Research published by the Royal Veterinary College in Canine Genetics and Epidemiology has found that the Miniature Schnauzer is one of the most average dog breeds in the UK1, an attribute which could make it an ideal choice for aspiring dog owners.

According to the authors, Miniature Schnauzers positively shone in their averageness in this study, because they were not commonly affected by any specific breed-related health problems.

In other words, the illnesses suffered by Miniature Schnauzers are just the common or garden things like dental disease, obesity, anal sac impaction, vomiting and ear infection, which can affect all dogs.

The study, which the authors say was the largest ever study of the breed, analysed 3,857 Miniature Schnauzers from a population of over 450,000 dogs across the UK. Its findings were that: 

  • The average lifespan of Miniature Schnauzers was 11.7 years, which is similar to the average of 12.0 years for dogs overall.

  • The average adult bodyweight of Miniature Schnauzers was 10kg. Males on average were heavier than female breeds (11kg vs 9kg). 

  • The most common disorder affecting the breed was dental disease (affecting 17.4% Miniature Schnauzers). This is similar to that of other similarly-sized breeds such as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (15.2%) and Border Terrier (17.6%). 

  • Female Miniature Schnauzers are more likely to have dental disease, obesity/overweight and heart murmur. However, males are more prone to diarrhoea and claw injury.

  • The most common causes of death were neoplasia (14.7%), collapse (13.3%), mass-associated disorder (10.7%) and brain disorder (10.7%).

Dr Dan O’Neill, Senior Lecturer in Companion Animal Epidemiology at the RVC and Vet Compass researcher, said: "To do their best for their dogs, owners need to know what aspects of their dog’s health are the most important to protect. Thankfully, we now have the data to identify these: owners of Miniature Schnauzers and also dogs overall should pay special attention to dental care, weight management, anal sac issues and making sure their dogs eat a healthy diet."

"Based on VetCompass Programme data, the Miniature Schnauzer is currently Britain’s most average dog from the breeds that we have studied to date. Extreme breeds such as flat-faced, long-backed or teacup-sized dogs may currently be in vogue but we need to move away from extremes and towards the healthier middle-ground."

Dr Alex Gough of Independent Vet Care and co-author added: "Although a number of diseases were identified in the current study that affect Miniature Schnauzers, the commons ones did not occur more frequently in this breed than in others studied. Many popular breeds are prone to life-threatening and distressing conditions related to their breeding. Our study suggests that the Miniature Schnauzer should be considered as a relatively healthy breed, which can help owners make a decision when acquiring a new dog."

Bill Lambert, Senior Health and Welfare Manager at the Kennel Club, said: "The Kennel Club currently recognises 221 different breeds and registering these breeds with the Kennel Club provides opportunities for data to be collected so that it can contribute to high quality and large scale research, such as this study by the Royal Veterinary College.

'It is vitally important that this type of research is  carried out so that breed specific information is gathered and can be made available to owners to help ensure their dogs are kept as fit and healthy as possible.

'The Miniature Schnauzer is a popular breed in the UK so being the ‘most average dog’ in terms of health, and having no breed specific health problems, is actually a good quality and is very welcome news.” 

Reference

  1. O'Neill, D.G., Butcher, C., Church, D.B., Brodbelt, D.C. and Gough, A.G. (2019) 'Miniature Schnauzers under primary veterinary care in the UK in 2013: Demography, mortality and disorders', Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, available: https://cgejournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40575-019-0069-0

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