The history of the Mini Schnauzer began with the appearance of German Schnauzer breeds in the Middle Ages, from which the Miniature Schnauzer breed was developed.
Originally Schnauzer type dogs of today’s “standard” size were kept by peasants as a versatile helper used for herding, ratting and as watchdogs.
Very similar in appearance to today’s Standard Schnauzers, they were often depicted in art of the period, such as Albert Durer’s 1492 watercolor ”Madonna with Many Animals” (see bottom left hand corner).
In the early 1800’s dog breeders began to refine and develop the Standard Schnauzer breed, which first competed at dog shows as the Wire-haired Pinscher.
Among the many roles played by the Standard Schnauzer through modern history have included as Red Cross guard dogs in World War I, as police dogs, as drug and bomb sniffers, and for search and rescue.
By the 1888 both the Giant and Miniature Schnauzer breed had been developed from Standard Schnauzer stock.
The purpose for which the smaller version of the breed was designed was principally as a German farm dog with all the useful qualities of the Standard – as courageous herd guard and watchdog – but small enough to also be an effective ratter for farm and stable.
The resulting Miniature Schnauzer personality has led to it being a very popular and useful pet today.
To achieve the scaling down of the Standard Schnauzer, suitable pups were bred on from crosses with small breeds. Exactly which ones is a matter of speculation, but likely candidates are the Affenpinscher and Miniature Pinscher, perhaps the Poodle or Brussels Griffon, and even the Pomeranian could have been involved!