Known Genetic Health Problems in the Giant Schnauzer


Canine allergies can be triggered by a wide variety of stimulants and an allergic reaction can occur at any point in the animal’s life time. The three common allergy types are: Atopic, Flea, and Food

Autoimmune Disease:

A disease process that involves the production of host antibodies to the host tissue.


Notable by the opacity of the lens of the eye or of its capsule. They can be inherited or caused by age, diabetes mellitus, malnutrition, radiation, inflammation, and trauma.

Cobalamin Malabsorption or Methylmalonic Aciduria Malabsorption(malabsorption of vitamin B12):

A rare condition where there is a deficiency of Cobalamin or Vitamin B12 necessary for a variety of enzyme reactions. An inherited disease which typically affects puppies, it can also be acquired by older dogs that have experiencing malnutrition, malabsorption, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, or bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine. Symptoms can include failure to thrive or gain weight, lack of appetite, vomiting, lethargy, abnormal behaviors, and seizures.


A rare disease that is associated with the Pituitary Gland. It is characterized by shortening and thickening of long bones, most commonly the forelegs. There are several types of dwarfism and blood tests can detect affected dogs at a very young age. A carrier may not show any signs of this problem but will pass it on if bred.


A slack, outward turning lid margin, usually with a large fissure or cleft near the eyelid. Exposure to environmental irritants and secondary bacterial infection can cause chronic or recurrent conjunctivitis.


An inversion of all or part of the eyelid margins and may involve both eyelids and the where the upper and lower eyelid meet.

Elbow Dysplasia:

Elbow dysplasia can be related to abnormal bone growth, joint stress, or cartilage development in young, large, rapidly growing dogs. Most elbow dysplasias occur in the first 6-9 months. A slight limp or exercise intolerance may be noted, but often no symptoms are present until arthritis occurs months later.


While the genetic base is not understood, when the seizures occur between 1 and 5 years of age the major cause is epilepsy. In order for this diagnosis to be confirmed the dog must have had more than one seizure episode and if the cause is not traced to another source it is defined as epilepsy.

Hip Dysplasia:

An abnormally developed hip joint, which leads to various degrees of arthritis (also called degenerative joint disease, arthrosis, osteoarthrosis). A dysplastic dog may or may not show clinical signs of lameness due to pain or restricted movement of the hip joint.


An impaired production and secretion of the thyroid hormones which results in a decreased metabolic rate. Symptoms may include mental dullness, lethargy, intolerance of exercise, weight gain without a gain in appetite, mild to marked obesity, coat and skin problems, thickening of the skin, or low body temperature causing the dog to seek heat.

Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD):

A developmental disease that usually affects rapidly growing medium, large, and giant breed dogs from 4 to 10 months. It can occur in the following immature joints: shoulder, elbow, stifle, and hock. OCD can be caused by trauma, rapid growth, excessive nutrition, ischemia (obstruction of blood supply to the area), and hereditary abnormalities of ossification (bone formation).

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA):

A group of degenerative noninflammatory disorders of the retina consisting of inherited photoreceptor dysplasia and degenerations that have similar appearance. Night blindness is noted early and progresses to total blindness over time. Dogs with PRA move with caution, bump into objects, initially show defective vision at night or dusk.

Retinal Dysplasia:

A congenital, focal, geographic, or generalized maldevelopment of the retina that may arise from trauma, genetic defect, or intrauterine damages, such as viral infections. Focal areas of retinal maldevelopment may have no symptoms of this disease or it may interfere with the dog’s central vision.

Squamous Cell Carcinomas:

A cancer which can occur in dark haired dog breeds. It has been associated with the development of scaly or plate-like tumors beneath the nail, may occur on multiple toes, and can often be found on different extremities. The first symptoms are typically lameness or malformation, an infection that mimics chronic bone inflammation, or loss of a nail on the affected toe. Quick diagnosis and removal of the infected toe(s) can increase the likelihood of survival.

Urinary Incontinence:

Dogs that experience urinary incontinence have little to no control over their bladders. Symptoms range from slight to constant or heavy dripping, wet spots where the dog has been sitting or laying, the dog urinates without squatting or lifting its leg. This is a common problem in large breed, spayed female dogs with an 11-20% chance of occurring after spaying. Urinary incontinence can also occur due to an anatomical malformation of the lower urinary tract, stress, or other health problems.

Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD):

A mild to moderate bleeding disorder where the dog’s platelets are not effectively utilized for blood clotting. A clinically affected dog can have mild to severe bleeding from gums or genitals, or following surgical procedures will bleed excessively. Affected pups will bleed excessively from the umbilical cord at birth or after tail docking or ear cropping. A simple blood test done once in a dog’s lifetime can test for this anomaly and carriers should not be used for breeding purposes.

For people who are interested in owning a Giant Schnauzer it is strongly recommend to look for a breeder who have at minimum the following health tests and certifications on their dogs.
Hip Dysplasia:

OFA ( or Penn-Hip (

Thyroid panels:

OFA Thyroid Testing (

The Giant Schnauzer is registered with the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) program ( This is a centralized canine health database jointly sponsored by the American Kennel Club/Canine Health Foundation (AKC/CHF) and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). Its purpose is to provide a source of health information for owners and potential owners, breeders, and scientists that will assist in breeding healthy dogs. If you are looking for a Giant puppy you can go to this site to see if the parents are CHIC dogs. The Giant Schnauzer Club of America (GSCA) encourages breeders and owners to participate in this program.