American Miniature Schnauzer
Pet Grooming Tips
(See copyright statement at end of article)
The Miniature Schnauzer is a double-coated breed that has a wiry topcoat and a soft undercoat. The topcoat is maintained by hand stripping and is required for the show ring. The pet trim calls for the same outline but it is maintained using electric clippers. The wiry topcoat will disappear with clippering, but this is the easiest and most efficient way to maintain a neat looking Mini. Here are some tips on how to groom your pet Mini.
For more complete instructions and charts including stripping patterns, Please order the "Miniature Schnauzer Grooming Charts” from the Publications page.
Here are some basic tools you will need before you get started. Not all of these will be available in your local pet supply store. Mail order catalogs that specialize in dog show or dog grooming equipment are usually the best source of grooming equipment. Click the image to see a larger view of tools (209kb).
Please refer to this grooming chart for the following section:
AMSC Grooming Chart - small (80kb file)
This chart should print well from your browser on 8½ x 11 paper, Landscape layout.
AMSC Grooming Chart - large (376kb file)
This chart is more accurate in detail, and will work well if you can edit image files for printing purposes.
When trimming the nails, be careful not to cut too short and cause bleeding. Using the nail clippers, cut little slivers until you see a dark circle appearing in the center of the nail. This is the edge of the quick or blood vessel in the nail bed. Some people use a grinding wheel by Dremel or Oster – a rough sandpaper barrel type attachment. Actually, they are exactly the same, just marketed by different names, one for the pet trade, the other as a home tool. The Dremel brand can be found in most any hardware store or department. The battery-operated model is the best for the job. The electric model is a higher speed than necessary for the Mini. It is designed for bigger dogs. Be cautious with the Dremel tool because the hair can be caught on the spinning tool shaft if you’re not careful.
Prior to bathing and clipping, the dog needs to be brushed out to make sure there are no knots in the furnishings. The knot will become larger with bathing so you should only bathe a matt-free dog. Brush the beard, legs and underskirt to make sure there are no knots using the Pin Brush. Brush upward (against the natural lay of the hair) starting at the top of the leg and proceed downward as you are brushing. Some people call this ‘Line Brushing’. This procedure will help ensure that the furnishings are brushed out in their entirety. You should follow up with brushing through with a comb to make sure that all the knots are out. And don’t forget the underarms and in between the toes. These are places where knots are commonly found. The more densely furnished dogs will require more brushing and maintaining than the sparsely furnished dogs. A slicker brush might be used also for those dogs with more hair. It is recommended to brush the furnishings and beard at least weekly to keep mats from forming. If a matt or a knot is found, place your free hand between the matt and the skin prior to combing. This helps to minimize the discomfort to the dog by reducing the pulling on the skin.
A Schnauzer should be bathed as often as necessary. It will depend on how dirty he gets. The temperature of the water should be warm and not too hot. Be careful not to get water and shampoo in the ears, eyes and mouth when bathing the dog. You can put cotton balls in the dogs ears to help prevent water from getting in the ear canal. To rinse the beard, point the sprayer away from the dogs head and direct the stream down the beard. When wetting the top of the head, lift the head up and direct the spray towards the back of the dog. To wet the belly, lift the dog up by the front legs and let him put his weight on the rear legs. Any good quality shampoo should work sufficiently. Dilute the shampoo with water according to the label. If diluting is not mentioned, it is still recommended to dilute at least 1 to 3. Give the dog a thorough rinsing after the shampoo is applied. Traces of shampoo left behind can cause dry and flaky skin. When applying the shampoo to the beard and furnishings, use a squeezing motion. Rubbing the shampoo into the legs can cause tangles.
When towel drying the legs and beard, don’t rub but squeeze out the excess water to help prevent tangling the furnishings. A trick used by many exhibitors is to stick the dryer through something tied around their waist. This allows you to have both hands free. Brush the beard and eyebrows down. Brush the legs up, starting with the pin brush and moving to the slicker brush when the leg is almost dry. Slicker brushes tend to rip out hair when used on a wet leg. The secret to fluffy and straight leg furnishings is to make sure that the leg furnishings are blown out straight and completely dry.
The blade used on the body depends on the coat texture and thickness. For thinner coated dogs, a 7F size blade should be used. For most dogs, the 10 blade is used with the grain of the hair. A 10 blade against the grain will give an even closer cut. For dogs that have thick coats or fluffy coats, this works best. Hold the clipper with the blade against the skin. Make smooth strokes and even hold the skin a little taught. This will help prevent skin irritation and clipper burn. Keep your clipper blades well oiled. This prevents them from getting too hot. Start by clipping down the back of the neck from the base of the skull. Go down the back and along the sides of the body being careful not to go too far down into the elbow. Stop about 2 fingers above the elbow. The sides of the body follow this line also. Blend into the underbody furnishings by using the blade turned the opposite way than normal. Clipper down the side of the rear legs while folding the leg furnishings in your other hand. This prevents cutting off the furnishings and helps you define your line. Then the front is clippered down to the start of the front leg, usually where the white bow tie is on a Salt and Pepper or Black and Silver dog. Clipper against the grain of the hair on the throat and side of the head. On the top of the head use the10 blade against the grain. Now change to the 30 blade and clipper the rear and the underside of the tail going against the grain. Then lift the dog up off its front feet holding both front feet with one hand and clipper the belly with the 30 blade being very careful around the genital area. A 40 blade is used on the ears, going with the grain on the outside and against the grain on the inside. Use tweezers and ear powder to pull the hair on the inside of the ears. Care should be taken to prevent irritation of the inside of the ear.
The hair is removed from the pads of the feet by either scissoring or clippering using a 40 blade. Comb the hair down at the base of the foot and trim a circle around the foot. Comb the hair on the front leg so it stands out. With scissors pointing straight down, carefully trim in a circular manner to achieve the desired column effect. Keep fluffing with the comb and scissoring until you get the desired length. Comb the chest hair out and with scissors pointed downward, trim it even with the chest. The underbelly should be trimmed so that it gently tapers upwards toward the back legs. For the rear legs, comb down the hair at the base of the foot and trim around the foot. Carefully trim the hair on the stifle to blend with the hock, following the contour of the leg. Blend the rear furnishings by extending the line of the underbelly and curve at the start of the rear leg into the furnishings. They should not be up high on the side like a Scottie or a Cocker is cut. Inside the rear legs, comb the hair out and trim down making the shape of an A or upside-down V with the hair at the top of the A being longer than the base of the foot. Then also comb out and trim with the scissors facing up at a slight angle to get a straight line.
The head of the Miniature Schnauzer should be trimmed to appear rectangular in shape. Hold the dog’s head straight and then comb the eyebrows forward. With the scissors held perpendicular to the grooming surface, trim the outer edge of the eyebrow in line with the widest part of the skull. Comb eyebrow forward again. Place the scissors against the side of the head, just behind the corner of the eye. Point the blade tips toward the center of the nose. Make one smooth, straight cut. Try not to chop. To keep the eyebrow hair in place while cutting, you can wet the eyebrow, use styling gel or hair spray. Using the scissors, cut a V shape in between the eyebrows 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. When scissoring the side of the beard, hold the scissors parallel to the side of the head and don’t point them in towards the beard. Don’t cut away the top part of the beard or mask and be careful not to cut any hair under the eyes or a hollowed out expression will result. Many groomers think it is correct to shave down the nose. This takes off the top layer of the beard, which results in a hollowed out owl-like expression.
Two areas best left to your groomer or veterinarian are ear cleaning and anal gland expression. For information on these subjects, see the following links:
Copyright Statement: This page of Pet Grooming Tips and the associated charts were prepared by members of the American Miniature Schnauzer Club (“AMSC”). They are the property of, and copyrighted by, the AMSC. The AMSC is making them available to owners and groomers of Miniature Schnauzers as a public service. You may print as many paper copies as you wish, and you may distribute paper copies to others, so long as (1) you do not charge for the copies, (2) you do not alter the page of Pet Grooming Tips or the associated charts in any way, and (3) you do not remove or alter this notice regarding the AMSC’s ownership and copyright, and the limited rights the AMSC is granting. You may NOT copy these Pet Grooming Tips or the associated charts to other web pages, but you may link to them from other web pages.
Last updated: April 14, 2004