Traditionally the Giant Schnauzer's coat is hand stripped, which involves pulling the old dead coat out by hand or with a stripping knife. All show dogs are hand stripped in order to maintain the coarse coat typical of the breed. Pet Giant Schnauzers need to be brushed a couple of times a week and the beard needs attention to avoid matting. A pet Giant Schnauzer will greatly benefit from a trip to the groomers a few times a year for a good Schnauzer clip. Clipping softens the coat and hence show dogs are not clipped. I clip my dogs at home but if I have a dog that I am wanting to show, I will strip out the coat instead. Learning to clip a Giant Schnauzer is not particuarly difficult, just a little time consuming. It is best to accustom your puppy to clippers at an early age and clipping should be a breeze.
There are two distinct types of coat, from the European or German hard (coarse) coat, which is the correct type of coat for the show ring to the profuse soft coat, typically referred to as the American coat and with every variation in between. Whilst many pet owners prefer the profuse soft coat which can look quite glamorous, the soft coat will attract every burr and grass seed around. The soft coat requires much more grooming than a harsh coat. A hard or coarse coat is much easier to care for, doesn't attract the dirt and burrs like a soft coat and the dirt and burrs brush out of a harsh coat with ease. A hard coat is almost a self cleaning coat, the dirt just seems to drop out of a wiry coat, as opposed to a soft and fluffy coat. The hard coat has sparse leg furnishings and a much harsher texture to the feel. The soft coat is soft, fluffy and has profuse hair on the legs.
I personally prefer the medium to medium/hard coat. The ideal Giant Schnauzer coat has a good harsh texture on the body and softer leg furnishings. The softer leg furnishings allow me to sculpt the legs by scissoring which gives a nice look for the show ring.
Even a coarse coated Giant Schnauzer's coat will become softer if the dogs is clipped but a soft coat will not become coarser even if the dog is never clipped and always hand stripped. You may have some coarser hairs growing along the back but generally a soft coat will always be a soft coat.
The AKC recognises two colors of the Giant Schnauzer. The most common colour is Black. And gaining some popularity is the Pepper & Salt. See the Breed Standard Page for information on the correct color and markings for the show ring.
Black & Silver is not an accepted color by AKC... hence you cannot show a Black & Silver Giant Schnauzer, however it is a relatively rare color and can be very striking.
HISTORY OF THE GIANT SCHNAUZER
The Giant Schnauzer (also Riesenschnauzer) is a working breed developed in the 17th century in Germany. The word "Schnauze" means "muzzle" or "snout" in German. This word was chosen because the Giants snout and whiskers draw immediate attention. It is the largest of the three breeds of Schnauzer, with the other two breeds being the Standard Schnauzer and the Miniature Schnauzer. Numerous breeds were used in its development, including the black Great Dane, the Bouvier des Flandres, and the Standard Schnauzer. Originally bred to assist on farms by driving livestock to market and guarding the farmer's property, the breed eventually moved into the city, where it worked guarding breweries, butchers' shops, stockyards and factories. It was unknown outside of Bavaria until it became popular as a military dog during the first and second World Wars.
Few races have been more prolific in their development of new breeds of dog than the Germanic peoples. Not only have they evinced rare patience in tracking ancestries, but they have proved their ability to fix type. One of the most notable examples of their breeding skill is the Schnauzer, for there is a dog not only brought to splendid physical conformation and keen mental development, but reproduced in three distinct sizes. Thus it is important to realize that the Miniature, the Standard, and the Giant Schnauzer are three separate and distinct breeds.
One of the three, the dog now known in America as the Standard Schnauzer, which is the medium-sized specimen, is without doubt the oldest. He is the one apparently portrayed in paintings by Durer, dating from 1492, and he is also the one of the Nachtwachter-Brounnen, the statue of a night watch men and his dog erected in a square in Stuttgart, Wurttemberg, in 1620. These instances are important only as they indicate the antiquity of the type of dog perfected at those dates and still remain today.
In unearthing the history of this breed it must be remembered that occupations of men had a great deal to do with all development in dogs. There were no benched shows in those days, and when a new breed was produced, it was aimed at a specific work. Also, its characteristics were governed to large extend to weather and living conditions.
All Schnauzers had their origin in the neighboring kingdoms of Wurttemberg and Bavaria. These are agricultural sections where the raising of sheep, cattle, and other livestock has been a major occupation for years. Since railroads were not known, sheep and cattle had to be driven to market, which meant that dogs were necessary to help the shepherds.
There is little doubt that when Bavarian cattlemen went to Stuttgart they came across the medium-sized Schnauzer. Here was a dog to catch anyone’s attention, for even then it was sound, while it showed power throughout its trim lines. The Bavarians liked the dog, but they were not satisfied with its size. The sheepmen could use this size of dog, but the drovers needed a larger specimen for cattle.
The first attempts to produce a drover’s dog on terrier lines, with a wiry coat, were no doubt by crossings between the medium-sized Schnauzer and some of the smooth-coated driving and dairyman’s dogs then in existence. Later there were crossings with the rough-haired sheepdogs, and much later with the black Great Dane. There is also reason to believe that the Giant Schnauzer is closely related to the Bouvier Des Flandres, which was the driving dog of Flanders.
The finished product produced an agile deep-chested dog with a huge heart. That's what makes up a true working dog. Once seen, the Giant Schnauzer is seldom forgotten. It's appearance speaks for itself. The Giant has a history as a noble cattle dog and sheep drover. It is a protector that would risk its life for you.
The Giant Schnauzer was first used as a cattle driving dog in Bavaria, then later as a guard dog, and by the police and military. The Giant Schnauzer excels at Schutzhund and also makes a good companion. For many years the Giant Schnauzer was called the Munchener, and it was widely known as a great cattle and driving dog. Von Stephanitz places its origin as Swabia – in the south of Bavaria. And it was found in a state of perfection in the region between Munich and Augsburg.
When shepherds drove their herds through Bavaria, Giant Schnauzers were soon recognized as guard dogs by shopkeepers. In Germany, the Giant is the dog of choice for police work. Both in Canada and the U.S., Giants are used for rescue work and at airports for detection of illegal and or dangerous substances.
The Giant Schnauzer was practically unknown outside of Bavaria until nearly the end of the first decade of this century. Cattle-driving was then a thing of the past as the railroad took the cattle to market, but the breed was still found in the hands of butchers, at stockyards, and at breweries. The breweries maintained the dogs as guards, at which duty they were preeminently successful.
Not until just before World War I, when their numbers were greatly decreased during the fighting, did the Giant Schnauzer begin to come to nationwide attention in Germany as a suitable subject to receive police training at the schools in Berlin and other principal cities. He proved such an intelligent pupil that police work has been his main occupation since that time. His progress in this capacity in the United States has been very slow. Making his appearance here at the time the German Shepherd was reaching its peak. The Bavarian dog had little chance to make headway against such well-established, direct competition.
The first Giants were imported to the United States in the early 1920s and by the 30s, some of the best German breeding stock was in the hands of Americans. Giants were used by the U.S. Army in World War Two. Today, the Giant although rare in the U.S. and Canada, is gaining in popularity.