Pet Grooming Tips for the Miniature Schnauzer
The Miniature Schnauzer is a double-coated breed that has a wiry topcoat and a soft undercoat. The topcoat is maintained by hand stripping or rolling the coat and is required for the show ring. The pet trim calls for the same outline but it is maintained using clippers. The wiry topcoat will disappear with clipping, but this is the easiest way to maintain a great looking Mini. The best hands-on resource for learning to groom your Miniature Schnauzer is from your breeder.
For more complete instructions and charts, including stripping patterns, please order the "Miniature Schnauzer Grooming Charts" from the online AMSC Store page.
sources for grooming equipment, and may be less expensive too. Along with your regular hair dryer, these are the basic tools you will need to get started. Click on the Tools photo to see a larger picture.
The most commonly used comb is the metal Greyhound brand/style. It comes with ½ finely spaced teeth and ½ Medium spaced teeth.
Slicker brushes have shorter metal pins that are bent at the ends. Smaller, lighter ones with soft pins are good for separating the hairs while brushing out the furnishings (beard, leg and chest hair). Millers Forge® Designer Series Soft Small Slicker is perfect for this job. Dogs may object to stiff, hard slicker brushes.
There are two types of nail clippers: a "guillotine" style or a scissors type. You can also use a Dremel to grind down the nails, and some dogs may tolerate that a bit better. Styptic powder for nails is a good thing to have on hand in case the nail quick is nicked.
A sharp pair of scissors is essential. Look for "better" quality either from dog show vendors or from the online pet supply companies. The cheap brands will not keep a sharp edge, but ultra-expensive scissors are not necessary either.
Oster and Andis are the two most commonly used brands. These have detachable blades and are available corded or cordless. You'll need a #10 blade for the body, a #30 or #40 blade for ears, and maybe a #7F (full tooth) for thinner coated dogs or for keeping more coat on in colder weather. The higher the number, the closer the cut.
A grooming table, arm, and noose are invaluable grooming aids to keep the dog steady and in one place while being groomed. You can make one or purchase from a vendor, but you need a sturdy, non-skid top, and the height of the table to be comfortable for the groomer. In a pinch, you can use a non-skid tub mat on the top of your washer or dryer, with a second person holding the puppy's head until he learns to stand still while being groomed. This requires patience and time, but teaching your dog to stand/stay still while being groomed is invaluable, whether you do it yourself or take your dog to a professional.
Please refer to the Grooming Charts below.
Click on any Chart photo to see a larger picture.
Prior to bathing and clipping, brush to make sure there are no knots or mats, especially in the beard, legs, and underbelly. Brush upward (against the natural lay of the hair) starting at the top of the leg and continuing downward. Then comb through the furnishing to make sure all the knots are out. Don't forget the underarms and in between the toes where knots may be found. Brush the furnishings and beard at least weekly to keep mats from forming. If a mat or a knot is found, place your free hand between the mat and the skin prior to combing to minimize pulling hair or skin.
Your Miniature Schnauzer may be bathed as often as necessary – once a week or once a month. The beard may need to be washed more frequently. Using a spray in a sink or tub works better than trying to dunk the dog into deep water. The water should be lukewarm, and a good-quality cleanser shampoo will be fine. Tearless shampoo may be used around the face. Rinse thoroughly. You may condition leg furnishings if you like, but not body hair. This is a good time to brush teeth!
Towel dry the dog, then blow dry and brush using medium heat. Brush the beard and eyebrows forward and downward. As you blow dry, brush the leg hair up, starting at the top of the leg and working your way down. Comb through to make sure there are no mats. The secret to fluffy leg furnishings is to make sure that all the furnishings are blown out straight and are completely dried.
Most dogs are clippered with the #10 blade, going with the grain of the hair. For thinner-coated dogs, or in the winter, you can use a 7F size blade. Hold the clipper with the blade against the skin, making smooth strokes, holding the skin a little taut. Use the Pet Grooming Guide as a reference. Place the blade on your wrist periodically to see if it is getting too hot. Use clipper spray to keep the blades clean and cool. Start by clippering with the grain from the base of the skull down the neck, and on down the back and along the sides of the body, stopping at the elbow. Blend the sides into the underbody furnishings as you clip the sides in a downward manner. Define your line which should go down to the stifle /bend of the hind leg and then curve back toward the top of the Achilles tendon or heel.
The front is clipped down to the start of the front leg. Clip against the grain with the #10 blade under the throat, on the cheeks, and on the head to the start of the eyebrows. Then lift the dog up off its front feet holding both front feet with one hand and clipper the belly with the #10 blade, being very careful around the genital area. Use a #30 or #40 blade on the pads and the ears, going with the grain on the outside of the ear and against the grain on the inside. (Caution – be very careful around the ears - you might snag/cut the edge of the ear with the clipper blade.) Use tweezers or hemostats to pull the hair out from the inside of the ears to allow the ear to breathe and to prevent ear infections. To eliminate irritation, pull just a few hairs at a time.
Legs & Feet & Underbelly
Remove hair from between the pads of the feet by either scissoring or clippering using a #30 or #40 blade.
Comb the hair on the front leg so it stands straight out. With scissors pointing straight down, carefully trim in a circular manner to achieve the desired column effect. Keep fluffing up with the comb or brush, and scissoring until you get the desired length.
Carefully trim the hair on the front of the rear leg so that it follows the contour of the leg.
Inside the rear legs, comb the hair out and trim down making an "A" shape with the hair at the top of the A being longer than the base of the foot.
The underbelly line should be trimmed so that it gently tapers upwards toward the back legs.
Scissoring the Head
Trim the head of the Miniature Schnauzer to appear rectangular in shape. Hold the dog's head straight and then comb the eyebrows forward. Place the scissors against the side of the head, just behind the outside corner of the eye. Point the blade tips toward the center of the nose. Make one smooth, straight cut. Cut a V shape in between the eyebrows to the inside corner of the eye where the skull joins the nose. To trim the beard, start by combing it forward and trim a line from the widest part of the skull. This will help to achieve the correct rectangular appearance. Don't cut away the top part of the beard or under the eyes or a hollowed-out, owl-like expression will result.
Brushing your dog's teeth on a regular basis will help prevent tartar build up and bad breath. There are also dental chews and sprays available. If tartar gathers, a professional cleaning by your vet should be in order. Dirty, tarter covered teeth not only smell bad, they spread bacteria that affect your dog's entire health.
If your dog needs its anal glands "expressed", have your vet show you how. Most Schnauzers don't need this, but if your dog ever 'scoots' or leaves an unpleasant smell after sitting, he should have this done during his bath.