Of German heritage, the schnauzer has a distinctive two-layer coat and long facial hair that gives the dog a gentlemanly bearded look. With frequent trimming and grooming, the schnauzer's outer coat remains coarse and wiry, but the dog takes on a shaggy appearance if his undercoat isn't periodically removed.
Schnauzers come in white, gray and black color combinations, including salt-and-pepper markings, black-and-silver shades and jet black. The characteristic that sets this breed apart is its double coat. Schnauzers have a soft, dense undercoat that grows close to the skin, and a wiry outer coat. Long, soft hairs called feathers grow on the dogs' legs.
Stripping vs. Clipping
Schnauzers who strut their stuff in the show ring require regular stripping by professional groomers to pull out undercoat hairs. It’s not a painful process; the groomer plucks out only the dead hairs to keep a dog’s coat looking its wiry best. Clipping, or shearing, is a quicker and simpler way to groom your schnauzer, but it alters the coat slightly, so it’s not permissible for show dogs. Without stripping or clipping, your schnauzer’s wiry coat will eventually take on a shaggy appearance.
Schnauzers and Shedding
Hyped as a non-shedding breed, the schnauzer sheds less than most dogs as long as his undercoat is regularly stripped to remove dead hairs. His outer wiry coat is relatively sparse so shedding is less noticeable, but this breed still loses its hair.
Bathing your schnauzer more than once a month, unless he’s dirty, can wash away protective oils, leaving him dry and itchy. Saturate your mustachioed pooch with warm water and lather him up with a gentle shampoo meant for dogs. Use a no-tears dog shampoo on his head and facial hair. Thorough rinsing is essential, since even a trace of shampoo residue can irritate his skin. Apply a little leave-in conditioner to his facial hair and comb it while it's still damp. Rub him with an absorbent towel and then let him air-dry or use a dog dryer, set on "Low," finger-combing and shaping his wiry outer coat as it dries.
At-Home Coat Care
Wipe away the bits of food that have a tendency to lodge in a schnauzer’s long facial hair before they dry and become difficult to remove. If keeping your little gentleman’s beard clean gets to be a chore, employ a groomer to trim it every 6 to 8 weeks. Brush your schnauzer at least twice a week with a rounded-bristle brush to keep his hairs from tangling and to remove matter that has lodged in his wiry hair.
- Standard Schnauzer Club of America: FAQs About the Standard Schnauzer
- AKC: AKC Breeds and Varieties Allow Allergy Sufferers to Consider Dog Ownership
- Howell Book of Dogs – The Definitive Reference to 300 Breeds and Varieties; Liz Palika
- Giant Schnauzer Club of America: Is a Giant Schnauzer the Right Dog for You?
- Duncan Smith/Photodisc/Getty Images