I am not the world’s foremost expert when it comes to grooming the miniature schnauzer, I will admit, but I DO have two first place in competitions with this breed and my shop does on average 15-20 per week, sometimes more, because we have so many schnauzer breeders locally. As a result I feel like I may know enough to help you learn a few things.
I am going to put out a series of blogs on this breed, and at the end it will be turned into a booklet for sale that you can print out and keep in a ring bound notebook for reference. There will be much more detail in the printed version that the free one published here, but be patient! There is a lot more planned for this upcoming year.
I am constantly seeing requests online for people who want a critique of their groom on this breed and it, to me, makes little sense, because in my opinion the schnauzer groom is the foundation of almost every breed style in the world.
It is the groom I start my groomers out on as soon as they have mastered shave downs. Aww heck ,who am I kidding? They get started setting this pattern BEFORE they actually start finishing shavedowns, because it is a pattern that can be removed after placements on shaved dogs without ruining the shave down AND it teaches them about muscular skeletal structure, anatomy, handling and general use of the equipment.
The long legged terrier pattern, with minor tweaks, applies to every long legged terrier in the world. The only differences are going to be lengths and faces. SO, once you know this pattern correctly you can adjust it to fit any patterned LL terrier out there. Airedales, Welsh Terriers, Wire Fox Terriers, Brussels Griffons, Lakeland Terriers and even Soft Coated Wheaten terriers and Kerry Blues have the same profile (shape) only longer and slightly more stylized.
I will take it one step further. If you go take a look at a cocker pattern, a short legged terrier pattern and even POODLE patterns (for pets, not show) and Bichons, the outline or basic lines are the same, just adjusted for the breed.
Once you learn to groom a schnauzer you can groom virtually any breed in the world with a few adjustments.
As a result of this pattern being so common and all encompassing, lots of owners and groomers of other breeds including Yorkies, Shih-Tzu and many mixes have adopted this pattern into their pet grooming styles.
SO! Let’s begin learning how to groom the Miniature Schnauzer one step at a time.
Let’s start out with the head:
The biggest mistake I see done is the placement of the lines of the beard and eyebrows, so I am going to show you the proper way to set those lines in an almost 100% foolproof way. I say ALMOST because there will be some dogs that you decided later to adjust forward or backward depending on the shape of the head or the owner’s preferences.
The link below will take you to a website that has some incredibly detailed photos and diagrams of grooming the Schnauzer head. It is geared more towards Giant Schnauzers, but the lines are the same.
This photo from the above website is probably the best photo I have ever seen when it comes to explaining how to set the lines of the beard.
As you can see in the photo above, the beard lines start ever so slightly (usually the width of your little finger) and then you play connect the dots. From just inside the corner of the eye to the whisker mole and all the way around. If a dog has a slightly full face you will go just a tad more inside (the width of your first finger) and if the dog is SKINNIER In the face, you can bring the line back further to the corner of the eye, but never go beyond that point. If you go beyond that point it will look cheeky and it will be impossible to get the beard to lay flat.
From the Miniature Schnauzer Club of America’s grooming page: “Blend hair below back corner
of eye into beard in an unbroken angle.”
I use blenders to blend the hair from under the eye towards the beard as seen in the photo of Otto below:
NOW, here is Sookie, showing you the way to place lines correctly.
From the outside corner of the eye, draw a line straight down towards the LOWER whisker mole.
You may notice that in the photo below, there is another mole under my thumb in the middle of the cheek. That one is a decoy, and wants to be included, but for out purposes that one will result in the look we do not want.
SO pretend it isnt there and continue onto the one below it that makes the head look square and elongated.
When doing my clipperwork, I clipper backwards from the ear line to the beard line, usually using a 9 or 10 setting on my Bravura, a 7F if the dog is sensitive.
Ok, so the photo of Sookies neck isn’t working, so I have pulled out this dogs photo to show you my next step.
Looking from the front view of the dog, notice a natural looking U shape? Clipper that out, also in reverse and come up to the whisker moles pictured above, to the sides of the beard and under the mouth. Connect the dots in a sideways C shape until you are at the other eyes outer corner. When you get to the forechest, that will define the neck from the chest on the dog.
See how simple that is to do?
Here is the finished head on Sookie:
Here is Abby. She has the poofiest cheeks I think I have ever seen on a schnauzer. She has creases that run behind her eyes down under hear beard. As a result, I have to take her beard tighter and thin it out to remove the bulk that otherwise makes her look fat. In the first few photos I left her cheeks further back from the eye like I see a lot of groomers do in general to show how it adds to the fat, full face look that is not correct in this breed, then took it down tighter to show a more correct look.
Here she is from the front:
By taking the lines slightly inside the eye corner and then bulk th inning her beard a little bit I was able to make her look more like the square, angular head you want in this breed.
Some may think this face looks hollowed out and petite, but if I do not do this to her face she is literally all beard and the face looks really ridiculous.
Setting the brow line is actually very easy to do as well and yet, again, I see groomers leave brows way too thick and extending past the eye and it makes the expression look heavy and grumpy.
The actual eyebrow itself, by my preferences, is never more than one finger wide.
Place your finger right behind the eye on top of the head and you will feel a small groove that your finger will fit into. That ridge is the line which I use to set my brow lines.
I clipper the back of the head towards the eyebrow itself stopping just before that ridge starts and lifting my clipper off into the brow hair.
I separate my brows using the corner of my clipper and then take a V shape down onto my noses and up between my eyebrows. I know many people prefer to leave that hair, but I find it looks bulky, and I like a clear, open eye. I go into this further in my print version of this guide.
As for setting the brow shape, many owners ask for short brows which causes the face to look funny. The way we get around cutting the brows super short is easy! We angle them tightly to the outside corner and arch over the nose.
Outside corner of eye to the opposite side of the nose. I use curved shears with the curve towards the face to set an arch that accomplishes the owners preference to see the eyes and my preference for a nicely shaped head.
If the eyebrows are wanting to move while you trim or are curling backwards you can apply a bit of water and comb them forward or apply some gel or hairspray to your fingers and the hair will co-operate better that way.
I hope this helps you out a bit!