Grooming Your Schnauzer
There is only one correct grooming pattern for a Miniature Schnauzer, but there are two distinctly different ways to achieve it. Whether hand-stripping, which is necessary if you wish to show, or machine-clipping, the overall look will be the same-only coat texture and color will differ.
The "one strip" method is clearly shown in Diagram A and B. Essentially, all the areas which appear to be clean are removed within a week to ten days. A longer period will result in obvious strip lines and too much variation in coat length. No amount of skillful blending of the areas is very successful.
After completing the back and sides, strip the hindlegs to about an inch above the hocks. Never strip into the indentation of the hock joint.
At this point, the dog is half stripped, and if you are unable to complete the forward section at this time, it can be picked up in a few days. In completing the "one strip" method, you would continue to remove the forward section: neck, shoulders and head, as well as the tail.
Stripping In Sections
Stripping in sections is the exhibitor's way of achieving the most desirable outline, based on variations of coat lengths. This process involves from eight to ten weeks, depending on the individual coat quality of your dog. No two dogs grow their coats at exactly the same rate, and it is not unusual for a dog to grow coat faster on one stripping that the next. Be sure that the period between sections does not exceed ten days, or the blending of the coat later will prove more difficult.
Remove all the body hair from behind the withers on the back and sides and on the hind-legs as described in the "One Strip" Method. Diagram C illustrates the completed process achieved in the first week.
Beginning at the base of the skull, strip out an inverted "V," starting out with a width of about one inch. Gradually widen the strip as you work down the back of the neck until you join the section of the back previously stripped. Diagram D shows the desired result.
Take out the remaining hair on the sides of the neck and shoulders, down to an inch above the elbows. See Diagram E and F. Be sure you do not strip or trim into the indentation at the elbow. This small area of hair just above the elbows is trimmed later in a process to be described.
Study Diagram G and H before beginning the work on head and ears. Study both the profile and top of the head as it should look when stripping is completed. A medium or fine knife will do the job, although frequent use of thumb and forefinger will give the best result. Remove all the hair in this area, including the undercoat. Start stripping from the back of the skull forward. As you bring your work to where the eyebrows begin, take considerable care in forming this line. With thumb and forefinger, strip out the area between the eyes, but not as deeply as on the skull. Strip out the sides of the skull from the outer corner of the eyes to the outer corner of the ears, leaving the sides of the cheeks and under throat for later.
Strip or clipper the ears at this time, using scissors to finish off the edges. The beginner will find ear stripping difficult as the area is particularly sensitive. Use a fine knife for these more difficult to handle short hairs, and use clippers if you must.
Whether cropped or natural, the inner ear should look neat and clean. Removing the hair with clippers is easiest, but some hand work near the ear canal is required. This is a sensitive area and using only thumb and forefinger can be very time consuming. A pair of tweezers will help, and a fastidious groomer will quickly learn their function.
At this point, the cheeks, throat and chest must be dealt with. The amount that is stripped, and that which is clipped is a matter of personal pride. These areas must be kept neat throughout the weeks of showing, as short, in fact, as the head. These areas will need constant maintenance during the show period, whether stripping or clipping. Be reminded that clipping will produce a softer texture, and a loss of the true salt and pepper color.
Using clippers, take out the hair under the throat. Before proceeding, comb the whiskers (beard) carefully forward and then grasp the beard and muzzle before bringing the clipping to within 1-1/2 inches of the corners of the mouth. When in doubt, remove less rather than more-chin whiskers take a long time to grow.
With stripping knife or clippers, remove the hair on the chest to the point of the shoulders, leaving a small inverted "V" shape as shown in Diagram H. Thinning scissors may be used to blend the joining-line between shoulders and chest and between neck and throat.
At this point the undercoat will begin to show prominently. This should all be completely removed over the next two or three weeks, using a fin stripping knife or comb, and following the same pattern used for the outer coat. This process can do some damage the the new growth of hard hair if not done correctly. You may wish to use a fine (flea) comb first in order to learn the skills involved. The knife or comb should be held at a 45 degree angle, and with slight pressure, working in the direction of the natural lay of the coat.
This weeding out process must be continued as the new coat grows, otherwise the in-growing coat will lift and separate quicker than it otherwise would.