How to Groom a Schnauzer: 7 Important Steps to Follow

© Lunja/

Written by Katarina Betterton

Published: November 8, 2023

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Whether you have a giant, standard, or miniature schnauzer, you know the signature look of the breed takes effort to maintain. Grooming a schnauzer’s wiry double coat demands frequent brushing — and grooming time differs based on dog size.

Below, discover the different ways to groom your schnauzer and seven important steps to take if you decide to groom them at home.

Ways to Groom Your Schnauzer

Dog laying on pier of river, green background. Mini schnauzer pup, salt and pepper; black and white obedient dog. He has a long beard and striking eyebrows.

Schnauzers have a signature “mustachioed” or “bearded” appearance.

©Debra Anderson/

Because your schnauzer has a double coat — a wiry top coat and soft undercoat — grooming pays special attention to the length of hair and type of cutting done. Instead of shaving hair as you would on other breeds, the outer coat of a schnauzer needs to be clipped to maintain its texture and resistance to water, brambles, and dirt. Remember to wash your dog’s beard, in between their foot pads, and legs (if you style the leg hair) weekly to keep foreign objects out of your schnauzer’s coat.

The most common look of a schnauzer is the mustache cut, or a short coat throughout the body with a prominent “mustache,” eyebrows, and beard. For DIY groomers, this style is achievable at home. However, professional groomers can do it well too.

Next up is the puppy cut, which both schnauzer puppies and adult dogs can have. It’s a short trim across the body that lessens the look of the eyebrows and mustache. Owners who don’t always have the time to meticulously groom their dog’s facial features — or owners of rambunctious schnauzer puppies that often make a mess of themselves — may opt for the puppy cut to reduce bathing and grooming time.

Groomers can perform nearly a dozen other cuts on schnauzers like the puppy face trim, the poodle cut, the rocker cut, and the fluffy cut. However, when grooming at home, the mustache cut remains the classic option.

How To Groom a Schnauzer: 7 Important Steps

puppies miniature schnauzer

Schnauzer puppies might have a hard time getting used to grooming at first, so use patience and consistency when training how to act during an at-home grooming session.

©cynoclub/iStock via Getty Images

To groom your miniature, standard, or giant schnauzer with a mustache cut at home, you’ll want to follow seven important steps to find success. 

1. Calm Your Dog

If it’s your first time grooming at home, you’ll want to acclimate your schnauzer to the sounds, smells, and sensations they’re going to come into contact with. Groomers do this too — they turn on the shower, dryer, and clippers and let the schnauzer explore the space they’ll be in for the next hour or so.

Some common ways to calm your schnauzer before grooming include:

  • Sniffing activities. 
  • Relaxing music and/or familiar sounds.
  • A lick mat.

You can also try to tire out your schnauzer with a walk, playtime, or socialization before the process so they’re less likely to become agitated.

2. Secure Your Schnauzer

A miniature schnauzer on a dog grooming table next to cosmetics and grooming tools is out of focus.

Baths are necessary no less than once a month and more frequently if your dog has skin issues or simply enjoys playing in the dirt while you’re out for your regular walks.

©Ihar Halavach/

Grooming requires tools like thinning scissors, nail clippers, and other sharp objects. Owners should find a sturdy place for their schnauzer to sit or stand that restricts their movement. The last thing you want to happen during grooming is your pup jumping up or down mid-cut, yanking a paw as the nail clippers close, or unexpected barking fits that unsteady your stripping hand.

Similar to the step above, desensitizing your schnauzer to their grooming spot makes the entire process smoother. Consistently play with and brush your schnauzer’s coat and reward their pliant behavior with treats — building the expectation that when you touch their coat and they don’t react, they will get a treat. Do the same with where you will groom them; make it a relaxing and fun space that allows them to let their guard down. Avoid forcing your pup to sit for grooming at all costs as this instills fear and breaks trust.

3. Obtain the Right Tools

Grooming a schnauzer is a nuanced job with several different tools. Among the equipment you’ll need is:

  • A slicker brush (or soft-bristle brush) for detangling knots in their coat daily.
  • A soft grip comb for brushing your schnauzer’s leg and facial hair.
  • A stripping knife for the majority of the top coat’s haircut. You can also use it for their tail.
  • A pair of thinning scissors for your schnauzer’s body, ears, and eyebrows — as well as “finishing touches” on feet. If you’d prefer to cut rather than strip your dog’s tail, these scissors work well for that too.
  • A conditioning spray to help the comb work through any tangles.

These tools are what you’ll need for the classic mustache cut. Puppy cuts and other types of trimming styles may require other equipment. 

4. Start with Stripping the Head

Cutting your schnauzer’s hair starts with an in-depth stripping.

©Liliya Kulianionak/

The first actual grooming step of the mustache cut for your schnauzer is starting at the top of the head with a stripping blade. Strip your dog’s hair from the top of their skull to where their front legs join their body. Then, focus on the back of your schnauzer’s body along their spine until their rump. While working on your dog’s back, blend their coat in a line. Depending on your preference, you can either strip, trim, or clip your schnauzer’s tail. Trim the underside of the tail short.

Once you’ve stripped the coat, you can clip from the cheeks to the throat, to the chest, belly, and groin.

5. Form the Beard and Eyebrows Together

To groom your schnauzer’s most iconic features, you’ll need to use the comb, thinning scissors, and patience. 

Comb your schnauzer’s beard and eyebrows forward. Using caution, point the thinning scissors diagonally and cut from the bridge of the nose toward the outer eye. Then, cut an inverted V between your schnauzer’s eyes to get rid of unnecessary hair. This should form both the shape of the eyebrows and frame your dog’s beard.

6. Keep Ears Rectangular and Beard Long

When grooming your schnauzer’s ears to the classic mustache cut, you’ll want to use the thinning scissors to cut as close to their ear as possible. This rectangular shape and short hair augment the look of the beard.

To groom your schnauzer’s beard, aim to lift about a thumb’s length of hair away from the face and trim whatever is underneath. This removes the undercoat while maintaining the rough top coat of hair and iconic “mustache” look.

7. Trim Around Chin, Not Nose

Trimming your schnauzer’s face takes a steady hand. When you trim the smaller parts of their face, focus on trimming their chin, not their nose. If you trim your schnauzer’s nose hairs, they will grow back spiky and rough. Instead, leave the hair around the nose to grow downwards. Not only will the hair maintain its softness, but it will also fill out your schnauzer’s beard.

Tips for Schnauzer Grooming

Cream schnauzer steals strawberry from wrought iron table

Distracting your schnauzer with food or treats may keep their attention on the tasty food, not the scissors or clippers in your hand.

©Gene Isenko/

Regular grooming for schnauzers remains non-negotiable. When you adopt or buy a schnauzer, get comfortable with the process of hand-stripping and rolling the coat. This is especially important for owners who want to show their schnauzers in competition.

Not every schnauzer can handle at-home grooming. Listen to your dog’s needs and evaluate their body language to ascertain their level of comfort during at-home grooming versus professional grooming appointments. 

In the same vein, you can build in breaks to the grooming process to give your schnauzer a breath. This reduces the chance for the situation to become “too much” for your pup and forcibly stop halfway through.

When grooming, brushing, and cutting, watch out for knots and mats. If it’s been a few days since you’ve brushed your schnauzer’s double coat, they might have a few knots. 

The Schnauzer’s Marvelous Mustache

Aim to groom your schnauzer every few months. Individual dogs vary on the speed of hair growth, so use your best judgment for when it’s time for another stripping. Keeping up with baths, dental work, nail clippings, and brushing will keep your schnauzer’s coat and paws looking great until the next time they need a trim.

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About the Author

Katarina is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on dogs, travel, and unique aspects about towns, cities, and countries in the world. Katarina has been writing professionally for eight years. She secured two Bachelors degrees — in PR and Advertising — in 2017 from Rowan University and is currently working toward a Master's degree in creative writing. Katarina also volunteers for her local animal shelter and plans vacations across the globe for her friend group. A resident of Ohio, Katarina enjoys writing fiction novels, gardening, and working to train her three dogs to speak using "talk" buttons.

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