The Official Standard of the Miniature Schnauzer describes temperament as “alert and spirited, yet obedient to command. He is friendly, intelligent and willing to please. He should never be overaggressive or timid.” Usually easy to train, they tend to be excellent watchdogs, with a good territorial instinct, but more inclined toward vocal notification than attack. They are often guarded towards strangers until the owners of the home welcome the guest, upon which they are typically very friendly to them; unlike some of their terrier cousins, they are not typically aggressive. However, they will express themselves vocally, and may bark to greet their owner, or to express joy, excitement, or displeasure.
Proper socialization with other dogs and people is important. The breed is generally good with children, but as with any dog, play with small children should be supervised. They are highly playful dogs, and if not given the outlet required for their energy they can become bored and invent their own “fun.” Schnauzers have a “high prey drive” (appropriate for a ratting dog), which means they may attack other small pets such as birds, snakes, and rodents. Many will also attack cats, but this may be curbed with training, or if the dog is raised with cats.