West Highland White Terrier Grooming Tips

The West Highland white terrier is a cute little dog, completely white, with wiry hair that needs to be brushed weekly and trimmed monthly. This may be more frequent depending on where your dog plays and how often he gets dirty. Because of the white coat, these terriers can often come home filthy and may need baths more often than other dogs that don't show dirt.

Teaching Tolerance

From the time you bring your West Highland white terrier home, teach him to tolerate baths and grooming. Do this by holding short grooming sessions each night, using lots of treats when your dog is calm.

When teaching your dog to tolerate grooming, don't expect to do a grooming session in one night. Instead, brush your dog for only a minute or less. Reward him consistently as you brush so it becomes rewarding. Eventually, you can phase out the treats.

To keep your hands free for grooming, consider smearing peanut butter, cream cheese or liver paste on a spoon or wall of your bathtub, so your puppy is engaged for the entire grooming session. Gradually build up the length of the grooming session until your dog is comfortable.


Dogs shouldn't be bathed too often because it reduces their natural production of essential oils that keep the coat shining and skin moisturized. Brushing your dog more often can reduce the need for baths, so use baths as a last resort for your very dirty Westie. Dogs with white hair are prone to skin infections and allergies, so look for an oatmeal-based shampoo or other shampoo for sensitive skin. Whitening shampoos are also available to keep the coat looking white and shiny.

Dogs with white coats are also prone to tear stains. There are several products to remove tear stains, but you must be careful applying it around your dog's eyes. Use a cotton ball or cotton swab. In addition, tear stains can be caused by excess tearing, which can have a medical cause or cause a yeast infection. Consult with your veterinarian for treatment. Some owners have found that food supplements or replacing tap water with distilled or filtered water can reduce tearing as well.


First, brush out your dog's undercoat with a metal brush or comb. Because a Westie's hair is thick, it can become matted and tangled. It's important to brush him out at least once a week, maybe more frequently.

Check belly, between legs and around ears, where mats are most common. If mats get too thick, cut out with scissors rather than putting your dog through the pain of brushing it out.

Use thinning shears to cut stray hairs and keep the coat short, around 2 inches in length. Use these scissors to cut around your dog's face as well, giving the characteristic round Westie face. Be sure to trim hair away from eyes and ears using dull scissors. Pluck rogue hairs out of the ears if necessary.

Though West Highland white terriers don't have as demanding a grooming routine as some dogs, they still must be cared for regularly. To keep your dog's coat looking clean and well-groomed, brush weekly and bathe monthly.