How to Groom a Westie's Head

Clipping the head properly gives the Westie its expressive face.
Clipping the head properly gives the Westie its expressive face. (Image: Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

West Highland terriers are friendly, hardy little dogs. Adult Westies are 10 to 11 inches tall at the shoulder with short, compact bodies. Like many dogs in the small terrier group, the Westie has a double coat: A long, coarse overcoat protects a short, soft undercoat. The head of the Westie presents special problems for the groomer. The small size and soft coat require the use of small shears or thinning scissors. Trimming the head correctly gives the dog an expressive face.

Things You'll Need

  • Grooming table
  • Small shears
  • Thinning scissors
  • Stripping comb

Secure the dog to the grooming table. This holds the dog steady and keeps both it and you safe during grooming.

Place your thumb at the top of the ear, with the thumbnail overlapping the skin of the ear. Trim the hair right up to your thumbnail with the small shears. This method prevents you from cutting the skin of the ear at the sensitive tip. Slide the shears next to the skin of the ear and trim the front and back of the ear as close to the skin as possible.

Trim the hair between the ears short enough that the ears stand out of the fur. Leave enough long hair to give the head a rounded appearance.

Trim the side of the head to the jowls, completing the circular look of the head. Canadian Westies encourages the groomer to think of the dog's head as a round chrysanthemum blossom.

Strip the hair on the face of the dog. Stripping the fur involves grasping it firmly between the stripping comb and your thumb. Pull the hair in the direction it grows. This pulls out loose, dead hair while the blade of the comb cuts long hair. Start with the hair in front of the ears, and strip the long hairs from the dog's face. Strip the fur over the nose to the inside corner of the eye. Follow up by stripping the hair from beneath the eye.

Snip the remaining fur on the face with the thinning shears to blend the stripped fur with the clipped fur.

Trim the beard straight across under the chin of the dog.

Tips & Warnings

  • Clip out any dark or stained sections of the beard.
  • Use caution trimming around the ears.They are very sensitive and highly vascular. They bleed freely if cut.

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