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Are Schnauzers Smart Dogs? – Miniature, Standard & Giant Schnauzer IQ Comparison

Overall, miniature, standard and giant Schnauzers are highly intelligent dog breeds.
Written by Richard Jeng

The Schnauzer dogs are some of the most iconic dog breeds to come from Germany. They come in three size variations – miniature, standard and giant. All of which, are individually unique in personality. But, are Schnauzers smart dogs?

All three size variations of Schnauzers are highly intelligent. Both the Miniature and Standard Schnauzers are categorized as “bright dogs.” However, Giant Schnauzers are “above average” in working & obedience intelligence. They’re ranked the 12th, 22nd and 35th smartest dogs, respectively. 

All Schnauzers rank impressively high for dog intelligence. But what actually makes them intelligent dogs? Let’s explore how we measure dog intelligence and other factors of IQ.

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How We Measure a Schnauzer’s Intelligence

We measure a Schnauzer's intelligence based on their working and obedience abilities.

All three variations of the Schnauzer are in the top 40 for dog intelligence. But how did we come to this conclusion and how is dog IQ measured?

The current list of smartest dog breeds has been largely credited to famed canine psychologist, Stanley Coren. Back in 1994, Coren contacted 199 North American obedience trial judges to help in his studies. The response was phenomenal.

Coren’s Dog Intelligence Criteria

With Coren’s criteria, the obedience trial judges evaluated and ranked as many dog breeds as they could get their hands on. With that said, only dogs from the AKC and CKC participated.

His studies and ultimately intelligence rankings are based on the following:

  1. The number of repetitions it took for a dog breed to learn a brand new command. Fewer repetitions meant a more intelligent dog, according to Coren.
  2. The success rate in which a dog breed will obey a known command on the first attempt. A higher success rate meant a more obedient and intelligent dog.

Because there were so many dog breeds and only 199 trial judges, some breeds had participated in just a few evaluations. Only dog breeds with at least 100 evaluations were qualified from Coren’s intelligence list.

In addition, no mixed dog breeds participated in the trials.

Are Miniature Schnauzers Smart?

The Miniature Schnauzer is the smallest of the three Schnauzer variations. They’re roughly 11 to 14 inches tall and 10 – 15 pounds in weight.

Out of the three Schnauzer size variations, the Miniature Schnauzer performed the best. As a result, they’re ranked the 12th smartest dog breed out of 138 qualifying breeds.

So how did they perform? Miniature Schnauzers were placed in the “bright dogs” group. Dog breeds in this class are able to learn a new command with just 5 to 15 repetitions.

Even more impressive, Miniature Schnauzers will obey a known command (on the first try) with an 85% or better success rate. They’re some of the most obedient dogs in the world!

Are Standard Schnauzers Smart?

The Standard Schnauzer is the medium-sized variation and the second largest Schnauzer. They weigh roughly 30 to 45 pounds and stand up to 20 inches tall.

Furthermore, they’re the second smartest among Schnauzer breeds. As a matter of fact, Standard Schnauzers are ranked the 22nd smartest dog breeds among 138.

Because they’re ranked so high, they’re in the same intelligence class as the Miniature Schnauzer. In other words, they learn quickly and they’re super obedient dogs.

There are a ton of popular dog breeds in the same intelligence class as the Miniature and Standard Schnauzer. For example, the class includes both (Pembroke/Cardigan) Welsh Corgis, Cocker Spaniel, Bernese Mountain Dog, Pomeranian and the Collie.

Are Giant Schnauzers Smart?

The Giant Schnauzer, as you may have guessed, is both the largest and least intelligent of the three. Weighing in at 60 to 80 pounds and standing up to 28 inches tall, these dogs are huge.

Though they’re ranked the 35th smartest dog breed, they’re not far behind the Miniature and Standard variation. Giant Schnauzers are just one intelligence class below –  listed as “above average intelligent dogs.”

This means that a Giant Schnauzer is able to learn a new command with 15 to 25 repetitions. They’re also able to obey a known command 70% (or better) of the time.

And for reference, Giant Schnauzers are classed with Dalmatians, Yorkies, Samoyeds, Irish Setters – among other popular dog breeds. Not a bad group to be in.

Other Reasons Why Schnauzers Are Smart

Schnauzers also have a high instinctive and adaptive intelligence.

When it comes to obedience and working intelligence, all Schnauzers score very well. But unfortunately, this is not the only component of canine intelligence.

For example, if a Schnauzer doesn’t obey or want to learn a command, it doesn’t mean the dog isn’t smart. Just because they don’t obey you, doesn’t mean they don’t understand. Many dog breeds are stubborn, independent or free-spirited.

With that said, there are three dimensions of dog intelligence. The other two are instinctive and adaptive intelligence. Both of which, are equally, if not more important than obedience/working.

Unfortunately, obedience & working intelligence is the most objective. It’s why were able to rank the “smartest” dog breeds.

The All-Purpose German Dogs

Instinctive intelligence refers to the innate ability or skill that the dog was bred for. Especially in the old days, people bred dogs for certain jobs or roles in society.

For example, Australian Shepherds are some of the best herding dogs in the world. Even without human training, they’ll instinctively know how to round up livestock and drive them towards a direction.

That innate ability is their instinctive intelligence. In most cases, it does not need to be taught.

Likewise, Schnauzers have instinctive intelligence. However, each size variation has a different instinctive intelligence.

Miniature Schnauzer’s Instinctive Intelligence

The Mini Schnauzer was originally bred down in size from its larger cousin, the Standard. They were bred to be hunt down rats and other vermin. These dogs were some of the best ratters.

They aren’t used as ratters anymore. But they still retain the lively and mischievous personality that made them such great ratters back in the day.

These little dog’s instinctive intelligence is the innate ability to efficiently track and hunt down pesty vermin.

Standard Schnauzer’s Instinctive Intelligence

The Standard Schnauzer may have the highest instinctive intelligence out of the three. That’s because they were bred for many things, making them some of the most versatile dogs.

In the Middle Ages, the Standard Schnauzers were developed to serve as multipurpose dogs on farms. With that said, they were bred for herding, ratting, guarding, hunting among other things.

A Standard Schnauzer’s instinctive intelligence needs to be high in order to be skilled at so many jobs and roles. However, they’re just loving companions today.

Giant Schnauzer’s Instinctive Intelligence

The Giant Schnauzer is the biggest size variation of the three. They were actually bred up from the standard. Though they’re still Schnauzers, they served different purposes than the others.

Similar to herding, the Giant Schnauzers were bred to drive cattle from the local farms to the markets. Because they’re so big, loyal and trainable, Giants were ideal for the job.

Today, they mainly serve as guard dogs or an integral part of the K9 police force all around the world.

The Schnauzer’s Adaptive Intelligence

The final component of canine intelligence is adaptive intelligence. It refers to the ability of the dog to solve problems and learn for itself.

If a dog breed can quickly and easily learn things without the help of humans, they generally have high adaptive intelligence. Fortunately, we see this in all types of Schnauzers.

As you may have guessed, this is extremely difficult to measure. For this reason, we’ve asked Schnauzer owners to share stories about their dog that hints at high adaptive intelligence.

One owner tells us about her Giant Schnauzer:

A Giant Schnauzer quickly learns to differentiate between strangers and the friends or those who visit your home frequently. They greet the latter folks graciously once in your home.

The ability for a dog to learn how to differentiate people based on certain situations is undeniably a sign of high adaptive intelligence.

Regarding her Miniature Schnauzer, this owner says:

My Mini actually learned how to open the handle of my office door. He just lunges at the handle, pulls it down and the forward force opens the door. Amazing, but scary.

This Miniature has probably seen the owners pull down the handle to open doors many, many times. Because this dog was able to learn from previous experiences, he certainly has high adaptive intelligence.

These are just a couple anecdotes of Schnauzers with high adaptive intelligence. But the reality is, if you asked any Schnauzer owner, they’d most likely be able to tell you similar stories.

Problems With a Smart Schnauzer

A smart Schnauzer means they need more mental stimulation.

Owning a smart dog breed isn’t for everyone. In fact, many owners will tell you that it’s much harder taking care of an intelligent dog breed.

Higher intelligent dogs, such as Schnauzers, means that they’ll have more needs. In addition to grooming, exercise, diet and the basics, smarter dogs need more mental stimulation.

Because they’re smarter, they get bored easier. And if you don’t provide the necessary mental stimulation for your Schnauzer, you could definitely experience destructive behavior.

But what is mental stimulation and how do you provide enough for your Schnauzer?

Mental stimulation is essentially obedience training. But because no one has enough time in their days to spend 1 – 2 hours with obedience training, we suggest getting dog puzzles or smart toys.

Smart Toys for Smart Schnauzers

Here are just a few of my dog’s favorite puzzles that’ll keep your dog occupied and their brains sharp!

The first toy is the Outward Hound Hide n’ Seek Plush Toy. It’s a plush toy where you can hide your choice of stuffed animals (squirrels, bees, birds, etc.).

Your dog will need to figure out how to get these dogs out of their homes. It’s highly interactive and my Australian Shepherd absolutely loves this. Check it out at

Another favorite my dogs love is the Nina Ottosson Dog Puzzle. It comes in three variations but I went with the Hide n Slide because it looks the most “complex.”

Hide your Schnauzer’s favorite treats in this and you’ll have them occupied for a good while. They’ll need to learn how to push the sliders to find the treats. Chances are, a Schnauzer might be able to figure this out quickly.

If you’re interested, check it out at Amazon here.

You don’t have to go with one of my suggestions. However, these are the ones that I’ve personally tried and can actually vouch for.

The point is to get your Schnauzer something to deal with their high intelligence. There are a ton of fantastic smart toys and puzzles on Amazon. Take your pick!

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About the author

Richard Jeng

Richard has been raising dogs his whole life, including a Poodle, Pomeranian, Corgi and Australian Shepherd. He's always working with animal shelters and dog rescues because of his passion for all dogs. Fun fact: his all time favorite breed is the German Shepherd. Read More.

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