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Hip Dysplasia in Giant Schnauzers

Giant Schnauzers were bred for tasks such as herding and cattle driving. The breed was created by crossing Standard Schnauzers with bigger dogs like Great Danes. This interbreeding with Great Danes who were susceptible to hip problems was responsible for introducing hip dysplasia in Giant Schnauzers.

Giant Schnauzers

Giant Schnauzers are devoted and protective dogs with a high-energy level. They are bigger and bolder than their smaller cousins, the Standard Schnauzer, but are just as lively and frisky.

They are clever and trainable pets but need lots of attention and guidance combined with ample playtime and obedience exercises.

Giant Schnauzers make very attentive companions, preferring to stay very close to their owners (which can be a bit unnerving to some people when a dog this large seems intent on watching every move they make). They are affectionate and love to be involved in all the activities that take place in the home.

Giant Schnauzers make excellent watchdogs. Their intense loyalty to their family and their commanding presence makes them a fearless guard dog, able to easily distinguish between friend and enemy. They won’t bark randomly or unnecessarily, but they will bark loudly and forcefully when they sense threats to their family or themselves.

Giants need lots of outdoor exercise; vigorous daily walks or long jogs help them maintain their strong physical and mental health. They always need to be walked on a leash because they have strong hunting instincts, and any small creatures —whether birds or cats— easily excite them.

While the Miniature Schnauzer and Standard Schnauzer were originally bred to chase and kill rats, their Giant cousin was meant for bigger tasks such as herding, and even —believe it or not— for barroom bouncing. The breed originated in Germany. It was created by crossing Standard Schnauzers with much bigger dogs like Great Danes and they do extremely well handling a wide range of tasks, including cattle driving and police work.

Giant Schnauzers are basically larger, stronger versions of the Standard Schnauzer and have a large, square-built body structure with dense, wiry coats. Their long heads have distinctive bushy beards, mustaches and eyebrows, and deeply set eyes, powerful muzzles and V-shaped ears that point up and forward. Their tails, which some owners choose to dock, are carried high. They come in solid black and salt & pepper colors.

A healthy Giant can live as long as 15 years. As they age they are prone to developing hip dysplasia and arthritis. Other common health issues include eye disease and autoimmune thyroiditis.

Hip dysplasia in Giant Schnauzers

Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease that primarily affects large and giant breeds of dogs (like the Giant Schnauzer) but can also affect medium-sized breeds and occasionally small breeds. It is primarily a disease of purebreds, although it can also occur in mixed breeds.

To understand hip dysplasia in Giant Schnauzers and the resulting arthritis, you need a basic understanding of how the dog’s hip joint is affected.

The hip joint is comprised of a ball and socket that forms the attachment of the hind leg to the body. The ball portion is the head of the femur and the socket is located on the pelvis.

In a normal hip joint the ball rotates freely within the socket. The bones are shaped to perfectly match each other with the socket surrounding the ball. To strengthen the joint, the two bones are held together by a strong ligament. The joint capsule, a strong band of connective tissue, circles the two bones to provide added stability.

This is what a normal hip joint looks like in an X-ray:

Hip dysplasia is linked to abnormal joint structure and a laxity of the muscles, connective tissue, and ligaments that would normally support the dog’s hip joints.

As the disease progresses, the articular surfaces of the two bones lose contact with each other. This separation of the two bones within the joint causes a drastic change in the size and shape of the articular surfaces.

This is what the same joint looks like when a dog has hip dysplasia:

Most Giant Schnauzers who eventually develop hip dysplasia are born with normal hips, but due to their genetic make-up the soft tissues surrounding the joint develop abnormally. This leads to the symptoms associated with hip dysplasia. The disease may affect both hips, or only the right or left hip.

The symptoms of hip dysplasia in Giant Schnauzers cause afflicted dogs to walk or run with an altered gait, similar to a bunny-hop. They begin to resist any movement that requires full extension or flexion of the rear legs.

They will experience stiffness and pain in their rear legs after exercising and on first rising in the morning. Climbing stairs becomes difficult if not impossible. Some dogs will limp and are less willing to participate in normal daily activities, including walks they formerly enjoyed.

It appears that the amount of calories a dog consumes, especially during its fast-growth period from three to ten months, has the biggest impact on whether or not a dog genetically prone to hip dysplasia will develop the disease.

Obesity can increase the severity of the disease in dogs that are genetically susceptible and the extra weight will intensify the degeneration of a dog’s joints and hips. Dogs who are genetically prone to hip dysplasia and also are overweight, are at a much higher risk of developing hip dysplasia and eventually osteoarthritis.

Exercise can be another risk factor. Dogs genetically susceptible to hip dysplasia like Giant Schnauzers may have an increased incidence of the disease if they are over-exercised at a young age. Moderate exercise like running and swimming is best for exercising young dogs.


Because hip dysplasia is primarily an inherited condition, there are no products that can prevent its development.

Through proper diet, exercise, and a daily regimen of Winston’s Joint System, you can slow, and sometimes halt, the progression of these degenerative joint diseases while providing your dog with relief from its pain. Winston’s provides many of the raw materials essential for the synthesis of the joint-lubricating synovial fluid as well as the repair of articular cartilage and connective tissue.

If owners insisted on only purchasing an animal whose parents and grandparents were certified to have good or excellent hips, and if breeders only bred these first-rate animals, then the majority of the problems caused by hip dysplasia would be eliminated.

If you are looking to purchase a Giant Schnauzer now or in the future, the best way to lessen the possibility of getting a dog that will develop hip dysplasia is to examine the incidence of the disease in the dog’s lineage. If at all possible, try to examine the parents and grandparents as far back as three or four generations.

There are different assumptions on how to prevent the progression of hip dysplasia in Giant Schnauzers.

Poor nutrition, inadequate or improper exercise, and increased body weight may all contribute to the severity of osteoarthritis after the hip dysplasia has developed. Watching the calories your puppy or young dog consumes and preventing obesity in your dog, allowing only non-stressful types of exercise, and a daily regimen of Winston’s Joint System, are the best things you can do for your dog.

Since 1990, Winston’s Joint System and Winston’s Pain Formula have helped heal over twenty thousand dogs from all over the world. Our staff specializes in hip dysplasia, arthritis and all joint, pain and mobility issues.

There is an excellent chance we can help your dog, so please contact us at: or call our toll free number at 888-901-5557.


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