Giant Schnauzer Health

General Position

The Giant Schnauzer is a robust large sized breed that is generally considered to be healthy but to ensure that we maintain this position a breed health and conservation plan (BHCP) is in place. The BHCP is an evidence based document produced by the Kennel Club in conjunction with the Breed Health Co-ordinator and breed health representatives. The Plans actions are monitored and reviewed on a regular basis.

Giant Schnauzer_BHCP_2020

Please check out the recommended Kennel Club `health tests within the BHCP a summary of which is provided below:


  1. Annual eye testing for hereditary cataracts, and monitoring of any other inherited eye diseases


  1. Hip Scoring
  2. Litter screening of puppies’ eyes between 5-12 weeks
  3. DNA test prcd-PRA
  4. DNA test – PRA5
  5. DNA test – DCM

Specific giant schnauzer health problems please contact Lesley Parker,

Health Testing - Giant Schnauzers

Health Testing – Giant Schnauzers

  • When looking for a puppy, any caring and responsible breeder will be able to show you the KC / BVA Eye Scheme unaffected Eye Test Certificates for Hereditary Cataract (HC) of the mother and confirm that the sire too has an unaffected certificate (both should dated within the previous 12 months)
  • You will also be given a copy of the Litter Screening Form to prove that the litter has been eye tested when you purchase the puppy. The litter screen tests for Multi Focal Retinal Dysplasia (MRD) and any other congenital eye conditions. The breeder will be able to identify any affected pups and discuss whether it may have any effect on the puppy in later life.
  • The BVA/KC/Eye Scheme for HC is a mandatory requirement for Kennel Club Assured Breeders. All other breeders are strongly advised to use these schemes, tests and/ or advice.

The BVA/KC Eye Scheme for MRD, and also any other congenital eye defects, is a strongly recommended to be undertaken by all owners of breeding stock.

Breeders who are members of the Northern Schnauzer Club (NSC) have been following these recommendations for several years now as it is embedded within the Club’s Code of Ethics.

Eye Problems

HC and MRD can occur in the Giant Schnauzer, in addition to other eye conditions such as PRA. Every endeavour must be made to eradicate such problems from the breed and it is a requirement that all Giant Schnauzers are eye-tested annually, by Vets registered to undertake such eye examinations, under British Veterinary Association/The Kennel Club (BVA/KC) Eye Scheme.

  • When should we Eye Test?

Puppies should be eye-tested between 6 and 12 weeks before leaving the breeder. Again, all caring and responsible breeder will be able to show you the Litter Screening Form and discuss any findings.

Identification of HC requires annual examinations as this condition develops later in life and is not usually detected until after 6-12 months of age, sometimes later than 2 years, and also as late as 8-9 years. Therefore, all Giant Schnauzers should be eye-tested again by the age of 12 months and annually afterwards.

  • The Need to Eye Test regularly

It is important that a BVA/KC Panelist checks breeding stock annually, up to about 8 years of age. It is also possible for any Giant owner to eye test their dog at any age, ask your breeder or Vet, to give you more information and to tell you how to obtain the name of your closest Eye Panelist Vet, or look on the BVA website find an eye panelist.

Find An Eye Panelist


  • What should I do if my Dog has problems?

If your dog is diagnosed with any of these eye problems or any other, it is in the interest of all Giant Schnauzers, to advise The Giant Schnauzer Club (GSC), The Schnauzer Club of Great Britain (SCGB), The Northern Schnauzer Club (NSC) and the breeder.

  • If my dog is diagnosed with a hereditary eye condition, why should we tell anyone?

Things occur even in the most carefully planned breeding programmes; it is only through exchange of information that will we eventually eradicate these problems from our favourite breed. It is important to tell the owners of the sire and dam, to ensure breeders can make appropriate breeding decisions. The breeder will also need to be aware should any other puppies in the litter develop the same condition.

  • Why hasn’t a solution been found yet?

Because of the mode of inheritance is not currently known, it’s not possible to identify dogs that may carry the gene. This may only be identified when owners of affected dogs inform the breeder, and/or the GSC, SCGB or NSC, so that alternative action can be taken for the future.

  • What are the Breed Clubs doing?

The clubs involved with the Giant Schnauzer breed (GSC, SCGB and NSC), in conjunction with other Clubs, support the BVA/KC Eye-Testing Scheme, organise low-cost eye-testing sessions and are raising funds, through the Joint Miniature Schnauzer Eye Fund (JMSEF) and Giant Schnauzer Health Fund to initiate research programmes with the Kennel Club Genetics Centre. A current list of  Eye Panelists and their locations can be found on the BVA website.

Find An Eye Panelist  

Schemes or advice relevant to this breed

The following schemes, tests and/ or advice are mandatory requirements for Kennel Club Assured Breeders. All other breeders are strongly advised to use these schemes, tests and/or advice.

BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme

It is strongly recommended that both Kennel Club Assured Breeders and non-Kennel Club Assured Breeders should use the following schemes, tests and/ or advice.

BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme – Litter Screening

Hip Dysplasia

Hip scoring of Giant Schnauzers is now on the list of recommended health checks required of Accredited Breeders. Full details about the BVA/KC Hip Dysplasia Scheme can be found on the BVA website (BVA Hip Dysplasia Scheme).

DNA Tests: Prcd-PRA, PRA5 & DCM

The following DNA tests are now recommended

DNA Test prcd-PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy)

PRA is a disease that causes the retina of the eye to degenerate slowly over time, the result is declining vision and eventual blindness. Progressive rod-cone degeneration (prcd) is just one type of PRA, it occurs as a result of degeneration of the rod and cone photoreceptor cells of the Retina.

DNA Test PRA5 (Progressive Retinal Atrophy – NECAP1)

Another type of the degenerative blinding PRA condition was discovered in a litter of UK bred Giant Schnauzers during 2016. Three affected littermates of European pepper/salt breeding were identified as affected, and subsequent research discovered a novel gene NECAP1

DNA Test DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy)

This type of DCM is a serious and most often fatal heart condition diagnosed in young Giant Schnauzers, causing swelling of the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles). The heart’s ability to pump blood is reduced since the heart becomes enlarged, and can no longer beat effectively. Genetic analysis of 3 affected UK pepper/salt Giant Schnauzer littermates from European breeding, along with their close relatives, took place at the University of Missouri during 2014. Results from this research found the same mutation as presented in Standard Schnauzers.


Additional Health Screening Available

Thyroid testing Thyroid Function & TgAA for Inherited Hypothyroidism – Available from your own vet

Elbow grading:  KC/BVA Elbow grading

Please visit the Giant Schnauzer Health Fund website more for information.