How do you prepare your mini schnauzer for a dog show? This is a question I am always asked by those who are starting out in conformation dog shows.
My standard answer is that you can’t prepare a mini schnauzer (or any dog, for that matter) for a dog show overnight, or even a week before a dog show. Dog showing isn’t about short cuts.
If you can’t pour time into the maintenance of your show dog, then don’t cause yourself any further frustration by joining shows. A mini schnauzer’s coat, for instance, would need at least three months of preparation. Getting the trademark wire jacket of a mini schnauzer entails a minimum of 12 weeks of stripping and carding—and that’s assuming the wiry hair comes through right away.
This article, though, is not about hair preparation, but rather, the maintenance of a show dog. It pains me how I would get inquiries or requests for help on how to deal with brownish-reddish leg furnishings, matted hair, or stained teeth, usually just a few days before a show. Worse, I see dogs brought into the ring without any training, wrong grooming, or such poor coat conditions that they are dismissed outright by the judge.
Having experienced the highs and lows of showing a mini schnauzer, I can say that successful dog showing calls for judicious planning, attention to detail, and plain hard work.
Preparing your mini schnauzer for a dog show requires paying attention to everything – his physique, wire jacket, furnishings, and most of all, his health. This means having a good diet and exercise (a must whether or not your dog is into conformation shows), training with a qualified handler, and preparing the show coat. (I won’t go into detail into each of these, as each one deserves a separate blog.)
Needless to say, you can’t do these overnight. It starts from choosing the right dog (with the correct structure and temperament) and being honest enough with yourself if your chosen show dog turns out to be of pet quality.
It means investing time and resources in preparing and conditioning this dog for the show ring. It means understanding the dog’s structure, knowing his strengths and weaknesses, and knowing how to best present him. If you are showing a schnauzer, it means long hours of stripping that show coat, making sure that the wiry jacket comes out, and following a pattern that complements the dog’s structure. It means checking out your dog every day, brushing his coat to ensure that no mats form, and making sure the furnishings and beard aren’t stained by saliva, food, or any other thing that causes discoloration.
Dog showing is not for lazybones. You need to get up and oversee your dog’s daily activities. It requires endurance training so that the dog does not tire easily, adequate socialization so that he can interact uneventfully with both canines and humans, and sensitization so that loud sounds and new places do not scare him. It also requires you to understand dog show rules (under the Philippine Canine Club) and the associated documentation and veterinary needs.
Of course, you can get a groomer, trainer, and handler to do these things for you, but if you don’t really know what they’re doing, then you’re not going to get anywhere. Instead, try to learn from them and from others as well so that you can set goals for your dog. In conformation dog shows, as in life, it is not so much about the destination, but the journey, that you can learn and enjoy the most.
Getting your mini schnauzer into the world of conformation dog shows may not be a walk in the park, but with dedication, knowledge, and support from the right team, you can learn, thrive, and have some fun at the same time — while hopefully taking home some nice titles.