Scratch Dog or Not – Are Giant Schnauzers Hypoallergenic?

If you are one of the 3 in 10 people in the USA who suffer from pet allergies, you may start to wheeze and sneeze whenever you are near a dog and wonder if you will ever experience the unconditional love a dog bestows upon his owner.

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The good news is, that there are hypoallergenic dog breeds which can make fantastic family pets, yes, I hear you ask but aren't they all small and a bit fussy like the Bichon Frise or Toy Poodle? In fact, there are some fantastic large hypoallergenic dogs and they don't come much better than the Giant Schnauzer.

Is It True, Are Giant Schnauzer Dogs Hypoallergenic?​

The Giant Schnauzer is the unsurprisingly the largest of the Schnauzers and yes, they are a large hypoallergenic breed.

However, before rushing out to purchase one of these powerhouses, be warned they are not for everyone, even though they will not make your eyes water or give you a rash, you need to do your research first to see if this breed will suit your family and lifestyle. While they are not mean dogs, they are a strong, powerful, energetic and dominant breed that can present a challenge even for an experienced owner.​

What does hypoallergenic actually mean?

The word was first bandied about in the 1950s by admen promoting cosmetics for sensitive skin It is generally considered to mean not cause an allergic reaction however it really means a lesser or reduced risk. Therefore, there is no such thing as a non-allergenic dog but there are a number of breeds that can cause less reaction for the sufferer. So do Schnauzers shed? the answer is yes, minimally and usually not enough to trigger a sneezing fit, so they are indeed hypoallergenic dogs.

3 Reasons Why the Giant Schnauzer is a Choice Breed Among Allergy Sufferers​

Many people think it is the dog's hair that causes the reaction for people allergic to dogs, but the problem is a protein, found also in the skin, urine and saliva of our canine companions. An average dog sheds it's skin every 4-5 days but a Schnauzer only sheds their skin every 21 days making them a better choice for allergy sufferers.

The Giant Schnauzer's coat is a double one comprising of a wiry harsh outer coat and a soft dense undercoat. They are considered a non-molting dog but you will find the occasional hair if they are left ungroomed.

The Giant Schnauzer is anything but a lap dog for those allergy sufferers with a large yard, an active lifestyle or just wanting more dog they can be an excellent family pet.​

Giant Schnauzer and allergies - What should I do?

The Giant Schnauzer while a low-shedding dog, because of its size sheds more than his smaller cousins so is only recommended for low to moderate allergy sufferers. People's reactions vary greatly and some react differently to some breeds and even different dogs within the breed so it is essential to spend time with the breed before bringing this large hypoallergenic dog into your home.

Every allergy sufferer can tolerate a certain level of allergens before it triggers a reaction and they collapse in a fit of sneezes. Be aware that this doesn't always happen immediately and can occur even a couple of days later so visit your chosen four-legged friend on more than one occasion if possible. You could try:

  • Get in touch with the Giant Schnauzer Club of America who can give you all the information about the breed and put you in touch with local breeders who are usually happy to allow visits and events where you can spend some time with the breed.
  • There are numerous Giant Schnauzer rescues up and down the country who are always looking for volunteers, join their online forums and groups, perhaps volunteer, maybe even foster a dog. This is a great way of seeing if the breed is compatible to your lifestyle while also confirming they don't bring you out in a rash.

5 Ways to Reduce the Risk of An Allergic Reaction from Your Pooch

  • Grooming is the number one way to reduce the chance of an allergic reaction to your Giant Schnauzer, preferably ask someone who does not suffer from allergies to do it for you and if that isn't feasible, brush your pet outside and wear a dust mask.
  • Vacuum regularly and choose one with a HEPA filter this picks up the most harmful particles which are usually 0.3 microns to a level of 99.97% efficiency.
  • Wipe walls and areas your dog rubs against like doors and furniture every day. Dog allergens are sticky and adhere to surfaces which can cause a build-up in certain areas and trigger a reaction.
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    Wash your hands or use a sanitizer every time you come into contact with your dog or any of his belongings be it tidying up his toys, cuddles or grooming.
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    Cut back on those kisses, saliva can sometimes provoke the most severe reaction to dogs so your pooch needs to be trained from an early age that licking your face is a big no no!

All about the Giant Schnauzer - Origin of the Breed

The origins of this breed are a bit vague but this large powerful working dog was first mentioned in 17th century Germany and is thought to have been developed through the crossing of the Standard Schnauzer with various other breeds including the Bouvier des Flandres, Boxers, Black Great Danes, Dobermans and German Shepherds producing a multi-purpose dog that was used for guarding and herding purposes.

They were used during both world wars as a military dog and for the first time were noticed outside Bavaria where it was now used as a police dog in larger towns and cities.

They were first imported to the USA in the 1930s arriving just as the German Shepherd was becoming popular and did not capture the heart of the public as much as their fellow country dog. Although they saw a surge in popularity during the 1980s they are still relatively uncommon and are ranked 81st by the AKC.

The modern day hypoallergenic Giant Schnauzer is used as police dog, by the military, search and rescue, obedience, agility. herding, carting and schutzhund making a good-looking versatile all-rounder.​

General Appearance

The Giant Schnauzer is a square-shaped dog with males standing around 25.5-27.5 inches at the shoulders with females slightly shorter at around 23.5-25.5 inches weighing between 55-80lbs. Their heads should be half the length of their backs having an alert expression and with the distinct eyebrows and beard that makes them so recognizable. Their coat is dense, wiry and comes in 2 colors either black or salt and pepper. In the USA, it is usual to see this breed with a docked tail and cropped ears.

Temperament

The Giant Schnauzer is a fiercely loyal, protective, intelligent breed that does best when he has a job to do. He can be territorial and potentially aggressive if not well-trained and properly socialized from an early age and he has a stubborn streak making him a challenge for most amateur dog trainers.

They are an energetic breed that needs more than a walk round the block at least a couple of miles walking, running or cycling (you not the dog!) every day. Plus, play time and mental stimulation. This is vital as a bored Giant Schnauzer is a destructive one.

The Giant Schnauzer temperament means he is not recommended for families with young children as the can be very boisterous when young. They can tolerate other animals if socialized from an early age but male dogs can still present a challenge meeting other males.

Source: AnamaliaLife.com

Health

The Giant Schnauzer lifespan is around 10-12 years and like all dogs can be predisposed to certain health conditions. If you are considering the breed it is important to be aware these include:

  • Hip Dysplasia- A common inherited disorder in large breeds.
  • Hypothyroidism - Affecting up to 20% of the breed as they get older.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma - Common in dark dogs including the Giant Schnauzer.
  • Bloat/Stomach Torsion - A deep chested breed Giant Schnauzers can suffer from this condition and urgent veterinary treatment is required.
  • Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD) - Another joint problem that affects the elbows and occassionally shoulders.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy - This eye disorder is seen in many breeds including the Giant Schnauzer.

Although these illnesses do not occur in all Giant Schnauzers it pays to be aware of them and you should always make sure you receive health clearance from the CERF (Canine Eye Registry Foundation) and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals regarding the hips, thyroid and elbow issues.

Food

Giant Schnauzers need between 3-4 cups of high quality dog food a day which should be divided into 2 meals to avoid bloat. Of course, this depends on age, metabolism and activity level of your dog, puppies need special food at regular intervals to provide them with all the nutrients they need and these can be reduced with age.

Because Giant Schnauzers have a dominant streak a good tip is to hand feed them from their bowl so they understand who is in charge and food aggression doesn't become an issue in later life. It is also important to remove their bowls after a set period after eating so they don't think they can eat when they want.

Although not as susceptible to allergies as the smaller versions of Schnauzer, the largest of the group can develop skin allergies and if this is the case a change of diet to a hypoallergenic dog food may be needed.

Source: Puppydoggallery.com

Finding A Good Giant Schnauzer Breeder

It is essential to find a good breeder for these dogs if you are looking for a Giant Schnauzer for sale, as temperament is one of the most important factors in this breed. They are not as popular as the smaller Schnauzers so you may have to be patient to get the right dog for you, that is one that doesn't bring you out in hives and also has an excellent personality.

A good start is to contact the Giant Schnauzer Club of America who have a breeder's directory. You can also check for personal recommendations in groups and forums online to find the best local breeder. Never buy a Giant Schnauzer from a puppy mill or pet store it's just too big a risk to take not knowing the history of a challenging breed like this one.

​A responsible breeder will not only discuss your allergies and suitability of the dogs allowing you to spend time with your potential puppy, but also be concerned about their welfare and ask you questions regarding your home and lifestyle. Do not be put off by this wanting the best for their pups is always a good sign.

3 Red Flags to Look Out for When Searching a Giant Schnauzer Breeder

  • A breeder who does not have the relevant health screening results or is not able to explain what they mean to both dogs and buyer. A good breeder understands their chosen breed and is not just in it for the money.
  • Multiple breeds on site, Giant Schnauzers can be a handful and need to be properly socialized from young age in order to become well-rounded adults. A breeder with lots of dogs will not have the time to spend with individual litters giving them the care and attention they require.
  • Breeders who want to meet you at a neutral location supposedly to cut down on your travel. As discussed when buying a hypoallergenic dog, you should always spend time with them first so if you can't visit don't buy and secondly this is a renowned scam used by puppy mills so you cannot see the conditions the dog has been brought up in.

Adopting a Giant Schnauzer from a Rescue or Shelter

Giant Schnauzer puppies can be hard work they are rambunctious, need consistent firm training and a lot of exercise. Therefore, it can sometimes be a better option to adopt an older dog. There are a number of Schnauzer rescues throughout the country and although you may have to have a little patience they do crop up occasionally in shelters.

If you have children you will need to know the dog's history but let's be clear just because a dog ends up in a shelter doesn't mean they have behavioral problems or are inferior to the pets curled up on the sofa at home. Perhaps they ran away, the owner died or became ill and couldn't exercise them enough, there are many reasons dogs end up homeless and the majority are not down to the dog.

​Click here to find a list of Schnauzer rescue organizations.

How Much Will a Giant Schnauzer Set You Back?

Good question, you can expect to pay upwards of $800 for a Giant Schnauzer puppy and some of the ones with a champion show pedigree can fetch $2000-$3000.

For this substantial outlay, you should expect to receive a healthy puppy who is confident and outgoing not nervous or shy. They should have had their first shots and worm and flea treatments. Most breeders will include some insurance cover for the first few weeks and in many cases, you will receive a puppy pack including registration papers, small amount of the food they are used too maybe a familiar blanket and most importantly the results of those all-important genetic screenings.

Adopting a hypoallergenic Giant Schnauzer is a cheaper alternative and depending on where you live, the age and sex of the dog you can expect to pay an adoption fee of around $100-$200 sometimes it can be a bit more but you really do get a lot of dog for your money.

Source: K9researchlab

It's a Wrap

Great news the answer to the question "Are Giant Schnauzers hypoallergenic" is conclusive, yes, they are. That's not to say they won't cause an allergic reaction for the more sensitive allergy sufferers but it does mean that with regular grooming and taking the necessary precautions inside the home they can be an excellent choice for the sneezers and wheezers amongst us.

This large hypoallergenic breed is however, not for everyone, as they have a dominant streak, can be destructive when bored, need a lot of exercise and are definitely not recommended for first-time dog owners.

They are playful, fiercely loyal and love nothing more than being with their families. If you think you have what it takes to bring one of these beautiful big hypoallergenic dogs into your home, you can finally have a four-legged friend that doesn't set off a bout of sneezing or bring on a nasty rash. The Giant Schnauzer is an excellent choice for active families who don't let their allergies rule.​

John Devlin
 

Husband, father and avid dog lover. Currently the proud owner of George a pedigree Golden Retriever that barely leaves my side. However, cute this sounds a little break from the dog hairs every now and then would be nice!

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