The neatly trimmed, well-groomed West Highland White Terriers that attract the prostpective owner don't always
just "come that way," nor do they remain neat and stylish without some attention and a bit of effort.
Trimming and grooming a Westie, whether for show or everyday, neatness is important to the dog's well-being
and a source of personal pride to the ownerr. Once you know what to do, and how to do it, you can keep a
Westie neat and well-groomed looking with surprisingly little time and effort.
All Westies should carry a double coat composed of short, thick, cottony hair next to the skin, termed
undercoat. Over this grows the top coat - long, coarse hair that can reach two or three inches in length. Most of
our work will be with the top coat which grows and reaches full bloom and then dies and must be pulled out. When
a dog has "blown its coat" it simply means the long hairs have lost that bright, alive look and should be pulled
out, allowing room for new growth. With a judicious bit of trimming here and there it is easy to keep a Westie
coat looking neat and trim. It is also possible, with proper working of the top coat, to "keep it rolling" which means
holding the proper length while stripping out sufficient hair to permit new coat to grow whereby the overall coat
includes three distinct growths, one old, one new and the other in-between.
The following suggestions are not intended for those with years of experience. They are offered as a guide
to help the new Westie owner or groomer acquire some of the know-how.
Try to keep a clear picture in your mind of how a Westie should look from typical, well groomed animals you have
either seen in the flesh or pictures, then try to keep it looking that way. Most experienced Westie peope will be
glad to show and help you develop the skill.
Trim hair closely inside ears, about half way down from tips. Cut hair on tips of ears, about half way down from
tips. Cut hair on tips of ears close and even, at angle to blend into the ruff. Trim hair on back of ears about one
inch from tips leaving velvety hair. Leave hair long around the base of ears. The idea is to make ears look
small and set wide apart.
Comb eyebrows forward and trim on slant. Separate eyebrows slightly with trimming knife and let eyes show.
Comb ruff forward and out, then trim both sides even with thinning shears. Leave ruff full but don't over-balance
the head with respect to the rest of the body.
Use thumb and forefinger, or the stripping knife here. Take it easy; the key word is BLEND. Trim lightly on top
of neck, starting behind ears and blending into body hair on neck and shoulders. If hair is very thick on the sides
of neck and shoulders, you may have to use thinning shears here. Taper into shoulders and body.
Clean hair on neck under head down to point of the breastbone, leaving a bib, or apron of long hair there. Clean
on each side of bib to point of shoulder. When using thinning shears always cut with the lay of the hair - not
across. Take a snip of two, comb out and check before each cut.
If hair on neck and back is loose enough to be pulled out easily with the thumb an dforefinger, pull it and wait
for new growth to come in. Use your stirpping knife to even up the top coat to gie the back a straight, level look.
If there is a dip in the topline, leave hair full or if there is a humpk, trim close to even up.
Shape the tail to look like an inverted carrot and to appear as short as possible. Trim hair on the back of the
tail so that it is almost a flat triangle from the tip, blending into the hips. Remove long hair on rump from base of tail
to about half-way to the hocks, leaving a skirt between the legs.
Comb hair on legs up then down and study to see where you need to trim to give them that straight, full
look when viewed from any direction. Even up feather so that when dog is moving the hair at elbows does not
fly out. Trim very lightly. Leg hair grows very slowly.
Now cut the hair around the feet close to the pads to give feet a round, full look. This is best done with the dog's
weight on the foot. You can make him stand by raising the opposite foot during the trimming. Also trim the
hair between the toes.