The West Highland terrier, commonly called the Westie, sports a wiry, bright white coat that offers both beauty and functionality. Westies generally don't entertain a host of different hairstyles, as their short double coat protects them without getting in the way of their fun.
Short and Sweet
Unlike longer haired dogs, the Westie doesn't fuss with bows and long periods of brushing and styling, instead sticking with a sporty hairstyle that suits his active lifestyle best. The quintessential Westie cut is a short-to-medium trim all over his little body, with slightly longer hair on his head and underskirt -- his legs and along the length of his body and belly. This is the cut you usually see in books or Internet searches, and the one breeders and show judges demand.
For those dogs who consider the even the typical haircut too long, an even closer trim takes his coat much shorter and easier to care for. Having an experienced groomer clip your pup's hair close to the skin removes the possibility of mats and greatly reduces the amount of grooming necessary. Regular visits to the groomer for trims every few months keep him looking neat and clean; a rub-down at home with a grooming mitt a few times a week keeps his clipped coat smooth and healthy. Take note that clipped dogs, especially ones with white coats, can suffer sun damage to their skin, so take extra precautions to keep him cool and out of direct sunlight while he's sporting his crop-top.
Stripping His Hair
The terrier is a working breed, meaning he goes out and hunts in all sorts of weather. Your Westie's coat reflects this. His double coat is a wiry top layer above a softer layer; together they keep him warm and dry as he chases down his prey. Traditionally his wiry top coat requires stripping twice a year to remove the dead hair and encourage regrowth of a coarser, tougher coat. Stripping essentially means plucking out the wiry hair, using your fingers or a special stripping tool. Clipping your pup does essentially the same thing and actually makes the hair grow back softer and wavier than it otherwise would.
Keep Him Looking Neat
No matter what haircut you choose for your Westie, don't shirk on upkeep. Brush him regularly with a pin brush to keep mats at bay, and bathe him when he needs it. Westies are lickers who will turn their legs and paws a rusty brown if allowed to lick, lick, lick to their heart's content, so discourage this habit. Visit your groomer every few months for a trim to keep his hair looking neat, especially around his face, backside and paws. Even if you decide to grow your pooch's hair out, he'll still need regular trims to keep him from looking like a scruffy hobo dog during that awkward in-between period. Never attempt any trim on your pup yourself, as scissors and clippers in inexperienced hands can result in an injured pooch and guilt-ridden owner. Seek out a professional groomer to do any trimming or clipping your Westie requires.
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