The West Highland white terrier coat looks deceptively simple to manage but, like most terrier coats, can be time-consuming depending on the hairstyle you choose. Many Westie owners keep their pups in a shorter hairstyle for ease of maintenance. A Westie groomed for the show ring must maintain the look that is rarely seen at the dog park because it is so labor intensive. Visit a professional groomer who is familiar with Westies to give your dog the look you want.
The Westie coat is softer than most terrier breeds, with a soft undercoat and rough outercoat. The little white dog's coat is designed to help protect him from the elements in the cold and damp Scottish West Highland countryside where the breed originated. The coat can be stripped or clipped in various styles. Stripping involves pulling the hair out rather than cutting it and is a lengthy process used for the show ring. It makes the coat more wiry and coarse.
The Westie cut is the traditional look for these dogs. The undercoat is professionally thinned with a stripping comb. The shoulders and back are then blended into a skirt on the dog's lower body. The hair on his legs is long, and his face is trimmed by plucking long hairs to frame it in a round, even shape. The hair on the Westie's shoulders and back is trimmed to about 2 inches, with the skirt and legs 4 inches long.
The puppy cut is not just for puppies. It is popular for many terriers because it gives a uniform, even look to the coat. For this style, clippers are used to trim the hair all over the dog's body to one length, about 2 inches long. The hair on the face is trimmed neatly, but left a bit longer to present the typical Westie look. The tail is scissored into a carrot shape.
The Westie coat is sometimes shaved for warmer weather, or if the coat has become too matted to comb out easily. The dog's face is trimmed into the typical Westie look, but the legs and body are shaved to the skin. Care must be taken if your dog is shaved to keep the Westie's sensitive skin clean. Use sunscreen to prevent sun damage and bathe your dog frequently with a gentle shampoo designed for dogs to avoid skin irritation.
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