2000 to 2014



Health Issues In Schnauzers.




  1. CHC (congenital hereditary cataract) is a type of cataract that forms when the pup still has a few weeks to go before birth (about week 5 gestation) the size of the cataract is set at this time. This means that as the puppy grows, it should get some increase in vision as the eye grows, exactly how much is greatly dependent on where in the lens that the cataracts have formed. This problem is tested for by a BVA/KC specialist vet at about 6 – 12 weeks old – done before the puppy leaves the breeder.


  1. HC (hereditary cataract) this can form at any time, from about 6 months of age (another reason why there is an upper age limit to the CHC screening). With this type the cataract can get worse and the dog can loose sight. A dog can be operated on to recover sight.


  1. PRA (progressive retinal atropy) this is where the lining (retina) in the eye becomes detached from the eye. Night blindness is often the first sign that the dog has this problem. The youngest known dog was a 3 year old. Again this will be picked up in the yearly eye screening, and can be noticed then before the owner may pick up on any problems.



If you have your dog eye tested by a specialist and it fails – tell the breeder and the owner of the stud dog and send a copy of the certificate and pedigree to the breed clubs, so other breeders can be told. Also contact the Animal Health Trust or the Joint Miniature Schnauzer Eye Fund and ask to be sent a DNA test kit to provide a sample of your dogs DNA so we can, in time all benefit from a DNA test to prevent any more dogs being affected by these problems.




The Animal Health Trust are doing a study into cancer and epilepsy in schnauzers (of all sizes) and they need your help by providing a DNA sample from a cheek swab (easy to do and painless for the dog).

The Animal Health Trust (AHT; is a charity, and a research institute, that has been helping dogs, cats and horses for more than half a century. The AHT provides specialist veterinary clinical, diagnostic and surgical services, and is dedicated to the study of canine, equine and feline diseases.


The AHT Oncology Research Group needs the help of Schnauzer owners and breeders to collect samples for a project seeking to identify one, or more, inherited genetic mutations that are responsible for Schnauzers having an increased risk of developing melanomas. The research is a collaborative project involving scientists from 6 centres in 4 countries, and is part of the European Union-funded LUPA project (, a 4-year initiative involving 20 veterinary schools from 12 European countries.


Melanomas are about 4% of all tumours in dogs, and arise from cells (containing the pigment melanin) that occur in the skin (‘cutaneous melanoma’), in the mouth (‘oral melanoma’), under toe nails (‘ungual melanoma’), and in the eye (‘ocular/uveal melanoma’). The tumours can occur in dogs of any age, but are most common in dogs of over 9 years old. The severity of a melanoma depends upon location, and >55% of cutaneous melanomas are benign. Oral melanomas are most likely to spread (to the lymph nodes and lungs). Surgery and radiotherapy (when surgery is not possible) are effective treatment options when a melanoma has not spread. Chemotherapy is not an effective therapy for tumours that have spread. A DNA vaccine to protect against melanoma has been undergoing safety trials at several centres in the United States. The DNA vaccine is designed to stimulate production of antibodies against a protein involved in the synthesis of melanin.


While melanomas occur rarely in many dog breeds, a number of breeds develop these cancers more often, suggesting that some dogs belonging to these breeds carry inherited genetic risk factors. Schnauzers are one of several breeds that appear to have an increased risk of developing cutaneous melanomas.


In the long term, it is hoped that the research to identify the one, or more, inherited genetic mutations will lead to the development of tests to identify dogs that carry the gene mutations conferring an increased risk. This information will be useful to vets as it will identify dogs who may benefit from careful monitoring for early detection of cancer, and thereby early treatment. These tests will also assist breeders to reduce the incidence of dogs affected with these cancers. The research will also increase understanding of how these tumours develop, ultimately assisting the development of new therapies.


Dr. Mike Starkey

Oncology Research Group

May 2009



Schnauzer owners can help this project as follows:

A). If your dog has a suspected melanoma:

If your vet is taking a blood sample for a clinical reason, ask the vet to save a surplus sample (1-2ml) in an EDTA tube


            Contact the AHT (contact details below) to request a cheek swab kit


Ask your vet to collect a small piece (3-5mm cube) of the biopsy of the suspected tumour (normally removed for diagnostic histopathology) and send it to the AHT


                        - If you have advance notice of your vet removing a biopsy, contact

                          the AHT (contact details below) to ask for a special preservative

                          (‘RNAlater’), in which to collect the small piece of tissue, to be sent to

                          the vet


                        - Ask your vet to place a small piece of the biopsy of the suspected

                          tumour in a freezer, and then ask the vet to contact the AHT

                          (contact details below) to ask to be sent a special solvent (‘QIAzol’)

                          in which to transport the piece of tissue


B). If your dog does not have cancer (and has not had cancer) and is at least  7 years old:


If your vet is taking a blood sample for a clinical reason, ask the vet to save a surplus sample (1-2ml) in an EDTA tube


            Contact the AHT (contact details below) to request a cheek swab kit

           Please let us know if your dog develops cancer within the next 4 years


For any queries or more information about the project, please contact:

Dr. Mike Starkey (Tel: 01638 555603; E-mail: [email protected]; Website:


To submit a blood sample, or request a cheek swab kit and/or an RNAlater/QIAzol sample tube (for a tumour biopsy), please contact: Lisa Jeffery (Tel: 01638 751000, extension 1214; E-mail: [email protected]).

Animal Health Trust, Lanwades Park, Kentford, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 7UU, UK.







There are a few issues that can affect the health of the Miniature Schnauzer, below you will find a list of some of the more ‘common’ of these.



  1. Pancreatitis – happens when the dog is given to much fat in the diet, some minis can be very sensitive to the amount of fat they eat. The result is very runny and bloody diarrhoea. It is best to avoid this happening by keeping the fat content to under 12 – 15% of the daily diet (as a general concensus among breeders) and to avoid giving the fat trimmings when preparing food. Also be aware of how much fat is in any treats you give your dog, especially bones with lots of marrow in them.


  1. Liver Shunt – this is a problem the dog is born with. Prior to birth there is a blood vessel that diverts blood flow away from the liver (the pup has no use of it in utero as mum is doing all the work) in the first few days after birth this blood vessel should close and allow all the blood to flow through the liver. When this doesn’t happen toxins can build up in the blood and cause other problems including bladder stones and a generally unwell dog. The pup may not show any signs of being ill until it has left the breeder. There is an operation available where a ‘ring’ is put around the blood vessel and it will slowly close up over several weeks and allow the pups liver to take over the job of keeping the blood clean, this can be very successful, so long as the blood vessel is outside the liver (extra portal liver shunt).


  1. Diabetes – not just for minis, this can happen in any dog that is allowed to get overweight for a long time.



 Ears and Teeth.


Most Minis have plenty of ear hair, this should be regularly plucked out to allow the air to flow into the ear to keep it dry. A warm, moist atmosphere caused by a lot of hair can lead to wax build up and ear infections. It is also common for teething puppies to be affected by ear troubles, so keep a close eye and have a regular ‘sniff’ of them.



Minis are typical of a lot of small breeds, some can be badly affected with bad teeth. Cleaning the teeth regularly and giving plenty of different things for your dog to chew on can help. Check the teeth regularly, bad teeth can cause a lot of other health problems and shorten the life of your pet by allowing toxins into the blood stream.





An unspayed bitch can develop a few problems.

1. Pregnancy - can happen very easily by accident if you are unaware she is in season (I know one person whose puppy was caught in her own back garden by the neighbours dog who had jumped the fence, she was only 6 months old at the time!) and even if you do know, you need to keep a very close watch on her. While a natural process, pregnancy does carry the risk of death of the bitch, pups, high vet bills etc.

2. Pyometra - which is a life threatening infection in the womb, there are 2 forms of this. Open pyo can show some signs and some discharge. Closed pyo may not show any symptoms until it is too late. If caught very early, it can be treated with anti-biotics, but spaying can be the better option, though not without some risk.

3. Mammary tumours - more likely to happen with the increasing number of seasons a bitch has, though still fairly uncommon. Often the cancer has spread before any lumps are noticed.

A spayed bitch can develop 'spay incontinence' where she will wet when resting. This is not the dogs fault or a lapse in training, it is caused by a lack of hormones keeping the urethra closed, this can be treated by tablets or drops to replace the hormones. An alternative is a herbal treatment from csjk9, though this doesn't work on all bitches with this problem.

Un-neutered males can develop prostate cancer (so make sure you regularly check the boys bits!)