West Highland White Terrier - Breed and Grooming Tips

The hardy West Highland White Terrier, more commonly known as the "Westie," is known for its friendly, strong-willed personality and a remarkably bright white coat. Said to be "all terrier," this breed possesses a large amount of spunk, determination and devotion stuffed into a compact little body. The confident Westie excels in a variety of AKC events, from conformation to agility to obedience.



Right Breed for You?

The Westie loves people and makes an affectionate addition to any family. This devoted, happy and faithful dog also makes a wonderful travel companion due to its small size. Their dry coats are a combination of a soft dense undercoat and a rough outer coat. Daily brushing and regular clipping or stripping of the coat is necessary.



Source:  American Kennel Club - www.akc.org


Grooming

The West Highland White Terrier has a double coat. The outer coat is a harsh, wiry coat which serves as a protective barrier to enable the dog to do the job for which he was bred. The under coat is soft. Regular stripping strengthens the quality and texture of the coat, which, in turn, further improves the utilitarian purpose of the dog.  Whether your Westie is hand stripped and on a proper coat rotation or in a pet trim wielding the artful use of clippers and thinning shears, all terriers benefit from regular grooming rather than allowing them to regress to a state of scraggly disarray.  If the Westie is hand stripped, it is done before the furnishings are bathed then touched up afterward.  The outer layer of coat is hand stripped, while the undercoat is systematically carded to reach optimal results.  If you are artfully clippering the Westie, card the coat to remove dead coat and stimulate surface circulation to encourage new, fresh coat growth. If you are stripping the coat, frequent brushing and rubbing the jacket down with a towel to remove dirt and excessive oils makes regular bathing of the Westie unnecessary. When the jacket needs to be bathed, be sure bathe in the direction the coat grows and the direction you are pulling the coat.  The same goes for rinsing.  It is always a good idea to cool the water temperature down to ensure there is no residue remaining. Dry the coat in the same direction as well using a soft bristle brush on the jacket rather than a pin brush. The leg furnishings and facial furnishings should be bathed frequently depending on the Westie’s lifestyle.



Recommended Products:



Energee Plus “Dirty Dog” Shampoo:  Go ahead and let them be terriers! This natural degreaser and deodorizer gets even the filthiest dog clean.  It brings the coat back to its neutral state.



Bright White Shampoo: A gentle approach to remove stubborn stains and help brighten yellowing coats,  while cleaning the skin and coat.



Flea & Tick Shampoo:  Kills fleas and ticks while cleaning and conditioning your pet’s skin and coat.  Leaves a fresh and clean fragrance.  Safe for puppies over 12 weeks.  Keep out of eyes.



Luxury Remoisturizer:  This remoisturizer will leave the wiry coat texture intact, while conditioning the face and leg furnishings.



Dead Sea Mineral Mudbath:  This product is used to recondition the skin and repair the coat.  Great for dogs with clipped jackets.  The mudbath helps to clean the skin and coat while simultaneously redistributing healthy oils naturally.



 

Finishing the Dog: Tools and Finish Grooming



This spirited terrier should be groomed on a regular schedule. The West Highland White Terrier has a harsh, double coat with a wiry topcoat and a soft, dense undercoat. In order to keep the harsh texture and vibrant color, the topcoat is maintained by hand stripping and rolling the coat weekly. It is necessary for a dog to be hand stripped to enter the show ring.  It is a difficult dog to properly groom since most of the work is done by hand.  A pet trim follows the same pattern and outline, but the coat is clipped rather than hand stripped.  The wiry texture will eventually disappear, but  the dog should be  carded with appropriate carding tools and a stone, in order to keep the skin in good condition.  This is the easiest way to maintain a great looking dog without the time commitment and expense of hand stripping the coat. 



Recommended Products:



Aloe Hydrating Spray:  Hydrate the skin and coat with nourishing Aloe Vera for a vibrant coat.



High Sheen Finishing Spray:  Great for that show-stopping luster while having the added benefit of a touch of sunscreen.



Boost Volumizing Spray: This spray will help bring in volume to the furnishings when it is lacking to help give that “just stepped out of the show ring” look.



Freeze Hair Hold Spray: A must have for Westie heads.  The hair on the head will elp the hair stand up in order to help get that correct, round Westie head and expression.



General Health Care:



Prep work is the foundation of all grooming. Prep work includes ear cleaning, nail trimming, trimming the pads, and proper dental hygiene. Mastering these skills sets the professional stylist apart from the rest. Prep work should be done before every grooming and bathing appointment.   All dogs need to have their ears checked and cleaned. Some need to have the hair pulled from the ear canal. This allows the ear to have proper air circulation, which helps prevent bacteria and moisture in the ear canal.  It is not necessary to remove all of the hair in the ear, as some serves as a barrier to foreign debris. It is imperative that you are properly trained to pull ear hair before attempting this endeavor. Proper nail care is important.  Long, unsightly nails present potential health issues as well as make it more difficult to trim a neat and tidy foot.  Trimming the pads of the foot helps give a pet good traction on different surfaces, and can minimize the amount of dirt the dog tracks into the house.  It also affords the opportunity to treat and condition the paws from cracks and abrasions.  Good dental hygiene is the essential for a healthy pet, too.



Recommended Products:



Ear Care: This ear cleaner has a blend of natural oils to remove dirt, debris, and wax.



Ear Powder:  A must for removing the hair from the ear canal.  It will reduce slippage, while reducing odor, and contributing to drying out the ear canal.



Paw Balm: Use weekly to keep paws pliable and soft.  Paw Balm will aid in the prevention of pads to dry out and crack.



Natural Bandage:  To use as a protective cover, to stop bleeding, ease pain, promote healing, and provide coverage to help keep germs away.



3 in 1 Healing Cream:  If your pet gets a wound, this cream promotes cell regeneration and healing.  It is formulated with Bitrex to discourage licking and chewing.





Nutritional Care



In order to maintain healthy skin and coat as well as overall health, it is important to provide good nutrition to your dog through diet, vitamins, and healthy treats. 



Recommended Products:

Icelandic Salmon Oil:  Enhances the skin and coat while simultaneously supporting the immune system and joint health.

 



Frequently Asked Questions



1/ What products do I need if I just purchased a Westie puppy?

Puppy Shampoo

Luxury Remoisturizer Conditioner

Ear Care Aloe Wipes

Optisoothe Eye Wash

Puppy Aloe Wipes



2/ Do they require a lot of grooming?



Westie’s do require routine grooming.  If the dog is hand stripped, keeping the dog in proper coat rotation is extremely time consuming as well as expensive.  If you have chosen to keep your Westie in a clipped trim, plan on spending 20 – 30 minutes per week for brushing to keep the undercoat at bay and to remove dead coat and to keep the furnishings from getting tangled.



3/ What is a common problem in Westie’s?



As with any breed, the Westie has some breed specific issues to pay attention to.  Atopic dermatitis, which is an inflammatory, chronic skin disorder brought on by allergies, is prevalent in the West Highland White Terrier.  Patellar Luxation and Inflammatory Bowel Disease are two other common issues in Westie’s.



4/ Do Westie’s shed or cause allergies?



Westie’s have relatively low dander and may be acceptable for individuals with asthma or allergies. As with any breed, if you suffer from allergies, spend some time around the breed before you bring a Westie into your home.



They do shed a little. However they do not shed profusely and their hair is easily vacuumed or removed with a lint brush. Regular brushing will reduce shedding to a minimum.

 



5/ Are Westie’s good with children?



This is highly dependent on adult supervision and the age of the children. If the adult in charge has taught the children proper respect for the puppy’s rights and care of the puppy, Westie’s and children can be a happy combination. Children, particularly 10 and older, can enjoy playing a good game of soccer or catch with a Westie. They are sturdy for their size.



6/ What if I have a show dog?



Whether you have a show dog or a companion dog, the same basic care is given regarding nutrition, socialization, and hygiene.  The difference is the grooming maintenance and training for the show ring.  It is always helpful if your breeder is willing to help mentor you to lead you in the right direction upon entering the wonderful world of show dogs.  A great place to start is with the national breed club like the Westie Club of America, www.westieclubamerica.com


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