Giant Schnauzers tend to live anywhere between 10-15 years and a lucky few are Lazarus dogs, who make it beyond that. During this time they quite often step through various Giant stages. Here are a few to beware of:
1. Between birth and 4 months, PUPPY!: The owner is their "god", everything is a play toy and simply must experience the puppy's mouth and lethal teeth. They have the "irresistible" puppy gene and pheromone aura just laying in wait to trap an unsuspecting human being.
2. 4 months to 7 months, Tasmanian Devil: The mouth is the single most important part of the pup's body. They are the definition of "Mouthy". They run around with their mouths wide open, just waiting to come in contact with an object...any object. Expect to loose favorite shirt sleeves, pants, shoes, parts of your house and furniture during this stage. Other dogs and people are all potential toys and will be well loved and played with. This is also the point when the desire to share your intimate apparel with your neighbors begins to develop. Giant owners are often shocked and embarrassed to see their playful pups ripping around the yard or prancing into the living room with a bra or boxers dangling from their dear one's mouth or draped over an ear or two.
3. 8 months to 3-4 years, Teen Puppy: They will steal the keys to your car and you should not plan on getting it back any time soon. Teen-Giants begin to master those unique Giantisms. Such as, the "oh man, I've been busted", "who me?" look, and those suspiciously devious glints out of the corner of their eye as they trot away with their selective hearing kicked on high. This is a difficult time. Everything seems to go in one ear and out the other. This is also the critical step, because all that info is being processed and is just waiting to snap into place. The owner's job is to make sure the Giant has the right pieces rattling around inside that massive skull. This is where socializing and training are a must. Giant's are a thinking breed, the more they are exposed to new people and experiences the better they are able to respond to new situations as they mature.
4. 2 years to..., Military Tasmanian Devil: That evil little monster comes out when the mailman passes the house or you are driving past a bicyclist. Now they have enough control to contain the urge to pop everything into their mouth, however, a Giant will certainly let the passing object know that the next step will be the mouth. They take their job of protection very, very seriously, unfortunately your car's headrest or seatbelt may take the brunt of the demonstration of the Giant's abilities to protect. Food is suddenly optional and may no longer work as a training reward. The trade mark aloofness begins to kick in and dog parks are kicked out of the daily routine. The job of the owner is to desperately attempt to stay one step ahead of this Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde canine.
5. 4 to 6 years, Young Adult: The dream age, they are young enough to physically be able to do anything yet, mature enough to analyze rather than react to a situation. This prankster masters his/her art of making you laugh when you need it and helping you around the house when you don't need it. Enjoy, for this is the stage you were working towards. This is when those pieces click together. However, this is also the time when a Giant is most adamant about going everywhere and doing everything with their masters. Fast Food Drive Thru's become a test of who can grab the burger the quickest. Couches are meant to be shared, beds become community property, and bathroom privacy becomes a distant memory.
6. 6 to 8 years, Mature Adult: The couch potato may kick in at this step, giving you a more laid back companion. Please don't be misled, these jokesters are more than capable of outsmarting the most savvy owner. The BIG groans and sighs--accompanied with the highly accurate paw swat--are slowly incorporated into their daily snuggling sessions. Mature Giants can, but may not be more patient with intruders and passerby. This is an almost worry free step.
7. 8 and up, Senior: A bit slower and stiffer, but still as impish and wonderful as ever. The second puppyhood often kicks in and you have to pull out those baby locks for your cabinets. Toilet papering the house, hiding but not destroying stuff, and getting into previously untouched items all suddenly become part of their job title. Having a senior Giant is probably one of the most rewarding steps despite the inherent health issues. Their love of life and owner, steadiness, and sheer determination makes them a wonder to be around. Their new job is to give back every moment and smile that you shared with them throughout their lives.
By C. May-Bowers & T. Parker, ©2005