How To Groom A Westie? Everything You Need To Know

“Grooming a Westie” refers to maintaining the coat, skin, nails, teeth, and overall cleanliness of the West Highland White Terrier, often called a “Westie.” Westies have a double coat with a softer undercoat and a rougher outer coat. Regular grooming is necessary to keep them looking their best and to maintain their health.

Table of Contents

What Are The Types Of Equipment Required?

Grooming a Westie at home requires a set of specific tools and materials to ensure the job is done correctly and comfortably for the dog. Here’s a list of essential grooming supplies for a Westie:

Brushes & Combs

  • Pin Brush: Good for daily or weekly brushing to remove tangles and loose hair. 
  • Slicker Brush: Helps to remove mats and dead hair from the undercoat.
  • Comb: A metal comb is useful for checking for tangles after brushing.

Chris Christensen Dog Brush
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HARTZ Groomer’s Best Combo Dog Brush
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Quadow Tuffer Than Tangles Slicker Brush
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FRISCO Metal Dog & Cat Comb
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Stripping Tools (if hand stripping)

  • Stripping Knife: Removing dead hair from the coat.
  • Finger Stripping Stones: Helpful for grip when hand stripping.
FLAMIA & JABZ Stripping Knife for Dogs
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Clippers & Scissors

Electric Clippers: Useful for trimming the coat if not hand stripping. Make sure you have the right blade for the desired length.

Dog Grooming Kit Clippers
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Straight Scissors: For tidying up areas around the eyes, ears, and feet.

HASHIMOTO Dog Straight Scissors
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LE SALON Essentials Dog Face Trimming Scissors
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Thinning Scissors: Useful for blending in clipped areas for a more natural look.

PET MAGASIN Pet Thinning Shears
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PET MAGASIN Professional Thinning Scissors with Toothed Blade
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Curved Scissors: Helps with shaping areas like the legs and tail.

Intini 7.5″ Curved Dog Grooming Scissors
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LAAZAR Pro Shear Curved Dog Grooming Scissors
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Nail Care

  • Nail Clippers: Guillotine-style or scissor-type, depending on your preference.
  • Nail Grinder (optional): Some find it easier and smoother than clippers.
  • Styptic Powder: If a nail is clipped too short and bleeds.
PET REPUBLIQUE Cordless Dog & Cat Nail Grinder & Nail Clippers
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DEELOKI Dog Nail Grinder
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Top Performance MediStyp Pet Styptic Powder with Benzocaine
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DOGSWELL Remedy Plus Recovery Professional Groomer’s Styptic Powder for Dogs
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Ear Care

  • Ear Cleaner: A vet-approved cleaning solution.
  • Cotton Balls or Pads: For cleaning the ears. Do not use cotton swabs deep in the ear canal.
LIQUID HEALTH PETS K9 Ear Solutions Dog Ear Cleaner
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Bark 2 Basics Dog Ear Cleaner
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Simply Soft Premium Cotton Balls (600 Count)
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Bathing Supplies

  • Dog Shampoo: Choose a formula for sensitive skin or white coats.
  • Dog Conditioner: To keep the coat soft and manageable.
  • Towels: For drying off after a bath.
  • Hair Dryer: Ensure it has a cool setting to prevent the dog’s skin from burning.
TropiClean 2-in-1 Papaya & Coconut Dog Shampoo and Conditioner
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Honest Paws Dog Shampoo and Conditioner 5-in-1
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KUUBIA Pet Hair Dryer
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Dog Hair Dryer for Pet Grooming
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Bone Dry Pet Grooming Towel
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Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Specifically designed for dogs.

Vet’s Best Dog Toothbrush and Enzymatic Toothpaste Set
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 PET LIFE Dental-Brush Tooth Brush & Dog Toy
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Eye Cleaning

Dog Eye Wipes or Soft Cloth: To clean around the eyes.

Project Watson Dog Eyelid Wipes
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Wet Ones for Pets Extra Gentle Hypoallergenic Dog Wipes
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MIRACLE CARE Sterile Eye Wash Pads for Dogs
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Tear Stain Remover: If your Westie has issues with tear stains.

Burt’s Bees for Pets Natural Tear Stain Remover
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NATURVET Tear Stain Remover
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Grooming Table (optional)

A stable surface can make grooming easier, especially for more detailed work or if you often groom.

Dog Grooming Stand
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Go Pet Club Pet Dog Grooming Table
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Detangling Spray

Helpful for managing mats and tangles.

BIOSILK Therapy Detangling & Shine Dog Spray
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BioSilk for Dogs Silk Therapy Detangling for Dogs
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Grooming Spray or Coat Conditioner

For a final touch, giving the coat a shine and pleasant scent.

BIOSILK Silk Therapy Organic Coconut Oil Conditioning & Detangling Dog Spray
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BioSilk for Dogs Silk Therapy Conditioner with Coconut Oil
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Remember, when introducing your Westie to grooming tools, always do so gradually and positively, using treats and praise. Consult a professional groomer or vet for guidance if you need clarification on using any tool or performing a specific grooming task.

How To Groom A Westie?


Westies should be brushed a few times weekly to keep their coats free of tangles and mats. This helps remove loose hairs, distribute natural oils, and keep their coat healthy. A pin brush and a slicker brush are commonly used.


Depending on their level of outdoor activity, Westies usually require a bath every 4-6 weeks. Always use dog-specific shampoos and conditioners.

Hand Stripping

It is pulling out the dead outer hairs by hand or stripping tools. Hand stripping maintains the coat’s rough texture and vibrant color. It’s commonly done for show dogs, but many pet owners prefer to clip or trim their Westies instead, which is quicker but results in a softer, less coarse coat.


If not hand stripping, you may clip or trim the coat, especially in warmer weather or for ease of maintenance. Special grooming clippers and scissors are used for this.

Nail Trimming

Westies’ nails should be checked and clipped regularly every 2-4 weeks to prevent them from growing too long.

Ear Cleaning

Westie’s ears should be checked weekly for dirt or signs of infection. They can be cleaned using dog-specific ear cleansers and cotton balls.


Like all dogs, Westies can benefit from regular dental care, which includes brushing their teeth a few times a week using dog-specific toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Eye Cleaning

Clean any tear stains or discharge from their eyes using a soft cloth or dog-specific eye wipes.


Trim the hair around their feet, between their pads, and around their sanitary areas for cleanliness.

Skin Checks

Westies, with their white coats, can sometimes have sensitive skin. Regularly check for any signs of redness, irritation, or parasites.

Finally, it’s worth noting that some Westies may not enjoy the grooming process initially, so making it as positive an experience as possible is essential. It can include giving treats, praising, and ensuring that the grooming tools aren’t causing discomfort. Regular grooming from a young age can help a Westie become accustomed to the process. If you need more clarification on any aspect of grooming, consider seeking advice from a professional groomer or your veterinarian.

A Step-by-step Guide To Grooming a Westie

Grooming a Westie requires a systematic approach to address every aspect of their grooming needs. Here’s a step-by-step guide on grooming a West Highland White Terrier: ​ 


  • Make sure you have all the grooming supplies.
  • Choose a comfortable location for both you and the dog.
  • Offer some calm petting and possibly a treat to put your Westie at ease.


  • Start with a pin brush to gently work through the coat, removing tangles and loose hairs.
  • Use the slicker brush for mat areas, like behind the ears or under the legs.
  • Finish with a metal comb to ensure the coat is tangy-free.


  • Wet your Westie thoroughly.
  • Apply dog-specific shampoo and work it into a lather, avoiding the eyes and inner ears.
  • Rinse completely, ensuring no shampoo residue remains.
  • If needed, apply dog conditioner and rinse.
  • Towel dry as much as possible. If using a hair dryer, use a cool setting to prevent overheating.

Hand Stripping (if you choose this method)

  • Using either your fingers or a stripping tool, grasp a few hairs at a time and pull toward hair growth.
  • Work methodically, starting from the back of the neck and moving down the body.
  • This process helps maintain the coat’s texture and color.

Clipping (if not hand stripping)

  • Ensure your clippers are clean and sharp.
  • Clip toward hair growth, starting from the neck and moving down the body.
  • Use scissors to trim around the face, ears, and paws for a neat appearance.

Face and Feet

  • Carefully trim the hair around the eyes and mouth to keep it clean.
  • Trim the hair between the footpads and round off the fur on the feet for a tidy look.

Nail Trimming

  • Hold the paw firmly but gently.
  • Trim the nail just before the point where it starts to curve downwards, avoiding the quick.
  • If you accidentally cut the quick, apply styptic powder to stop the bleeding.

Ear Cleaning

  • Gently wipe the inside of the ear using a dog-specific ear cleaner and a cotton ball.
  • Do not insert anything deep into the ear canal.

Teeth Brushing

  • Use a dog toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Lift the lips and gently brush the teeth in a circular motion.

Eye Cleaning

  • Use a soft cloth or dog eye wipes to clean the eyes gently.
  • If tear stains are present, consider using a tear stain remover.

Final Touch

  • Apply a coat conditioner or grooming spray for a fresh scent and added shine.
  • Offer your Westie a treat and praise for being patient.

Always monitor your Westie’s behavior during grooming. If they appear stressed or uncomfortable, consider giving them a break or splitting the grooming session into several days.  If you need clarification on any step, especially hand stripping or clipping, consider seeking guidance from a professional groomer.

What Are The Different Hairstyles To Groom A Westie?

The West Highland White Terrier, or the Westie, has a double coat: a soft, dense undercoat and a rough outer coat. While there is a standard look for Westies in dog shows, pet owners often choose from various hairstyles to keep their Westies comfortable, neat, and stylish. Here are some of the popular hairstyles for a Westie:

Traditional or Show Cut

  • This is the style you’ll see on Westies in dog shows.
  • The coat is hand-stripped to maintain its rough texture.
  • Hair is kept longer around the head to give the Westie its characteristic round face. The beard and skirt (the longer hair on the lower half of the body) are also kept longer.

Puppy Cut

  • A popular choice for many dog breeds, the puppy cut involves trimming the hair all over the body to the same, short length, usually about 1-2 inches.
  • It’s a low-maintenance style that keeps the dog cooler and makes grooming easier.

Teddy Bear Cut

Similar to the puppy cut but with the hair around the head and face left a bit longer, giving the Westie a cute, teddy bear-like appearance.

Westie Cut

A variation of the traditional style where the body hair is clipped shorter for easier maintenance, but the distinctive features like the round face, beard, and skirt are retained.

Summer Cut

  • The coat is trimmed very short all over the body to help the dog stay cool during the warmer months.
  • Care should be taken to avoid sunburn, as the skin can become more exposed with shorter hair.

Kennel Cut

Another variation of a very shortcut all over the body is often done when the primary concern is practicality and comfort for the dog.

Remember, regular grooming, regardless of the hairstyle, is essential for a Westie. Their double coats can tangle if not regularly brushed. Also, while some owners learn to trim their Westies’ hair at home, a professional groomer will have the experience to provide a neat and even cut, especially if you’re looking for a particular style. Lastly, after any grooming session, always check your Westie’s ears, nails, and skin for any issues, and give them plenty of praise and a treat for behaving during their grooming!

How Long Does It Take To Groom?

The time it takes to groom a Westie varies based on several factors:

The Dog’s Temperament

A calm, well-trained Westie accustomed to grooming will be quicker to groom than a nervous or fidgety one.

Coat’s Condition

A well-maintained coat with few tangles and mats will be faster groomed than a neglected one.

Type of Grooming

Hand stripping is more time-consuming than clipping.

Experience of the Groomer

If you’re new to grooming, expect the process to take longer initially. With practice, you’ll become more efficient.

Detailed Work

Precision tasks like scissoring around the face, feet, and sanitary areas can be time-consuming.

Given these factors, here’s a general time frame for each grooming activity:

  • Brushing: 10-20 minutes, depending on the coat’s condition.
  • Bathing: 20-30 minutes, including drying.
  • Hand Stripping: This can take several hours, especially if you’re not experienced, or it’s the dog’s first time.
  • Clipping: 30 minutes to an hour, depending on your familiarity with the tools and the desired length.
  • Scissoring & Detailed Work: 20-40 minutes.
  • Nail Trimming: 10-15 minutes.
  • Ear Cleaning: 5-10 minutes.
  • Teeth Brushing: 5 minutes.
  • Eye Cleaning: 5 minutes.

If you’re doing a full grooming session, including a bath, nail trim, ear cleaning, and either hand stripping or clipping, you could spend anywhere from 1.5 to 4 hours. However, remember that only some of these tasks must be done in one session. Over several days, you can spread them out for your convenience and the dog’s comfort.

Tips to Groom a Westie

Grooming a Westie can be a rewarding experience, keeping your furry friend looking sharp and comfortable. Here are some tips to help you make the grooming process smoother:

Familiarize Early

Introduce your Westie to grooming practices and tools when they’re a puppy. This can help reduce anxiety and resistance in the future.

Regular Brushing

Brushing your Westie several times a week will reduce matting and tangles, making the overall grooming process easier.

Patience is Key

Take breaks if your Westie is nervous or uncooperative. It’s okay to split grooming over several days.

Positive Reinforcement

Always reward your Westie with treats and praise after grooming, and even intermittently throughout the process, to make it a positive experience.

Choose the Right Tools

Invest in high-quality grooming tools appropriate for a Westie’s coat and size.

Be Gentle with Mats

If you encounter a mat, hold it at the base (closer to the skin) to prevent pulling on the skin while gently working it out with a comb or slicker brush.

Bathe Sparingly

Westies don’t need frequent baths. Overbathing can strip their skin of essential oils. When you bathe them, always use dog-specific shampoos.

Check the Ears

Westies can be prone to ear infections. Always dry their ears thoroughly after baths and regularly check for signs of redness, irritation, or unpleasant odors.

Maintain Nail Length

Regularly trimmed nails prevent overgrowth, which can cause discomfort or injury. If you can hear their nails clicking on the floor, it’s likely time for a trim.

Hand Stripping vs. Clipping

Decide the best method for your dog and your preferences. Hand stripping maintains the coarse texture of the coat, but it’s more labor-intensive than clipping.

Check Skin Regularly

Their white coat makes it relatively easy to spot any redness, rashes, or parasites on a Westie’s skin. Regularly inspect as you groom.

Avoid Wet Work Post-Grooming

Schedule baths or grooming sessions on days when rain or damp conditions aren’t expected, as a freshly groomed coat can easily get muddied or tangled.

Protect the Eyes and Ears

When bathing your Westie, use a damp cloth to clean the face, avoiding getting shampoo or water directly in the eyes or ears.

Stay Updated on Health

Sometimes, grooming can uncover hidden health issues like lumps, skin conditions, or ear infections. Regular grooming not only keeps your Westie looking good but also helps in the early detection of potential health problems.

Learn from Professionals

Consult a professional groomer if you need clarification on grooming techniques or tools. They can offer guidance and even demonstrate the best methods.

Remember, the goal is to make grooming a comfortable and enjoyable experience for you and your Westie. The bond you share with your pet can be strengthened through these regular care routines.

What To Do If the Tips Do Not Work?

If the steps or tips for grooming a Westie don’t work and you continue to face challenges, here are some broader strategies to consider:

Get Professional Assistance

  • Professional Groomers: They have the experience and patience to handle difficult dogs and can give your Westie comprehensive grooming even if your attempts haven’t been successful.
  • Dog Behaviorists: If the resistance to grooming is a behavioral issue, a dog behaviorist should provide insight into the root causes and solutions.
  • Veterinarian: If your Westie suddenly becomes averse to grooming, it could be due to an underlying health issue. Always consult your vet in such cases.

Reassess Your Tools and Environment

  • Ensure your grooming tools are appropriate for a Westie’s coat and not causing discomfort.
  • Ensure your grooming area is calm, quiet, and free from distractions.

Reset and Slow Down

  • If a particular grooming session is not going well, it might be best to stop and try again later. Pushing a dog that’s already stressed can worsen its aversion to grooming.
  • Break down the grooming process into smaller steps and spread it over several days.

Desensitization and Counterconditioning

Gradually expose your dog to grooming tools and procedures non-threateningly. For example, if your dog is afraid of the sound of clippers, turn them on near the dog without actually using them, and reward the dog for calm behavior. Over time, this can change their negative association.

Positive Reinforcement

Use treats, praise, and toys to reward your dog for good behavior during grooming. Over time, they may begin to associate grooming with positive things.

Seek Community Support

Engage with other Westie owners or dog owner groups. Sharing experiences and challenges might offer new strategies or solutions you have yet to try.

Grooming Courses for Owners

Consider taking a basic grooming course. Learning more about the process might give you new techniques and a fresh perspective.

Calming Aids

Various products, such as calming sprays, dog-appeasing pheromones, or even anxiety wraps (like the Thundershirt), can help reduce a dog’s anxiety.

Consider Sedation as a Last Resort

Consult with a veterinarian about potential sedation or anti-anxiety medication for extremely anxious dogs. This should only be a last-resort option.

Stay Patient and Persistent

Dogs, like humans, have their personalities and quirks. What might be a simple task with one dog can be challenging with another. Understand that setbacks are part of the process, and consistency is key.

Suppose you still feel overwhelmed after trying various strategies, or your dog’s well-being is at risk. In that case, it’s essential to seek professional assistance from a groomer or a veterinarian to ensure your dog’s health and comfort.


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