(Note: All Information contained in these Member Health pages can be freely shared outside the AMSC membership.)
Miniature Schnauzers are friendly, highly intelligent, alert, naturally curious and willing to please. He should never be over aggressive or timid. He is devoted, protective and is unbelievably endearing. He thinks he is a big dog and will not typically display fear.
The Miniature Schnauzer comes in 3 colors – salt & pepper, black and black & silver and measures between 12 and 14 inches high at the withers. So-called Miniature Schnauzers in any other color or color pattern (parti-colored, liver, spotted etc.) or are represented as a rare “toy or teacup” varieties are NOT purebred Miniature Schnauzers at all and can exhibit increased health issues because of “combining” multiple breed health issues. These are typically crosses of 2 purebred breeds which will qualify the puppies for AKC registration but the resulting puppies will NOT be purebred. So buyer beware!
The Miniature Schnauzer is generally a healthy breed. However, it should be stressed that there is no pure bred nor mixed breed dog which can be guaranteed to be disease-free. Moreover, ANY claim that infers purebred dogs are less healthy than mixed breeds is pure myth. Any and ALL biological entities are susceptible to disease and that includes any living thing. Reputable breeders strive in a number of ways to prevent disease such as using available scientifically valid health tests for puppies. The reputable Miniature Schnauzer breeder will give at least a reasonable written health guarantee which includes most appropriate genetic diseases that have tests. The reputable breeder will stand behind his/her puppy and will be a willing resource for questions about health, behavior and training.
At a minimum, a puppy should have a wellness exam which should include an Eye Exam, a cardiology exam and other tests as required. Other tests will be determined by the breeder based on his/her findings from the extensive pre-breeding pedigree analysis. Just because a test exists is not a reason to have them performed. The appropriateness of certain testing is determined through the experience of the breeder and their knowledge of the parentage.
There are several common diseases of note which occur in the general dog population, whether purebred or mixed breed, and that can occur in Miniature Schnauzers. These are addressed below. This is not an all-inclusive list but are the most prevalent one’s seen.
The AMSC Health Committee is charged with and is actively engaged in monitoring health status of purebred Miniature Schnauzers for members and those at large. The committee’s role to keep a breast of emerging health trends and similar information is vital to be able to provide information to the AMSC members in the US and abroad to help guide prudent breeding decisions. Reporting information to the AMSC Health Committee is an important mechanism to ensure breed health and is encouraged.
Just in the OFA
“The Blue Book – Ocular Disorders Presumed to be Inherited in Purebred Dogs” – the 2017 10th Edition.
The new version contains updated breed pages, and statistics on exams through the end of 2016.
The Blue Book is available on the OFA’s website at: https://www.ofa.org/diseases/eye-certification/blue-book
This page has a link to the latest .pdf version and also contains a “Live” version where the stats reflect all exams entered to date.
It occurs in all breeds but are most often found in purebred dogs generally. The Miniature Schnauzer is among several breeds which can develop cataracts. Cataract formation is one of the most common eye diseases in the general dog population, and in total and age-related cataract prevalence in dogs seems very similar to that in man. If your dog’s eyes look cloudy or bluish-gray, you should take him to the vet for an exam and better, to a Veterinary Ophthalmologist. Be mindful, though, that it’s natural for a dog’s lens to become cloudy, or gray, with age. Nuclear sclerosis is considered a normal change to the lenses of the eyes and usually develops in both eyes simultaneously – often seen in animals over the age of six. However, any cloudiness at all in your pet’s eye is a sign for you to take him to the vet.
In a retrospective study conducted by Gelatt and McKay (Vet Ophthalmology. 2005 Mar-Apr; 8(2):101-11.”Prevalence of primary breed-related cataracts in the dog in North America.”) The total number of dogs presented with cataracts over the 40-year period was 39,229. Fifty-nine breeds of dogs were affected with cataracts above the baseline prevalence of 1.61% seen in mixed-breed/hybrid dogs. The breeds with the highest cataract prevalence included: Smooth Fox Terrier (11.70%), Havanese (11.57%), Bichon Frise (11.45%), Boston terrier (11.11%), Miniature Poodle (10.79%), Silky Terrier (10.29%) and Toy Poodle (10.21%). The breeds with the largest number of dogs with cataracts during the entire four decades were the Boston terrier (11.11%), Miniature Poodle (10.79%), American Cocker Spaniel (8.77%), Standard Poodle (7.00%), and Miniature Schnauzer with the least – (4.98%).
Additional Information including signs symptoms and treatment:
The prevalence of eye disease in Miniature schnauzers requires that responsible breeders should have eye exams done on every puppy. There are several genetic retinal diseases that are important for breeders to be aware of –
PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy)
A recessive genetic eye disease that results in blindness and presents at around 3 years of age. The form of PRA that occurs in Miniature Schnauzers is unique to our breed and does not have a genetic test available. Affected dogs start having trouble seeing at night and will ultimately go blind. Genetic transmission of PRA in miniature schnauzers is as yet poorly understood.
PRA Type B (Progressive Retinal Atrophy)
The AMSC board, at the April 13, 2018 meeting approved the release of the following statement from Jerold Bell, DVM, Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, to the general membership. The health committee consulted Dr. Bell after questions from breeders regarding the usefulness of the test. The health committee at this time feels it is the individual breeder’s decision whether to utilize this test on breeding stock.
Chair, Heath Committee
Retinal Dysplasia (rev 1/2020)
Retinal Dysplasia/PHPV is an inherited eye disorder that results when the layers of the retina become disorganized during fetal development, leading to a failure of retinal attachment to the globe. RD is present at birth and has three forms of severity – folds, geographic dysplasia, and detachment. PHPV (persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous) is often present and considered part of the same syndrome. While most dogs with inherited retinal dysplasia are sighted, those with bilateral retinal detachment will be blind.
Although not a progressive disease, even mildly affected dogs may suffer retinal detachment later in life. Laser surgery may help in some cases, but affected dogs remain at risk for ocular hemorrhage, secondary cataracts, and/or glaucoma, and should be monitored throughout their lifetimes for these conditions.
Research has established that retinal dysplasia in Miniature Schnauzers is inherited as a simple autosomal recessive (both parents must be carriers). No DNA test currently exists, but a test-breeding program has been employed for some years to detect carriers in at risk families.
Because changes in the adult retina can make retinal folds difficult to detect, it’s recommended that puppies be examined by a veterinary opthalmologist prior to 16 weeks of age to rule out this defect.
PRCD–PRA (Progressive Rod-Cone Degeneration-PRA)
This is a form of PRA that results from the degeneration and ultimate death of the rods and cones in the eye resulting in blindness. It’s important to remember that not all retinal disease is PRA and not all PRA is the prcd form of PRA.
An abnormality in the fat breakdown in the blood that causes an elevation in Triglycerides unique to the Miniature Schnauzer, is a treatable disease in most instances. This hyperlipidemia of unknown cause in Miniature Schnauzers is by far the most common primary disorder in Miniature Schnauzers. Although this complex metabolic syndrome is considered to have familial tendencies, or related to specific families of dogs, no defined genetic defect has been characterized. The Miniature Schnauzer breed does not metabolize fats very well and as a consequence have a slight predisposition for pancreatitis. This is the number 1 disease in Miniature Schnauzers and the AMSC has and is currently supporting research in this disease.
Additional Information including signs symptoms and treatment:
It is commonly referred to as liver shunts, are vascular (circulatory) abnormalities that divert blood from the abdominal organs and similar structures to the heart, bypassing the liver and the normal filtration processes that are required to “clean” the blood, Instead, the blood recirculates digestive products that SHOULD be excreted directly from the blood circulation. Liver shunts can be classified as extrahepatic (outside the liver) or intrahepatic (inside the liver), they can be single or multiple, they can be congenital (present from birth) or they can even be acquired. The extrahepatic shunts are the ones seen most frequently in Miniature Schnauzers but it is important to note that the incidence of shunts is very low comparatively and heritability is poorly understood at this time.
Dr. Karen Tobias, Professor, University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine is internationally recognized for her work on PSS and has commented on the inheritability of liver shunts as follows:
“Bottom line is we don’t know how it’s (PSS) passed. All breeding dogs should have normal fasting and fed bile acids (true normal — i.e. less than 10 and less than 20; versus “non-breeding dog” normal, i.e. 25-40 range). At the very least, dogs that have produced puppies with shunts should not be bred to the same lines (their own or that of the other parent). Obviously the best breeders would never breed the parents again, and they may consider spaying and neutering the littermates as a “just in case” precaution.” (Reference: http://www.vet.utk.edu/clinical/sacs/calendar/inheritability.shtml)
Additional Information including signs symptoms and treatment:
Mycobacterium Avium Complex refers to a rare but lethal defect of the immune system that allows an overwhelming systemic infection in affected dogs. It has been identified in Bassett Hounds, Yorkies, Boxers, German Shepherds, Shih Tzus and Miniature Schnauzers as well as other mammals including cats and man. In the Miniature Schnauzer, it is limited to a specific line of Miniature Schnauzers and was first noted in 1990’s.While the numbers of affected dogs remain small comparatively, it is considered a serious and lethal disease and is included here not because of prevalence but because of its devastating and fatal outcome and the need to ensure world-wide awareness of this disease and research. The AMSC has martialed over $200,000 in support of research for this disease and will lead the dog community in its eradication. This defect is currently under investigation by Dr. Urs Giger at the University of Pennsylvania, College of Veterinary Medicine and all cases are referred to his lab at the University. You may also contact Dr. Urs Giger directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-898-8830. Information on submission of samples is on the PennGen website and referenced below.
Signs of systemic illness include lethargy, in appetence, weight loss, fever, lymph node enlargements, and/or oculonasal discharge to varying degrees. Other symptoms that may not be observed in all cases include lameness, blood in the stool, diarrhea, pale mucous membranes, and abdominal distension. Not every veterinary clinician is aware of MAC infections and this immunodeficiency condition in schnauzers, and thus the diagnosis may be missed or delayed. Often symptoms mimic that of lymphoma but MUST be differentiated by specific testing and pathology. Any presumptive diagnosis of MAC or lymphoma must be confirmed by appropriate testing.
It is a complex disease likely influenced by genetic, metabolic, and environmental factors and, in simple terms, is an inflammation and swelling of the pancreas that can occur suddenly. The Miniature Schnauzer’s breed predisposition to pancreatitis is assumed to be associated with its predisposition to hyperlipidemia (ref Whitney et al 1993, Xenoulis et al 2010). Pancreatitis is a serious issue causing pain and potentially death if not treated properly. Paying close attention to diet is the best defense to prevent pancreatitis Since you have control of the “dinner table” make sure you are feeding good species-appropriate food –no table scraps and insure food has a low fat content (12-15% fat). Do NOT feed table scraps to Miniature Schnauzers. Generally speaking, diet and nutrition are paramount to maintain proper weight and vitality and, most importantly, good health for all breeds! Diabetes and heart disease are among just a few of the other diseases that can be directly linked to poor diet and nutrition in dogs and humans as well.
Additional Information including signs symptoms and treatment:
(stones somewhere in the urinary tract) is another disease found in Miniature Schnauzers as well as other breeds. The most common stones are struvite, formed as a result of a urinary tract infection and usually very treatable. Others are calcium oxalate, urate and ammonium stones/crystals. While general management includes medical and or surgical intervention determination of treatment course is dependent on the type of stone and its size. In male dogs of any breed, a urethral obstruction caused by any type of stone is a veterinary emergency. Irrespective breed please be deliberate in the treatment of Urinary Tract Infections in your dog, especially in males.
Additional Information including signs symptoms and treatment:
There are no specific reproductive issues that are breed –specific. It is strongly recommended that local veterinary consultation should be sought with a Board-Certified Reproductive Veterinary Specialist (www.therio.org) for any reproductive issue. One of note, although rare, is described below:
A potentially devastating disease whereby the loss of the reproductive female either through death (if not treated quickly and properly) or total hysterectomy may occur. This is a rare phenomenon that must be recognized quickly.
When a bitch ovulates, whether she is bred or not, the hormone progesterone is present & affects the uterine lining for sixty-plus days. Progesterone causes inflammation to the uterine lining but is crucial to maintain pregnancy. After that first heat cycle and subsequently, the bitch’s uterus is never as healthy as it was before the first heat cycle. So we go from a normal uterus with the first cycle to an endometritis to endometrial hyperplasia over time throughout the life of the intact bitch. During this latter condition the uterus starts to thicken and bubbles are formed in the lining of the uterus. These changes affect the uterine lining so much so that eventually the uterus cannot control normal bacterial flora, and the ultimate end stage is pyometritis. Pyometra, by definition, is a hormonal disease with resultant infection as a secondary complication. In other words infection does not cause pyometra.
There are 2 kinds of pyometra –Opened and Closed. The latter is the most serious form of this disease and can cause the uterus to rupture if not treated quickly and properly. At first sign of foul discharge from the vulva (if open) or if no discharge but signs of lethargy, in appetence, general malaise, excessive water intake within 1-2 months of a recent heat cycle, seek veterinary advice immediately.
Canine Reproduction Seminar by Dr. Robert Hutchison transcript
NOTE: The diseases above are representative of ones which breeders are most concerned with in ANY breed. There clearly are other diseases that ANY dog could have but the above diseases are the most common for schnauzers.
There are a number of genetic tests available for dogs. All are not appropriate to be included for the Miniature Schnauzer as the incidence of those diseases in this breed are not typically significant. In Miniature Schnauzers there are currently a few genetic tests and clinical evaluations that should be considered routine or useful under certain circumstances for the responsible breeder.
Eye examination performed by a Veterinary ophthalmologist to rule out congenital (present at birth), primary and secondary eye disease. All puppies should have eye exams done. It is not uncommon for the older dog to have senile cataracts or sclerotic changes in the lens. The genetic mode of transmission for those cataracts thought to be genetic is unknown. Research is ongoing and supported by the AMSC and its members.
Evaluation for abnormalities in heart rhythm and rate performed by a Board Certified Cardiology Veterinary Specialist. All puppies should have routine cardiology exams performed.
There is a genetic test developed by PennGen to identify dogs who carry the recessive trait for this disease. Myotonia is a congenital disease that affects the contraction and relaxation of the muscles. This test, once done, is not typically required on subsequent generations of the pair tested.
A genetic test developed by OptiGen identifies a sex-limited autosomal recessive trait found in affected males. Miniature Schnauzers males with PMDS have complete male internal genitalia however they also develop some of the female internal genitalia that can interfere with descent of the testes into the scrotum. Approximately half of the males with PMDS are either unilaterally or bilaterally cryptorchid. PMDS males with descended testes are fertile, however they frequently have reduced sperm count. Because approximately 50% of the PMDS males are not cryptorchid and females do not show the disease, the frequency of the MISRII mutation in Miniature Schnauzers may be surprisingly high.
If you have any questions or need additional information about the above listed diseases please do not hesitate to contact the AMSC Health Committee. The AMSC Health Committee is available to provide additional information and guidance on the health and care of your Miniature Schnauzer. You may contact us at email address email@example.com.
“Highly processed foods are not as healthy as lightly processed foods; some of nature’s value is always lost to oxidation, heat, pressure, and chemical interactions. Dry food (kibble) is the most processed type of food available to dog owners – but foods that are made with already highly processed (and sometimes, as a result, rather aged) ingredients are at a big disadvantage, compared to those that are made with fresh, whole ingredients. A diet made with fresh, whole, species-appropriate ingredients (think animal proteins, rather than plant proteins) is far healthier than one made with cheap fats discarded from restaurants, inexpensive carbohydrates produced as waste from the brewing industry, and plant proteins such as corn gluten meal.” (WDJ)Food allergies are not uncommon among all breeds and often can be avoided by rotating food. Persistent scratching around the face or chin is an indicator that your pet may have an allergy if no other issue can be identified like fleas etc. Your veterinarian will able to prescribe a feeding regimen to assist with identifying any suspected allergies.
In 2011, the American Animal Hospital Association published updated vaccine guidelines. The AAHA Canine Vaccination Task Force developed the 2011 Guidelines in a manner consistent with best vaccination practices. The Guidelines include expert opinion supported by scientific study and encompass all canine vaccines currently licensed in the US and Canada.
Vaccines are separated into Core (required) and Non-core Vaccines (optional based on your pet’s risk factors).
Canine Parvo Virus (CPV), Canine Distemper Virus (CDV), Canine Adenovirus-2 (CAV-2) are Core Vaccines. The initial series is started after 6 weeks of age and requires at least 2 vaccines given 2-4 weeks apart with the last vaccine between 14 and 16 weeks of age. After this initial series, re-vaccination can occur every 3 years.
Rabies Virus (Rv) Vaccine is also considered a Core Vaccine and is required to comply with State, Provincial and/or local laws. It can be given after 12 weeks of age and is effective for 1 or 3 years depending on product labels. All re-vaccination schedules are also subject to State, Provincial and/ or local requirements. Waivers may be permissible with your veterinarian’s certification in certain medical cases, but their legality is subject to local laws.
Additional Vaccines such as Leptospirosis, Lyme and Canine Influenza vaccinations are considered Non-Core Vaccines and should be discussed with your vet as these are specific to your pet’s lifestyle.
Bordatella brochniseptica (Canine Cough) is a Non-Core Vaccine available in injectable and intranasal forms. It may be given prior to your pet’s exposure to other animals such as when out for walks, grooming, training classes, dog shows, boarding, training and field trials. Bordetella is labelled for 1 year but may be given more frequently in high exposure situations.
1. American Animal Hospital Association, 2011 AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines. https://www.aaha.org/public_documents/professional/guidelines/caninevaccineguidelines.pdf
2. AVMA Rabies Vaccination – State and Local guidelines https://www.avma.org/Advocacy/StateAndLocal/Pages/rabies-vaccination.aspx
There is a great deal of controversy and confusion surrounding the appropriate immunization schedule, especially with the availability of modified-live vaccines and breeders who have experienced post-vaccinal problems when using some of these vaccines. It is also important to not begin a vaccination program in puppies while maternal antibodies are still active and present in the puppy from the mother’s colostrum which is defined as the first 24 – 48 hours of mother’s milk. The maternal antibodies identify the vaccines as infectious organisms and destroy them before they can stimulate an immune response but mother’s immunity continues to diminish after first milk. Typically serial vaccinations are initiated in the new puppy at 5-6 weeks old. Immunization in puppies for Parvo and Distemper is extremely important and immunity should be maintained at a level appropriate for adequate defense. PLEASE coordinate with your local veterinarian for appropriate core vaccination.
Vaccination schedules should be individualized – one size does not fit all. It’s a matter of professional judgment and choice. BUT be aware that vaccinations are NOT required annually and requiring them might cause irreparable harm even death to your dog. There are two types of vaccines currently available to veterinarians: modified-live vaccines and inactivated (“killed”) vaccines.
Modified-live vaccines contain a weakened strain of the disease-causing agent. Weakening of the agent is typically accomplished by chemical means or by genetic engineering. These vaccines replicate (increase in number) within the host, thus increasing the amount of material available for provoking an immune response without inducing clinical illness. This provocation primes the immune system to mount a vigorous response if the disease-causing agent is ever introduced to the animal. Further, the immunity provided by a modified-live vaccine develops rather swiftly and since they mimic infection with the actual disease agent, it provides the best immune response.
Inactivated vaccines contain killed disease causing agents. Since the agent is killed, it is much more stable and has a longer shelf life, there is no possibility that they will revert to a virulent form, and they never spread from the vaccinated host to other animals. They are also safe for use in pregnant animals (a developing fetus may be susceptible to damage by some of the disease agents, even though attenuated, present in modified-live vaccines). Although more than a single dose of vaccine is always required and the duration of immunity is generally shorter, inactivated vaccines are regaining importance in this age of retrovirus and herpes virus infections and concern about the safety of genetically modified microorganisms. Inactivated vaccines available for use in dogs include rabies, canine parvovirus, canine coronavirus, etc.
After the initial complete vaccination strategy, vaccinations titers should dictate the need for vaccination without subjecting your dog to unnecessary inoculation. Severe autoimmune diseases have been associated with over vaccination. However, for peace of mind and extra insurance, dogs can safely be pre-medicated with Benadryl prior to any vaccine.
You will need to discuss Leptospirosis and Lyme vaccinations with your vet. Leptospirosis vaccinations provide coverage for one –three serovars and there are 250 others so there is no assurance that the vaccine given will be the correct one. In 2003, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) revised its vaccination guidelines, recommending that vets vaccinate adult dogs only every three years – not annually. Many enlightened veterinarians changed their canine healthcare protocols to reflect these guidelines, and now suggest annual wellness examinations with vaccinations only every three years. Determination for the appropriate time to vaccinate should be determined through titers which will measure immunity levels and give an accurate picture of immune coverage. In ANY CASE, it is ALWAYS a good idea to pre-medicate with BENEDRYL before vaccinations. Check with your vet as to the proper dose and time prior to vaccination. Since you WILL be getting vaccination titers, use this time for an ANNUAL WELLNESS exam.
Bordatella/Kennel Cough (intranasal ONLY) can be given prior to exposure to high risk situations like dog shows, boarding, training and field trials. Bordatella is good for 6 months and must be given at least 2 weeks or longer prior to exposure to achieve benefit. While a vaccination, the intranasal delivery does not cause the same potential for concern as an injectable vaccination.
Vaccination is required by LAW but is available as a 3-year vaccination and is only absolutely required for international and interstate travel. Waivers are permissible with Veterinarian Certifications with results of Rabies Titers in certain cases of animals. The length of time allowed between Rabies re-vaccination makes it less of a concern for over vaccination. However, NEVER vaccinate on the same day as other vaccinations.
Do not give any medication to your dog without first consulting with your vet!! A single Tylenol caplet/tablet can cause acute renal failure and severe life-threatening liver dysfunction often fatal to your dogs. Tylenol, ibuprophen, and all pain killing analgesics that are safe for humans are more than likely lethal to dogs – there are some exceptions but DON’T COUNT ON IT! Be particularly careful with your pet in motel rooms where medicines are not infrequently found on the floor under the bed or against the wall floor molding or around elderly people who many times drop medications without realizing they have done so.
Sulfa Drugs –It has been many breeders experience that schnauzers do not do well on this class of drugs. Dogs can become so sick so quickly that an ICU stay may be required to flush out the drugs. A common example is SMZ/TMP or Sulfamethoxazole and Trimethoprim. Please make sure your vet has this information.Schnauzers are very sensitive to Sulfa drugs and have had severe reactions requiring hospitalization. If your schnauzer has been given sulfa drugs in the past and has had no reaction consider yourself fortunate. More often than not, good outcomes are not the norm. Many times stopping the medication is sufficient but usually supportive veterinary care is necessary to “flush” the drug out of the system via intravenous fluid support. Always be watchful for any changes in your dog. Schnauzers are very stoic and sometimes lethargy and just not feeling up to par are the only signs you MAY notice that your dog is ill. You must be able to read your dog’s behavior.
The fact is that heartworm disease has been diagnosed in all 50 states, and risk factors are impossible to predict. Multiple variables, from climate variations to the presence of wildlife carriers, cause rates of infections to vary dramatically from year to year—even within communities. And because infected mosquitoes can come inside, both outdoor and indoor pets are at risk. For that reason, the American Heartworm Society is recommending you use a year-round prevention program, but talk to your veterinarian to discuss what’s best for your dog, your region and your lifestyle.
Without a doubt, the single most important thing you can do for your dog will be the annual wellness exam. This is your opportunity to establish baseline data for your dog once a year so that subsequent subtle variations (perhaps a harbinger for a more serious disease), can be quickly identified as early as possible. Once clinical symptoms appear, irreversible damage may have already occurred. It is very useful to have an annual health exam for your dog. This includes blood chemistries (including lipid panels), CBC with differential and vaccination titers. Eye exams by a Board-certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist are done once a year as well. Eye exams are often offered at dog shows by appointment for a reduced rate. Cardiology Exams for puppies is also a good idea to document good health
The AMSC HEALTH COMMITTEE is available to provide additional information or assistance and may be reached via email AMSCHEALTHGROUP@YAHOOGROUPS.COM or by personal contact.
NOTE: These Web pages are provided as information only and do NOT represent Veterinary medical advice. Owners should discuss their pet’s needs with their Veterinarian who will be up to date on current protocols and advances in Veterinary Medicine.