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How to Groom a Schnauzer

Although there are three different types of Schnauzer, Miniature, Standard and Giant, fundamentally their coat and grooming requirements are exactly the same. Grooming a Schnauzer for show is quite a lengthy, intricate and therefore expensive process, which is why many pet owners opt for clipping instead of stripping when it comes to having their beloved Schnauzer pets groomed. In order to correctly groom a Schnauzer, it’s important to have a clear understanding of its coat and the best ways to look after it between cuts, to keep it looking healthy and at its best. 

What is a Schnauzer’s coat like?

A Schnauzer is a double-coated breed, so its fur consists of both an undercoat and a top coat. Hypoallergenic and moulting less frequently than other breeds, they need special care and attention in order to keep their coat in a perfect condition,  requiring regular grooming to prevent it from matting. The tough and wiry textured top layer of a Schnauzer’s coat acts like a protective barrier to shield it from the elements, whereas its inner coat is softer and more cotton-like. 

How should I brush my Schnauzer’s coat?

A Because of their double coat, a Schnauzer’s fur is prone to knotting, so it should be brushed regularly with a soft-bristled or a slicker brush and a medium-toothed comb on the legs and face. Between the ages of a year and fifteen months, a Schnauzer will begin to develop its adult coat; therefore it is advisable to brush them every day during this period to prevent their puppy hair from tangling up and matting with their newly grown adult hair. After fifteen months, it is still advisable to brush and comb their coat every other day. 

Should I shave my Schnauzer?

A Schnauzer’s wire top coat should be trimmed, clipped or stripped rather than shaved if you want it to retain its texture. Shaving breeds with a wired coat can cause the hair to grow back much softer and take on a cotton-like appearance. If you love your Schnauzer’s coarse top coat and want to keep it true to the breed, shaving should be avoided at all costs.

How often should I bathe my Schnauzer?

As a general rule, this breed should be bathed once a month if necessary using a dog friendly or breed-specific shampoo. As with all breeds, try to avoid over-bathing your dog, as this can strip the coat of its oils and cause the skin to dry out. Where possible, dry both layers of the coat with a hairdryer rather than air drying to remove moisture.

What are the main features of a Schnauzer cut?

A Schnauzer is a breed that is known for its distinctive, characteristic features and much of this is a result of the breed’s iconic cut. The top coat should be wiry and harsh and kept just short enough to appear smooth on the body. At the neck and shoulders, the coat should be slightly shorter, to create a perfectly seamless blend into the body coat. There should be longer hair on the legs, yet the throat, ears, head and tail should be kept clean-looking.  Under the belly, there should be a good, clear undercoat, usually coloured salt and pepper, black or black and silver, depending on the breed variation.

How do you groom a Schnauzer?

The traditional way to groom a Schnauzer is to strip, roll and trim the coat. A technique used more frequently for show dogs; some are rolled every week to keep their coats at their fullest. Rolling is a process where a dog’s long, dead hairs are removed by a finger and thumb so that their new coat growth is continuous. A stripping knife can work just as effectively as rolling the coat and is also a great way to keep your Schnauzer’s undercoat in check. If you prefer your dog’s hair to be stripped or rolled, it’s advisable to seek professional help and advice before attempting this yourself. For pet dogs, the classic Schnauzer cut can be created using clippers rather than a stripping blade for a more purse-friendly, less time-consuming process that still achieves the iconic, chic and elegant Schnauzer look.

Grooming a Schnauzer step-by-step:

  • Start at the head and using a stripping blade, strip the hair down on the skull, neck and over the shoulder heading towards where the front legs join the body.
  • Next, work along the back and down the body, blending the coat into a line from the groin to the hock.
  • Follow your underline through and down the dog’s rump, stopping level with the indentation at the hock and the tail.
  • The tail can also be knife-stripped or trimmed or clipped, with the underside being trimmed short.
  • Ears can either be clipped or thinned with thinning scissors and then trimmed at the edges with straight scissors for tidy lines.
  • Clip the cheeks, under the throat and down through the chest. The belly and insides of the groin will also be clipped, leaving the hair longer under the ribcage, which will be tapered with scissors to create a short fringe.
  • Once clipped and the coat begins to resemble the classic Schnauzer cut, spray with a fine layer of conditioner or detangle spray, concentrating on any tangled areas, then comb through.
  • Bathe your Schnauzer in a Schnauzer-friendly or a gentle dog shampoo, then towel dry before finishing off with a blower.
  • Finally, trim under the body with scissors, working upwards to enhance the contours.

Tidying up the body for the finished look:

  • The face should be trimmed, shaped and tidied with scissors (see the next step).

  • Trim the hair on the chest and between the legs to create a flat and smooth finished look.

  • Scissor the front legs for a neat and tidy finish. Groom so that more hair is taken from the outer elbow than the inner elbow, as this will create the illusion of the legs being closer together, rather than sticking out.

  • Scissor the feet to create a round, tidy finish.

  • Trim the back legs and blend the longer hair into the shorter body coat.

How do you groom a Schnauzer’s face?

To create that beautiful Schnauzer expression, a Schnauzer’s face needs to be clipped and trimmed perfectly with enough hair left on the eyebrows and beard. Whether using scissors or clippers, follow these steps to perfect those stunning features:

  1. Start by combing the eyebrows and beard forward, then scissor diagonally from the bridge of the nose towards the outside corner of the eye, being mindful to keep the point of the scissors out of harm’s way.

  2. Once both eyebrows are formed, cut an inverted V shape between the eyes, removing the unnecessary hair just adobe the nose to make the eyebrows more distinctive and prominent. 

  3. Next, tidy up the ears, scissoring them close to the edge of the ear to create a rectangular shape.

  4. For the beard, lift up a thumbs width of hair and clip away the hair underneath leaving enough rough hair for your Schnauzer to retain its characteristic bearded look.

  5. For the nose hair, it is best to leave this area to grow downwards adding to the fullness of the beard. If you were to clip this hair, it would grow back spikey and rough. 

  6. Trim the chin with scissors to tidy up the look.