Snyders was born and died at Antwerp. He is recorded as a student of Pieter Brueghel the Younger in 1593, and subsequently received instruction from Hendrick van Balen, the first master of Van Dyck. He was a friend of Van Dyck who painted Snyders and his wife more than once (Frick Collection, Kassel etc).
He became a master of the Antwerp painters guild in 1602. He visited Italy in 1608-9, visiting Rome, and working for Cardinal Borromeo in Milan. In 161he married Margaretha, the sister of Cornelis de Vos and Paul de Vos (another animal painter), in Antwerp. Jan Fyt was a student, and then assistant of his from 1629.
Snyders initially devoted himself to painting flowers, fruit and subjects of still life, but later turned to painting animals, and executed with the greatest skill and spirit hunting pieces and combats of wild animals. He was one of the earliest specialist animaliers.Snyders and his wife, by Van Dyck, Kassel
His composition is rich and varied, his drawing correct and vigorous, his touch bold and thoroughly expressive of the different textures of furs and skins. His excellence in this department excited the admiration of Rubens, who frequently employed him to paint animals, fruit and still life in his own pictures, and he assisted Jacob Jordaens, Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert and other artists in a similar manner.
He was appointed principal painter to the Archduke Albert of Austria, governor of the Low Countries, for whom he executed some of his finest works. One of these, a Stag-Hunt was presented to Philip III of Spain, who together with his successor Philip IV of Spain, commissioned the artist to paint several subjects of the chase, which are still preserved in Spain. He also worked for Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria, when he became Governor.
According to the RKD he had many followers; his registered pupils were Nicasius Bernaerts, Peter van Boucle, Joannes Fijt, Juriaen Jacobsze, Jan Roos (I), and Paul de Vos.