Miniature Schnauzer Hair and Coat!
Anyone who has ever had more than one Schnauzer, knows there are many different types of Schnauzer hair. Hair types vary from the course bristle terrier type hair seen in the show ring, to the ultra-soft sheltie/type hair. Somewhere in the middle is the cotton candy type hair that gets those gnarly mats. But because the Miniature Schnauzer is a mix of the Poodle, Terrier breeds, the Affenpinscher, and the Standard Schnauzer, you will find many types of hair textures and coats. Some authorities also think the toy Gray Spitz, Pomeranians, and Wire Fox Terriers might have contributed to the gene pool. So, you will find many different hair types. Some will have tight poodle hair, others will have straighter hair like the Affenpinscher, and there are many other variations in between.
After many years of breeding and keeping back those dogs that have what we call the "Premium Hair", we are now more consistently producing pups with ultra-soft hair and fuller coats. Many of our owners now opt to never cut their miniature schnauzer in the traditional Schnauzer cut. They prefer to keep them in an all-over puppy cut, which gives them "The Sheepdog look". Sleeping with one of our little Schnauzer/Sheepdogs is like sleeping with a stuffed animal. Snuggling up in bed with their soft silky hair is a real treat! We will admit that blow-drying can take a lot longer, but air drying in the summertime works just as well.
Terms used to describe the Miniature Schnauzer Coat
Standard Show Coat:
Traditionally the Miniature 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. The dog takes on a shaggy appearance if his undercoat isn't periodically removed. The AKC guidelines state, "The Miniature Schnauzer has a double coat which is a wiry topcoat, with a soft undercoat that requires frequent brushing, combing, and grooming to look its best. The breed sheds very little. For the show ring, some of the dog's coat is regularly 'stripped by hand'. Most owners of pet Miniature Schnauzers choose to have the coat trimmed with clippers by a professional groomer." Just be aware that using clippers will cause the color of the coat to fade over time. This is the reason that many show breeders especially those that own black or black and silver schnauzers will do hand stripping. The show breeders will also strip all the hair out of the coat when a pup is 12 weeks old. This causes the hair to grow back stiff and coarse like a man's beard, which explains why they look good with a blended cut as the hair stands out away from the body. A show schnauzer with coarse terrier hair can have anywhere from an average coat to a super coat. One more thing about the show schnauzer. Show schnauzer breeders and handlers will add chalk to the leg hair/furnishings. This helps with the humidity, also gives a whiter appearance to the hair, and will increase the fulness of the hair. The last dog pictured below has chalk added to his legs.
The term “super coat” was “invented” by Toy Schnauzer breeders. It refers to a schnauzer that has a soft coat that is thicker with a fuller appearance when compared to the traditional coats. However, even the coarse-haired show schnauzers can have super coats. The “Super Coat” is in between the average coat and the mega coat. We use a numbering system from 1-10 with 10 being a mega coat and 1-5 being an average coat. On a scale of 1-10 a super coat in our opinion is an 8-9.
Sometime after the term "super coat" started, the term Mega Coat started being used. To me, the term Mega Coat should be reserved for a dog that has a denser fuller coat than a super coat. It is the thickest of the three with the most volume and is also usually soft. Many breeders' definitions of both Super Coat and Mega Coats will vary. Our definition of a Mega Coat is a 9-10. Miniature schnauzers with softer hair can also have average coats. To demonstrate the different coat types, below are examples of some of our RETIRED breeding stock.
What Type of Hair will my Puppy Have?
Be aware that it is very difficult for any breeder to tell with any certainty the final type of coat a puppy will have when they leave at 8 weeks. It's even too difficult to know until they are 6 months old. I've seen puppies with what I considered to be an average coat at 8 weeks and then was shocked to see they were mega coats at a year. The reverse is also true. The pedigree background is the best clue as to what to expect. If you look at the parents and the grandparents you will be able to predict with greater accuracy what your puppy will look like, but there are exceptions to that rule, as well. I always tell my owners if they want to differentiate between an average coated puppy- to a mega coated puppy to look at the leg hair. The fullness of the leg hair will help you to gauge between the different coat types.
Grooming A Soft Coated Schnauzer
Toy breeders that have the softer coats have found that it is difficult to groom the softer coats in the traditional Schnauzer cut (which uses a 7 blade for a blended cut) because the hair just doesn't lay right on the body.
There are many ways to groom a soft coated "pet" schnauzer. You can groom them more like a traditional schnauzer with a very small skirt, but you do need to tell the groomer to use a 10 blade on the body. Most of my schnauzers are groomed with a traditional schnauzer head, but more of a cocker body. If you like that look you need to tell the groomer to use a 10 blade on the body and to leave a higher skirt. I once had an owner that took her super coated schnauzer to the groomer, and they mistook it for a poodle and shaved off the beard and gave it Pom Poms. The owner was quite upset. I always suggest to my owners to show the groomer photo examples of how you want your puppy/dog to look, or you may also be very disappointed.
As I mentioned, many of my owners prefer to leave their schnauzer in an all-over puppy cut with a schnauzer head. To save on grooming costs, they will shave off the body in the summertime, and then let it grow out in the fall-winter months. Below are examples of our retired Male, Gus, both groomed and not groomed.
Miniature Schnauzers do not shed. They are on the AKC's Top 10 best dog breeds list for people with allergies. People that suffer from allergies to dogs have reactions to the dander, saliva, and urine. Because miniature schnauzers don't shed, are groomed regularly, and don't drool, makes them an excellent choice for people with allergies. People who have children with allergies do need to make sure that they don't allow the puppy to kiss the child on the mouth as any dog's saliva can cause an allergic reaction.
No matter how you groom your miniature schnauzer and no matter what type of hair they have, there is little doubt in our opinion that Miniature Schnauzers are the PERFECT DOG BREED!