The Schnauzer ‘look’

A guide to grooming

(content credited to Klabauter Standard Schnauzers,

The Standard Schnauzer can be quite straightforward to groom with clippers once every so often, or you can go about it in a much more involved way and make him your personal work of art. You will need a set of clippers no matter which way you go, unless of course you let a professional dog groomer do the job. Human clippers don’t really work on a Schnauzer, so you will have to get some pet clippers. The brands now used by most professional groomers are Wahl (K2), ANDIs or Oster. You will need a Number 10 Blade (the blades are standard for all of those brands).

Not many groomers know the detail of a fully correct Schnauzer groom, and you may or may not be this particular but personally I choose to honour how the breed is meant to be presented and work to have that happen. The following information may be of use to you personally if you decide to take up the grooming challenge (I’m still ‘in training’ myself!) or it may be useful to help guide your groomer.

The Coat

First, let’s discuss the coat. You have two options – you can ‘strip’ his coat or you can clipper it when it gets too long.

‘Stripping’ the coat will have to be done roughly every six months. When the hair gets really long, it is ready to come out very easily. You can use either a surgical glove or a stripping knife/ tool to pull out his coat. Simply pull on his long hairs and you will notice how they come out with little effort. You strip the dog from the head to the tail, and as far down as the lower belly and the side of his flanks, leaving his leg and belly hair alone. A stripped coat is wiry and harsh when it grows back.

If this procedure is too involved, you can also choose to simply clipper him when his hair gets too long. If you do this, however, the coat will end up very ‘silky’ in appearance, and over time change colour from black to a darkish grey (which is why black show dogs must be stripped even on the head and ears). You will probably lose the characteristic harsh texture if you clipper the dog. However, you may actually prefer the silky fur, so it is up to you what you choose to do. 

The Furnishings

This refers to the leg and belly hair. This is left to grow out, and when you trim it into a neat shape, try to make the legs look like straight columns. Comb the hair upwards with a ‘slicker brush’, and then use scissors to trim the extra long hair off. Neatly trim around and between the toes, taking care to not leave any ‘flares’ on your dog.

The hair under the belly you need to cut in a straight line seen side-on. You can leave it quite short or a little bit longer depending on the length of leg of your dog. Remember that the Standard Schnauzer is supposed to be a square dog, as high as he is long, and you can use the belly hair as a tool to help that look along.

The Chest and the Backend

Use your clippers on his chest and between his hind legs & under the tail. This is quite acceptable for show dogs, and will allow you to have a very neat looking dog. Try and blend in the lines between the clippered area and the harsh coat a bit so they do not appear too harsh. Ensure that you have straight lines for a neat appearance.

There are a few different ways to groom the chest and all are popular in the show rings around the world.

These styles all start the same way, using a 7f against the grain (or a 10 with the coat), the hair is clipped upwards from the breastbone, removing the coat from the throat area. Clip up to the ‘seams’ (where the hair on the side of the neck meets the hair on the throat). If the dog has a thick neck, then this clipped line can be taken higher from ear to midpoint on shoulder and then curve back along the top of the shoulder blade.

At this point we have done enough clipping for the hairiest chest, we then can scissor the hair on the chest into a full, round shape. For those dogs with an upright upper arm, the hair can be shaped to make the angulation look better from side view.

If we get the clippers again with the 7f against the grain, now feel for the notch where the top of the front leg meets the chest, from here we are going to clip upwards, along the bone of the upper arm, to form /\, most schnauzers have a parting of hair here to use as a guideline where the hair curls in towards the chest and out towards the upper arm. Some dogs just have this parting on one side, so use the comb to move the hair around to see if you can find it. If your dog hasn’t got this parting, just use your hands to feel for the top of the leg and the breast bone and imagine a line connecting the 2, now clip up to that line, leaving a /\ of longer hair in the middle which can now be trimmed into a rounded shape. This style is good for dogs with good front angulation but may want a little more forechest.

Now if your dog has a good forechest and front angulation (angle of shoulder – upper arm) then you can take even more hair off the chest with the clippers (don’t go to low or you can end up with a hollow look, leave a bit of hair above the line from top of leg to top of other front leg).

The Head

You need a long beard on your dog, and usually the rule is that you leave the beard on as far back as a line from the corner of the eye down to the corner of his mouth. Behind that line, clipper him neatly.

Then you need eyebrows – they should grow quite long, as far as the nose, and when you trim them back, try and cut from the nose to the top of the ear to give them a slim and refined look. You will find that between the eyes above the beard you end up with excess hair, which you can trim in a neat triangle. Also, once you have clippered the ears, remove the hair in the ear of the dog by pulling it out, and neatly scissor around the ear for clean lines. From the chest up to the side of the head, clipper as far as a line from the corner of the eye to the ear – a straight line there is good.

Make sure you wash the dogs furnishings regularly and his beard even more often ….. well you will work that one out soon enough if you don’t want to get dirty beard wiped on you whenever there is an opportunity to get some attention.

Good luck with your grooming, and remember …… a bad haircut is an opportunity for a good haircut after only six weeks, so don’t despair and keep trying!