How to Bathe Your West Highland White Terrier (Westie)


Laika01You’d think with such perfect white coats, westies would require frequent bathing, but they don’t. In fact, it can be harmful to bath a westie too much. They’re prone to sensitive skin, and over-bathing can cause irritations. In general, you should only bathe your westie three to four times a year. If you prefer a short cut on your westie, you can take him to a groomer and have him cleaned every four to six weeks.

The Westie’s General Appearance

From AKC.org: “The West Highland White Terrier is a small, game, well-balanced hardy looking terrier, exhibiting good showmanship, possessed with no small amount of self-esteem, strongly built, deep in chest and back ribs, with a straight back and powerful hindquarters on muscular legs, and exhibiting in marked degree a great combination of strength and activity. The coat is about two inches long, white in color, hard, with plenty of soft undercoat. The dog should be neatly presented, the longer coat on the back and sides, trimmed to blend into the shorter neck and shoulder coat. Considerable hair is left around the head to act as a frame for the face to yield a typical Westie expression.”

The Westie’s Double Coat

A double coat doesn’t have to be complicated. Basically, the top layer is coarse and underneath is soft. If you don’t show your dog, don’t worry about stripping his top coat because stripping requires complex cleaning. A note to those hoping to show their westies: don’t clip the top coat, and take him to a groomer for stripping and cleaning.

For those who aren’t planning to show their westie, you can have your dog’s fur cut in any style you like. The puppy style is a good choice because it’s cute and easy to maintain. If you’re planning to show, the AKC only accepts the breed specific cut: the westie cut. Check the link for more details about these cuts: Haircut Styles for a West Highland Terrier.

How to Bathe Your Westie

Remember: you should only bathe your westie a few times a year unless he’s a show dog or unless you’re a professional or taking him to a professional. This is due to the westie’s sensitive skin, which will become irritated if you over bathe him.

Gentle scrub your westie with a sensitive skin shampoo. Wash his paws, face, and fur with the shampoo. Gently scrub with your fingertips and then rinse with warm water. Only use a coat brightener shampoo if you’re certain its dermadine based and won’t harm your westie.

naturally-pure-westie-shampooI recommend using a sensitive skin shampoo to gently cleanse your westie. Naturally Pure Dog Wash from Pet Wellbeing is sulfate-free and contains no parabens, DEA, MEA, or Tea. It’s made exclusively from non-synthetic, non-toxic natural and organic ingredients. This shampoo is veterinarian recommended for dogs with skin allergies and sensitive skin.

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How to Bathe Westies with Clipped Cut Coats

Westies with clipped cuts require more frequent bathing. At most, you can bathe your clipped cut westie every four to six weeks. I recommend leaving the bathing to his groomer, but if you’re doing the cut yourself, follow the instructions above. Use a sensitive skin shampoo, and check him regularly for signs of irritation or redness.

Overall, it’s up to you when you bathe your westie. It’s inadvisable to bathe him more often than once a month, but circumstances may arise where more frequent bathing is required. If he gets muddy or otherwise really dirty, you don’t have to give him a full shampoo. Oftentimes, you can rinse away the dirt if you’ve already bathed him recently. If you do notice signs of irritation, don’t bathe him again. Take him to the vet and get him treated, and get your vets advice on when to bathe him.

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