“Der Riesenschnauzer”

By Alfred Hohn

Giant Steps  October 1972 

The following is a reprint of a portion of the book “Die Schnauzer‑ Und Pinscherrassen” ByALFRED HOHN. Much work and effort went into this book and our President Mr. James Ward, sent Mr. Hohn a letter thanking him for this fine work.

A special thanks to our good Giant friend Mr. Ernest Rhodes, of Sherman Oaks, California, who translated this entire article from German.

A lot of absurd stuff was written in the twenties about the origin of the Riesenschnauzer.

A super eager Kynolog from Holland tried to prove our Giants to be the descendant of the Bouvier des Flandres, dating back to the war years. Indeed, there is a great similarity. However, he was ignorant of the fact that 29 Riesenschnarzers already had been entered in a show in Munich in the year 1909 and, therefore, none of the breeders in Southern Germany was even familiar with the name “Bouvier”.

Felix Ebner was a great protagonist of the Riesenschnauzers. He said: “The Southern parts of Bavaria and Austria mustbe the native country of the Riesen”. He tells of finding the real Giants on the farms, mostly of black, sometimes of yellow or reddish color, rough and stout, with good coat and strong bones.

There also is an older source, obviously not known to Ebner. This is the book of Dr. Fitzinger: “Bavarian Wolf Hund” as a strong, black or black‑brown dog with rough or shaggy coat, strong chest, narrowing in the back. with cropped ears and tail. He goes on: “This race is most frequently to be found in South Bavaria, Salzburg, and Tirol where they are being bred in the valleys of the Alps. They distinguish themselves by their height and strength as well as by their courage, holding together herds of hogs and cattle, being particularl y fit for protection from hostile attacks.”

Dr. Harms, the celebrated expert in matters concerning our Giants, also is correct in writing: “The Giant is not of new origin he is the upgrading of local breeding”. Of course, this should not mean that the early Giant did not embody blood of other large dogs, as is the case with all “Races” of the pre‑kynologic period, prior to the breeding of pure races.

However in the long run it proved imperative to select only such types of dogs as would correspond to the qualifications of the “RIESENSCHNAUZER”.

As mentioned before, in 1909 in Munich, Giants were shown for the first time. They were classified as such in the prospectus and the report of the judges, and, with one exception, all of them were domiciled in Munich. This might have been the reason for naming them the “Munchner Schnauzer” in Volume III of the Pinscher Magazine (1910). In this volume 9 dogs were listed, in Volume IV there were 8 dogs, and in the war edition V. 13 dogs. Partly, they were of unknown descent, but parents and grand parents were indicated for some.

Ebner, by the way, did not believe these “Munchner Schnauzers” to be genuine Riesenschnauzers.

However this can only be partly true. There were, of course, some which were super tall Standard Schnauzers and some whose parents were super tall Standards. But it is certain that there were also represented the large and heavy types, and Ebner himself refers to the black “Prinz Russ” whom he describes as the genuine “Oberlander”. On the whole, the “Munchner Schnauzers” of the pre‑war time have, indeed, been essential for the breeding in the twenties.

We find scattered in Volume I of the Pinscher Schnauzer Klub (1923) Register among 567 listings of “Riesenschanuzers”, as they were now “Officially” called the “Munchner” parents and grand parents.

Aside from “Prinz Russ”, already mentioned, there were “Roland Rolandsheim” male, of unknown descent, whelped 1910, “Bitru v. Weinsberg”, male, of unknown descent, whelped 1906, and the bitch “Prisca v. Conre”- Niedermeyer‑Munich Kennel. whelped 1906, some of these are referred to several times.

As evident from the registers, the color of the ‘Munchner Schnauzer” was identical with that of the schnauzers Pepper‑Salt, Gray, Yellowish Gray, Yellowish Brown, and Black. The same colors are to be found among the “Riesenschnauzers” of Volume 1 of the Pinscher Schnauzer Club breeding manual. The black color already is clearly shown to be preponderant, soon to become dominant

The standards, for the first time issued in 1923, are of importance: “The Riesenschnauzer should resemble, as closely as possible, a considerably enlarged and more forceful image of the Schnauzer”. Therefore, most of the standardized features correspond to those of the Schnauzers, with exception of the height. The height is indicated: Minium 55cm = 21.65", Maximum 65cm. = 25.59".

Another sentence is memorable: All this destines the Riesenschnauzer to be a vigorous, tough working dog and he should be trained and purposely bred as such.

Thus a clear breeding goal was set which more or less already had been manifest in some of the Munchner Schnauzers and the early prototypes, and in the following period. This coursewas followed with remarkable speed, on a wide front.

This was principally due to two strong progenitors; “Bazi v. Wetterstein”, whelped 1914, and “Fels v. Kinzigtal”, male, whelped in 1924, breeder Dr. Calaminus. Bazi whose parents are not known was a powerful male of 72 cm. = 28.35" height at the withers, the pride of his breeder who only after hesitation gave in to use him for breeding purposes. Dr. Calaminus opened a Riesenschnauzer Kennel in 1895. He started with “Munchner Schnauzers” in the beginning. This is why we find as “Fels” ancestors Roland Rolandstein, Priska v. Conre, Prinz Russ and Bitru v. Weinbergm, all of them already mentioned.

Another male, used in breeding, was pepper‑salt Burno 35, ancestry unknown, who was valuable in breeding the pepper salt Giants.

There is no remarkable Giant today whose ancestry could not be traced to one, two or even three of the above named progenitors.

For two other reasons the breeding of Riesenschnauzers made rapid progress. In the twenties there emerged important breeders like F. Schips, Mannheim (v.d. Glucksburg) and dr. Kuhn, Berlin (v. Barenstein). They contributed with remarkable winners to laying important foundations for the breeding of Riesenschnarzers,

The second reason was the extraordinary development of the Giants character which really predestines their for working dogs. In this respect, it was of decisive importance that Oberleutnant Schonherr, at the time director of the State Training School in Grunheide, was a Schnauzer champion. His institution harbored 60 Giants who excelled in sharpness and good work. The Siements & Halske A.G. in Berlin also possessed and bred Giants for their works protection. The successful training as working dogs by a number of other breeders resulted in the official proclamation of “Diensthund”‑ (service, working dog) qualification in the year 1925.

The first register of service dogs, dated from 1926, lists 20 trained Riesenschnauzer seven of which alone were domiciled in Grunheide.

From now on, there was a steady progress up to the memorable “reichsturnic” (Federal Competition) 1936 in Bohnsdorf near Berlin where the black Riesenschnauzer “Peter”, trained in Grungeide, surpassed the whole elite of working dogs, captured the title of “Reichs Siege” (Federal Winner) and won 4 gold medals.

But not only in the working classification, also in nobility and beauty the Giants were on the march forward and it often happened that many winners in obedience competitions also placed very well in other qualifications. The debacle at war's end, of course, was most detrimental to the breeding of working dogs, and a new start had to be made with the few remaining dogs. Dr. Harms wrote in this respect: “Fortunately, our young working dog class was so unspoiled that with specific animals more could be accomplished than was to be expected”. Consequently, there again was a rapid climb up. Not only the number of registrations increased steadily during the fifties but the quality of the Giants soon grew to a remarkable level.

As with the other club races there was in the beginning no uniformity in regard to the color. However, due to the two black progenitors “Bazi v. Wetterstein” and “Fels v. Dinzigtal” the black color soon became predominant. Within a short time the pepper salt also became prominent, mainly due to the male “Bruno 35” who, with some other pepper salts, is represented in all later prototypes of the pepper salt breeding. In the thirties there was a noticeable increase in the number of pepper salt Giants and more than one hundred registrations were listed, owning to the appearance of the winner “Bill v. Hochlane”, whelped 1929.

At the end of the war the pepper salt breeding was all but finished, yet, fortunately, there were a few breeders who courageously started anew. It is gratifying to note that due to several breeders, Wittlich (v.d. Papenberg) Wettlaufer and later Carlsbert (v. Widderhof) the pepper salt Giant again got a foothold. Other breeders followed and the result was slow increase in the registrations. In the year 1969 the remarkable number of 88 whelps was reached, a 15% share of a 574 total.

The most bred fatherdog during the latest years in club champion “Boy v. Widderhof”. However, a good dose of Standard Schnauzers for the improvement, of form and color as well as a widening of the blood basis also played an important part.

Already, further success is apparent in the pepper salt breeding but, for obvious reasons, the level of the black brother could so far not be attained.

The Guidelines for the year 1956 showed but minimal deviations in regard to possible improvements of the race as a whole, but a new standard was set for the height. It was determined the height would be 60 ‑70 cm. (23.65" ‑ 37.65") at the withers. On one side, this size should serve to present a dog rightfully called “Riesenschnauzei”, on the other be essential for a working dog's desirable swiftness. Indeed, the breeding for performance qualities remained the goal of our idealistic people rearing working dogs.

Accordingly, we find in our kennel records a considerable percentage of parent dogs which had been rewarded with performance premiums.

The selective process resting on a voluntary basis, all breeders of Riesenschnauzers should submit to the most rigid rules.

Our “Riese” (Giant) then will remain what he was from the beginning: a dog whose serenity and presence of mind are linked together with temperament, fearless boldness and incorruptible faithfulness. 
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