West Highland white terriers, affectionately known as Westies, have white double coats with a straight, coarse outercoat and a thick, soft undercoat. Your groomer can offer you the choice of different hairstyles and grooming methods, depending on whether or not you plan to competitively show your Westie. These are small yet strong terriers who rank as the 37th most popular breed in the U.S., according to the American Kennel Club.
Hand-Stripping vs. Clipping
Rather than clipping a Westie's harsh coat, some groomers prefer to hand strip or pluck, especially on show dogs. With this grooming method, loose, dead hair is pulled from his coat with fingers or a stripping knife. This allows the hair to grow back fuller and coarser than clipping, which can soften the fur over time. However, many pet Westies are clipped instead of hand-stripped.
AKC Show Cut
The iconic Westie cut is the only style approved by the AKC for conformation dog shows. Hair should be about 2 inches long except on the neck and shoulders, where the coat should be trimmed shorter. Short hairs should be blended into the longer furnishings on the legs and stomach. Finally, the head should be shaped "by plucking the hair, to present the round appearance" -- reminiscent of a chrysanthemum. The tail should be straight, tapered like a carrot and covered in stiff hair. If your dog's coat looks soft, silky or curly, that's considered a fault.
The puppy cut is a no-nonsense style that's quick and easy for a groomer to do. Rather than trimming and blending the Westie's coat into various lengths, with a long skirt, the puppy cut keeps the hair uniformly short all over his head and body. Dogs who have a tendency to get dirty while playing outside will be easier to keep clean with this cut.
The American Kennel Club stresses that bathing too often can damage a Westie's dry coat, but daily combing and brushing is essential, with a visit to the groomer every four to six weeks. Check his ears for dirt or wax buildup when you groom him, and brush his teeth daily. His nails grow quickly, so trim them with a grinder or nail clipper every few weeks to avoid splitting, cracking or overgrowth.