Mini Schnauzer

  • Overview

    Although the Miniature Schnauzer was bred as a more manageable version of the hard-working Standard Schnauzer, these dogs mostly function as lovable companions today. Their small size combined with traditional Schnauzer traits like protectiveness, determination and loyalty make them very well-suited to family life.

    Although he has the appearance of a serious little old man, the Miniature Schnauzer is a mini goofball. These petite peppy terriers don't let their small size stand in the way of having a good time. They have personality and energy to spare, and they will flourish in active, good-natured homes where they will receive plenty of exercise, attention and grooming.

    View Grooming Diagram for miniature schnauzer
  • Personality

    Like their larger relatives, these mini dogs can be a handful. They retain many of the typical terrier traits that are so pronounced in Schnauzers, but their smaller size and goofy personalities make them easier to handle and train. Still, Mini Schnauzers can be stubborn. Even though they learn tricks and commands quickly, they can have selective hearing, especially if they are frustrated with their owners. Therefore, it helps to begin teaching commands and building trust at a young age. With plenty of positive reinforcement, Mini Schnauzers will soon learn that the best way to become the center of attention is through showing off good behaviors. At the end of the day, that is their main goal. Mini Schnauzers love to receive attention and affirmation from the people around them. They are people-oriented dogs who will not understand why they cannot spend every single minute with their owner, so they might be a little confused if you leave them alone for too long.

    There is really no way around the fact that these dogs will bark a lot. Miniature Schnauzers love to help out by barking at even the slightest change in atmosphere. Teaching them to stop on command will make these watchful dogs much more polite neighbors. Miniature Schnauzers are almost hilariously unaware of their size. Perhaps because they know they're descended from no-nonsense larger dogs, they will never back down from a challenge. They will have to be taught that barking in the face of much larger dogs is not the best way to make friends. Socialize them with dogs of all sizes to teach them that they won't always be the alpha dog.

  • Coat Care

    Just like their larger relatives, Mini Schnauzers have a thick, wiry double coat — they just have a little less of it. Their face, which has led their admirers to compare them to old men and walruses, is framed by a long, square-shaped mustache and beard. The hair around their legs is longer than the body hair. Schnauzers' coats come in salt and pepper colors and patterns, including solid black, black and silver and white. White dogs can't be shown, but they aren't poorly bred and can make great pets. A quick wash after mealtime is never a bad idea. Schnauzers' hair mats naturally, because during their days as hard-working ratters, the mats served as protection from their greatest job hazard — sharp rat teeth.

Mini Schnauzer
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Brush the Miniature Schnauzer's longer hair on the legs and check underneath the "armpits" for mats, because this hair is more prone to mats than the rest of the coat.

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With preparation, perseverance and a positive attitude, bathing can become a fun and fulfilling part of the regular grooming cycle, while helping your dog avoid many diseases and infections.

The general rule of thumb for dog bathing is every three months but wire-coated dogs can be done with greater frequency, often within a four-to-six week range. The coat should end up fresh smelling, shiny, with no loose or shedding hair. First give the dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and mats. Place a rubber mat in the tub to provide secure footing and fill the tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray hose, pitcher or unbreakable cup to wet the dog, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears and nose. Massage in pet shampoo, saving the head for last. Immediately rinse thoroughly, starting with the head to prevent soap from dripping into the eyes. Towel dry. The coat should be fresh smelling, with no loose or shedding hair.

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Hair Clipping

The Miniature Schnauzer's coat should be kept short throughout the body, and it will need to be clipped about once every 5 weeks. Using an electric clipper will eventually strip the wiry outer coat, so dogs who appear in the show ring need to be hand-stripped, but it's not a concern for dogs who are primarily pets. The furnishings around the face and mouth need to be brushed and trimmed periodically to keep them tidy, because the mustache and beard can get a little sloppy

Despite their small size, grooming can be a challenge. The "Schnauzer shape" takes some effort to maintain. The coat should be kept short throughout the body, and it will need to be clipped about once every 5 weeks. Using an electric clipper will eventually strip the wiry outer coat, so dogs who appear in the show ring need to be hand-stripped. The furnishings around the face and mouth need to be brushed and trimmed periodically to keep them tidy, because the mustache and beard can get a little sloppy if your Mini Schnauzer is an enthusiastic eater.

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Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

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Eyes / Ears

Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.

It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Wire coated dogs have sensitive ears covered in hair that  need to be checked weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. West Highland Terriers and other small terriers with white coats are prone to developing tear stains around the eyes, so clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes.

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Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.