The Ultimate Schnauzer Clippers & Grooming Guide

Of the many breeds we get asked for advice about, the Schnauzer and Schnauzer crosses are one of the most frequent. If your dog has a Schnauzer type coat, this guide is for you. It covers clippers, blades, coat type, coat lengths, coat prep, trimmers vs clippers, brushes, shampoo, video tutorials & more. 

What type of coat do Schnauzers have?

Schnauzers may not get their adult coat till around 10 months old or later. It may not look it, but the Schnauzer coat is actually a thick, mixed texture, double coat. If you won’t be hand stripping (most pet Schnauzers are not hand stripped), then a deshedding tool is ideal for the Schnauzer coat. It thins out that soft, dense undercoat and reaches through the top coat, great for relief from the heat summer, for pulling out stuck undercoat, to use before you clip so your blades don’t ‘chew’ the coat, and to thin out areas prone to knots. It won't replace hand-stripping, but will help maintain a more correct Schnauzer coat texture. A deshedder does not cut or shorten the top coat, so you still need to clip if you want the coat short. 

The longer hair on a Schnauzers legs can be particularly prone to matting. This area as well as longer hair on the tummy and the beard, should all be brushed anywhere from daily (if knot prone), to twice weekly for normal maintenance and to prevent knots (if you like to keep those areas long).  

The Andis Deshedder in the Original is our best seller to Schnauzer pet owners who don't hand-strip. Watch groomer Debi Hilley using that tool on a Schnauzer type coat below:

How do you know if clippers are rated for the Schnauzer coat?

Clippers roughly come in 4 levels: light use, medium duty, heavy duty and super duty. The Schnauzer coat ideally needs super duty level, but if budget doesn't allow for that level, and you keep the coat knot-free and regularly use a deshedder, then a heavy duty clipper will cope fine also. 

Multi-speed clippers are ideal, either a standard 2 speed or one of the newer 5 speed models. That gives you a lower speed for general clipping, and a high speed in reserve for thicker, more difficult or matted areas (use clippers on the lowest speed possible as this will keep your blade cooler for longer).

If a clipper doesn't specifically mention being 'super duty' then it might say something like 'for full body clipping' for 'thick, difficult or matted coats' which is what you want. It may also make specific mention of 'wire, mixed texture or double coats'. What you don't want though is a 'light use' or 'medium duty' rated clipper, or one that says it's for 'touch ups only' or for 'trimming only' as that tells you it's not rated for full body clipping for a Schnauzer's mixed texture, double-coat.

There are a lot of clipper models to choose from that are rated for the Schnauzer coat, so don't leave clippers out just because they are not listed below. Here's a starter list below of our best sellers that are rated for the Schnauzer coat. There are more though, so you can use this guide to compare any clippers.

Best clipper models for Schnauzers

Before you buy: Know what A5 means! If the clipper description says it's an A5 model (or A5 style or A5 type), that tells you the clipper is compatible with the most blades and accessories possible, and that you can mix and match different brands. For example, you could use a Wahl universal comb attachment, on a Heiniger blade, on your Andis clippers! The clippers below are ALL current best sellers, ALL rated for the Schnauzer coat, and ALL universal A5 models. 

Corded clippers 

Andis AGC Brushless in the Super 2 Speed model 
- available in  Fuchsia,  Lime  or  Cobalt

Wahl KM5 2 Speed 
- available in  Charcoal  or  Purple

Andis Excel 5 Speed* 
- available in  Gloss Black,  Navy,  Confetti  or  Magenta 

*5 speed or 2 speed? Most clippers are 2 speeds, however some newer models are now available in 5 speeds. 5 speed clippers have the same top 2 speeds as a standard clippers, but provide 3 lower speeds. Lower speeds are used to reduce speed, heat and noise, for delicate areas, very noise-sensitive or touch-sensitive dogs, and to help blades run cooler for longer. You still have the same top speeds in reserve for very thick or difficult areas.

Cordless clippers 

Andis Pulse ZR II 5 Speed

Heiniger Saphir** (single speed)

Heiniger Opal 2 Speed

Wahl KM Cordless 2 Speed

You can shop all these cordless clipper models here >

** Although the Heiniger Saphir is a single speed, it has the torque and power needed to handle the Shih Tzu coat.

For help comparing cordless models: Check the features to help you compare, such as whether they have removable / replaceable batteries for charging / replacing, or whether you need to plug in the clipper itself when it runs out of charge (if it's the type without removable / replaceable batteries). Compare run-time and charge time. Whether they come with 1 or 2 batteries. The cost of buying extra batteries later. Whether they come with a case or not. Whether the battery / clipper has a charge indicator or not. It's not a 'right or wrong' for each of these considerations, as it depends on personal preference and intended use.

What else do I need to buy when getting clippers?

All clippers listed above come with a blade included free. You'll normally get given a standard size 10 blade with your clippers. However they do not come with shorter or longer blades, or comb attachments, so you order those separately to match the length/s you want the coat to be. With most clippers you'll also need oil and coolant. You'll also typically want at least one comb attachment or one longer bladeSee more below about blades, comb attachments and coat lengths to help you decide. 

How long will a blade stay sharp?

There are so many factors that there isn't an easy answer to that question. However you can get standard steel blades sharpened when they become dull or blunt, rather than having to buy new blades every time. Ceramic blades stay sharper up to 5 times longer than full steel blades, but when ceramic blades eventually become dull or blunt, you can't get that blade type sharpened. You can get both ceramic or steel blades for all the A5 model clippers listed above. Do take care with your coat prep though, as poor prep will dull a blade very fast (sometimes within minutes instead of weeks or months). Read more about coat prep below to avoid causing your blade to become blunt earlier than it should.

Trimmers for Schnauzers

Many Schnauzer owners also get themselves a trimmer to use on the feet, between paw pads, around the face, inside the ears, around the eyes, around the rectum and genitals (called a ‘sanitary trim’ or 'sanitary prep'). Trimmers don't replace clippers - they are not rated for full body clipping - and trimmers are never A5 models as they have a smaller blade width than clippers, so each trimmer has it's own blades made for that model.

Full-size clippers can also be used for these smaller, more sensitive areas if you prefer, however factors to consider include: how noise, vibration and touch sensitive the dog is, whether you want to go cordless for tricky areas or if you want a smaller blade to get to difficult areas more easily with the lowest risk of injury. Trimmers are especially handy for Miniature Schnauzers with everything being that much smaller!

If your dog is anxious about being groomed or touched in certain places, a trimmer is ideal for anywhere sensitive as trimmers are much lighter, smaller and quieter than clippers.  A trimmer's much narrower blade width makes access to tricky or delicate areas a lot easier, also reducing the risk of injury, ideal if you're a beginner.

MINI Trimmers

Mini's have around a 3cm blade width. Ideal for all size Schnauzers, but especially for Miniature Schnauzers.

Higher quality models:

Wahl BravMini

Heiniger Mini

Budget option > Shernbao Mini 

MIDI Trimmers

A MIDI size trimmer is a bit bigger, the blade width is around 4cm. This size is popular both as a first clipper for Schnauzer puppies before they get their adult coat, while their coat is still thin and easy to clip, and as trimmers for adults (for paws, faces, ears, groin etc, and touch-ups between trips to the groomer).

Andis Pulse Li5 5 in 1

Wahl Creativa 5 in 1

Budget option > Codos CP-9800

Blade guide for the Schnauzer coat

Check your clipper model first. If you have an A5 model clipper of any brand, then every blade in the sizes below will fit your clippers, and you can mix and match brands. With A5 models, an Andis blade can go on a Wahl clipper, a Geib blade on an Andis clipper, a Wahl comb attachment on an Andis blade, and so on.

Popular Schnauzer blade lengths

Shorter coat lengths (up to 1cm)

10 blade The ‘standard blade’. Comes free with most clippers. Leaves the coat just under 2mm when used by  itself, longer depending on the direction you clip the coat. Also fits all universal comb attachments for coat lengths from under 3mm to over 3cm.

Body, face, tail feet: A 10 is typically used by itself for the Schnauzer body, face, tail and feet. As the Schnauzer coat uses a 10 blade more than other breeds tend to, you may want to get a back-up 10 blade now or later, for use when your main blade is away being sharpened, or to swap between blades when they get too hot. If you rely on one blade only, keep in mind it will become dull or blunt sooner, so will need sharpening or replacing more often, plus it would be handy to have coolant on hand, as you wouldn't be able to swap for a cool blade mid-clip if needed. There are longer body length blade options also, coming up below.

Legs: You'd normally scissor Schnauzer legs and keep them long, but you can use a comb attachment for the legs if preferred, or keep them short using a blade instead.

IMPORTANT before you buy any longer blade > Unless you are experienced or trained using them, only get the finish cut version in any blade longer than a 10. Longer blades - such as sizes 3, 4, 5 and 7 - come in two versions, skip tooth (ST) where every other tooth is shorter, or finish cut (called F or FC depending on the brand, but they mean the same thing). All blades 10 or shorter - that includes sizes 10, 15, 30, 40 and 50 - are always finish cut (all the teeth are the same length), so they don't usually say F or FC in the blade description.

9 blade A little longer than a 10. Leaves the coat around 2mm similar to a 10. Get the FC version unless experienced. TIP: Watch the video further down this guide and skip ahead to about 31 mins to see how long a 9 blade leaves the coat.

7 blade Slightly longer again for the body if you feel the 9 or 10 are too short. Leaves the coat around 3mm. Get the FC version unless experienced.

5 blade A longer body length. Leaves the coat around 6mm. Not as common for the Schnauzer to be clipped this long for the body, but an option if you want it longer than normal, more for pet clips. Get the FC version unless experienced.

Size 4 and size 3 blades are not common lengths for a Schnauzer, but will give you an even longer body coat length. Size 4 are just under 1cm, and size 3 are over 1cm (about 13mm).

TIP: If a wide-toothed grooming comb cannot get through the coat, a blade with a comb attachment on will not get through either! If the coat is knotted or matted, and you can't remove them before you clip, you may have to use a shorter blade to get under the knots, like a size 10 blade.

Longer coat lengths (over 1cm)

Comb attachments offer a range of coat lengths from under 3mm to over 3cm so you can choose the length you'd like the coat to be, or have some areas (like the legs), longer than others. As long as the comb attachment says it is universal, you can mix and match brands. Universal comb attachments fit on any brand of size 10 or size 30 blade. 

Plastic or stainless steel? We recommend stainless steel comb attachments for the thick, double Schnauzer coat as these have a more secure fit on the blade than plastic combs. With good coat prep (no knots, and all stuck, dead coat removed), you can use plastic combs.

Rather than get caught up on all the different letters and numbers (as comb attachments don't use the same numbers as blades), you're best to buy comb attachments based on coat length. Both blades and comb attachments tell you the coat length in mm's.

Scissors for the Schnauzer coat

Use thinning scissors to go over the coat to remove any track lines or uneven areas left behind after clipping, and to blend shorter into longer areas such as the body in to the legs. For beginners, the most popular type of thinners are shorter with a high teeth count (around 6.5" with 40+ teeth). You can use straight scissors also, which are the closest to using paper scissors so have less of a learning curve, but they leave a blunt cut (great for Schnauzer brows for example) rather than the softer textured cut that a thinner does (thinning have one notched blade and one solid blade). It's more common to have one of each type for the Schnauzer (one straight, one thinner) as they have different purposes. In scissors in general, the level 1 Geib Gator and Witte Roseline are the best sellers for less experienced groomers (although popular with experienced groomers also used as workhorse scissors).

Correct coat texture

The Schnauzer coat should ideally be carded and hand stripped to get the correct harsher coat texture, but a popular alternative for pet Schnauzers is a deshedder - a tool that emulates the hand stripped look and thins out the undercoat without harming the top coat. It won't give the same result as proper hand-stripping, but is the nest best thing for pet Schnauzer clips. Deshedding is highly recommended before using comb attachments, and before clipping, or the blade may 'chew' instead of cut the coat, and comb attachments may not get through all areas. The most common reason for the coat to clog up a blade or comb attachment is due to stuck, dead coat, not being removed fully before clipping. A deshedder helps with that step. 

What coat prep is needed before clipping a Schnauzer?

Even with a brand new, sharp blade, and powerful clipper, poor coat prep can cause a lot of (avoidable) problems when clipping. The same coat prep guide for any breed, also applies to the Schnauzer coat, so read that first. Removing stuck, dead coat before you clip the Schnauzer coat is more important than with some breeds, so it doesn't clog your blade and make it 'chew' instead of cut. 

Shampoo & conditioner

Use the Wire Coat Shampoo Selector for help choosing best match shampoo, conditioner, detangler & more for the Schnauzer coat, as well as tear staining & ear care. Never wash a knotted coat! This almost always makes knots much worse and harder to remove. If you want to wet the coat to help with knot removal, use a detangler spray. 

How to clip the Schnauzer

Schnauzer body

This is a general overview only, so if you’re a beginner we recommend watching Youtube tutorials, finding a mentor groomer, attending a short grooming course (there are multiple grooming schools in NZ), or asking your breeder for more detailed advice.

A standard 10 blade is a popular choice for the Schnauzer body, or if you prefer it longer, use a longer blade or put a comb attachment on a 10 blade. See the Schnauzer Blade Guide above for help choosing.

Clip in the direction the coat grows. Start at the back of the skull and go right down the back to the tail, then down the sides. Stop an inch or so above the elbows. You can leave the coat long below the elbows, down the chest, and on the tummy for a feathery fringe if you like, in which case thinning scissors are usually used to blend the area where you stop clipping, so it smoothly transitions into the longer coat.

Tail: If you want the tail short, you can either clip in the direction of the hair growth and have the entire tail one short length, or clip only the top of the tail and leave it longer underneath if you prefer. You can trim the longer areas using thinning scissors. 

Legs: You can put a longer comb attachment on a 10 blade for fluffier, longer legs, or can just comb them out and use scissors or your trimmers to tidy them up, such as clipping or trimming the outer side of the legs and leaving the sides and inside long. If you don’t comb and brush regularly however, you may like a shorter length all over, including the legs, otherwise they are likely to knot.

Feet: Trim excess fur between the toes and paw pads. Use a trimmer or a safety tip scissor (great scissors to have for any delicate or injury prone area – ideal for the face too). Use scissors or a trimmer to trim the coat close around the nails, and give a round shape the feet.

Nails: Either use a nail clipper, or if you’re not as confident or your dog doesn’t like nail clippers, use a nail grinder instead (the ones with a Dremel type stone tend to be better like the Codos Nail Grinder). Whatever you use for nails, always keep styptic powder on hand, just in case. We use the Bio-Groom Sure Clot but any styptic powder will do the job.

Schnauzer face

This is a general overview only, so if you’re a beginner we recommend watching Youtube tutorials, finding a mentor groomer, or asking your breeder for more detailed advice as the face really makes the breed when it comes to the Schnauzer.

Face: Usually the hair on the head is clipped close to the skull with a standard 10 blade, going backwards starting between the eyebrows and going up and back, between the ears, towards the back of the head. Then go down the side of the head (between the eyes and ears). You may not need to clip or cut the beard unless it’s become too long or knotted. Trimmers – with their more narrow blade – are ideal for the head and ears. If you want to tidy up the beard, use thinners.

Eyes: Put a little Fidos Tear Stain Remover on a cotton ball or use a damp soft cloth to soften and remove any build-up around the eyes.

Ears: A Schnauzers folded ears are prone to wax build-up. Use Fidos Ear Drops to soften, clean and remove wax, and a soft, dampened cloth to gently wipe ear folds. If there’s excess hair in the ear canal that needs to be removed, your groomer or breeder can pluck it for you or teach you how. When clipping the inside and outside of the ears, use the standard 10 blade on your clipper, or ideally use a mini size trimmer if you have one. YouTube videos are worth watching showing how to hold the ear correctly to avoid accidentally nicking them. Use scissors or a trimmer to finish the ear edges.

Dealing with tangles and knots 

A detangler spray and slicker brush are a great combo to remove tangles. A bristle brush won’t be enough for the Schnauzer coat (but a pin brush is recommended for all over brushing for longer areas). For bad tangles start with a grooming comb to gently tease apart the knot first (a detangler spray helps a lot with this step too). For very bad knots you may have to cut them out, or clip under them. Take care as skin may be pulled in to the knot, so it’s best for a professional to remove felted or matted knots. When using scissors for knot removal, safety tip scissors are recommended unless experienced.

Video tutorials for how to clip a Schnauzer

Here are two of many YouTube tutorials for tips on how to clip a Schnauzer after coat prep is done. You'll find many more on YouTube also.