Schnauzer Grooming

To pluck or not to pluck

That is a question plaguing all of us these days. We used to be told to pluck every single hair in the ear or else a catastrophe would occur. Well, since I started flushing ears and not plucking most of my clients ears have improved tremendously. I rarely see red, irritated ears and by not plucking I am not irritating the ear which can in turn cause more trouble by opening up hair follicles allowing the ear to become infected or causing the dog to scratch at the ears causing injuries.

I remove most of the hair with my small Mini Bravura clipper and a blunt tipped pair of shears. You can see in the video clip how I do it and the result is an ear that even a vet can love (or learn to like) and a dog that is not fighting me and has no ear problems. 

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As you can see from the photos of the finished ear above and in the video clips, I get a pretty clean ear this way. I feel better and so does the dog. A Win Win!

As with most of my video work, you may have to click on the video to open it in YouTube's viewer to see the entire thing.


Grooming the Great White

Schnauzer. Wasn't sure where I was going were you?

White Schnauzers have definite challenges to their grooming. In order to prevent them from appearing bald or revealing their spotted skin, certain techniques and lengths that are often used on other colors of Schnauzers must be avoided. In my area most schnauzers are trimmed shorter than in other areas of the country. A 9 or 10 on their backs is not uncommon, and nothing I have done will change that. Most people here think if the dog is left longer it didn't get groomed, so we just accommodate them and go on with life. There are many more things that are more important than how short a back on a schnauzer is cut.

Here is what can happen if you forget and go too short. I failed to tell my assistant to go longer than normal on this dog and this was the result. Thankfully there was no clipper irritation after this clip and the client did not notice.

It looks like she went really short, like maybe a ten backwards, but she didn't. She used a Speed Feed set on a 9 with the grain.

Because whites have thinner hair usually than a darker colored dog would have, the hair has to be left longer. On heads I tend to use thinning shears to make them long enough not to show skin. I never go lower than a 7F blade on their backs, and prefer to use a snap on comb, like a Wahl SS number 4 over a ten blade or a rocker bottom Laube would work as well. I have been known to use a 3mm Speed Feed snap on as well. The snapon combs eliminate the worry about irritation that a white dog can be prone to, and make it appear more natural than a blade does.

You can determine whether or not a dog has thinner hair by looking at the dog when it comes in. Failure to do that will result in a dog that looks like the one above. As you can see by looking at this photo, the hair appears to be thin and you can see the pink skin below it. If a dog looks like that, you can rest assured that a close cut will result in a bald dog.

This same technique I described above works great on any colored schnauzer that irritates, or is getting older and as a result has thinning hair. I explain to the owners that this is the only way to avoid a problem with the skin and most of the time they agree and understand. A really itchy schnauzer can be done the same way to avoid the irritation that a metal blade can cause.

I realized the other day while grooming a very obese schnauzer that this technique makes the hair appear to be thicker as well on a fat dog. It seems that when the dog gets wider the hair gets thinner and I think it is because the skin stretched to accommodate the extra weight and the hair follicles are further apart. This technique works wonderful to help disguise that problem.

Practice will tell you what combs work best on each dog, but staring longer and going shorter makes choosing the right one for each dog easy and pretty much goof proof.