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West Highland White Terrier Grooming Guide

Updated: Feb 16

West Highland White Terriers – often referred to as the Westie – are one of the most recognised and favoured dog breeds. This small, hypoallergenic terrier, originating in Scotland before the 19th century and recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1901 as a member of the Terrier Group, is sure to capture your heart in an instant just as they have millions over the years.

West Highland Terrier with Clippers
Grooming a Westie

Owning a Westie is very rewarding and fun; however, clipping them clean can be a chore if you have no experience grooming dogs. You may have heard of these dogs before, or seen them on TV, they are one of the most popular breeds in the UK especially around Christmas time when they wear little outfits to match their owners!

Grooming Tips

Westies are not clipped short; if using a professional clipper it is best to use a #4 or #5 length blade to achieve the right length across the body. The face is never clipped, but is rounded into a chrysanthemum shape with grooming scissors.

The Westie coat consists of two layers – an undercoat and outer coat. The undercoat is soft, dense and woolly, with longer guard hairs growing through it. The outer coat should be of medium length and feel silky to touch. It should not be allowed to grow too long as this makes it difficult to groom properly.

If your Westie has a double coat (soft undercoat with longer guard hairs) you can either brush him regularly with a pin brush or use a rake for more frequent grooming sessions. If your dog has a single coat then regular brushing will suffice!

Grooming Process for the West Highland White

Equipment Needed: Stripping knife, clippers, slicker brush, wide toothed comb

  • Regularly brush the entire coat, removing the knots and tangles.

  • With the stripping knife *(coarse), trim from about 5 cm behind the ears and downwards over the shoulder.

  • With the required length of blade on the clipper, run the clipper from the back of the neck towards the tail, down the sides to a level line from the elbow to the pelvis, leaving a skirt.

  • Trim the tail. The hair is shortened by using the stripping knife, hand plucking or using thinning scissors.

  • Trim the hair from under the tail and around the anal area. Clip or scissor these parts, going in the direction of the growth of hair.

  • Bath your Westie in a mild shampoo and apply a conditioner where necessary.

  • Blow the coat dry with a slicker brush.

  • Check the Westie's nails, ears and teeth.

  • Blend the skirt into the body with the stripping knife or thinning scissors to ensure a smooth appearance.

  • Ears: Strip the stray hairs with a knife or thinning scissors and neaten the edges with scissors.

  • Indent the stop: Trim the area between the eyes with thinning scissors to remove enough hair to reveal the eyes.

Stripping knife for removing hair on West Highland White Terrier
Clipit Coarse Stripping Knife

Some pet owners usually have their dog's legs scissored to about 10cm in a downward blend, and the skirt shortened at the bottom. Some Westies have their underneath (stomach and between legs) clipped with a #10 blade through the chest to the stomach, incorporating the genital area.

It is also a good idea to remove the hair from between the toes for several reasons: it keeps their feet cleaner, helps prevent foot problems and keeps dirt out of the hair.

Scissoring hair from between the pads.
Cutting hair between the pads

The finished dog.

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