The Giant Schnauzer is the biggest of the three Schnauzer breeds – the other being the Miniature Schnauzer and the Standard Schnauzer. They are a powerful and intelligent dog originally breed as farm dogs to drive livestock and protect the property.
The origins of the breed are uncertain, but it is believed they have been developed from many other breeds. This obviously includes the Standard Schnauzer and other European breeds such as Great Danes, Dobermans, Rottweilers, and the Bouvier des Flandres.
Being a large working breed they are relatively high energy, intelligent, and strong.
How much exercise does a Giant Schnauzer need
Giant Schnauzers need at least 45 to 60 minutes of exercise and activity daily. This should include a daily walk with additional purposeful activity and strengthening exercises. Due to their intelligence, they also need plenty of mental stimulation and enrichment.
Failure to meet the daily exercise needs of your Giant Schnauzer can result in behavior issues and they can become difficult to handle.
Their daily activity requirements can be grouped into three categories.
- Daily Walk
- Purposeful Activity
- Mental Stimulation
Avoid too much exercise with a Giant Schnauzer puppy
These suggestions relate to a healthy adult Giant Schnauzer 18 months or older. Giant Schnauzer puppies grow fast and this can put excessive stress on their bodies. Their growth plates are not completely closed until they are over 18 months old.
Long walks are not required for a puppy and the best exercise for a Giant Schnauzer puppy is free to play off-leash. Avoid high impact activity on hard surfaces.
- up to 6months old 10 to 15 minutes a day is sufficient.
- 6 to 12 months old 30 minutes a day is enough.
- 12 to 18 months, not a lot more than 6 to 12 months is needed
For more on exercise for a puppy see here.
Introducing them to the water and swimming while young is recommended and is a great low impact exercise.
Mental stimulation is important for puppies and can tire them just as much as physical activity. For more on mental stimulation for puppies see here.
Giant Schnauzer exercise after eating
Giant Schnauzers are one of the dog breeds that are at a higher risk of bloat or GDV (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus ), Do not feed your Giant Schnauzer straight before or after exercise to minimize the risk of this. Wait at least one hour, preferably two hours before or after exercise. For more about avoiding bloat in your dog see here.
It is also recommended that you feed your Giant Schnauzer on an elevated surface or from a raised bowl to aid with digestion and prevent GDV.
See Raised Dog Bowls on Amazon.
Giant Schnauzer daily walking needs
The daily walk is essential for a Giant Schnauzer not only to release some pent-up energy. The walk allows your Giant Schnauzer to stimulate the mind with the sights, sounds, and smells they come across.
A healthy adult Giant Schanzuer will require a daily walk of 30 to 45 minutes. The pace of the walk should be a brisk comfortable speed for them.
If your Giant Schnauzer has good recall, off-leash walking or running at the park is ideal. Alternatively, you can use a retractable leash or long lead to allow them more freedom while maintaining control. In general, Giant Schnauzers are obedient and usually has good recall if trained.
You can add extra resistance to the walk by using a weighted vest or dog backpack. It is recommended that no more than 10% of their body weight be added. This is more than sufficient to tire them and strengthen their muscles without overworking them. Other ways of increasing the resistance on the walk are to walk on sand or include uphill sections in the walk.
Can Giant Schnauzer go on long walks
Giant Schnauzers do have a good level of stamina and can walk for reasonably long distances. However, 30 to 60 minutes is probably more than sufficient. If you do choose to go on long walks, monitor your dog for signs of fatigue, soreness, or excessive panting. Bring the walk to an end if they seem to be struggling.
Giant Schnauzer exercise ideas
The Giant Schnauzer is energetic, strong and has bucket loads of stamina. Ideally, you need to find activities that can burn energy in a short period of time and use these skills. This can include high-intensity games and strength training is recommended to keep their muscles in peak condition. By keeping the muscles strong they will support the joints and tendons preventing injury.
A Flirt pole is like a giant cat tickler for dogs. It has a long handle with a bungy type rope with a lure or toy attached to the end. You simply move the lure along the ground around in circles or in different directions as your dog chases it. This activity is ideal for a Giant Schnauzer as it works the whole body and strengthens their muscles. Be sure they have a good “leave it” command and don’t allow them to destroy the toy. It is important that this be a controlled exercise. For a full guide to flirt pole exercise for dogs see here.
View Flirt Poles on Amazon.
Playing Fetch with your Giant Schnauzer is another fantastic way to burn pent-up energy. Giant Schnauzers are generally ball or toy crazy can play this for hundreds of throws. A great alternative is to use an Automatic Ball Launcher so your dog can play Fetch by themselves. As the Giant Schnauzer is highly trainable as long as you focus their attention they learn to use this quickly. For more information check out “Automatic Ball Launchers for Dogs”
A Jolly Ball is a nearly indestructible ball for dogs that they push and chase around. This activity caters to a dog’s natural herding instinct.
They come in a variety of sizes, styles and are also available with a handle or rope attached for tug of war. Check out the video to see what great exercise and fun they are for dogs.
View Jolly Balls on Amazon
Most dogs can chase and catch a ball. But a Frisbee requires a little bit more skill, coordination, and timing. Roll the Frisbee on the ground towards your dog. They will instinctually want to grab it in his mouth. Once you’ve accomplished this, try tossing it at a very low level first to your dog. If you feel like your dog is ready to go to the next level, toss the disc a little higher and further. Great energy burner and you may be amazed at your dog’s agility and acrobatic skill.
Set up an agility or obstacle course in your backyard. You can use items you have around the home, build your own agility or you can get reasonably priced agility sets on Amazon.
You can include tasks such as the weave, hurdle jumps, tunnels or jumping through hoops or a platform to jump on and stay.
Play with other dogs
Provide the opportunity for your Giant Schnauzer to play with other dogs. This is not only great to burn energy and stimulate their mind, but teaches them important social skills. Not all Giant Schnauzers are dog-friendly, so ensure yours is to prevent the possibility of fighting.
Giant Schnauzers are not a natural water dog at all. However, if they are introduced to swimming early and carefully they can come to love it. If your Giant Schnauzer does swim, it is an excellent way to provide exercise for them.
Swimming is high intensity and helps to tire a dog quickly. Five to ten minutes of continuous swimming can be equivalent to a hard 30 to 40 minute run for your dog.
It is also low impact making it ideal for a big dog like a Giant Schnauzer as they can be prone to joint issues.
To learn more about the exercise benefits of swimming for dogs see here.
Giant Schnauzers muscle-strengthening exercise
One of the major benefits of incorporating muscle building and strengthening activities into your dog’s daily exercise is that it assists to prevent injury. This is achieved by building muscle to support and give stability to the joints and tendons and increase bone density.
From a fitness point of view strengthening exercises increase the cardiovascular system and reduces fat preventing obesity and helps maintain a healthy weight. For overall health, it improves gastrointestinal regularity, strengthens the immune system and improves sleeping and eating patterns.
Here is some suggested strengthening exercise you can do with your Giant Schnauzer.
Walking up and down stairs is a good exercise in that it provides two complementary actions. Going up the stairs makes them use their muscles to propel forward. Coming down the stairs requires balance and controlled core stability.
It is important not to rush up and down the stairs and keep this a controlled exercise to avoid injury.
For a full guide to stair exercise for dogs see here.
This video gives a good insight in to this.
Tug of war
A classic dog game and one that is loved by most powerful dogs. Make them use their strength to crouch and pull back. Many dog trainers are opposed to this game as they feel it encourages dominant behavior. As long as your dog takes and releases the tug toy on command and you control the game this is not an issue.
A spring pole is simply a spring connected to a rope that hangs from a tree branch or beam with a lure or toy attached to the end. This allows your dog to play tug of war with him or herself even if you are not there. It also provides a strengthening exercise for their rear legs by having to stand to reach the lure.
Popular with a lot of dogs and particularly strong breeds that love a good game of tug of war.
This is similar to human squats. Have your dog sit and then stand. You can use treats to make this easier. If they don’t stand when you say just step back and offer the treat. After a week or two, you can increase the resistance of the exercise by putting a backpack on your dog and add weight, but not more than 10% of their body weight.
For more muscle building and strengthening exercises for dogs see here.
Weight pulling is an actual dog sport but you can incorporate this type of exercise into your dog’s muscle building and strength program. The most important thing is that you use a proper weight pulling harness. These are designed to distribute the weight evenly over your dog’s body.
Start with a light amount of weight and have your dog drag the weight 10 to 20 metres. Give them a rest for 2 minutes and repeat. As with conditioning your dog to run, start off easy and gradually increase the amount of weight and number of repetitions over time.
Mental Stimulation for Giant Schnauzers
Your Giant Schnauzer will get some mental stimulation and enrichment from their daily walk and time spent with free play. However, it is a good idea to provide other activities that stimulate the mind. Mental exercise can burn as much energy as physical exercise.
Many dog behavior problems are a direct result of boredom. Read “Mental enrichment and mind stimulation for dogs” to learn about the six categories of enrichment for dogs.
Some ideas to provide mental stimulation include;
Puzzle toys are a great way to test your dog’s intelligence and improve their problem-solving skills. Check out “Top puzzle toys for dogs” for my top picks.
Kong toys which you stuff with food and treats work in much the same way. Read “How to use a Kong for dogs”.
Puzzle toys are great for times when your dog is home alone. If your dog is home alone while you are at work or out you may find some helpful information at “Leaving a dog alone while at work”
Teaching new commands and tricks is also excellent to provide mental enrichment. A popular game that involves learning is to teach them the names of their toys. Dogs can learn hundreds of words and names.
Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs and has many benefits including maintaining dental health and keeping them occupied. It also as mental health benefits. When a dog chews it releases endorphins to their brain making them feel calm and relaxed helping to lift their overall mood.
For more on the benefits of chewing and the best chew toys for your dog see here.
Turn mealtimes into an opportunity for your Giant Schnauzer to get a mental challenge and enrichment. Instead of feeding them from a bowl, give them activities that require them to work for their food. To learn more about feeding enrichment for dogs see here.
Enrich their environment
Environmental enrichment is the process of making a dog’s living space more engaging and interesting. To learn more about environmental enrichment for dogs see here.
How much exercise does an Older Giant Schnauzer need
As a dog gets older they become less active and have lower energy levels. However, it is still important that they remain reasonably active to keep their joints and muscles mobile and to manage their weight. Read ” Dog exercise for a senior dog” to learn more.
Many dogs develop arthritis as they age. Exercise for them becomes a balancing act. It is important to keep their joints mobile and manage weight, but too much can make them sore. Read “How to exercise an arthritic dog” to learn more.
Giant Schnauzers are also very prone to hip dysplasia especially as they get older. Read Exercising a dog with hip dysplasia for advice on this.
Summary – Giant Schnauzer exercise requirements
Giant Schnauzers require daily exercise of 45 to 60 minutes. This should include a daily walk with additional purposeful activity and strengthening exercises. due to their intelligence they also require plenty of mental stimulation to prevent boredom.
Giant Schnauzer puppies do not require too much exercise as they are growing quickly. Exercise for an older Giant Schnauzer is still important to keep them mobile and healthy but a balance is required to avoid soreness.
Let us know if the comment how you exercise your Giant Schnauzer.