How To Clean, Detangle, and Whiten Your Schnauzer’s Beard

Let’s be honest. Pet parents of beardless dogs have it easy. One quick swipe of a wet cloth or pet wipe and their fur friend’s muzzle is clean and breezy. Then there are those of us who have welcomed a beloved Schnauzer, along with that BEARD, into our hearts and homes. While the beard is an iconic, beautiful Schnauzer feature, it’s also a magnet for food, dirt, and bacteria. Your Schnauzer’s beard can even become matted due to neglect and discolored due to minerals and food dyes.

So, let’s talk about how to keep up with maintaining one of your Schnauzer’s most notable features.

To clean, detangle, and whiten your Schnauzer’s beard, do these steps daily:

  1. Clean the beard after each meal with a damp cloth or pet wipe.
  2. For deeper cleaning and whitening, add a very small amount of antibacterial or whitening dog shampoo to the cloth, then rinse with another damp cloth.
  3. Use a sea salt/distilled water solution to kill bacteria.
  4. Use a small amount of hydrogen peroxide to whiten.
  5. If necessary, add a small amount of detangler.
  6. Gently comb through the beard with a small dematting rake, comb, or slicker brush

Why Should You Take Good Care of Your Schnauzer’s Beard?

Schnauzer beards can get dirty quickly, becoming discolored and matted. In addition, they can become stained by saliva, and food dyes. Worse yet, they easily become a breeding ground for yeast and bacterial infections, along with odor.

Along with keeping your Schnauzer’s teeth clean by brushing them daily (see my article Your Schnauzer Has Genetically Bad Teeth), keeping her beard clean is a necessary daily routine.

While I’ve covered the basics for cleaning, detangling, and whitening in the steps above, the rest of this article will provide more details and additional steps.

I’ve also added a bonus section on the basics of trimming your Schnauzer’s beard.

Tips for Keeping Your Schnauzer’s Beard Clean

We’ve already established that your Schnauzer’s beard requires maintenance, and you are probably already bathing her 1-2 times per week or so (depending on how dirty or oily she tends to get).

Between regular baths and visits to the groomer, taking care of your Schnauzer will need to include cleaning her beard daily. This will keep bacteria and any associated health issues or odor from developing. It will also help to prevent her beard from staining, which is primarily due to saliva and dyes from food and treats.

Once you are in the habit of daily beard cleaning, it’s easy to maintain…especially if you combine it with mealtimes.

Here are essential tips for cleaning your Schnauzer’s beard:

  • For a quick, easy-to-manage cleaning, wipe the beard using a pet wipe. I sometimes add some extra water or even a small drop of shampoo. This is one of my favorite shampoos for Livi. Use a second wipe and warm water to rinse. You can also use wipes to keep her entire body clean between baths.
  • Alternatively, soak a microfiber washcloth in distilled white-water vinegar, and rub it on your Schnauzer’s beard. Use clean, warm water to rinse.
  • Dry her beard and then comb through with a detangler comb or slicker brush.
  • Finally, you could consider sprinkling either baking soda or cornstarch into her beard for freshness. I also add a drop of Lavender essential oi (which is safe in small amounts) to the powder for a nice fragrance. Comb through any excess.

How To Detangle Your Schnauzer’s Beard

The most important step in detangling your Schnauzer’s beard is to simply avoid tangles and matting in the first place.

“Keeping that iconic Schnauzer beard well-groomed requires daily attention.”


With daily cleaning and combing, avoiding problems is simple. In addition, once this level of grooming and cleaning is part of your routine, it becomes a manageable habit.

Let’s cover some tips for preventing tangles in the first place, and then talk about how to detangle your Schnauzers beard if it has become matted.

How to Prevent Tangles and Matted Hair

A well-maintained beard is key to Schnauzer grooming. Here are some tips you can build into your day:

  • Wash your Schnauzer’s beard at least once per day. Preferably after each meal, meaning, twice each day.
  • Comb or brush your Schnauzer’s beard every day, using a dematting tool or slicker brush.
  • Have a good detangler available to use with your tools. Most popular detanglers work well.
  • Work cornstarch into her beard with your fingers, then comb through. Cornstarch can help to absorb extra oils and give you an opportunity to feel your Schnauzer’s beard for any tangles or burrs with your fingers.
  • After bathing your Schnauzer, dry his beard using a dry towel. In doing this, gently squeeze his beard using the towel instead of rubbing it. Squeezing will help to prevent the beard from getting tangled. Comb through with your favorite comb, slicker brush, or dematting tool.
  • Keep her beard well-trimmed. Between groomer visits, you may want to practice trimming her beard yourself. You can purchase a reasonable grooming kit and read the bonus trimming tips below. This is the kit I use, but any reputable kit will work well.
  • If he likes swimming or other sports, apply the detangler just before the activity.

Steps to Detangle Your Schnauzer’s Beard

Your Schnauzer’s beard will require some daily attention, so if you fall behind don’t feel too guilty. We’ve all probably gone a few days without the best-practice cleaning and combing. It’s called life.

However, as you can imagine, the area around your Schnauzer’s beard is sensitive, and removing matted hair can be painful. In addition, if your fur friend is anything like our Livi, she sometimes attracts burrs to her beard while out on walks.

If your Schnauzer’s beard is truly in bad shape, I would recommend simply going to a groomer. In fact, when Livi picked up several burrs in her beard (and they were nestled near her jawline) we had no option but to ask our groomer to shave off her entire beard! Read my article Will My Schnauzer’s Beard Grow Back (I Shaved It!) to make yourself feel better.

If the tangles and matted portions aren’t too bad, and you feel comfortable working through them at home, here are the basic steps to follow:

  1. Assemble your detangling and dematting tools, including a splitting tool if necessary. Splitting tools are specifically designed to pierce tough tangles and slice through them.
  2. Have your favorite detangler ready. As I mentioned above, any reputable detangler should be fine. My current favorite is Cowboy Magic (and it smells great!).
  3. Get comfortable with your Schnauzer and consider offering a small treat.
  4. Rub the detangler into your Schnauzer’s beard and let it penetrate the hair.
  5. Find the tangles with your fingers and try to loosen them, or even completely separate them with using your fingers.
  6. If necessary, use your splitting tool cut through the tangle. Or, use another dematting  tool or comb to run through the tangle. Ensure that you slice or comb in the direction of the beard growth.
  7. As you work through the tangles, it’s best to start on the outer edge of the beard and work your up. Gently pick or slice at the hair.
  8. Continue as long as your Schnauzer (and you) can tolerate the process. Consider offering another small, healthy treat to reward her patience.
  9. Bathe your Schnauzer, dry his beard, gently comb through, and apply a small amount of your detangler.

Whitening Your Schnauzer’s Beard

Schnauzers can come in a variety of colors that range from black to brown to silver. Many Schnauzers are consider “parti” and are a combination of two colors such as black and white.

Many Schnauzer’s beards are at least partially white and can show stains easily. Even gray, silver, and black Schnauzers can show discolorations in their beards.

Even if you don’t need to re-whiten your Schnauzer’s beard, knowing the causes of discoloration and how to restore his original coloring will be helpful.

Let’s cover the reasons for discoloration, and then get to the steps for whitening (or at least removing stains from) your Schnauzer’s beard.

Why Do Schnauzer Beards Become Stained?

There are many reasons why your Schnauzer’s beard can become discolored. Narrowing down the culprit, and eliminating any health concerns, will be the first steps.

Here are the top reasons your Schnauzer’s beard may become discolored:

  • Brown stains are around your Schnauzer’s eyes and mouth, especially if paired with an odor, could be signs of a yeast infection or other illness. Consult with your veterinarian. It could also be due to allergies, and this PetMD article can give you some holistic ideas for treating them.
  • The quality of his food is sometimes a culprit. Low-quality kibble is often filled with dyes or other artificial coloring that can stain your Schnauzer’s beard, not to mention affect his health. Switching to human-grade food such as The Honest Kitchen is a healthy step forward.
  • Beard or mouth stains may be also be the result saliva oxidation. Your Schnauzer’s saliva contains a compound called porphyrin. Porphyrins are iron-containing molecules that are produced when his body breaks down red blood cells. As a result, saliva around his mouth, or even his tendency to lick other parts of his body, can leave lead to brownish-red staining.

How to Prevent the Beard from Becoming Stained

As with most things, prevention is worth a pound of cure, and beard stains are no different.

With daily maintenance, you can keep his beard clean and avoid staining in the first place.

Avoid staining with this simple routine:

  1. Wipe his beard after each meal. Use a wet cloth or pet wipe, and consider adding a small amount of dog shampoo. Rinse or wipe again with warm water.
  2. Adjust his diet to ensure that you feed him with high-quality dog food that is free from artificial coloring.
  3. Tap water contains high concentration of minerals, especially iron that can cause a stained beard. To avoid that, consider offering your Schnauzer filtered water as much as possible.
  4. Brush his teeth each night to maintain overall mouth and dental health.

Ways to Whiten your Schnauzer’s Beard

If your Schnauzer’s beard has become discolored over time, there are some direct ways to more fully clean, deodorize, and possibly whiten it.

Outside of illness or food dyes, remember that your Schnauzer’s saliva contains a compound called porphyrin, iron-containing molecules that are produced when his body breaks down red blood cells.

The steps below will remove the iron-containing molecules before they cause staining:

  1. Combine 4 tbsp. of sea salt with 1 gallon of distilled water and keep the mixture in the fridge. Sea salt kills bacteria and will help keep your Schnauzer’s beard (or any other hair that has become discolored) clean and free from the oxidized saliva.
  2. Wash his beard with the sea salt mixture three to four times a day. Massage a small amount into his beard for about 30 seconds, ensuring that the hair is completely saturated. Be sure to rinse well with lukewarm water.
  3. Wash his beard with hydrogen peroxide once a day. Massage a small amount into his beard for about 30 seconds, ensuring that the hair is completely saturated. Be sure to rinse well with lukewarm water. Hydrogen peroxide has a mild bleaching effect and is safe for dogs.
  4. Add apple cider vinegar to his water twice a day. Use 1 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar per 50 lbs. of your Schnauzer’s weight. If you have a 25 lb. Standard Schnauzer, for example, use 1/2 tbsp. in the morning and 1/2 tbsp. at night. Be sure that the bowl is completely filled with water before adding the vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is made from just apples and water, making it completely safe for dogs. It is slightly acidic, with a pH of 3.1 to 5, which gives it properties that can soothe a dog’s overly alkalized digestive tract and change the composition of his saliva.

Bonus: How to Trim Your Schnauzer’s Beard and Eyebrows

Now that you’ve made such an effort to keep your Schnauzer’s beard clean and non-stained, you might find that you want to trim it yourself between professional groomings.

Here are the tools that I personally use:

Here is a video that may help (and can we all agree that this Miniature Schnauzer is the absolutely best-behaved dog in the world??).

And finally, from one pet parent to another, discover my all-time favorite resources designed to cover your every Schnauzer need. I’ve done the legwork for you so you can spend more time with the people and fur friends in your life.

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I'm Deena, a writer, communications professional, and unabashed Schnauzer fan. Our Miniature Schnauzer, Livi, helped me overcome a lifetime of doggie fear after being attacked by a large dog when I was 8 years old. After over a decade of being a pet parent, I celebrate the companionship power of man's best friend by offering straightforward, well-researched, first-hand information on all Schnauzer breeds. Happy Schnauzering!

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