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How to Groom a Westie: 7 Expert Tips

Written by: Kristin Hitchcock

Last Updated on April 10, 2024 by Dogster Team

Scruffy dirty west highland white terrier westie dog on grooming table with scissors

How to Groom a Westie: 7 Expert Tips

Grooming a West Highland White Terrier isn’t typically a huge amount of work. These small dogs are surprisingly low-maintenance, considering their fluffy, white fur. However, they do require some grooming to keep looking their best. On top of caring for their coat, you’ll also need to care for their ears, nails, and teeth—just like any other dog.

It may seem like a lot to keep up with, but with a straightforward list, it doesn’t have to be. Below, you’ll find a complete guide on how to groom your Westie.

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The 7 Tips on How to Groom a Westie

1. Brushing 

Just like most dogs, Westies need to be brushed regularly. Begin by brushing your Westie’s coat to remove any loose hair and tangles. Westies have a double coat consisting of a dense, wiry outer coat and a soft undercoat. Usually, it’s the undercoat that sheds the most, so be sure to choose a brush that reaches into the undercoat.

Use a slicker brush or a pin brush to gently brush through their fur. This will help prevent matting and keep the coat in good condition. You may also want to use a comb to take care of particularly matted areas.

Brushing west highland terrier dog
Image Credit: Elena Sineglazova, Shutterstock

2. Bathing

Westies generally need a bath every 4 to 6 weeks. Bathing helps their white coat stay white. They can look particularly dirty very quickly, so they typically need to be bathed more than other dogs. However, too many baths can lead to skin irritation, so don’t go overboard.

Use a dog-specific shampoo and warm water to lather up their coat. Make sure to rinse thoroughly to remove all the shampoo residue. Many dogs will benefit from a gentle shampoo, as these tend to be less drying. However, you may need to try several shampoos before you find one that works well for your dog.

Don’t forget to dry your dog completely after a bath. Preferably, you should use a towel or blow dryer to get rid of any excess moisture.

3. Stripping

To maintain the correct texture, you’ll need to strip your Westie regularly. This is one of the harder parts of grooming, largely because many owners haven’t stripped dogs before.

Stripping involves removing dead hair from the coat to promote new hair growth. This is typically done using a stripping knife or a stripping stone. Stripping regularly will also help limit shedding, as the old hair would have already been removed.

If you’re unsure about how to strip a Westie’s coat, it’s best to seek guidance from a professional groomer. If you purchase a Westie puppy, the breeder may be able to show you how to properly strip their coat.

Luckily, this doesn’t have to be done all that often. Every couple of months is fine. Therefore, many owners choose to have a professional perform this job.

Westie background wooden wall_
Image By: Bogdanovich Alexander, Shutterstock

4. Trimming

Stripping will help their fur from becoming too overgrown, but they will also need trimming, especially around their face. You can trim your dog yourself at home, especially if you already do the stripping at home. However, many owners get the stripping and trimming done by a local groomer.

Either way, trimming a Westie isn’t terribly difficult if they are stripped correctly. They’ll mostly need to be trimmed around their face and paws, where stripping usually isn’t done.

5. Nail Care

Just like any dog, a Westie will need their nails trimmed regularly. Their nails continuously grow, and through normal activity should be worn down naturally. However, this doesn’t typically occur in our homes. Therefore, we have to trim them to prevent all the issues that go along with too-long nails, such as splitting and pain.

If you’re already opting for professional grooming, then your groomer will likely trim your dog’s nails, too.

You can also trim them at home, especially if they only rarely see a groomer. Trimming a dog’s nails should be done with specialized nail clippers. Be sure not to trim their nails too short, as this may cause you to injure the quick—the area where the blood and nerves for the nail are. If you snip this portion, it will be painful for your pooch and likely bleed.

nail clippers for dogs and cats on a wooden surface
Image By: pedphoto36pm, Shutterstock

6. Ear Cleaning

Westies can be prone to ear infections. Therefore, it’s important to check their ears regularly and clean them as necessary. Use a vet-approved ear cleaner and cotton balls to gently clean the inside of their ears. Avoid inserting anything deep into the ear canal, as you may accidentally damage your dog’s ears.

You can have your groomer clean your dog’s ears. (Usually, it is included in the typical grooming package.) However, your dog may need their ears cleaned more than they see the groomer, so you should plan on cleaning them at home too.

If you see any inflammation or the dog’s ears smell bad, you should contact your vet. Often, these are signs of an ear infection.

7. Teeth Care

Your Westie’s teeth need to be cleaned regularly. If they aren’t, they can get all kinds of dental problems—some of which are deadly. Dental health is commonly glanced over when it comes to dog grooming. However, it’s one of the more important steps.

Taking care of your dog’s teeth isn’t hard, though. You’ll need to brush them with dog-safe toothpaste at least a few times a week, though every day is better.

Your dog may also need professional cleaning by your vet. These can help remove plaque from areas that are hard to brush, preventing cavities and tooth decay.

white west highland terrier dog puppy opens his mouth for dental control
Image By: LanKS, Shutterstock

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Westies aren’t terribly high-maintenance. However, their coats need to be stripped and clipped every month or two. Most owners take their dog to the groomer for these sessions, though you can also do it at home. Either way, these sessions will go a long way to preventing mats and other coat issues.

You’ll also need to trim your dog’s nails and clean their teeth. The groomer can often trim your dog’s nails for you. However, you’ll want to brush their teeth at home and clean their ears. These tasks need to be done several times a week—even if you have a groomer do everything else.

Featured Image Credit: corners74, Shutterstock

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