In Australia the White Miniature Schnauzer is almost unknown, let alone all the other funky colors out there.
In fact, all colors – other than the usual Pepper and Salt, Black and Black and Silver – are pretty much non-existent here!
So let’s explore the rich and complex world of Miniature Schnauzer colors.
First, the Official view…
Germany is the country of origin of the Miniature Schnauzer breed. Germany’s Pinscher Schnauzer Club recognizes four acceptable Schnauzer colors:
• Black and Silver.
• White Schnauzer.
Ironically, the US, Canadian, British and Australian Kennel Clubs decided to ignore German guidelines and establish their own criteria for judging the Miniature Schnauzer.
For example, none of them regard the White Miniature Schnauzer as an acceptable color and in Britain, even Black and Silver is not accepted!
Well, the Breed Standards were set by people, not God! A group of enthusiasts simply decided they liked this or that and thus “outlawed” any “off” color.
Actually, while Pepper and Salt was quickly standardized, even Black, and Black and Silver were not readily accepted at first.
However, though you can’t compete in the Show ring with dogs bearing other colors, many unofficial colors are still “allowable” in registered purebreds, and dogs of such colors can compete in other Kennel Club competitions such as agility and obedience.
These accepted – but unofficial – colors in the US are:
• Black and Tan Miniature Schnauzer
• Chocolate or Liver and Tan Miniature Schnauzer
• Liver and Pepper Miniature Schnauzer
• Silver or Platinum Miniature Schnauzer
You’ll also occasionally hear mention of “Phantom” coloring, which (unofficially, of course!) describes dogs with very pale, almost white furnishings, of any of the following colors: Black and silver, Chocolate or Liver and Tan, or Black and Tan.
So that’s the official line…
Obviously, breeders breeding for the show ring do all they can to eradicate the non-official colors from their lines. This has led to an unfortunate attitude of “color-prejudice” against them within such circles.
Take this comment for example:
There’s no such thing as a PURE-BRED “phantom” or “parti” or “liver” miniature schnauzer puppy. There are actually people who know so little about breeds that they think that a liver-colored schnauzer is pure-bred. Ummm…NOPE! They have been crossbred with another breed to get that color.
Obviously not true!
While they are disqualified from the show ring, such dogs are still recognized as purebreds by the AKC (American Kennel Association).
Where Did All These Colors Come From?
Given the many breeds that were used to down-size the Standard Schnauzer to produce the first Miniatures, it’s not surprising that “non-official” colors have appeared in the breed.
Indeed, varying shades of Liver or Chocolate were prominent in the early days of the breed.
At least one dog from the first litter recorded in the Miniature Schnauzer studbook was “gelb” – German for yellow – i.e. a brown based dog with pale pigment deposition.
“Parti” colors too, commonly cropped up in these early litters, and were also recorded from a pair of black dogs belonging to the Abbagamba Kennel in Germany in 1929, and again from a mating of two Pepper and Salt dogs in the USA.
So, while they can’t compete in the Show Ring, there is nothing wrong with the other colors as many like to argue. They are 100% purebred Schnauzer, and can be duly registered.
Further, the Parti and other colors are extremely “old blood”, found in most of the early lines.
Miniature Schnauzer Colors
Miniature Schnauzers come in three basic colors genetically – either black (with a black skin) or liver (with a brown skin).
Then there’s the true White Miniature Schnauzer which is genetically a dog with the color turned “off” so that it has white hair and pink skin.
Banded describes the default color of the Schnauzer. When no other genes are at play, a banded color is the result.
Therefore it is the most common Miniature Schnauzer color.
The Pepper and Salt has banded hairs in shades of gray to black with lighter silver furnishings on the eyebrows, beard, legs, and under the tail.
This color can range from a very pale silver dog to a very dark nearly black dog. In the Liver Pepper the tones are identical but in shades of liver.
The gene that codes for the “one color” appearance is dominant to the banded color.
Schnauzers that are genetically one color are black if they are genetically black based, or liver if they are brown based.
The Black Schnauzer is completely black, and has no banded hairs on it but may have a little white on the chest, for example (though this is not desirable in the Show Ring).
And similarly the Liver is completely brown but can have some small white bits also.
Because some Schnauzers also carry genes that code for fading- either all over or just in specific places – dogs that are genetically the same one color can appear quite different at maturity.
At maturity a one-color brown based dog can appear so dark brown (liver) as to be almost black, or so pale as to appear almost white (wheaten).
Bicolor expresses as Black and Silver in black skin dogs, and Liver and Tan in the browns. It is genetically recessive to the banded color.
The same is true of the brown dogs, but in liver shades: solid liver body with tan to silver furnishings.
“Parti” describes patches of any size or color on ‘White’.
There is a Parti version of all Schnauzer colors.
The Parti gene is genetically recessive, so needs to be inherited from both parents to be expressed.
No Color and White Miniature Schnauzers
There is quite a range of genetics that can result in White Miniature Schnauzers.
This is a recessive trait.