Caring For A West Highland White Terrier’s Coat

West Highland White Terrier’s are a particular and special breed with a unique coat type. The following aims to provide a comprehensive yet detailed guide on properly caring for your precious Westie.

Understanding Your Westie’s Coat Type

West Highland White Terrier’s are a type of “rough-haired terrier” known for its low-allergy, double coat consisting of a rough outer coat and a cottony undercoat. Contrary to popular belief, the Westie ‘non-shed’ coat does shed lightly. However, the majority of the old coat stays put and must be combed out during grooming.

Compared to other types of terriers, Westies have a longer coat that requires regular brushing to remove dead hair and prevent nasty knots, mats and tangles. Traditional Westie coats are hand-stripped, not cut, to get the desired texture. However, Westies kept as pets often have their hair short. 

Remember that clipping a Westie’s coat will only make it shorter; it will not get rid of the old hair. Therefore, always remove the old coat before clipping by hand-stripping or using a de-shedding tool. 

Once again, stripping is a widespread practice for giving the Westie coat its proper, coarser and wirier texture. Over time, a coat that has been clipped becomes softer. While hand-stripping is often reserved for show dogs, more groomers are now offering the service.

West Highland White Terrier Gracie

The Best Shampoo To Use For A Westie Coat

The good news is that your Westie’s white coat is generally easy to maintain because the breed rarely produces oil or odour. But, be warned, the average Westie has a natural talent for digging a good muddy hole. In these situations, you can typically just let them air out and brush the dirt off rather than bathe them. 

Because Westies lack the oily protective covering of some breeds, it’s best to limit the frequency of their baths. Use a mild shampoo that won’t remove the little protective oils from the coat if you must. If there is filth that won’t come out during brushing, try spot-cleaning your Westie’s coat. 

When you need to clean only one little section of your Westie’s body, a waterless shampoo comes in handy. Only use a shampoo marketed for dogs with sensitive skin and coats, such as the non-irritating, soap-free varieties.

Brush Basics: Which Ones To Use On A Westie’s Coat

Because puppy Westie coats are lighter and finer, it’s fine to use a bristle brush. But as your Westie grows, a pin brush is more suitable as your everyday go-to brush as it will get through their double adult coats. 

If the coat is longer, you should brush it thoroughly once per day; if it’s kept short, brush it once per week at most. If knots or tangles are discovered, they can be gently “patted” out from tip to skin using a grooming comb (for finer tangles) or a slicker brush. Knots can also be untied with the use of a detangler spray.

Mats can be prevented with consistent grooming, but if they do form (Westies’ armpits are a common area for mat formation), a dematter and slicker can help get rid of them. However, cutting the mats away using a trimmer might be quicker and gentler. Because the blade has to go “behind” the mat to remove it, clipping out mats will shorten the coat significantly. 

For bad mats that have pulled the skin into the knots, enlist a professional groomer to remove them. A detangler should be used before brushing out a mat or knot.

Keen to learn more about caring for West Highland White Terriers? Visit our info page for more advice and tips on properly caring for your Westie.

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