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The future of any breed is in the hands of those that breed it. Miniature Schnauzers, as all purebred dogs, have a "Standard" that describes the perfect specimen. It is the "blueprint" that all reputable breeders should strive towards. It is important to maintain and improve the breed... not re-write the standard because of an individual's preference or public demand. White or "toy" Miniature Schnauzers are disqualifications under the Breed Standard, and I believe that those specializing in these "rare" Miniature Schnauzers should be avoided. For more information on the Standard for Miniature Schnauzers, check the Canadian Kennel Club's Breed Standard.
Miniature Schnauzers are scaled down versions of their larger cousin, the Standard Schnauzer... they are not really terriers at all. Only in North America are they included in the Terrier Group. Being based on a "working dog", the breed standard calls for a working dog front assembly, not the typical straight terrier front. Proper layback of shoulder, with an upper arm equal in length to the shoulder blade, places the front legs well under the body instead of at the front of the dog as with terriers. The presence of a palpable prosternum (breast bone) gives the breed a moderate forchest. The ribcage is also different from that of a typical terrier, whose purpose was to "go to ground". While slabsided, narrow ribcages are correct for some terriers, as it enables them to get into small burrows in search of their prey, it is incorrect in a Miniature Schnauzer. This breed calls for a well-sprung (not barrel-chested or wide) ribcage which extends well back to create a short loin and deep body.
The goal of many breeders is to produce dogs that can win in the show ring. Those that don't "cut it" are often sold to companion and performance homes. I recognize that not every puppy born in a litter will have what it takes to be a show dog, but I also recognize that not every "pet" will make a good performance dog. Here at Imagine, we assess our puppies and place them in homes suitable for their intended purpose.
Dogs will do almost anything we ask them to do... even at the risk of injury to themselves. Dogs are stoic creatures, often able to hide their pain. They will go over that jump because we ask it of them until they "break down" and refuse. When this happens, many incorrectly assume it's because they are "lazy" or "stubborn" when in actual fact they simply can't do it anymore. A dog with slipped hocks, incorrect shoulder angles or many other possible structural faults will not make a good performance dog... they simply are not built to withstand the rigors of strenuous physical activity and risk injury to themselves. It doesn't matter how much "drive" or "heart" a dog has... if it's not structurally sound as well, it isn't fair to the dog to expect it to excel in performance events.
Any dog can learn the basics... to sit, lie down, and walk on a loose lead, etc. are necessary for any well-mannered pet. Minor structural flaws will likely not impact the life of a dog whose sole purpose is a companion. However, if a dog is to excel in higher learning, such as:
I often hear people refer to their dog as "only a pet", as if it's something to be ashamed of. A good "pet" home is something I try really hard to find for my puppies... even if the puppy is also sold as a show or performance prospect. A lot of time, effort, and expense goes in to Raising Puppies the Imagine Way, and I don't sell them to just anyone because they have the money to buy. I require prospective purchasers to complete and submit my questionnaire to help me screen potential buyers. I check references. I am fussy about who I sell to, and the submission of my questionnaire does not guarantee a puppy.
I believe that the measure of success in a dog breeding program is based on the quality of companion dogs it produces. Don't misunderstand me... my breeding program will continue to strive for that elusive "perfect" show dog, but even good show dogs need to be something you can live with. A dog's show or performance career doesn't usually last for their entire lifespan... at some point they are "retired" to live out their days as treasured pets. A fearful, unsocialized, aggressive dog, or one suffering from any number of other temperament issues, does not make an easy dog to live with. It's not much of a life if your dog has to be relegated to the bedroom every time company comes, or if you're afraid he will bite another person or dog.
As a dog groomer with a background of working in Veterinary Clinics, I see problems all too often... beloved family pets that suffer from a myriad of inherited problems. the owners of these dogs just wanted a "pet"... they didn't care about papers or anything else. However, sometimes what they get turns into a nightmare of vet bills, with their pets deteriorating before their very eyes. it's all so sad... and often so preventable.
There is always some risk of genetic problems blindsiding us in any breeding... you only have to look at our own species. Sometimes, things just happen. Unfortunately, there aren't tests available for every known genetic disease. However, a reputable breeder does their best. A reputable breeder tests for what they can. As some diseases are late onset, a reputable breeder keeps in touch with the puppies they produce to be kept aware of anything that might develop over the years. A reputable breeder investigates the genetic background of the dogs that she breeds, to help lessen the possibility of producing a problem. A reputable breeder only breeds healthy dogs... ones that aren't affected by genetic problems at the time of breeding. A reputable breeder cares about the puppies she produces. She wants to be kept informed of their progress, is prepared to take them back should the need arise, and is willing to offer advise and help with any questions or problems. A reputable breeder doesn't just take your money and then dissappear. Doesn't your next puppy deserve to come from a reputable breeder?