However, exactly how common it is I haven’t been able to determine… in 19 years of breeding Miniature Schnauzers I’m still waiting to see a single case!
What are Schnauzer Bumps?
These comedones characteristically appear on the dog’s back. They don’t usually cause any problems unless they become infected. Once infected they can become itchy and may even develop into deep pus-filled little abscesses or “bumps”. Not nice at all!
To make matters worse, once they appear they usually stay for the life of the dog.
Schnauzer bumps are suspected to be a hereditary problem in Miniature Schnauzers characterized by defective keratinization of the hair follicles in the middle of the back.
However, though it seems to be a genetic problem, this has not been proven.
Schnauzer Comedone Syndrome is often associated with problem Schnauzer skin such as flea bite or other allergies, and is also affected by the quality of the food that is fed.
I have certainly met a few Miniature Schnauzers with sensitive skin. And most of skin disorders can be avoided or controlled through sensible management and a good, natural diet. But more on that later…
While Schnauzer Comedone Syndrome cannot be completely eradicated, it is possible to control the condition to keep it from being a major problem for your dog.
And if your dog is only mildly affected, then no treatment is necessary.
However, if the bumps become infected (pus-filled) you will need to see your veterinarian for a 3 to 4 week course of antibiotics.
Using shampoos that breakdown the skin oils that plug the follicles is a recommended strategy. This should be done every fortnight at least. However, in between times you could dab the affected areas only.
Such shampoos contain antiseborrheic ingredients that can also be bought on their own as a gel or wash.
Common ones are benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, sulfur and tar. I have found “Pine Tarsol” (containing pine tar) very effective for most skin problems (including infection and irritation) in both my dogs and my family.
It also makes sense to go for the most natural ones you can find i.e. that are free of soap, chemicals, artificial colors and preservatives.
If they are not infected you could also try rubbing affected areas with astringents to dissolve the plugs. Recommended astringents are witch hazel the gentler option) and rubbing alcohol.
Clipping the hair over the affected areas and keeping it short can help in some cases. Combined with regular outside activity, this allows sunshine and air to the skin, which is said to improve the condition.
Control of Fleas
If your dog also has flea bite allergy (marked by hair loss on the tail end of the back) then controlling fleas can provide relief for comedones as well. And, since even a single flea can set off flea bite allergy, it must be strict flea control. Like with most allergies, diet also helps, so see below.
The classic skin nutrients are zinc, vitamin E, vitamin A and omega oils. So ensure your dog is getting sufficient quantities in their diet.
Supplementation may be necessary at first to bring body levels up to normal. Fish oil is a good source of omega fats – just add one capsule to the diet each day.
The diet I use was developed by a veterinarian who found that it reduced the incidence of many common canine problems, including fleabite allergy and food allergies.
Certainly, after 18 years of using this diet, problem schnauzer skin has never been an issue for me.