WHITE SCHNAUZERS by Catherine McMiIlan
Why not white?
According to early German records, some of the founding dogs in the Miniature Schnauzer breed had white or yellow dams. White MS occurred with frequency during the early years of the breed both in Europe and the US. Many breeds record similar occurrences of “off” colours early in development.
The breeders who pioneered the Miniature Schnauzer had a specific goal in mind – to produce a smaller version of the well established Standard Schnauzer. To this end crosses with smaller breeds such as the affenspinscher, toy spitz and perhaps poodle were employed. Early litters could record both Miniature Schnauzers and Miniature Pinschers in the same litter. Early pedigrees were informal – type, coat and colour could play as much a determining factor in assigning breed as did the actual pedigree.
As the goal was to produce a miniature version of the Standard some of the traits introduced by those breeds were obviously undesirable. One of these was the colour white. German breeders reported destroying such puppies at birth. If the breed was to advance to its imagined ideal, such dogs indicated a regression of type and were discarded.
While it can be argued that today’s MS might not meet with total approval of breeders from the turn of the century, the MS community has more or less adhered to the original concept – a miniature (albeit glamorized) version of the Standard Schnauzer.
Some advocates of the white MS have pointed out that the black & silver MS also has no counterpart in the Standard. This is true, and prevented the recognition of this colour for many years in some countries. However, the black & silver does not represent a dramatic departure from the salt & pepper colour pattern. Furthermore, breeder acceptance through the years came about largely through the realization that this third colour was occurring with varying frequency through important and influential producing lines. It did not try to reenter the breed “through the back door” of puppy mills.
With the exception of a very few recent European imports who have yet to have any impact on modern successful show lines, the pedigrees of white MS trace, almost to a dog, to puppy mills and commercial breeders.
And therein lies a problem. Puppy mills are notorious for issuing fraudulent pedigrees, representing crossbreds as purebred and capitalizing on “rare” colours. It does not take a huge leap to imagine the potential of a Westie cross or two in such a profit motivated setting.
Regardless of the origin of a white MS born today, whether it be of certified European lineage or pet store stock, it is a disqualifying fault. A white MS is no more valuable than an oversize, undersize (micro-mini:?) or monorchid.
To suggest that such colours be allowed in the ring undermines the very essence of what makes a purebred dog a purebred dog. Unacceptable colours are considered such because they represent crossbreeding or a departure from breed type that is so serious that a dog is considered unfit to represent its breed.
Breed standards come about as a result of history, function and arbitrary decision that some features make a breed – and some do not. In breeds such as the MS, it was recognized that some undesirable colours had the potential to lurk in the genes from the long distant past and these were specifically mentioned in order that there would be no confusion about their undesirability. In other words, white colour was a step backward and had no place in the progress of the breed.
If breeds did not adhere to a specific shape, form, and colour range, or if breeders disregarded this blueprint, the breed would degenerate to the point that it would hardly resemble the breed at all… Selective breeding does not just create breeds – it preserves them as well. This is particularly true of more modern breeds such as our own.
The majority of breeders have respect for the history and standard of the Miniature Schnauzer and as a result the successful show lines can be considered free of this recessive colour gene.
However, as the few continue to exploit this fault for profit, responsible breeders must be diligent when assessing pedigrees of bitches they service or puppies they acquire. If they don t, a fault that was successfully eliminated 30 years ago could infiltrate North American show lines. A MS recently finished in the USA , and unbeknownst to the owners of her sire – she carries a white great-great grandmother in her pedigree. Time will tell if this and other such crosses will reveal themselves in subsequent generations when their recessive carrying descendants finally meet!
Why Not White? by Marcia Feld
First, please understand that any an AKC registration means only that the parents of the dog were also registered with AKC and the validity of that registration depends on the integrity of the persons doing the registering. For instance, a woman in the hospital with a new baby can name any male as the father of that infant. The integrity of the birth certificate depends on her, not the registry. Any dog may be registered with the AKC as long as both of its parents were also AKC registered. That registration says nothing about the quality of the dog. You ask a very legitimate question, why are whites so bad? Let me try to answer that on a very simple level. There is a written definition of what each breed shall be. That definition dates back to the origin of the breed and is on paper for anyone interested to read. This definition is what makes a Great Dane a Great Dane, a Poodle a Poodle, a Dalmation a Dalmation, etc. etc. etc… It is not up to each of us to decide that we would like to change each of these breeds because we “like it” or “find it appealing”.
Adhering to these definitions is what retains the individuality of the breed. Breeding to the definition is the challenge for the breeder. A brown Dalmation might be cute – but he is no longer a dal; a tiny Great Dane would be more easily kept – but he is no longer a Great Dane, and a hard coated Poodle would be easier to groom, but he wouldn’t be a poodle. And in that same light, a white schnauzer is no longer a schnauzer; he is disqualified because he does not meet the definition of that breed. The little white schnauzer is not “bad”. He is simply not a good specimen of the breed. I would suggest that the person who likes a small white terrier seriously consider the purchase of a Westie. (By the way, the Westie wouldn’t be a Westie if he were any color other than white.)