Perfecting a Miniature Schnauzer’s Eyebrows

The Mini Schnauzer’s unique beard and eyebrows take practice and patience to achieve.

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Q. Is there any specific way our groomer can cut our Miniature Schnauzer so that he can have the common Schnauzer eyebrows. The problem is that Bailey does not have the tight curly hair that we are familiar with in the breed and he tends to end up looking like a miniature shaggy sheepdog instead of a Schnauzer.

We normally get a modified cut (just emphasis on the eyebrows and a hint of the classic beard), but he can't really handle the extra hair hanging down from his underside as it just ends up looking like Phyllis Diller on a bad day

We would love to get him to look more like a Schnauzer, but we don't know what to do, or what to ask for.  Our groomer is an award-winning Poodle groomer and knows a lot about other breeds, but is also at a loss on what could be done to achieve this.

A. There is nothing more dashing than a well-groomed squared-away Schnauzer, but I can understand your groomer’s dilemma because in order to execute the proper trim, you really need to be able to visualize the finished product you are trying to achieve. This dog’s expression should be bold and alert, as befits its personality.  These spunky dogs are up-and-at-‘em little characters, having true terrier traits that made them effective ratters and ever-ready guardians of the farm, home and family.

The preferred trim aims for a squared body, short enough on the back, body and flanks to show angulation and musculature, with the trademark beard, mustache and sharply-angled eyebrows that are split and distinctive. They are very short at the back corner of the eye then arched forward, with the eye socket ridge creating the curved line downward towards the nose. To achieve this look, I would use very sharp curved-blade scissors and do it in one swift motion. If the groomer spends too much time picking at them, it’s easy to ruin the look you want. The only way to perfect this look is through practice.

A Mini Schnauzer should never look like a sheepdog if their facial hair is groomed correctly. A modified cut with just a hint of brows and beard may look cute, and of course, the way your own dog looks is entirely up to you, but it will never look like a real Schnauzer. The beard should be long and full. When combing it forward, the lines at the side of the face should look straight and rectangular, like a brick. Just below the back corner of the eye, the beard is short and well-blended, leaving “fill” under the eye. The nose should never be shaved. The eye corners trimmed ever so slightly with thinning shears.

When setting the beard, the groomer should use these back corners of the eyes and the whisker nodules on the cheeks and under the jaw as guidelines, (they look like raised moles with a coarse black hair growing out of them) then simply connect the dots.  The top of the head is clipped short and clean with either a #10 or #15 blade with the hair growth or a #7f backward, against the grain. The ears are shaved very close, then edged to a sharp point with small straight shears, always pointed towards the tips of the ears to avoid nicking them. The throat should be trimmed close with these same blades, producing either a “U” or a “V” shape, stopping about two fingers width above the breastbone. There should not be a poufy fringe like a bib here; thinning shears are used to blend the cowlick in with the neck coat. 

The Schnauzer’s coats come in a variety of textures, but when they are washed and blow-dried, they should not look curly. The groomer stretches and straightens the hair as the pet is blown dry so the feathers on the legs and undercarriage looks straight and sculpted, and the eyebrows can be shaped when the job is done. You simply cannot style a Schnauzer correctly unless it is properly bathed and blown dry.

The coat on your Bailey may always be a bit sparse but it can still be trimmed to make him look like his breed. Blowing it dry adds volume and a spritz of coat dressing or static-control spray will set it up nicely for scissoring. It will not need to be straightened because it already is. It may take a few grooms to train his eyebrows and beard to look the way they should, but if you and your groomer are patient and allow those facial furnishings to grow in, I think you will be pleased with the results on your adorable little pet.

Finally, a quick swipe of a slicker brush on a daily basis before tangles and mats can take too tight a hold can keep those beards and mustaches looking spiffy.


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Sandi   Nanaimo, BC

1/29/2011 7:25:24 PM

Find a Miniature Schnauzer breeder that also grooms schnauzers. I breed and show them and have people drive over two hours to come to me for grooming because they all look like show dogs when they leave my home. They are all crisp, clean lines, sharp edges and it is so important to get the angulation just right. Beards should be long and full but not bushy. Eyebrows should be almost to the nose in the middle but right close to the eye at the eye. It takes years to perfect and they look breathtaking when done correctly.

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