Stuart Fitzgerald
Dr Stuart Fitzgerald (MVB MANZCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Schnoodle

Schnoodles are one of the growing number of “designer dogs” we commonly see in veterinary practice. They are a cross between a Schnauzer and a Poodle, and with luck, inherit the best features of both. While the Schnauzer is renowned for its loyalty and fiercely protective nature, the Poodle is a fun-loving and extremely clever dog. The best examples of the Schnoodle exhibit these characteristics, while not being as headstrong as the Schnauzer nor as excitable as the Poodle. However, cross-breeding is always a gamble, and one can never be quite sure of the outcome in terms of looks and temperament.

In the case of the Schnoodle, perhaps more so than any other hybrid, appearance can vary enormously, for both of its parent breeds come in three distinct flavours: toy, miniature, and standard in the case of the Poodle, and miniature, standard, and giant for the Schnauzer. In addition, the coats of the two breeds could scarcely be more different. When somebody tells me they are bringing a Schnoodle into my clinic, I’m never sure whether I’m about to meet a tiny wire-haired creature, or something soft and fluffy that deserves its own postcode!

The Schnoodle is quite an active dog, and needs plenty of exercise, and its high level of intelligence means it needs near-constant contact with its people and plenty of mental stimulation. Many individuals do not do well when separated from their owners, and will need to be enrolled in doggy day care if there is nobody at home for long periods during the day. While cross-breeding can produce healthier offspring than the parent breeds, this is not universally the case, as the genetic lottery means that pups can inherit many of the health problems afflicting the pedigrees. Anyone thinking of buying a designer dog needs to be aware of any potential health concerns, and to be at least as scrupulous when choosing a breeder as they would be when buying a purebred puppy. That said, the “average” Schnoodle is healthier than the average member of the parent breeds, and most have a life expectancy of around 15 years.

About & History

There has always been a lot of interest in Poodle crosses; the breed’s great intelligence is widely known, and its low-shedding, low-dandruff coat is thought by many to be hypoallergenic – though this would be disputed by doctors and immunologists. Personally, I think the fact that “-doodle” can be attached with ease to many breed names has also played a part! Labradoodles, Dalmadoodles, and Mastidoodles are just some of the hybrids I come across on a regular basis. However, whatever the initial reasoning behind their development, there is no denying the good nature and steady temperaments that most of these crosses display, and some of my favourite cross-breeds over the years have been doodles of one form or another. The Schnoodle first made an appearance in the 1980s, and has always been one of the more popular designer breeds, possibly because of the range of shapes and sizes it can come in.

The contrasting and potentially complementary personalities of the two parent breeds also make for a good marriage. Detractors of the Schnauzer will point to its stubbornness and sometimes excessively territorial behaviour, while those that are not fans of the Poodle cite its highly strung, excitable nature as a flaw. It was hoped by the original breeders of the Schnoodle that mixing the two breeds would create the ideal pet, and in many cases, it does. Though it was never intended to be a working dog, most Schnoodles are excellent guard dogs, showing the Schnauzer’s naturally territorial behaviour, along with a tendency to bark – sometimes excessively.


Schnoodle Large Photo

As outlined above, the genetic lottery can produce a huge variety of Schnoodle types. Most commonly, it is the Toy or Miniature Poodle that is crossed with the Miniature Schnauzer, meaning that their offspring usually weigh somewhere between 6 and 12 kg (13–26 lb), and are 25–30 cm (10–12 in) tall. However, some are much larger than this, and a cross between a Standard Poodle and a Giant Schnauzer can weigh over 40 kg, making for a very big Schnoodle.

This is a fairly fine-boned dog, with quite long legs in proportion to the body. The head and face are generally less refined than in the Poodle, and the body is lean and strong – a reflection of the Schnoodle’s athleticism. The coat is the other extremely variable feature, as the Schnauzer has a rough and wiry coat, while the Poodle’s is famously soft and curled. Most Schnoodles have a coat that falls between these extremes, though this cannot be guaranteed. The coat can be many different colours, including:

  • Grey
  • Brown
  • Apricot
  • Black
  • White
  • Sable
  • Black & White
  • Black & Tan

Character & Temperament

Schnoodles are very affectionate dogs that love to be the centre of attention. They are fun-loving, and most have a range of “go-to” tricks they will perform to grab the limelight if they feel they are being ignored. They are also known for being very dextrous, using their front paws to manipulate objects in much the same way as a cat. Given the chance, most will spend a lot of time lying on their owners’ laps or feet for the comfort and contact this provides. In general, Schnoodles are great with children, though again, it must be stressed that some can have the spark of a headstrong Schnauzer, and may not tolerate the poking and prodding that can come from a young child.

With their inherited instinct to protect their people and property, they are vigilant, and very noisy, guard dogs, and nuisance barking can be an issue, particularly in those left alone for prolonged periods. For Schnoodle-owning families going out to work during the day, hiring a dog walker or reserving a space in a good doggy day care centre is a must.


Photo of Schnoodle puppy

Most Schnoodles are exceptionally intelligent dogs and easy to train. They can also be quite mischievous, and need some patient guidance during their rebellious adolescence to keep them out of trouble. If bored or frustrated, they tend to chew when indoors, and to dig obsessively when outside. Because of their vocal tendencies, it can be very useful to invest some time in teaching young Schnoodles to “speak” and “cease” on command.


Like the parent breeds, Schnoodles are prone to certain health problems, including:

Addison’s Disease

A hormone deficiency that arises as a result of autoimmune damage to the adrenal glands. The resulting low level of steroids often causes intermittent signs of inappetence, vomiting, and diarrhoea, or may first manifest as an episode of unexplained shock or collapse. Usually very treatable with ongoing oral medications.


Congenital and early onset cataracts are relatively common in the Schnoodle. They are noticed as pale or crystalline opacities in the lens of the eye, and can severely affect vision. Besides being a primary problem, cataracts are a common complication of diabetes.

Diabetes Mellitus

Another hormone deficiency caused by an underlying autoimmune process. Lack of insulin means that affected dogs are unable to absorb nutrients, losing large amounts of glucose in their urine. This results in excess thirst and urination, and marked weight loss in spite of a greatly increased appetite. Treatment requires lifelong injectable insulin supplementation.


Normally a primary disorder, but can also occur as a symptom of structural abnormalities in the brain. Symptoms can often be dramatic with grand mal seizures involving loss of consciousness and muscular convulsions.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Common in many breeds, this condition can result in complete blindness, through degeneration of the nerve cells of the eye. Signs are often first noticed around five years of age.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Schnoodles are extremely energetic and enthusiastic dogs. The amount of time devoted to walks and other activities depends to some extent on the individual’s size, but it is safe to assume that most need around one hour per day.


Grooming requirements depend on the type of coat that the Schnoodle inherits with the wiry Schnauzer-type coat generally requiring less maintenance than that of the Poodle parent. As a general rule, most need at least twice-weekly brushing with occasional baths, perhaps on a monthly basis. The Schnoodle can look very smart when professionally groomed, and it is best to have this done approximately every two months.

Like any dog, it will sometimes need its nails clipped. This is generally easy to do with the proper equipment, and a Schnoodle that has become accustomed to regular, careful nail clips from puppyhood should be willing to let its owner do this without fuss. Tooth brushing is another good practice that should begin at a young age, and should be done daily for maximum benefit.

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