Miniature Schnauzers often referred to as Mini Schnauzers, are a German breed and descendants of Affenpinschers, Poodles and Standard Schnauzers. They were originally bred to hunt and catch rats just as the terrier breeds originating from the European Isles were.
Are Miniature Schnauzers considered terriers?
The answer to the question is the Miniature Schnauzer a terrier is often hotly debated. I remember once referring to a Miniature Schnauzer as a terrier and the person got quite angry. I got a severe telling off and informed that a Miniature Schnauzer was not a terrier.
Although the term terrier generally refers to the ratting breeds of the European Isles such as Jack Russells or Cairn Terriers, they are a ratting dog and can be considered a terrier.
However, I would have to say that Miniature Schnauzers are not a terrier.
The AKC (American Kennel Club) categorizes the Miniature Schnauzer in the terrier group. Most breeds in the terrier group were developed in the British Isles. The only exceptions are breeds such as the Chesky Terrier and the Rat Terrier. These breeds are descended from British breeds.
This makes the Miniature Schnauzer unique in the terrier group as it is the only breed that is descended from Continental European breeds being the Standard Schnauzer, Affenpinscher, and Poodle.
The UK Kennel Club classifies them in the utility group. Many people feel that the American Kennel Club has made an error putting them in the terrier group.
What is a terrier?
The dictionary definition of a terrier is a small dog of a breed originally used for turning out foxes and other burrowing animals.
This is not entirely accurate as the range of terrier breeds can vary greatly in size and are not necessarily a small dog. They can range from 1kg to 32kg and can be grouped by size and purpose. These can be put into informal categories or groups of terrier breeds. Not all these terrier breeds are classified in the terrier group by the Kennel Club. They include;
Hunting or Earth Terriers: The term terrier is actually derived from the Latin “Terra” which means earth. These types of terrier were bred to hunt vermin often underground in their burrows. These are often referred too as earth dogs and include the Jack Russell and the West Highland White Terrier.
There is a dog sport for earth dogs where rats are put in a cage in an underground burrow. This is a non-competitive sport that tests an earth dog’s hunting ability. Dachshunds, which are not a terrier also take part in this sport.
Bull baiting Terriers: These Terriers are a combination of Bulldogs and Terriers originally used for bull baiting in the late 1800s. These include breeds such as the English Bullterrier and the Staffordshire Terrier (Staffy).
Toy Terriers: These terriers are often bred from the larger terriers and include breeds like the Yorkshire Terrier. These breeds are usually classified in the toy or companion group by the Kennel Club. However, make no mistake. They are terriers.
Short and Long leg Terriers: In Britain in the 1700s, terriers were classified as either short leg or long leg regardless of function.
As you can see, what qualifies as a terrier varies greatly. Most terriers with the exception of the bull-baiting terriers were bred to kill vermin. The Miniature Schnauzer was also originally bred to hunt vermin.
The Dachshund fits the definition of a small dog for hunting burrowing animals, yet they are not a terrier.
Miniature Schnauzers’ differences and similarities to terrier breeds?
The Miniature Schnauzer has many differences to what you may consider a terrier. They also have many common factors. These differences and similarities include:
Energy levels: Terriers are high energy dogs. The Miniature Schnauzer is also very high energy. For more on the exercise requirements of a Miniature Schnauzer see here.
Coat Type: The Miniature Schnauzers coat is quite different from other terriers. Terrier coats come in a range of types. Most terriers have wiry outer coats with a soft, dense undercoat. However, there are other coat types such as double-coated (a guard coat and a softer undercoat that sheds). The smooth coat Jack Russell is an example of this type of coat.
Other terriers have drop coats or silky coats such as the Yorkshire Terrier. A drop coat is like hair that grows continuously. It is called a drop coat because if you mess up the coat it falls back into place when the dog shakes.
The Miniature Schnauzer has a double coat consisting of a wiry topcoat with a soft undercoat. They are a low shed breed. However, the coats can vary between different individual Miniature Schnauzers.
Temperament and Personality:
Terriers are generally fiery, independent, and stubborn. Although they are very trainable it can take patience. The Miniature Schnauzer is generally very obedient.
Miniature Schnauzers are confident despite their small size as are all terriers. However, many terriers can be suspicious of strangers. The Miniature Schnauzer is more people orientated and affectionate with people in their family. They tend to be less outgoing with strangers.
Many terrier breeds can be confrontational with other dogs. The Miniature Schnauzer, as long as they are well socialized, are good with other dogs.
Terrier in the name: Most terriers have the word terrier in the name such as Jack Russell Terrier. The Miniature Schnauzer doesn’t.
Conclusion – Is the Miniature Schnauzer a terrier?
No, the Miniature Schnauzers, in my opinion, is not a terrier. Not everyone would agree with this. The reasons the Miniature Schnauzer could be considered a terrier are they were bred to hunt vermin. They are also classified by the AKC (American Kennel Club) in the terrier group.
Reasons some people may disagree that a Miniature Schnauzer is a terrier include that they are not descended from British Isles terrier breeds. They also differ from what is considered a terrier in many ways including temperament and personality, and coat type. The Uk Kennel Club classifies them in the Utility group.
I am going to say that a Minature Schnauzer is not a terrier. Let us know in the comments whether you agree or disagree and why.
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