The West Highland white terrier (Westie) requires infrequent bathing, even if you’re hoping to keep his white coat pristine. According to Beth E. Widdows, writer for the West Highland White Terrier Club of America, this is due to the Westie’s sensitive skin, which is prone to irritation.
The Double Coat
Westies have a double coat. Up top, their fur is coarse and firm. This straight fur should not be clipped if you’re hoping to show your Westie. Show dog Westie owners will want to strip this top coat, so it retains its texture. Stripped fur requires special cleaning. Underneath a Westie’s coarse fur is a soft furry undercoat. Those who don’t show their dogs typically clip this fur into a skirted style. Grooming fur, in this manner, may require additional efforts from your groomer. You’ll want to bring along a picture of a well-groomed Westie, so you can show the groomer what you want your dog to look like.
How to Bathe a Westie
Begin bathing your Westie by gently scrubbing away his dirt and grime. Use a sensitive skin shampoo, to gently cleanse the skin, without irritation. A dermadine based shampoo is best for Westies experiencing problem skin. Gently rinse your dog after thoroughly cleansing. Westies require a second bath, because they’re so prone to getting dirty. This second bath gets the Westie’s fur bright white again. Wash your Westie’s paws, face and fur with a coat brightener shampoo. If your Westie has sensitive skin, make sure to avoid using any products that can irritate this. A Westie's white fur is prone to getting dirty, but don't over wash these sensitive pups. Instead, between bathing, use a damp cloth to gently wipe away dirt and grime. These dogs have truly sensitive skin and are prone to itchy, flaky skin, as a result of over-bathing. The amount you should bathe your Westie is dependent on what type of grooming you prefer for the animal.
When to Bathe Stripped Coat Westies
In her article on Westie grooming, Widdow asserts that many show owners only bathe their Westies three or four times a year. “The reason for this is a belief that too many baths will dry out a Westie’s skin and cause itching problems,” says Widdow. She also suggests that infrequent bathing works best if you’re doing your own stripping, so you can manage the Westie’s coat in between baths. If a stripped Westie has a groomer, show success may require that you visit the groomer every four to six weeks, to maintain his look.
If your Westie has soft, curly hair, you’ll only want to bathe him every four to six weeks – at most. It’s equally important to have your Westie regularly clipped every four to six weeks, so you may want to leave bathing up to the groomer. Overall, it’s really up to you when you bathe your clipped Westie. Widdows doesn’t recommend bathing your Westie more than once every four weeks, but does acknowledge that circumstances may arise where this is necessary.
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