The Schnauzer originated in southern Germany; it shares a common history with the German Pinscher. Dogs of this type, both rough-haired and smooth-haired, were traditionally kept as carriage dogs or as stable dogs, and so were sometimes known as Stallpinscher; they were capable ratters. Both types were known as Deutscher Pinscher, and came from the same lineage; rough-haired and smooth-haired puppies could occur in the same litter. The rough-haired type, which would later become the Schnauzer, was also known as the Rattler.
In 1880 the Pinscher was recorded in the Deutschen Hundestammbuch of the Verein zur Veredelung der Hunderassen, and the first breed standard was drawn up. Various colours were described for the rough-haired type, including iron-grey, silver-grey, grey-yellow, corn-yellow and rust-yellow. In 1895 Ludwig Beckmann [de] described five varieties of Pinscher – the rough- and smooth-haired Pinscher, the rough- and smooth-haired Miniature Pinscher, and the Affenpinscher. Also in 1895, a breed society, the Pinscherklub, was established for both types, both rough- and smooth-haired. Another society, the Schnauzerklub München, was formed in Munich in 1907 by breeders of the Mittelschnauzer. In 1917, with the sixth edition of the stud-book, the name of the rough-haired breed was officially changed from Rauhaarige Pinscher to Schnauzer. In 1918 the Pinscherklub and the Schnauzerklub München merged to form the Pinscher-Schnauzer-Verband, which in 1921 changed its name to the present Pinscher-Schnauzer-Klub 1895 e.V.
In the interwar period the pepper-and-salt Schnauzer flourished, while the black was less often seen; after the end of the Second World War, the reverse was true. The Schnauzer was definitively accepted by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale in 1955. In the fifteen-year period from 2007 to 2021, annual registrations in Germany varied between 370 and 582, with an annual average of 464.
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