Choosing the right dog can be problematic if you have allergies. If you have a dog that sheds a lot, that excess fur and dander could dramatically increase the need to sneeze. Fortunately, schnauzers have a reputation for minimal shedding. Is that reputation valid?
Schnauzers in Brief
Split into Standard, Giant and Miniature categories, schnauzers are one of the world's most popular breeds for several reasons. They are famous for their loyalty, they are remarkably trainable, and they instinctively know how to be entertaining. When these traits are blended, you can bear witness to some pretty remarkable things.
Schnauzers: The Ultimate Fur-Faces
A schnauzer’s fur can be one of the most deceptive features of any dog breed out there. The main reason for this potential misconception is his face. Specifically, it’s the fur that hangs off his mug as per the breed standard that may cause the confusion.
There is no more dominating feature when it comes to schnauzers than his big, bushy eyebrows and his prominent walrus mustache. The latter of which is so prominent, in fact, it inspired the breed’s name. The word “schnauzer” is German for “schnauze,” which translates to “muzzle” and has grown colloquially to represent mustache.
However, this iconic facial fur is a bit deceiving. The coat of a schnauzer’s body is a double coat, but both coats are very short. The inner coat is soft, while the outer coat is coarse and wiry, thus giving its fur its distinctive appearance.
With that being said, just because a dog boasts a double coat doesn’t mean that he will automatically be a shedding machine. The truth is, schnauzers tend to shed very little relative to their size. More importantly, they also don’t release a whole lot of pet dander as they shed, giving them a reputation for being the most hypoallergenic breed around.
Size Does Matter When it Comes to Schnauzers
Before you rush out and bring home any old schnauzer based on his shedding and hypoallergenic properties, it is important that you take a closer look at the breed’s different sizes. In a nutshell, the smaller the schnauzer you bring home, the better off you’ll be from a shedding and allergen perspective.
The reason for this essentially comes down to surface area. From a relative standpoint, schnauzers all shed equally. However, because a giant schnauzer has a good six inches on his miniature relative, he’s going to leave behind a greater amount of fur.
This amount of fur that a giant schnauzer will leave behind won't nearly be as much as, say, a collie or a shepherd breed. Nonetheless, a giant will leave much more fur behind than a mini just by sheer dog volume. This may come as a shock to those that enter the schnauzer market assuming that they all shed the same amount.
This doesn’t mean that you cannot live with a giant schnauzer if you prefer your dogs to be on the larger side. All this means is that you need to prepare yourself to do a little extra elbow grease than you may otherwise anticipated. Again, even though giants shed more than minis, the fur left behind is nowhere near as severe as other shedding breeds.
Take Care of that Coat!
Just because schnauzers have a reputation for being minimal shedders, this does not mean that you are completely off the hook when it comes to tending your four-legged friend’s fur. Grooming your schnauzer is an essential part of keeping whatever shedding he does do to a minimum. The fact that it makes him look his best is rather important, too.
The reason why it's important to keep your schnauzer groomed goes back to his double coat. Because he has a combo of a wiry topcoat and a soft undercoat, the fur lends itself quite naturally to various mats and tangles. This can not only make his coat look less than optimal, but it can also create discomfort since the matted fur's roots will pull on his skin.
The level of grooming required largely depends on the size of the schnauzers. Miniature and Standard sizes will generally require a good fur clipping session every 5 to 8 weeks. Giants, on the other hand, generally require hand stripping every 4 to 6 months.
The main reason for this difference is due to the giant's fur. If you clip a giant's fur with great frequency as opposed to using the hand stripping method, his fur is likely to become softer and less wiry. This will not only alter the color of his coat, but it will also make him subject to increased shedding.
Regardless of size, you should count on brushing your schnauzer’s fun about three times a week in order to prevent mats from forming. This is important because mats not only make your pooch’s fur look less than stellar, the roots of the matted fur will tug on his skin. This could create a certain measure of discomfort.
Additionally, you should be sure to pay special attention to your schnauzer’s face. In order to maintain his iconic look, you need to deploy tactics like washing his face after every meal time and drying it off so that it retains fluffiness.
If you’re new to having a miniature schnauzer in your life, you may want to take your little buddy to a professional groomer. This will help your pooch maintain his iconic look while you learn to do it yourself. Eventually, you’ll be able to create the look yourself – just don’t expect perfection the first few times.
A (Relatively) Shed-Free Lifestyle
All schnauzers do shed, but the level of shedding is so minimal in comparison to other dogs, it’s really not that big of a deal. This is especially true with the mini and standard versions of the breed, as their short coats and smallish surface area mean a lesser amount of fur left behind. If your allergies make it tough to own a dog, a schnauzer may be your easiest route.