Whoever says 'it's only a dog' has obviously never met a miniature schnauzer
Schnauzers first came about in the 14th century in Germany where they were bred to protect local farms against small rodents and intruders. The term comes from the German word “snout” which means moustache and as I’m sure you will agree a Schnauzer would certainly be the winner of any ‘Movember’ competitions. The long flowing moustache and the on-point eyebrows are a key trait to the schnauzer but why do they have them, I hear you ask?
When I groom to a breed standard in the salon, I love to know the history of the cut and the reasons as to why even today we use these trims. By understanding the history, I find it really helps me understand the cut and how to put it onto a dog. Schnauzers originally had a job to do, to protect their land and catch any rats threatening crops or food supplies on farms in Germany. Whilst they were working, they would have to catch the rats or at the very least chase them off. Having this protective guard over the key and vital areas such as lips, eyes, legs, and underline ensured that if the rats decide to fight back, instead of getting a chunk of flesh they would get a mouthful of hair.
The Schnauzer trim was to protect them from any injury and create a strong yet agile appearance. Traditionally they are hand stripped, plucking the harsh wiry outer coat by hand to leave the soft undercoat. Often when working this would happen naturally as the schnauzer ran through the undergrowth, it would strip out from the bushes, nowadays we do this by hand. The wire coat has another key protective feature and that is that if they got stuck in the undergrowth their hair would often just strip out without discomfort allowing the dog to release itself from sticky situations. By hand stripping, it promotes a nice wiry coat to regrow and ensures the colour of the dog stays solid rather than fading and going soft. Registered colours include salt & pepper, black & silver, and solid black. You can now get them in white and party, but neither are recognised colours.
As dog groomers we know first-hand that not everyone wants a breed standard trim and now different styles have crept in which suit peoples’ lifestyles better. We adapt to trim schnauzers how the owner wants as they don’t tend to be working dogs anymore. Whilst we do lots of breed standard trims at the salon our most popular by far is the “pet trim” where we keep their characteristics like beard, brows and legs and simply just do a shorter version of the breed standard trim. This works well for customers as they still get that iconic schnauzer trim but whilst being easy to manage with peoples’ busy lifestyles. During recent years we have also seen a huge influx of people requesting Asian fusion styles on their Schnauzers which make them look like teddy bears with a short body, long teddy legs and a rounded teddy beard. I personally love all 3 styles on this breed and whilst Asian fusion is great fun to do, I don’t think you can beat the strong defined breed standard trim of the miniature schnauzer which gives them poise and strength in their stance.
Many years ago the Standard Schnauzers were bred with Affenpinschers and Poodles to create what we now know as the miniature Schnauzer, one of the most popular family dogs in the UK. They are friendly, lively, active, loyal, and very amusing. They have a temperament that is almost addictive to watch. Usually, a normal evening for a Schnauzer would be to cuddle you upside down, probably the odd fart or two included for good measure, bark at an invisible magpie in the garden, another cuddle, and then steal your sock and proceed to trot around with it for an hour. They have a cheeky mischievous streak that is just too cute not to laugh at. In the salon, we find they can be strong-willed if they want to but can usually be persuaded with food! They are very loyal to their owners, so the real cheeky side comes out when their fur mum or dad comes to collect them.
When prepping a wire-coated dog it’s particularly important to consider what shampoo you will use. If they are hand-stripped it's recommended to use a mild, hypoallergenic shampoo such as Groom Professional Fresh range which is completely natural and ideal for hand-stripped and wire coats.
I always use some Coat Repair conditioner on Schnauzer eyebrows and beard. If you have met a Schnauzer before you will know they dunk that beard in every bit of water and mud they can find (and usually drip it all over your leg) but this is why it is so important to ensure it is conditioned and looked after to prevent breakage.
A spritz of Wondercoat spray after blasting will also ensure that beard and brows sit correctly flat and not like a flyaway bird’s nest…which I’m going to be honest is how I look every morning getting out of bed.
I honestly think our grooming clients have better hair than any groomers I know!
To give you an idea of the characteristics of this breed this week I have asked some of my clients what their nicknames are for their Schnauzers are and some of them have cracked us up all week! Here are our favourites:
- Mike Tyson
- Sir Fart a lot
- Otto von smallhausen
- Frog legs
- Sock Thief
- Burglar Bill
One schnauzer mum says every time hers barked she says “the doorbell is going” which we all found equally amusing for this fantastic breed.