Giant Schnauzers make great pets. The dogs, who earn their “giant” name by weighing up to 95 pounds, originated in Germany in the 1800s and are best known for their bushy eyebrows and beard.
These high-energy, hardworking, very loyal and protective pups make a great addition to a family. Like many breeds, Giant Schnauzers are also prone to particular health issues that pet parents should be aware of.
Here are some things to look out for with your Giant and how you can best take care of them.
While Giant Schnauzers are strong, and even used as police dogs in Germany, they are also prone to certain health issues. Here are conditions that every Giant Schnauzer pet parent should know about:
Giant Schnauzers are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, which can cause arthritis as they get older, especially if they are overweight. If your Giant seems stiff or has difficulty getting up from lying down, it might be worth a vet visit to see if they should receive treatment.
A Giant’s knees are also prone to injury and arthritis, either through an ACL or knee ligament tear, or through patellar luxation, when your dog’s kneecap slips out of place. Your vet might recommend surgery if your Giant Schnauzer has an ACL tear, followed by physical therapy. You might not need to treat mild cases of patellar luxation, but more severe cases may require surgery.
Giant Schnauzers are susceptible to glaucoma, a painful condition that can cause blindness if left untreated. Symptoms of glaucoma include watering eyes, your dog’s cornea turning blue, and redness in the white part of their eyes. Your vet will screen for glaucoma during their annual appointment, but if your Giant has any of these symptoms you should make an appointment immediately.
Giant Schnauzers are also more prone to an ocular disease called Progressive Retinal Atrophy, which while not painful to your pup, ultimately causes blindness. Genetic testing will tell you if your Giant has the condition.
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If your Giant Schnauzer has symptoms such as hair loss or dry skin, they may have hypothyroidism, a common Giant condition where their body doesn’t make enough of a certain hormone. The good news is the condition is treatable, and your vet can prescribe medication to replace the hormones.
Giants can also develop atopic dermatitis, an inflammatory chronic skin condition that usually comes about from allergies. Symptoms include your dog itching, rubbing or scratching an area, and the affected area turning red or becoming rough. Your vet can work with you to find the best course of treatment for these symptoms.
Giant Schnauzers are more prone to bloat than many other breeds. Bloat occurs when the stomach twists on itself and cuts off blood to the stomach and spleen. Bloat is an emergency condition and can quickly become fatal, so if your dog has symptoms such as retching with nothing coming up, having an extended abdomen, or are lying with their hind quarters up and front feet down, head to a vet ER immediately.
Giants are also more likely to have a blood clotting disorder called Von Willebrand’s Disease. You might not know your pup has this unless they have a serious injury. If your Giant Schnauzer is set to undergo surgery, your vet should test for this disorder before operating.
An inherited condition called Hyperuricosuria could make your Giant more susceptible to bladder stones. You can find out if your Giant has this through DNA testing or through regular urine analysis and x-rays to make sure stones aren’t developing. If your dog does have Hyperuricosuria, you can make changes to their diet to reduce the risk of bladder stones as well.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma is a type of cancer that often pops up in Giant Schnauzers’ toe nail beds. Make a vet appointment if you notice that your Giant’s toe or nail looks lumpy or swollen, or if the nail regularly breaks off and reveals a pink lump underneath.
Like many other large breed dogs, Giants are prone to heart disease and obesity. Your vet will check for these conditions during your dog’s yearly examinations.
Giant Schnauzers often have reactions to certain types of medications.
“They can also potentially be sensitive to immuno-suppressive thiopurine medications such as Azathioprine if they have a low count of an enzyme called Thiopurine Methyltransferase,” explains Dr. Yui Shapard.
Your vet should be aware of this sensitivity and take it into consideration if your Giant has a need for these types of medications.
While this is a long list of conditions, if you take your Giant Schnauzer to the vet regularly, you can work with your veterinarian to make sure that your Giant remains healthy and happy.
“Preventative care is the way to go,” says Dr. Shapard. “Make sure to bring your dog in to your vet once a year and follow their recommendations. Make sure they are not being overfed a calorie dense diet and make sure that the diet provides adequate nutrition, especially for a growing puppy. As they get older and mature to senior age they should be seen by their vet twice a year so that if there's anything going on it will be picked up earlier, leading to proactive treatment or management and better overall quality of life and a longer life span.”
In addition to preventative care, the team at Pawp is here 24/7 to answer all of your Giant Schnauzer questions—big or small. No wait times or appointments necessary.