Distinct, high-pitched barking could be heard in the parking lot. Excited exhibitors and spirited Schnauzers with whiskered noses, bushy eyebrows and wiry coats were making their way to the Purina Event Center in Gray Summit, Mo., for an unprecedented event. On this warm, breezy day in May, three Schnauzer National Specialties would take place simultaneously under one roof.

Planning for Schnauzapalooza began in late 2008. Breed club officials representing the Standard Schnauzer Club of America (SSCA), Giant Schnauzer Club of America (GSCA) and the American Miniature Schnauzer Club (AMSC) decided to combine their specialties in hopes of drawing larger entries and a bigger crowd.

“We came up with the name ‘Schnauzapalooza’ because we wanted this to be a celebration of everything Schnauzer,” explains SSCA show chair Arden Holst of Agoura Hills, Calif.

“Our excitement for Schnauzapalooza has been building for the past two years,” says Miniature Schnauzer breeder-owner-handler Kate McMillan of Delisle, Saskatchewan, Canada. “Having the Standards and Giants here remind us Miniature exhibitors of where our origin lies.”

The oldest of the German breeds is the Standard Schnauzer, which was the prototype for the other two breeds. The Standard and Giant, originally bred to drive livestock, are members of the Working Group. The Miniature, which was bred as a general purpose farm dog specializing in vermin control, hails from the Terrier Group. The three breeds have a characteristicly bristly mustached muzzle and feisty temperament. Their size distinguishes them. The Giant Schnauzer is 25 inches tall, the Standard is up to 20 inches tall, and the Miniature is no more than 14 inches tall.

In The Great Hall of the Event Center, professional handler Leonardo Garcini of Henryville, Ind., handles GCH Ramahill Absolutes I Am Legend of RW (“Legend”), a 5-year-old male, to win the GSCA National Specialty over 78 Giant Schnauzers.

“We just won the National!” exclaims Garcini, hugging members of Legend’s team. This includes breeders Peggy Wilkes of Burgettstown, Pa., and Debbie Dayton of Ashtabula, Ohio, and owners Marcia Adler of Delray Beach, Fla., and JoAnn and Luke Edmonds of Burgettstown, Pa.

In the next ring, GCH Mistic’s Longfellow Serenade outperforms 197 Standard Schnauzers to capture Best in Show at the SSCA National Specialty. Handled by Shawne Imler of Baltimore, “Schweitzer” was bred by Carol Filer of Indiana, Pa., and is co-owned by Sally Marsh and Al DeRenzio, both of Baltimore.

“I was looking for a robust dog with a proper, stocky build,” says Dr. Klaus Anselm, of Keswick, Va., who judged the SSCA National Specialty. “Schweitzer was a nice choice because he had it all — style, substance, reach-and-drive movement, and a correct, wiry coat.”

Finally, CH Regency’s Playmaker, a 5-year-old male, outperforms 169 Miniature Schnauzers to win the AMSC National Specialty. “JR,” who is co-owned by breeder Beverly Verna of Tracy, Calif., and handler Sonny Wang Zeting of La Habra Heights, Calif., completes the Purina Pro Plan-fed Schnauzer sweep of the National Specialties.

Schnauzapalooza also features a Best Schnauzer competition, in which the winners from the respective National Specialties compete for top honors. This unique judging includes Best Schnauzer Bred-By Exhibitor in Show, Best Schnauzer Brace in Show, Best Schnauzer Junior Handler in Show, and Best Schnauzer in Show. Those deemed the “Best of the Best” receive large framed rosettes.

Imler jumps for joy when Schweitzer wins Best Schnauzer over 444 Miniature, Standard and Giant Schnauzers. The 3-year-old male wowed the crowd and judges with his muscular, athletic build, confidence and eager-to-please temperament.

“To win Schnauzapalooza is unbelievable. It’s the highlight of my career,” Imler says.

Throughout the five-day event, competitions in rally, obedience, agility and junior showmanship were held. The GSCA and SSCA also hosted herding trials. Among the milestones, the GSCA celebrated its 51st annual National Specialty anniversary, and the SSCA had the largest conformation entry in history, with 214 dogs competing.

“We were thrilled that all three Schnauzer clubs joined together for Schnauzapalooza,” says Purina Event Center Manager Kaite Flamm. “Spectators got to see all three breeds, and the club members were happy to be here. Their love for their dogs was apparent. This truly was a celebration as much as a competition.”

“The Purina Event Center and Purina Farms provided a wonderful venue and a convenient, central location,” says McMillan, who won Best Schnauzer Brace in Show and Best Schnauzer Bred-By Exhibitor in Show with Miniatures from her Minuteman kennel.

“The beautiful Purina Event Center was an excellent choice for Schnauzapoolza,” Holst agrees. “The wonderful service and hospitality enhanced our experience and made for a memorable event.”

To schedule an event at the Purina Event Center, contact Kaite Flamm, Purina Event Center Manager, at 314-982-5211 or by email at kaite.flamm@purina.nestle.com.