Early accounts of the Giant Schnauzer state that the breed was developed in the kingdoms of Wurttemburg and Bavaria in Southern Germany. It was a farm herding type of dog, multi-hued, mostly black in color, but sometimes a yellow or reddish color, or pepper-salt, or gray. In 1876, the “Bavarian Wolf Hund” was described as a strong, black or black-brown dog with a rough or shaggy coat and a strong chest, distinguishing itself by its courage, by holding together herds of hogs and cattle, and by being particularly fit for protection from hostile attacks.
It was an established breed by the end of the nineteenth century, but the few breeders were extremely secretive, never revealing their breeding records, nor offering outside stud services or selling their dogs. It is theorized that the early Giant Schnauzer was developed from crosses with smooth-coated drovers, rough-coated shepherd dogs, black Great Danes, and Bouviers des Flanders. Also, it is further suggested that because the resultant dog resembled a larger edition of the already well-known and older Standard Schnauzer, an infusion of Standard Schnauzer blood was given to reinforce type.
Schnauzer jumping in a lake
In 1909, the breed was first exhibited in Munich, Germany, as Reisenschnauzers, the name they are still given today in Europe. The dogs were also called Muchener, or Munich Schnauzers, because of their popularity in the town of Munich. Even at this early first show, the judge was confronted with two different types of coat. Along with the rough-coated dogs, there were exhibits with long, smooth hair, dubbed Russerls or Bear Schnauzers. In the end, a coarsely haired black male was chosen as the best representative of the breed.
The Giant Schnauzer’s characteristics were greatly valued by the local stock breeders, butchers, and brewery owners, his greatest asset being that of a steadfast guard. As well as being used to herd and move livestock, his intelligence and sharpness were used to guard his master’s possessions and to accompany and protect wagons during travel. With the decline of cattle driving, the Giant Schnauzer’s strong, agile body and his active, alert, and reliable temperament made him noticed by the police and law enforcement services, and he soon began a new career in the field of guard and police work. In 1925, the breed received official designation in Germany as a working dog.
In 1910, called the birth year of the Giant Schnauzer, the German Stud Book entered nine Munich Schnauzers. Four were pepper/salt, three were black, one was brown/yellow, and one was grey/yellow. There was a conglomeration of types, colors, hair textures, and sizes. After this, as the type came closer to that of the Standard Schnauzer, the name Giant Schnauzer was adopted. Gradually, breeders selected two color varieties, black and pepper/salt, with the black soon becoming dominant.
The Giant Schnauzer made slow progress in North America when it was first imported in the 1920s. He arrived at a time when the German Shepherd Dog was at the peak of his popularity. The AKC gave them recognition in 1930 and the CKC had the first two Giants registered in 1934.
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