King Schnauzer

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
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One of the newer hybrids on the scene, the King Schnauzer has many of the attributes that make up a great family pet. Playful yet patient with children and affectionate with the adults of the household, they have something to offer everyone. Some are strong-willed so can require a little extra training than others.

The King Schnauzer bears a closer resemblance to the Miniature Schnauzer parent than the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel thanks to their wiry fur and longer muzzle but the genes of the Cavie are apparent in their flatter ears and rounder eyes. Though they come in a wide range of colours, many are black and brown or grey and brown.

About & History

The King Schnauzer, or the Cavalier Schnauzer, is a designer dog consisting of the gentle Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the sociable Miniature Schnauzer breeds. As is the case with many of the newer hybrid creations, it is hard to know exactly where and when this dog first came to be. The best guess is that the King Schnauzer has existed for ten to twenty years and several sources believe them to have been first bred within America.

The Schnauzer

The Schnauzer is a German breed of dog that exists in three size varieties: Giant, Standard and Miniature. It is really only the Miniature that is used when breeding King Schnauzers, because it is a similar size to the Cavalier King Charles, allowing for easier mating and whelping. Schnauzers were originally used as farm dogs and come from the southeastern state of Bavaria in Germany. They would pull loads, hunt vermin and guard the farmyard livestock.

It was not until the end of the 19th century that the Miniature Schnauzer was developed, with farmers desiring a more compact dog that was easier to keep. To breed a smaller dog, the larger Schnauzers were bred to the Affenpinscher, as well as the Poodle – two local breeds. The work ethic of the Miniature Schnauzer has never left it and it continues to contribute to society today by acting as a therapy dog and a sniffer dog. The majority, however, are kept purely as pets.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a breed with a noble history who has always been admired by the upper class. Spaniels were always extremely popular with the nobility and would participate in one of their most favourite hobbies: hunting.

These original working dogs would have had longer limbs and more proportionate features than the modern Cavie. Over time, breeding with the more ‘fashionable’ imported, flat-nosed breeds, such as the Pug, led to a dog with less athletic ability. Nowadays, the Cavalier is an immensely popular pet dog and is well-loved for its placid and loving temperament.


King Schnauzers are undeniably cute, inheriting many of the best traits of each parent breed. These are small dogs that measure from 30cm to 36cm and weigh between 5.5kg and 9kg. They have a compact, little body and a medium-sized head. Though their ears are not usually as markedly folded and forward-pointing as their Schnauzer parent, they do not hang as close to the side of their head as is seen in the Cavalier. Their round eyes are dark brown in colour and lend them a pensive and sometimes worried expression. Their muzzle should not be too short and a relatively large, black nose sits right at the tip. Their limbs are moderately sized and they should have a slim tail that is not overly long.

With a wiry coat that is medium in length, the fur of the King Schnauzer resembles their Schnauzer parent more so than the Cavalier. They will also frequently have the characteristic ‘eyebrows’, ‘moustache’ and ‘beard’ that are prominent features of any Schnauzer-type dog. Their coat is medium in length and quite thick. Colours can include white, black, grey, brown and red, with many individuals being multi coloured.

Character & Temperament

A breed that is ideal for the young family, King Schnauzers are tolerant and patient around children, as well as incredibly loving and affectionate. They relish being around people and make wonderfully loyal and attentive companions. Their sweet nature means that they live to please their master and are eager to not put a ‘paw’ wrong within the home.

While the King Schnauzer typically loves all people, they will not necessarily welcome a stranger into their home willingly so can make quite good watch dogs. Their shrill barks serve to make their owner aware of a new arrival though are rarely threatening. For most, once they understand that the guest is welcome, they will be fawning all over them within minutes.

Most are content in the company of other pets, though it is always prudent to introduce them from a young age to ensure that there is no jealousy or rivalry. Socialising them extensively when young and introducing them to an array of situations will lead to a well-rounded adult King Schnauzer that is not fearful of new places or people.


While it’s true that the King Schnauzer is always eager to please and enjoys getting things right, some breed members can be a little stubborn and require a tad more persuasion during their training sessions. Consistency and patience are key as they will eventually come around; they may just need slightly more coaxing than others! Most are quite food-driven so training should always be accompanied with the tastiest of treats.

Irrefutably smart, the King Schnauzer can pick up things quickly and learn lots of different things, though can become bored if their training is not stimulating enough. Owners need to keep things varied and avoid repetition, which may cause a King Schnauzer to act out or simply stop listening.


King Schnauzers tend to enjoy quite good health and have an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years. As is true of any breed, there are certain health issues that can be more prevalent in the King Schnauzer than in the average canine.

Mitral Valve Disease

A progressive disease of the heart, affected dogs will have a leaky mitral valve. Progression can be slowed and signs can be managed with medication but, over time, regardless of treatment, heart failure will develop. The sooner a diagnosis is reached the better so that treatment can begin. Diagnosis often consists of chest X-rays and heart scans.


An inflammation of the pancreas, this condition can be acute or chronic. Though not always the case, many bouts of pancreatitis are preceded by ingestion of fatty food. Affected animals are poorly, have a painful abdomen and can become dehydrated very quickly.

Some will adopt the stereotypical ‘praying posture’ with their bum in the air, which can be a big giveaway of abdominal discomfort. Supportive care is required and many will be hospitalised on intravenous fluids as they recover.

Diabetes Mellitus

When an animal is unable to regulate their blood sugars, either due to a lack of insulin or a poor response to the insulin being produced, this is known as Diabetes Mellitus. Symptoms include excessive thirst, excessive hunger and weight loss.

This condition is very easy to diagnose and will show up on both routine urine and blood tests. For most, they can be well-managed with daily (or twice daily) insulin injections under their skin. Regular monitoring is required to ensure the diabetes is well controlled.


Those that have an underactive thyroid will have a decreased amount of circulating Thyroid hormone and will have a sluggish metabolism which can result in lethargy and weight gain. Animals may also develop skin infections and alopecia. Thankfully, this condition is easily treated with replacement Thyroid hormone in the form of tablets.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Though one may assume that the King Schnauzer does not need a lot of exercise due to its size, this is not the case at all. These small dogs have an abundance of energy and enjoy keeping active as much as possible. This is not surprising when we remember that both parent breeds were working dogs not too long ago.

A couple of 30 to 45 minute walks each day coupled with plenty of games and fun activities should be enough to keep them satisfied. Once their exercise needs have been met, these dogs are happy to live in a small home or apartment and do not necessarily have to have access to a garden or patio.


A low-shedding breed with a coat that is easy to manage, a couple of brush downs a week should be enough to keep the King Schnauzer’s fur in good condition. Owners should also get their pups used to ear cleaning, claw trims and anal gland emptying from a young age. Bringing them for a ‘puppy groom’ when old enough is a great idea to get them accustomed to these procedures, which can be a little frightening to some.

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