Grooming Your Miniature Schnauzer

By: Diane Ykelenstam

Shimmer logo

Note: It has recently (summer 2007) been brought to my attention by some very kind observers that there are other websites in existence with grooming pages that are, to one extent or another, very similar to ours. We are the first to admit that we in no way claim to own the rights to be able to have a grooming while we thank the very kind folks that brought it to our attention, we were aware of it and even though our pages are clearly copyrighted, we have no problem at all with others having similar grooming pages.

We did back in the beginning get some info from a second party who gave us permission to use that info. Apparently they had gotten some of their info from yet a third party page (with or without permisison I have no idea). So when it was brought to our attention recently that said third website had some close similarities to ours, some places yes it appeared to be word for word, we changed ours ASAP as in no way do we steal info and we surely do not wish to be associated IN ANY WAY with inferior condescending breeders with questionable motives or inferior sites such as them. And for the record, AT NO TIME EVER did these people try to contact us and let us know that they thought that we had anything similar to theirs or that they thought we had gotten it from their page, which in fact we did not. They are now very quick to jump in and laughably accuse us of pure garbage when they never had the decency to even ask us about it, much less ask us to change or remove anything. It is easier to lie and plaster it all over their website thinking it makes any difference to folks that know better. My thoughts are because they knew full well that we did not get it from there. And you will notice that I do not name names, as such people do not deserve such recognition that naming them would provide. It would take traffic to their site that they otherwise would not

So when we found out (again thanks to a kind observer as we never frequent that site) that this whiny third party is posting lies about us on their website, we felt the need to clarify such hypocrisy. We did write said people about the issue long ago and they never had the common courtesy to reply, in fact, they have done nothing but try unsuccessfully to cause trouble for us since. Jealousy speaks volumes, oh the laughable stories we could

As long as the wording is not 100% exact and as long as they use their own pictures, it is perfectly fine with us if others have similar websites, as it should be. *WE* are not trying to rule the I have better things to do with my time such as raising the best possible Miniature Schnauzers that I can, and they have proved their excellent quality and worth beyond any words :-) There are only so many ways to groom a schnauzer and only so many ways to describe it, so yes there are similar pages out there. As long as the general public has access to information to enable them to be able to groom their schnauzers themselves if they wish, that is all that matters to us, so they can save the expense and have the joy of more time spent with their babies :-)



First you will need a pair of electric dog clippers. Andis and Oster are good brands, which come with a standard #10 blade which can be used to do the entire dog, or you can also use the #15 blade for shorter cutting in certain areas if desired. I have also used the less expensive Andis clippers that have an adjustable blade length on the one clipper and they do a good job also. You may also use a pair of mini clippers (various brand names) and/or short blunt nose scissors for detail work between the eyes and between foot pads. You will also need a slicker brush, pin brush, a dog comb, a pair of shears and also a pair of thinning shears. You need a good dog shampoo which you can get at any good pet store, and detangling spray may also be helpful for small mats. A skin conditioning spray is also beneficial. You may need hemostats for pulling ear hair out of the ear canal if it gets too thick and out of control. You can get a good all around ear cleaner from your vet to keep the ear canals healthy. You will need a pair of nail clippers; we prefer the scissors type for better control, and also some styptic powder in case you nick any nails to stop the bleeding. And last but not least, you will need a doggy toothbrush and doggy toothpaste. The human kind will just irritate your dog's mouth and make him salivate profusely! You also may use a descaler for plaque buildup.

Picture of grooming supplies 1

Grooming supplies 1:

1) Clippers (#10 blade)
2) Clippers (adjustable blade)
3) Mini clippers
4) Clipper oil
5) Clipper cleaning brush
6) Fine tooth face comb
7) Flea comb
8) Steel comb
9) Shears
10) Thinning shears
11) Slicker brush
12) Rubber Zoom Groom
13) Pin brush

Picture of grooming supplies 2

Grooming supplies 2:

1) Dog shampoo
2) Detangling spray
3) Skin conditioner
4) Tooth descaler
5) Doggie toothbrush and toothpaste
6) Styptic powder
7) Nail file
8) Nail clippers
9) Hemostats

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Your dog's teeth should be brushed every day to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Using toothpaste made specifically for dogs, put some on a dog toothbrush. We prefer the kind that goes over your finger so that you insert your finger with the *brush* into the dog's mouth and gently massage your dog's teeth and gums. Use a gentle circular motion. Do just a little at first to get your dog used to it, and slowly work your way up to doing the entire mouth. Just a few minutes each day can save you many *dental* dollars in the future!! Despite our best efforts brushing teeth, sometimes you will still see plaque buildup. If your dog is cooperative you can use a descaler to remove this. It is best to get your vet to show you the proper technique.

Picture of brushing teeth
Brushing Moxie's teeth

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Your miniature schnauzer's beard and leg furnishings should be combed at least a couple of times weekly to prevent the hair from matting. I start with the front legs, beginning at the top and working my way down the leg, brushing the leg hair upwards with a soft slicker brush or pin brush, and then double check for mats by repeating the pattern of brushing, but this time using a comb to be sure you did not miss any small mats. You can use detangling spray if needed to make the job easier. Then I use the same procedure for the back legs, and then check the *armpits* and belly and make sure there are no mats. The eyebrows should be combed down towards the nose, and then the beard should be combed forwards and down from under the chin. I like to use what is called a Zoom Groom, a rubber hand held massager/brush on the shorter back coat to keep it neat and tidy and to stimulate the skin. Your mini schnauzer should always be thoroughly combed out both before and after his bath to prevent any matting. Use of a flea comb will help detect fleas or flea dirt.

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My first rule of thumb is never clip against the grain of the hair, as you can cause severe razor burn, which can lead to infections which can be very difficult to clear up. Remember to oil your clipper blades often while you groom. Use a clipper brush to keep your clipper blade free of excess hair while you groom. If you have the clippers with the adjustable blade, I would use the shorter length to clip the head and ears. You can still use the #10, or if you prefer a #15 blade can be used for a closer cut.

(head and eyebrow pictures are of "Remi")

Beginning above the eyebrows and going to the back of the skull between the ears, clip all hair above the eyebrows.

Picture of trimming head 1

Holding the ear pulled back as shown in the picture, clip sideways/downward once between the ear and the eyebrow.

Picture of trimming head 2

Holding the ear safely out of the way, clip from the corner of the eye, along the cheek to the base of the ear.

Picture of trimming head 3

Using your hand to pull all beard hair forward, clip the cheek from the beard hair to the side of the neck under the ear.

Picture of trimming head 4

Then clip from the under side of the beard down the throat. Make sure to check that when the dog's head is raised, the edge of the beard is even all the way around the muzzle.

Picture of trimming head 5

A "triangle" is trimmed using scissors or clipped with mini clippers between the eyes about a half inch wide, coming down to the inside corner of each eye. Any odd flyaway hair or eye lashes under the eyebrow should be tidied up as well. This should be done with short blunt nosed scissors.

Picture of trimming head 6 Picture of trimming head 7

The hair on the top of the muzzle can be parted and combed downwards, and even though it is technically not supposed to be shaved, some owners prefer that a narrow strip be shaved up the top of the muzzle, from behind the nose up to the stop, and if this is preferred for your pet for ease of grooming, that is fine. The eyebrows are combed down towards the nose and cut at a sharp angle towards the outside corner of each eye as shown in the pictures, the innermost hair being the longest.

Picture of combing eyebrows Picture of scissoring eyebrows

The length of the longest part of the eyebrows should be cut to approximately one-half the length of the muzzle. Any loose hairs around the outer eye can be trimmed with scissors.

Picture of trimming eyebrow hair Picture of trimming eye hair

Usually the beard is not trimmed, but if is too thick, bulky or hard to manage, it can be thinned out with thinning shears and any straggly hairs can be cut off.

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Be very careful when clipping ears, as inexperience can result in nicking, causing unnecessary pain and bleeding. I am talking about uncropped ears as none of my dogs are cropped. An ear should be clipped with the direction of hair growth while holding the ear firmly , with the ear flap laying flat on your fingers (palm side). Pay special attention not to nick the flaps of skin at the bottom of the ear as it is very easy for the blade to cut the edge of the ear. Always clip from the center of the ear outward toward the ear edges. The ear edges should have loose hairs scissored, and if your dog's ear canals are thick with hair then you may have to pull some using the hemostats. If your dog's ears are not overly hairy in the ear canal then there is no need to upset the dog and yourself by needlessly pulling the hair out; in my vet's words....."if it ain't broke don't fix it"!! If the inner ear flaps or canals appear dirty, use an ear cleaner from your vet or if you wish you can mix a solution of half and half cider vinegar and water for an effective ear cleaner.

Picture of trimming inside of ear Picture of trimming outside of ear
Clipping inside of Remi's ear.

Clipping outside of Remi's ear.

Picture of scissoring ear Picture of pulling ear hair
Scissoring Remi's ear.
Pulling hair from Phoenix's ear
canal with hemostats.

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Using the #10 blade or the longer length if your blade is adjustable, clip with the hair growth, starting where the back of the skull meets the top of the neck, and clip the entire back all the way back to the tail. The neck and chest is clipped downwards from the chin under the beard to a point approximately level with the elbows. Be careful to clip in the direction of hair growth where there are cowlicks on the chest. You can use thinning shears to make the longer hair blend more smoothly with the shorter hair so as not to leave an obvious line if you wish. You can leave a little longer fringe on the chest between the elbows if desired but you should not leave too much length, just as there should not be a VERY long skirt around the body, but a slightly longer belly fringe around the body right back to the hind legs does add a very nice finished look. Going from elbow to rear leg, clip from the top to the bottom of the rib cage until you are about level with the elbows. While holding the leg furnishings safely away from the clippers, clip the remaining hair on the outer thigh downwards, following the outline of the leg down to the stifle and then curving rearward well above the hock.

(Remi, who is pictured below, has two week old babies, and therefore all her belly hair and fringe have been trimmed for ease of nursing.)

Grooming chart diagram

A) Elbow
B) Loin
C) Stifle
D) Hock

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Next you can clip the entire tail if you choose. For those lucky dogs who have beautiful natural tails, be careful not to catch the tip in the clipper blade, always go in the direction of the hair growth. Some people clip the top side of the tail and leave a bit of feathery fringe on the bottom, again that is personal preference and what you want your pet's tail to look like!

Picture of ungroomed tail Picture of grooming tail
Motion's ungroomed tail.

Clipping Motion's tail.

Picture of grooming tip of tail Picture of groomed tail
Clipping Motion's tail tip.

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Then facing the dog's rear, start at the outer edges and clip inwards to the center line under the tail, doing both sides this way, as shown in the picture below. Belly hair can be clipped from the genitals up to about the navel as well as part of the hair on the inner legs to keep things tidy. Keep in mind, there is no right or wrong way to do it, you simply wish to keep the dog neat and tidy and free of mats, while having the general outline of a schnauzer. Perfection is not necessary for a clean proper outline for your pet :-)

Picture of clipping bum area
Clipping Remi's bummy.

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After the bath, you can blow dry the legs before trimming if you wish it to be fluffier. Have your dryer on a cool or warm setting, never hot and monitor the feel of the temperature on your own skin regularly to ensure that it is not too hot for your dog. Blow dry while brushing the hair upwards with a brush, and then once it is all dry, comb out all the leg hair to remove any small mats you may have missed. Having said that, I usually just comb out mats, fluff up the hair and trim it without washing first. I have multiple schnauzers to do so I do not bother bathing and blow drying them all beforehand unless I am looking for a very *finished* look such as for photo sessions or for a show coat. I guess it just depends on how much time you have and how much of a finished look you are after.

Trim around the edge of the front feet to form a circle, sort of like a cat's paw, trimming as close as possible to the front nails. On the front legs, use scissors to trim from the elbows down to the feet, trying to shape the leg hair so that the end result of the leg is cylinder shape, to look like poles. Hair length beside the elbows should be kept shorter so it does not look bulky from the front, and the hair should gradually get longer as you trim down the leg. Rear legs are basically the same from the hock down, and the leg fringe can be trimmed to follow the body outline while accentuating nice curve of stifle. Use thinning shears to help blend the two lengths of hair where they meet on the leg so it is not such a bulky obvious line.

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Trim all hair from between the large foot pad and the toe pads of the bottom of the foot by either clipping or scissoring, and the nails are trimmed as short as possible by lifting each foot up and cutting the nails from the underside.

To clip the nails just take off little snips at a time until you are sure how far you can safely go. Usually you will be okay if you stop when you see a little dark circle (the beginning of the quick) appearing in the center of the nail as you cut. Also if you look at the front of the underside of each nail, there is an open hollowed out area (marked X on the diagram). Usually the quick does not grow beyond the beginning of this area and it is usually safe to cut as shown on the diagram. Styptic powder should be ready in case you nick the quick and it starts to bleed. Nails should be trimmed every two weeks at least, preferably once a week; if the nails click as the dog walks, they are probably too long.

Diagram of nail

      Clipping Kamara's nails
Picture of before clippng nail Picture of while clipping nail Picture of after clipping nail

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Your mini schnauzer should be bathed only as often as required. I often bathe my dogs with water only, such as if they get into some mud/dirt, because if you shampoo too often you will not only change the balance of the skin and dry out the coat, you can cause some very serious skin issues. I usually only do a full bath a few times a year on my pets, show dogs are done only as required to remove any grooming products that may have been used so there is no build-up in the coat. There are many good dog shampoos on the market, but we prefer to use ones that are as natural as possible and preferably not tested on animals. You should be careful to never get water in a dog's ears as it could cause ear infections, and be careful to keep shampoo out of your dog's eyes. Always use lukewarm water when bathing, and be sure that you rinse, rinse and rinse again so that all shampoo is out of the coat, as that little bit of sudsy residue that you miss can cause dry flaky skin. Shampoo made for people can upset the PH balance of your dog's skin and should never be used. If needed you can wash the beard and leg furnishings a little more often than the whole body, to tidy things up and keep them clean. You should check for and clean any *eye boogies* with a warm damp cloth or tissue. (eye boogies - a favourite word at our

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If you feel it is too much work or too time consuming to properly comb and brush out your dog regularly, it would be easier on you and your dog if you keep the entire dog including the furnishings shaved short. You may also use a comb attachment with your blade (if you have one) to shorten the leg furnishings while leaving a little length. However short you clip your dog, it is still easy to keep the eyebrows looking nice if you decide to shave everything else. When grooming is complete, a skin conditioner sprayed lightly all over will keep your dog's skin healthy and smelling fresh. Keep in mind that these grooming tips are for pet miniature schnauzers, and are for the ease and comfort of both owner and dog. Show grooming is another entity entirely, and if that is what you are after, then you should talk to an experienced handler or breeder to guide you in hand stripping methods.

The most important thing to remember: have fun and enjoy your miniature schnauzer!!!!!!!

Picture of Remi groomed
Remi all groomed before bath time


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