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Westie Grooming 101: Brushing, Bathing, Hair Cuts & More

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Westie grooming requires patience and consistency. The easy way is to take your Westie to a professional groomer. Professional grooming is effective but it costs a lot. Recent studies suggest that dogs undergo a lot of stress during their grooming visits. Still, you can avoid stressing out your Westie by learning how to do it yourself. 

You can learn how to groom Westies relatively quickly. Remember that practice makes perfect so don’t get discouraged if you don’t do a perfect job from the beginning. 

This article teaches you all the steps you need to take for a perfect Westie grooming routine:

  • Coat brushing
  • Bathing
  • Nail trimming
  • Teeth brushing
  • Ear cleaning
  • Face grooming
  • Clipping

You will also learn about Westies’ coat type and the hand stripping procedure.

Westie Coat Type

Westies are double-coated dogs. Their overcoat is made of wiry hair which has the role of protecting them from insects and UV rays. The undercoat of Westies is short, silky, and smooth. It has the role of an insulator. 

West Highland White Terriers are hypoallergenic. They are moderate to low shedders and produce low amounts of dander. 

Because they are double-coated, westies are seasonal shedders. They shed more during spring and autumn. 

Westie Coat Type

Westie Grooming Tips

Grooming a West Highland Terrier requires practice and patience. You can perform it like a pro if you follow some tips from professional groomers and vets.

1. Brushing Westies’ Coat

How Often Should I Brush My Westie’s Coat?

Westies should be brushed every day. If this is not possible, try to get a brush in at least 4 to 5 times per week. 

A brushing session should last at least 10 minutes to keep Westies’ hair and skin healthy.

What Is the Best Brush for Westies?

A pin brush is better than a bristle brush for Westies, as they have wired hair and are double-coated. Bristle brushes are more suited for dogs who have smooth and silky coats. 

Here are the main uses of pin brushes:

  • To remove debris and dirt from dogs’ hair.
  • To untangle their hair and remove mats.
  • To remove loose hair. 
Brushing Westies’ Coat
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How to Brush Westies

How you brush your Westies affects the effectiveness and your dog’s comfort. 

Most dogs experience acute stress when groomed by a professional[1]. The grooming itself is not the cause of stress. exposing the to a different environment and not knowing what to expect could be the culprit. If this is the case with your dog, it’s important to comfort it during brushing to avoid further trauma.

Here’s how to brush a Westie:

  • Brush the hair in sections.
  • Start with the hard-to-reach areas (the back, under the limbs).
  • Go slow to avoid hurting your dog.
  • Praise them while you brush their coat.
  • Give them a treat when you finish.

2. Bathing Westies

Bathing Westies
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How Often Should I Bathe My Westie?

Westie should be bathed every 4 to 6 weeks but not more than that. If the circumstances require it, you can use moisturizing products more often.

While dogs need a wash every once in a while, too much is bad for them. Bathing your Westie more often than every four weeks can lead to skin issues, such as dry skin.

Westies have a predisposition for dermatitis which is triggered by dry skin.

Can I Bathe My Westie Every Day?

No, you can not bathe Westies every day. The fatty acids in their skin are reduced to 60% after you bathe them[2]

The skin oils are completely restored after 72 hours. This means that bathing Westies every day should be avoided. 

What Are the Best Shampoos for Westies?

The best shampoo for Westies is made of natural ingredients and is hypoallergenic. Scented products are irritating to the skin and can cause neurological problems. 

Shampoos with moisturizing ingredients are great to prevent symptoms of atopic dermatitis. 

This table lists the main ingredients to avoid in shampoos for Westies.

IngredientEffectNames
PerfumeCan cause dehydration and skin allergies, and has a neurotoxic potential.– 
ParabensCan disrupt Westies’ endocrine system.[3]Propylparaben, Isopropylparaben, Butylparaben, and Isobutylparaben
FormaldehydeIs Correlated to a higher risk of cancer.[4]Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, Bronopol, DMDN Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl urea, and Imidazolidinyl urea
SulfatesCan cause dry skin, redness, itchiness, and irritation.Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES), and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS)

Bathing Tips for Westies

Here are five tips for bathing Westies correctly:

  1. Use warm water (it’s more comfortable).
  2. If they don’t like water, avoid placing the shower head above your Westie.
  3. Use shampoo only when your Westie is completely wet.
  4. Prevent water from getting into their ears when you rinse off the shampoo.
  5. Dry them with a low-temperature hair drier.

3. Westies Nail Trimming

Westies Nail Trimming

If your Westies spend most of their time indoors, nail trimming is essential. Long nails cause pain, especially when dogs walk on hard surfaces. 

Westies with long nails can develop problematic leg posture.

Nail Trimming Tips for Westies

Here are five tips to cut Westies’ nails:

  1. Trim their nails every 3 weeks (or less often).
  2. Make sure to cut your Westie’s nails when they protrude their paws, and not sooner.
  3. Your dog’s nails are too long when they touch the ground.
  4. Use a nail trimmer specially made for dogs.
  5. Sharpen your nail trimmer.

4. Brushing Westies’ Teeth

Teeth and gum problems reduce the well-being of Westies and can often lead to serious health issues. Brushing your Westie’s teeth daily leads to better gum and teeth health than doing it weekly.[5]

What Is the Best Toothpaste for Westies?

Toothbrushes with soft bristles are best for Westies. If your Westie doesn’t like it when you brush their teeth, you can use a fingertip toothbrush. 

Double-headed toothbrushes provide the best cleaning while angled toothbrushes make it easy to clean the back teeth.

What Is the Best Toothpaste for Westies?

Natural toothpaste for dogs without Xylitol is the best for Westies. Xylitol is a type of alcohol that is toxic to dogs. While it is sweet, it causes severe reactions. 

Toothpaste for dogs is Xylitol-free, unlike toothpaste made especially for humans. This is why it is essential not to use your toothpaste when brushing your Westies teeth.

Brushing Westies’ Teeth
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How to Brush Westies’ Teeth

Here’s how to brush your Westie’s teeth:

  1. Calm your westie and take them to a well-lit space.
  2. Touch your Westie’s teeth and gums with your fingers first.
  3. Get your dog used to the toothbrush by touching it to their gums and teeth without brushing.
  4. Start by brushing the front side of the teeth without using toothpaste.
  5. After you put toothpaste on the brush, brush the front, sides, and back of the teeth. 
  6. Reward your Westie after brushing.

5. Westie Ear Cleaning

Westies need ear cleaning to avoid fungal and bacterial infections. Ear infections are among the most common dog health issues[6]. Their ears are best cleaned with special ear cleansers. Q-tips and superficial cleaning are not recommended.

How Often Should I Clean My Westie’s Ears?

Clean your Westie’s ears at least once every four weeks. If they have frequent allergies, clean their ears every week. 

Don’t forget to clean westies’ ears after every bath or swim.

What Is the Best Ear Cleanser for Westies?

If your Westie has waxy ears, use a product with squalene. If their ears are dirty, use an antibacterial or antifungal cleanser.

Squalene is an ingredient used for waxy ears. It is irritating if you use it too often. To avoid problems, rinse off the product after use with a gentler cleanser.

How To Clean My Cavalier’s Ears

Here’s how to clean a Westie’s ears:

  1. Wait until your Westie is calm.
  2. Pull the cleaning solution (recommended by the vet) into your dog’s ear canal.
  3. Take 30 seconds to massage the bottom of the ear.
  4. Don’t touch the cleanser applicator to the ear to avoid viral or bacterial contamination.
  5. Wipe off the cleaning solution from your dog’s face after they shake their head.
  6. Clean the cleanser residue in the ear with a cotton ball.
  7. Take account of any sign of pain during the process.

Westie Face Grooming

Westies need special grooming for their face to keep them good-looking.  They are sensitive and might move while you groom them. This is why it is best to be more gentle and careful when you groom their face, to avoid hurting them.

Make sure to use blunt-tipped scissors to ensure safety.

Westie Face Grooming
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How Often Should I Groom My Westie’s Face?

Westies’ faces should be groomed every 3 to 4 months. If your Westie’s hair grows fast, you can do it more often.

Why Groom My Westie’s Face?

The hair around Westies’ eyes, nose, and mouth can irritate them during activities. To avoid this, trim their facial hair regularly.

Westies can also experience impaired vision if they have long hair around their eyes. When they eat or drink, the hair around their mouth will get dirty. 

If you like washing your dog, a short haircut is best.

Westie Clipping & Cutting

Clipping Westies’ hair is not compulsory but recommended. Westies’ hair can become knotted because of its wiry texture. To avoid this, you would clip their hair at least four times per year.

Here are some tips for clipping your Westie:

  • Use electric pet clippers that don’t have “skip tooth” blades to avoid injuring your Westie.
  • Don’t apply high pressure and be gentle around the underbelly, ears, anus, genitals, and legs to avoid cutting your dog.
  • Don’t go against the growth direction of your Westie’s hair to avoid trimming too much hair.
  • Never use the clippers on your dog’s face or head.
  • During the procedure, verify the blades of the clipper for heat. If they are hot, stop and wait for them to cool down.
  • After bathing and drying your Westies, clip their hair one more time to provide a smooth finish.

What Are the Best Dog Clippers for Westies?

Here are some features the best clipper for Westies have:

  • High-carbon stainless steel blades
  • Multiple blades for a diner cut
  • Detachable blades
  • Powerful motor
  • Changeable speed
  • Lightweight and ergonomic design
  • Shatterproof casing
  • Low noise and vibration levels
  • Easy to clean casing
  • Cordless design (optional)

Hand Stripping Westies

Handstrippic is a procedure that requires you to pull out the outer layer of wiry hair by hand. This procedure is specific to wire-coated and rough-coated dogs, such as Westies. 

Because of its complexity, hand stripping is usually left to professional groomers.

Conclusion

Westies require daily coat grooming and teeth brushing, and monthly nail trimming. They also need to be bathed every 4 to 6 weeks, and their hair has to be cut every 3 to 4 months. 

These procedures are relatively easy to do. Learn to groom yourself to save money and avoid stressing your Westie. Practice makes perfect, so be patient until you master the skill.

About Ioana Moldovan

Ioana is a Misfit Animals staff writer and psychology student interested in animal behavior. She likes to dive deep into the newest scientific studies to find out the latest discoveries in the field.

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