organizations, but are not currently recognized by any legitimate clubs for conformation shows.
Miniature Schnauzers normally have a small, squarely proportioned build, measuring 12 to 14 inches (30 to 36 cm) tall and weighing 11 to 15 pounds (5.0 to 6.8 kg) for females and 14 to 18 pounds (6.4 to 8.2 kg) for males. They have a double coat. The exterior fur is wiry and the undercoat is softer. The coat is trimmed short on the body, but the hair on ears, legs, and edge of the body, a.k.a. the "furnishings", are retained. The first Breed Standard for the Schnauzer, established in 1907, required specific color formation: "Color: All salt and pepper color shades or similar bristly equal color mixtures and solid black. Faults: ...All white, speckled, brindles, red, or bran colors."
Miniature Schnauzers are often described as non-shedding dogs, and while this is not entirely true, their shedding is minimal and generally unnoticeable. They are characterized by a long head with bushy beard, mustache and eyebrows; teeth that meet in a "scissor bite"; oval and dark colored eyes; and v-shaped, natural forward-folding ears. (When cropped, the ears point straight upward and come to a sharp point.) Their tails are naturally thin and short, and may be docked (where permitted). They will also have very straight, rigid front legs, and feet that are short and round (so-called "cat feet") with thick, black pads.
The Official Standard of the Miniature Schnauzer describes temperament as "alert and spirited, yet obedient to command. He is friendly, intelligent and willing to please. He should never be overaggressive or timid." Usually easy to train, they tend to be excellent watchdogs, with a good territorial instinct, but more inclined toward vocal notification than attack. They are often guarded towards strangers until the owners of the home welcome the guest, upon which they are typically very friendly to them; unlike some of their terrier cousins, they are not typically aggressive. However, they will express themselves vocally, and may bark to greet their owner, or to express joy, excitement, or displeasure.
Proper socialization with other dogs and people is important. The breed is generally good with children, but as with any dog, play with small children should be supervised. They are highly playful dogs, and if not given the outlet required for their energy they can become bored and invent their own "fun." Schnauzers have a "high prey drive" (appropriate for a ratting dog), which means they may attack other small pets such as birds, snakes, and rodents. Many will also attack cats, but this may be curbed with training, or if the dog is raised with cats.