GROOMING THE SCHNAUZER*
by Karen J. Brittan
(reprinted with permission)
Andis or Oster A-5 Clippers: Oster and Andis both make excellent clippers. Look for something with a bit higher strokes per minute, but not too high, as those can "burn" the dog's skin easily in the shorter areas, like around the throat and on the butt. Oster tends to have lower SPM, while Laube has higher SPM, than the others. I usually refer people to Andis as they tend to be quieter and are generally in the mid-range of SPM. Look for clippers that have detachable blades that are interchangeable with most brands.
lg. Universal Slicker Brush
Flat Slicker Brush (Doggyman)
ear powder and cleaner
hemostats or hair pullers (scissor-type tweezers work well)
Kwik Stop Styptic Powder
Combination Combs, lg./sm. (Greyhound or Resco 200, depending on thickness of furnishings)
A schnauzer should be bathed as often as necessary with any good dog shampoo. It is a good idea to wash the dog's beard and leg furnishings at least once a week to keep them clean and mat-free. A schnauzer usually smells if the beard or teeth are dirty. The beard may be washed more frequently, if necessary. Water should never be put in a dog's ears, and care should be taken to insure that shampoo is kept out of the eyes. The inside corner of the eyes should be cleaned daily with a tissue, as any matter accumulating there can give off an offensive odor and irritate the skin around the tear ducts. Tepid water should be used while shampooing, and care should be taken that the dog is well-rinsed. It is the traces of soap left behind that can cause dry skin and flaky dandruff. A shampoo with bluing in it will help keep white furnishings looking brighter. Always brush the dog thoroughly with a Universal slicker brush before bathing to remove any tangles, and when drying afterwards, use a pin brush to brush the hair upwards to help give the leg hair some body. A flat slicker brush can be used for this, also, but the pin brush will pull out less hair. A bit of hair gel or mousse can be put into the furnishings before drying to help give additional body if scissoring is planned. Once the dog is dry, the flat slicker should be used to separate all the individual hairs by brushing the hair upwards.
Furnishings should be combed every day or two to prevent the hair from snarling. First brush upwards through all the longer hair with the Universal slicker brush, and then check all work by combing up the furnishings on the legs about an inch at a time, being sure that all snarls and mats have been removed. A small, close-toothed comb is useful for getting out any snarls between the toes. While lifting each front leg, the armpits and belly hair should be thoroughly brushed and then combed, and the head should be combed from the eyebrows down through the beard at the upper part of the face and then forward from under the chin. A schnauzer should always be thoroughly combed out both before and after his bath to prevent any snarls from becoming mats.
The body of a schnauzer is clipped using a #10 blade. (A #7 blade should be used if the coat is extremely hard or if the coat is especially thin, or a #10 blade against the hair growth could be used if the coat is very soft and curly and you want it to lie flatter. A #15 blade is also good for making the coat a bit shorter.) Lay the blade flat on the dog's skin while applying firm pressure and holding the skin taut with your other hand. If the clipper is raised/tilted so that the blade is made to go closer to the skin, it will cut shorter. And, of course, if it is tilted so that the cutting edge is higher in the air, the cut will be longer. Strive to keep the blade flat on the dog's body. Begin clipping with the hair growth at the base of the skull at the top of the neck and clip back to the tail. Go down the sides of the rib cage to about even with the elbows and continue in a straight but rising diagonal to where the loin meets the rear leg, making sure to leave some hair fringe at the base of the loin so as not to make the dog appear to have a tuck-up.
Place one hand at the front of the rear leg and gently fold the leg fringe toward the inner thigh. The remaining hair on the outer thigh is then clipped off in a downward fashion following a straight line down to the stifle and then curving rearward to about two fingers above the hock or the top of the Achilles tendon. The tail is clipped with the hair growth, and the butterfly, the area under the tail, is clipped closely against the direction of hair growth with a #10 blade, or in the same direction of growth with a #15 blade. Using a blade that clips shorter than a #10 or #15 can cause irritation in some dogs, so I don't recommend it. Raising a rear leg, clean the scrotum or vulva area making sure not to come down onto the leg area more than 1" to 1.5". The neck is clipped in a downward fashion to approximately two fingers above the elbow, being careful not to go into the natural dip just above the leg. The front is clipped from the throat downward to about 1-2" below the prosternum, being careful to clip in the direction of hair growth if there are cowlicks below the prosternum. (Draw a line from where the clipper line ends above one elbow all the way across the front to meet the line above the opposite elbow.) Thinning shears may be used to blend the clipped area with the longer hair. **The dog should NOT have a bib in the front.**
Holding the front legs up, allow the dog to place all of his weight on his hind legs. Using a #10 or #15 blade, clip an oval area on the groin from the navel to the vulva or scrotum. Clip to the sides, leaving fringe at the loin area and not extending onto inner thighs. With the dog again standing on four legs, raise one front leg, and scissor chest hair in a rising diagonal from just below the elbow to a point where the loin and rear leg fringe meet. Repeat on the other side. (If the dog is somewhat leggy, the belly hair should be left longer to make the dog appear more balanced, or conversely, take the belly hair shorter if the dog needs the appearance of more leg length. This line should begin about halfway between the floor and the dog's withers or back.) Now bend your knees and look under the dog. Are both sides even?
HEAD: The head is clipped with a #10 blade against the hair growth, beginning at the back of the skull and going forward to the brow bone above the eyes.Placing a thumb at the front base of the ear and holding the ear back out of the way, clip downward one clipper width between the ear and the eyebrow. The cheeks are clipped forward from the base of the ear to about 1/4"-1/2" from the corner of the eye, along the cheek to a point midway between the cheek mole and the corner of the mouth, and then up the throat to near the mole under the chin. Make sure that when the dog's head is raised, the base of the beard is even all the way around the head.
A "diamond" is scissored up the stop between the eyes about a half inch wide (the width of a 5/8 blade), coming down to the corner of the eyes, with the bottom point extending about one finger width below the eyes. The hair on the top of the muzzle is parted but NEVER SHAVED! The eye-brows are combed forward and cut at a sharp angle, the innermost hair being the longest (approximately one-half the length of the muzzle) to the outside corner of the eye (triangular). The eyelashes are removed and an arch is carefully scissored under the eyebrow so that the dog's vision will not be obstructed by "fuzzies". The top of the eyebrow is then blended into the top skull using thinning shears. If the eyebrows refuse to lie flat and straight, carefully cut out any hard hairs in the eyebrows that may be causing parts or unruly hair.
Face whiskers are trimmed at a slant for about a 1/2" from the outside corner of the eye down into the beard. Be careful that this is a straight line, as the head should appear rectangular when viewed from the top. This transition line should not be cut under the eyes at all! Thinning shears may be used carefully under the dark overlay of the beard if there is excessive bulk to the beard. No other trimming of the beard should be done.
Be very careful when clippering the ears, as improper technique or carelessness can result in cutting the dog, with bleeding that can be controlled only with styptic powder and pressure. An ear should be clipped against the grain while holding it taut and supporting it from underneath. (Once proficient with the clippers, #30 or #40 blades can be used on the ears of salt-and-peppers; these will show too much skin on black ears.) Be especially careful with the indentation at the lower inside edge of the ear as the dog can control this to a certain degree, and it is a very easy spot for the clipper blade to catch on the edge of the ear. (An uncropped ear will also have a double flap of skin at the lower outside edge of the ear.) If the ear is kept taut, there is less likelihood of injury. Always clip outward toward the ear edges. The ear edges should be cleanly scissored, and the hair well-pulled from the inner circle and canal of the ear. Ear powder puffed into the ear hair will facilitate its pulling. To clean a dirty, waxy ear, use an ear cleaner, following the directions on the product.
All hair is trimmed out from between the large 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. Just take off little slivers 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 appearing in the center of the nail as you cut. Kwik Stop should be ready in case it is needed for a bleeding nail. Nails should be trimmed once a week; if the nails click as the dog walks, they are too long.
The dog's legs should be washed and blown dry before scissoring. A cream rinse (#1 All Systems Botanical Conditioner) or coat dressing (BioGroom Anti-Stat Spray) will help take out the static electricity, and a bit of hair gel or mousse can be put in to add body prior to scissoring. (ThermaSilk products will not flake in black coats.) Blow dry while brushing upward with a slicker brush or pin brush, and then comb through all furnishings to be sure there are no mats. The hair is combed out with a slight fluffing motion to insure that the hair stands straight out from the leg. Trim a circle around the base of the foot beginning as close as possible to the front nails. In the front, scissor from the elbows down to the circle, sculpturing the hair to resemble "barberpoles". Hair at the sides of the elbows should be kept fairly short and the hair will increase somewhat in length as you go down the leg. Keep thinking "circular" as the leg is trimmed, although the line coming down the sides from the shoulder blade to the base of the foot should be a straight line. The front legs should look like straight columns of support.
Rear legs are basically the same, but emphasis is placed on showing angulation and on trimming the rear arch to give the appearance of a wide-moving rear. Thinning shears are used to blend the outer thigh with the leg fringe so that the outside of the rear leg looks like a continuous straight line coming down off the thigh and on down to the foot.
If it is too difficult for you to keep your dog combed out, or it is getting too old to groom safely, please be kind to your dog and shave everything down. (Please do leave eyebrows though.) Your dog will be much happier for it!
ONE LAST POINT TO REMEMBER: The only difference in the grooming of a "show dog" and the "beloved family pet" is the treatment of the body coat (hand-stripped versus clippered) and the amount of time spent achieving the finished product. The final look should be identical.