Owning a dog is one of life’s greatest joys, but it’s also a huge responsibility. In exchange for their eternal love, loyalty, and affection, you provide them nourishment, shelter, and care for their maladies. To the latter point, it’s essential that you know not all dogs suffer from the same common ailments; their breed, size, and family history can impact what life will likely throw their way.
Standard Schnauzers, for example, are generally a very healthy breed, whereas their miniature counterparts are more prone to certain health problems. With that in mind, below we’ll discuss common Schnauzer health problems for both regulars and minis. Armed with such helpful Schnauzer facts, you’ll be able to take the preventative care necessary to ensure that your pup lives a long and healthy life. Keep reading to find out what these typical Schnauzer health issues are!
6 Common Schnauzer Health Problems
To better educate you, we’ll be splitting these six problems into two groups of three to discuss and distinguish each breeds’ weakness.
3 Common Miniature Schnauzer Health Problems
If you own or plan on adopting a Mini Schnauzer, it’s important that you’re aware they’re far more predisposed towards serious health problems than their larger cousins. With that in mind, the Mini Schnauzer common health problems include:
Technically referred to as Calcium Oxalate Urolithiasis, this term references the creation of kidney stones in the urinary tract. Sadly, Mini Schnauzers are the dog most likely to develop kidney or bladder stones. According to one 1998 study of more than 16,000 urolith submissions, they account for approximately 40% of all reports. The report states:
One study reported that miniature Schnauzers had a calcium oxalate urolith frequency 11.8 times greater than did other breeds and that males were at 3 times greater risk than females of developing oxalate uroliths, with the average age being 9 years…It has been suggested that the miniature Schnauzer can have an inherited abnormality of localhost defenses of the urinary tract that increases its susceptibility to bacterial urinary tract infections
As mentioned, struvite stones are typically found in females due to a breed-related urinary tract weakness. Even though they happen less frequently for male dogs, the cases that do occur, particularly advanced ones, are more dangerous since kidney or bladder stones could cause a complete urinary blockage, which is life-threatening. So, if you have a Mini Schnauzer that’s over 6 years in age, it’s crucial that you’re actively searching for the signs of kidney stones. Per Pet Health Network, these include:
- Abdominal discomfort
- Altered urine production (increased or decreased)
- Blood in the urine (hematuria)
- Kidney pain
- Poor appetite
If you notice blood in your dog’s urine, your pup straining to urinate, or any of the above signs, be sure to take your pup to the vet as soon as possible.
This inherited muscle disorder causes a Miniature Schnauzer’s muscle cells to be over-excited, leading to muscles that stay contracted after exercise. Without the ability to release their contracted muscles, over time, the dog tends to develop the following issues:
- A stiff or bunny hopping gait
- Bulging muscles that make it difficult to move properly
- A swelling tongue that makes swallowing a challenge
- Problems balancing, causing them to fall or stumble
Although there is no cure, a healthy diet and medication can go a long way to help treat the issue. However, dogs that do have it won’t be able to exercise like a normal dog.
In 2002, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine team “developed a molecular genetic test to detect the mutant skeletal muscle chloride channel (CIC-1) allele that causes myotonia congenita in Miniature Schnauzers and to analyze the relationship of affected and carrier dogs.”
So, if you haven’t yet purchased a Mini, you can ask the breeder to conduct this simple DNA test to see whether or not myotonia is present. Also, it’s wise to always request parental documentation to ensure that they don’t carry the disease either.
Not to be confused with their positive hypoallergenic quality, Schnauzers do suffer from an inherent condition called Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a hormonal disorder commonly found in middle-aged and older dogs. In such cases, their thyroid glands shrink or become inflamed, causing the thyroid hormone to decrease in production. This can result in a wide array of problems, including:
- Decreased metabolic rate, causing dogs to gain weight
- Lack of energy
- Mental lethargy
- Skin issues
- Dry, scaly, itchy, or greasy coat
- Hair loss
- Inability to tolerate colder temperatures
- Ear infections
While normal hypothyroidism can occur in almost any breed of dog, a much rarer strain known as central hypothyroidism is unique to Mini Schnauzers, particularly those with dwarfism. It acts quite similarly to the normal variety, which makes it difficult to differentiate one from another. The primary study on the matter had this to say:
Differentiating primary and central hypothyroidism is problematic because TSH deficiency in central hypothyroidism results in atrophy of the thyroid gland… The situation in Miniature Schnauzers opens the possibility that secondary hypothyroidism is more common than thought in other breeds as well and may in part explain the low sensitivity of the canine TSH assay.
Regardless, the same study discovered that when dogs were treated with synthetic levothyroxine, they showed dramatic improvements in the following:
- Hair restoration
- Increased activity
- Strengthened muscle mass, particularly in the hindquarters
- Weight loss
This is great news for Mini Schnauzer owners. So, if you notice the signs, a trip to the vet can help diagnose whether central hypothyroidism is the issue. If it is, they will prescribe a daily dose of medication and your pup will be back to full strength in 4 to 8 weeks.
3 Common Standard Schnauzer Health Problems
Standard Schnauzers are considered to be a very healthy breed that lives anywhere from 12 to 14 years old. On average, they rarely develop serious genetic medical disorders, unlike most other breeds. Despite that, there are still three health concerns that you need to be aware of. They are:
When a canine’s pancreas is functioning normally, it releases enzymes that help aid the digestion process. Those enzymes don’t activate until they reach the small intestine. However, in dogs that have pancreatitis, the enzymes activate as soon as they’re released. This early release causes inflammation and damage to the pancreas, surrounding tissues, and local organs. If left untreated, this disease can cause serious digestive disorders and overall health issues.
Although the exact reasons for pancreatitis are unknown, there are causes and risk factors that can help it develop. Factors include:
- Blunt trauma
- Eating without discrimination
- Genetic predisposition
- High-fat diets
The warning signs of pancreatitis in a Schnauzer may not be apparent at first, or you may just assume that they’re caused by something less serious. However, you must keep an eye out for the symptoms so that you can treat the malady immediately. According to the American Kennel Club, the types of signs to be aware of are:
- Distended abdomen
- Hunched back
- Loss of appetite
- Painful stomach
If your vet diagnoses your pup with the issue, they will likely prescribe rest, antiemetic medication, and put them on a low-fat diet composed of more frequent but smaller meals.
Hip dysplasia is a common problem that impacts a large portion of the canine population. It’s a polygenic trait that is inherited, meaning that selective breeding has been somewhat effective in reducing its frequency. Schnauzers that have hip dysplasia develop two major issues:
- Chronic cartilage degeneration and osteoarthritis
- Subluxation forms on the head of the femur, resulting in joint laxity
Naturally, both of these issues impact your pup’s ability to run, play, or even rest. So, if your Schnauzer exhibits the following signs, it’s important you take them to the doctor. These include:
- Bunny hopping gait
- Hind end lameness
- Issues going up or down the stairs
- Joint grating
- Joint laxity
- Loss of muscle mass, notably in the thigh
- Lowered range of motion
- Narrowed stance
- Problems rising, running, or jumping
- Swaying while walking
If your dog is diagnosed with this inherited disease, your doctor will likely recommend one of three surgical options:
- Double or triple pelvic ostectomy
- Femoral head ostectomy
- Total hip replacement
This final Schnauzer health problem is not life-threatening, however, it can be aggravating to your pup and will require treatment. Typically, it is caused by bacteria that infect the hair follicles. When it occurs, your dog’s hair follicles become irritated, causing the following symptoms:
- Epidermal collarettes
- Draining tracts
Since this is relatively easy to diagnose, typically you won’t even need to pay a visit to the vet. You will simply need to pick up some medicated shampoo and then regularly treat the issue until the irritation goes away.
Common Schnauzer Health Problems
As discussed above, both Standard and Miniature Schnauzers are predisposed to certain health issues. In just about every case, there are preventative measures you can take to either alleviate symptoms or counteract their onset. This includes a healthy diet and exercise.
Regarding a healthy diet, Lucy Pet has you covered. Our natural and healthy foods for Schnauzers are precisely formulated to support a healthy digestive system. The wide mix of nourishing ingredients used in every one of our kibble formulae is meant to provide a nutritional balance in your dog’s diet that ensures he has everything he needs to not only survive but thrive.
Houston, D. NCBI. Canine Urolithiasis. (2004). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC548608/
Clements, C. Pet Health Network. Kidney Stones in Dogs: What You Need to Know. http://www.pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-diseases-conditions-a-z/kidney-stones-dogs
Bhalerao, DP. NCBI. Detection of a genetic mutation for myotonia congenita among Miniature Schnauzers and identification of a common carrier ancestor. (2002). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12371774
American Kennel Club. Pancreatitis in Dogs – Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment. (2015). https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/pancreatitis-in-dogs/
Hunter, T. VCA Hospitals. Hip Dysplasia in Dogs. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/hip-dysplasia-in-dogs
10 Interesting Facts About Schnauzers https://www.lucypetproducts.com/blog/10-interesting-facts-about-schnauzers
Are Schnauzers Hypoallergenic? https://www.lucypetproducts.com/blog/are-schnauzers-hypoallergenic
A Helpful Guide to the Best Food for Schnauzers https://www.lucypetproducts.com/blog/a-helpful-guide-to-the-best-food-for-schnauzers