West Highland white terriers originated in the Scottish Highlands and are commonly called Westies. They have distinctive white coats that require a lot of attention, depending on their styling. The Westie coat has two layers, a hard wiry topcoat to protect the dog from the elements and a soft dense undercoat to keep the dog insulated. Several popular doggie haircuts are suited to the West Highland white.
Fit for the Show Ring
If you are going to show your Westie, he must wear the hairstyle approved by the sanctioning club. The American Kennel Club requires the coat to be stripped by hand, so you will need to find a groomer who is experienced in preparing dogs for showing. The hair should be 2 inches long on the back and sides, becoming shorter on the shoulders and neck. The face is stripped to a round shape. The stomach and legs are left longer to form a skirt of about 4 inches.
Regular Westie Cut
The regular Westie cut is similar to the show cut, and it requires only scissors or clippers. It is popular because it suits the breed. The face and head are trimmed to a fluffy round shape, and the hair on the back and shoulders is trimmed short. The hair on the legs, sides and stomach is left longer but trimmed to a universal length so it is easy to keep groomed.
Cute Puppy Cut
Many small dogs are given puppy cuts, as the short coat reduces regular grooming needs. The hair on the body and legs is trimmed to an even length of between 1 and 1½ inches, which makes grooming easy and reduces the amount of leaves and twigs he will pick up while playing in the park or garden. You can ask the groomer for variations to the cut, such as keeping the facial hair longer. It is best to have the fur trimmed around the mouth because of food stains on the white fur.
There is no need to have your Westie's coat stripped, clipped or shaved if you are prepared to brush him daily. The natural shaggy coat is fine for a Westie, but it requires thorough brushing to prevent the fine undercoat from matting, which can lead to skin problems later on. If he gets muddy, it is best to let the mud dry before you brush it out. Don’t be tempted to bathe him too often, as he will lose protective oils which can lead to skin and coat problems. A white dog might appear dirty in short order, but if you feel a need to bathe the dog more than once every couple of months, consult your vet.