Showsight Presents the Standard Schnauzer

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! s with most breeds, the precise origin of the Standard Schnauzer is lost in time. We know that medium sized, rough-coated dogs were widespread in Europe in the Middle Ages, as they were often depicted in art of the period, e,g, this 15th century woodcut by Albrecht Dürer (see Figure 1). Th is ances- tral schnauzer was large enough to pro- tect the home and farm, take livestock to market, and dispatch vermin, but not so large as to consume scarce resources. For hundreds of years, they were bred only for their utility to man. No one paid particu- lar attention to a dog’s exact size or con- formation as long as it could do its job. Th ey were tough, wiry, hardy, biddable dogs tending to a medium size. Although a distinctive “type”, they were not yet a breed and were not “purebred” in any modern sense of the word. In 1832, Johann Baumeister described the bentchur (pinscher) or rattenfänger (rat catcher) of southern Germany, the modern schnauzer’s immediate ancestor: “ Th e dog has a rather round head with lively eyes, an excellent bite, and a snout covered with rough-haired whiskers. His legs are strongly muscled and equipped with strong nails. His body is short and his tail is usually docked. Th e topcoat is not too long, but wiry…” German dog books of the time also displayed illus- trations of the rauhhaarige pinscher — Wire-haired Pinscher. At first the European leisure class had little interest in this rough, utilitarian dog of the countryside. But by the mid-1800s they attracted the notice of German dog fanciers and became more systematically bred. Dogs of that era were initially quite variable in appearance, with rough and

smooth coats in the same litter, a wide range of height and weight, odd colors and so forth. In the late 1870s, with the estab- lishment of the German national kennel club, the two coat types were o ffi cially sep- arated into wire and smooth pinschers and the first breed standards written. Color and size also began to be stabilized; cross- es may have been made at this time with gray Wolfspitz and black German Poodle to produce the distinctive pepper/salt and black colors seen in today’s Schnauzers. Wire-haired Pinschers were first exhib- ited at a Hamburg dog show in 1879. By the turn of the century, they had become almost universally known as Schnauzer; either a reference to the breed’s hallmark— a muzzle (German: schnauze ) sporting a bristly beard and moustache—or to an early show winner of that name. Although recognizable as Schnauzers, they di ff ered significantly in structure and appear- ance from what we would consider ideal today (see Figure 2). Most had rather short heads, long bodies with uncertain toplines, and possessed steep fronts and long hocks. Grooming was of the “rough and ready” sort and coats ranged from very tight and hard to loose and tousled. Standard Schnauzers from the 1920s still look old-fashioned, but by the 1930s, dogs of more modern type and structure began to appear, e.g. the German Seiger Dolf von Glockenspiel (see Figure 3). In this decade the German Pinscher-Schnauzer Klub pro- duced a figurine of the “ideal Standard Schnauzer” (see Figure 4) to guide judges and breeders. Fanciers today would agree that this square, robust, well-angulated dog with good forechest and arched neck displays desired features for Schnauzers of any era. Th e sparse furnishings (preferred in Germany at the time) only accentuate the dog’s correct structure and proportions.

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296 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J UNE 2014

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