Yes You CAN Groom And Give Your Schnauzer Or Other Dog A Haircut!
Why Cut Your Own Dog's Hair?
Well, expense comes to mind first! I can buy a pair of clippers for about $50 which is about the average for a schnauzer haircut nowadays! When you multiply that times the six miniature schnauzers, that would be shelling out $300 about every 6 weeks!
Bonding is another major reason. When you spend a good hour focused totally on your dog, it's an opportunity to spend some "quality time" with them that focuses on the physical - grooming is all about touch. You're massaging them while you shampoo, towel them dry, comb out their hair, etc. I talk to my dogs a lot while I'm grooming them. I think they enjoy it! At least a schnauzer has never asked me to shut up yet:)
Here is my volunteer and friend Bonnie, learning how to groom her beloved Zoe for the first time. Little Zoe went to Rainbow Bridge this year and we miss her.
I am not a "professional" groomer; I am entirely self-taught. But on the average, I've done between 6-10 schnauzer haircuts every 6 weeks for the past 10 years. If you're looking to do this exactly as the pros do, there are plenty of instruction guides out there. If you're looking for real-world methods and tips, I'm your girl.
The Clippers I Love On Amazon
What You Need To Have
- Good quality clippers. Not "best" or most expensive! I have had a LOT of experience with clippers over the last ten years or so. I've had the very best, the very worst, and everything in between. Now mind you, I am not mechanically inclined. Most of the clippers I've pitched probably just needed a replacement blade (about $25). For me it's just easier to drop the $50 for another clipper and be done with it. I do haircuts for seven miniature schnauzers about every 8 weeks, and a clipper will usually last me through about 20 haircuts. My favorite these days is the Wahl Cordless clipper. I can operate it plugged in or not. If the charge runs out, I simply plug it in. It does a decent haircut, feels good in my hands, and costs around $50. It will include a bunch of comb attachments (which I never use but you might) and clipper oil. I've put a convenient link to get your clippers below, through Amazon.
- Baby scissors (the kind with rounded off ends to avoid poking). Must-have for ears!
- Shampoo - there are a million dog shampoos out there. I use a people cleanser on mine, Wen. We just share:)
- Ear Cleanser - important not to leave water in doggie's ears. You want to squirt in an alcohol based ear cleaner which will dry up all the water.
- Regular small scissors that feel good in your hand. The clippers usually come with scissors included.
- Toenail clippers or files - I have used the Peticure with some success on some dogs. It is time consuming and requires acclimating the animal to it. You may prefer to drop a few bucks at the vet's or grooming salon to have just the toenails clipped. Up to you.
- A flea comb with grip handle for fine combing work
- A good detangling brush. I adore the new Conair brushes with the yellow handle. It's a "squishy" grip and the 2" size works great on schnauzers.
- Clipper Cooling Spray - I count this as a must-have because if the clipper blade gets hot, you can actually burn your furkid or yourself! Stuff works like a charm.
The Hardest Haircut I've Ever Done - My husband even lent a hand with this poor little guy!
This is Scheultzie, a Miniature Schnauzer who came into our rescue from Hastings, Nebraska, an owner surrender. Scheultzie looked like a good-size doggie, but after his "unveiling" haircut, he was much smaller! He was entirely covered in mats 2-3" deep. The poor little guy was in a lot of pain. He somehow knew we were trying to help him and stood like a little statue for the whole 2+ hour grooming. Scheultzie is now an elder statesman living the charmed life with his wonderful adopted mom, Pat.
This Is Strange Stuff To Your Dog!
Helping Him Or Her Adjust
Place your dog on the grooming table a few times before you start doing haircuts and get them used to the idea of standing there. You might give them a treat or two, to help them associate being on the table with good things. You might brush out their hair (in a relaxing gentle way, not in killer detangling mode!!) The time you invest in acclimating the dog to the new routine and tools will be paid back to you many times over later on.
Tools that make noise are the hardest for the dog to get used to. These would be the clippers, and the Peticure (if you use one for toenails). What I do is to first just run the tool nearby for a few minutes with nothing happening, just to get them used to the sound. Next, I take the clippers (or Peticure) and massage their back (or feet) with it with the power OFF, to show them the tool does not hurt them. Then I reward with food treats if the dog puts up with it with no reaction. Next is the big step, actually touching the dog with the tool with the power on. Do it very briefly, a few seconds at a time to start. Most dogs are least reactive to clippers on their upper back nearer the tail. Try a few little swipes there. If all is going well, carry on! I do like to stop every few minutes, give a treat and use that time to oil the clippers and/or spray them with clipper cooling spray.
Photo: My daughter learning to do her first haircut on her schnauzer, Winnie.
Steps To Beautiful!
Start by shampooing your dog. There are any number of nice professional shampoos out there for your dog. Personally, I use WEN. It's for people, but the maker Chaz Dean uses it on his dogs, which gave me the idea. WEN makes your scalp feel amazing and leaves your hair so gorgeous and shiny. I noticed the same results on my furkids. You want to shampoo BEFORE you cut the hair. Why? Well, that's what the clipper manufacturer recommends. If you are cutting dirt with the blades, you wear them down that much faster plus they won't cut as well. SO... shampoo... comb out the dog... and allow to dry thoroughly.
Begin the grooming by brushing the dog thoroughly, nose to tail. I use the Yellow Dog hairbrush for this. I always use counter-tension when brushing (hold down the area of hair close to the body to prevent hair being brushed from pulling and hurting the dog). If you encounter a mat, STOP - don't just try to brush on through it. I take the scissors and cut down vertically (away from the dog's body) through the mat in several places, This loosens it from surrounding hair and allows you to remove it easily with a comb. When I am working with a mat, I hold onto the hair above the mat, near the dog's body to prevent any pulling.
Next, comb through the entire dog with the flea comb (fine tooth comb). When you can comb out the entire dog rat-free, you're ready to start the haircut part.
The actual haircut has several options. You can use the length adjusting combs that come with the clipper, or you can cut with just the blade (which is what I do). Some people like the dog shaved down to skin, others like the hair to be 1/4" long or longer. It's up to you. For instructions on actually cutting the hair, I'm going to refer you to the instructions that come with your clippers.
In general, the first and most important rule is oil the clippers before, during (frequently) and after use. They will not work properly unless you do. They will also get very hot if you don't oil enough. (They will get hot anyway).
I start with the dog's back since they mind it the least. I work from mid-back to tail, and work all around the tail area. Next I mark my line where I want the side fringe to start with the clippers. I go from front to back, in a smooth horizontal line. Then I do the other side to match. At this point I cut in a front to back motion from collar to tail. Then I switch directions and go across the dog's back from side to side - this leaves that neat little sort of grid pattern and looks nice.
I do the dog's back neck and shoulders in a downward motion working from top to bottom. Next I do the top of the head and around the ears. Then comes the front of the neck and chest. You want to mark off your stopping line for the front fringe. Next I do the sides of the face/front of ears, working top to bottom downward. I do one swipe down the length of the dog's snout from just under the eyes to beginning of nose, which thins the hair a bit and gives the dog a neater appearance.
With all that done, I pick up the dog's two front feet and pull him to a standing position, and I reach underneath to trim down the center of the tummy (between the side fringes, on the underneath side). Be very careful to avoid all the important body parts there! Don't try to shave down to skin. If you go to say 1/4" long, the dog will look fine. We don't want to shave off anything important! That done, I turn the dog around and do the close work around the bottom and tail. With an un-neutered boy, I cup their little boy parts in my hand to absolutely avoid cutting them. Then I will trim anything I missed with the round pointed scissors later. When you are shaving the underside of the tail, cut away from the body or you run the risk of cutting their little pooper. Again - scissors, later.
The last thing I do is the feet. I prefer poodle feet on my dogs (shaved feet) because they don't track in as much mud/snow, they don't get matted up as fast, and the dogs tell me they like it that way ; ) I just do a little shave from ankle to toenail working toward the edge of the foot. Alternately you can always scissor the feet totally.
Now you're all done - put the clippers aside, oil them, sit them blade-down so the oil won't run into the unit. Give Fido a treat and have a cup of coffee... and you can breathe now:)
Photo: Monty testing out whether the clippers were good for one more haircut or not, being a very good boy on my lap. (They weren't - we had to go to Walmart).
Keep it Zen. If you are relaxed, your dog will relax. If you're getting stressed, STOP! Break time.
You Can Help Sheila's Rescue Furkids!
Sheila operates Sheila's Schnauzies Miniature Schnauzer Rescue, a not for profit rescue and sanctuary for Miniature Schnauzers in Omaha, NE since 1998. Clippers and our monthly vet bills are expensive! You can help with your Paypal or other contribution! Email SheilaSchnauzies@gmail.com
Haircut Poll - Would You... Or Wouldn't You?
How do you feel about giving your doggie a haircut?
Love, Love, Love! - And Then Some!
Remember something. Yes, you may have blocked out time in your busy schedule to "get this done." Sure, you want the task off your screen. BUT if your dog is stressed, you're ready to throw your clippers out the window, and things just aren't going well - STOP! Give your furkid and yourself a break. How about a nice hug? If you and your dog calm down enough, then go ahead. But if you are both stresed, this will NOT end well!
Take little Monty in this picture, for example. He is having a "love break" because he was starting to get a bit fritzy. If you can't finish now, there IS always later. So what if he walks around another day with two out of four legs trimmed? Big deal.
Life... And Grooming... Has Its Rewards!
I like to keep small special chewy treats in a jar by the grooming table. If the dog is behaving well, I''ll say "Good boys get cookies!" and give him one. I'll stop and do this maybe every 10-15 minutes as I work.
My Furry Kids - Showing Off New Haircuts, Before & After'sClick thumbnail to view full-size
Save Gas - Get Your Clippers Here! - It helps our Miniature Schnauzer rescue too!
These are the exact clippers I use, as described on this page. Remember when you get them you will need to build up the charge for 24 hours first. THE single most important thing to remember when using any clippers is to oil the blade with clipper oil included, and squirt the holes at each end with clipper oil before, during and especially after each use.
The Most Important Thing
Be sure to oil the clippers (with genuine clipper oil only) before, during (every few minutes) and after use. They will not work properly unless you do. They will also get very hot if you don't oil enough.