How to bath and brush a Westie

Even if you take your West Highland Terrier to the groomers for their full groom there are grooming tasks you can do yourself. This will save you money in the long run.

A dog groomer will charge for the work they do. If they need to do a lot of additional dematting and prep work the cost will be more. Even worse is if the groomer has to fully shave your Westie as they are just too matted to be able to brush out.

By regularly brushing and bathing your Westie they will look their best longer between grooms and their coats will remain healthy.

Westie grooming

Do West Highland Terriers shed

The Westie coat consists of two layers.  A rough, straight, outer coat and a much softer but denser undercoat. Even though they have an undercoat they are a low shed breed. As a result they do not leave a lot of fur around the house and on your clothes and furniture.

Westies are not a hypoallergenic dog. However, they can be a good choice for people with pet allergies or asthma as they only shed lightly and have low dander.

How often to brush a Westie

Even though Westies don’t shed a lot they do still frequent brushing. Regular brushing will help remove dead undercoat and keep their coat clean and mat-free. It also means they will not require bathing as often as brushing helps remove dirt.

It is recommended to give your Westie a good all over brush at least twice a week. If you don’t provide sufficient regular brushing your Westies coat will become tangled and matted. This can cause your Westie pain and even sores to form on the skin.

Do Westies smell

The coarse wire coat of the West highland Terrier helps to prevent odor getting trapped in the coat. This means that they do smell less than a lot of other dog breeds.

However, Westies can be prone to skin allergies which can result in a strong yeasty odor. Regular grooming and brushing, in combination with a quality diet, will keep the skin and coat healthy.

Best Brush for a Westie

Finding the right brush for grooming your Westie can be confusing if you don’t have dog grooming knowledge.

Having the right tools for any job will make it easier and you can do a much better job. Just as a carpenter will not just use a hammer, having a selection of brushes with different functions will be much more effective.

For brushing your West Highland Terrier I recommend using a good quality slicker brush, a steel comb, and some type of deshedding tool. These are some suggestions for the best brush to use for grooming a Westie.

What is the best brush for a Westie

Slicker Brush for Westie

The slicker brush is a pin brush which is used mainly as a dressing brush. This puts a shine on the coat and works well to loosen tangles and break the coat up to allow the other tools to finish the job.

It is well worth spending a few extra dollars on a good quality slicker brush. Not only will it last longer as the pins or bristles on these type of brushes wear down and fall out over time. A better quality brush will have better quality pins and will be more effective.

You will also find that when brushing your Westie the pins on a slicker brush will fill up with fur. You can use your comb to remove the accumulated fur. An easier option is to use a self-cleaning slicker brush. With these, you push a button and the fur is lifted out from between the pins.

My top pick for a Westie is the Pro Quality Self Cleaning Slicker Brush available here from Amazon.

Steel Comb for a Westie

A good comb is an essential tool for anyone who grooms a dog. Once you have gone over the area with the slicker brush first, ran the comb through to remove any tangles.

My personal choice is a 50/50 Comb which has two different width teeth. View 50/50 Steel Comb on here on Amazon.

Run the comb thought your dog’s coat first with the wider teeth and then again with the finer teeth. If you can’t run the finer teeth of the comb through the coat without resistance the coat is not fully brushed out. Repeat the process until you can.

There are other types of steel comb available including some with a handle that some people find more comfortable to hold.

Dematting Tool for a Westie

9 Tooth Dematting Comb


The 9 tooth de-matting comb is used to splice matts and tangles in the coat. There are various de-matting tools available but this is my preferred tool. It works well for removing knots and tangles and also works well to remove bulk undercoat.

The trick is not to rip the matt out with this tool but to roll your wrist when you meet resistance and gently splice through the knot.

Best deshedding Brush for a Westie

The Westie does have an undercoat but they are considered a low shedding breed. If however, you are wanting to reduce the amount of hair they are shedding around the home regular brushing with a deshedding brush will help.

Some people opt to have their Westies coat stripped rather than clipped. If this is the case a deshedding brush will help to remove dead hair and undercoat between stripping sessions at the groomer.

Mars Coat King

The Mars Coat King is my number one pick for removing undercoat and dead coat from your Westie. Works really well even on very thick and bulky areas. It leaves a nice shine and finish on the coat as well.

View Mars Coat King undercoat Rake on Amazon

How to brush a West Highland Terrier

If you have your Westies body clipped the majority of the brushing will be the furnishings on the legs and the skirt.

  1. Using the slicker brush, brush the furnishings going against the grain or lay of the coat.
  2. If you come across any matts in the coat, use your dematting tool to gently remove rolling your wrist when you feel resistance.
  3. When the furnishings feel brushed out, run your steel comb thru to ensure you haven’t missed any tangles or small knots.
  4. With the beard, use the same three tools. With the slicker, brush through the head and face. If you find any matts or bits of food or other foreign objects use the dematting comb to remove. Finally use the steel comb to ensure the head is fully brushed out. Be as gentle as possible to make it a more pleasant experience.

For more information on brushing a dog see here.

The video below shows a Miniature Schnauzer being brushed. However, it gives a good example of brushing techniques you can use for your West Highland Terriers.

How to bathe a Westie

Step 1:

Brush your Westie before the bath to remove any tangles or knots. Matted fur holds water which will tighten the knot when it drys.

Step 2

Start by thoroughly soaking your dog’s coat being careful not to get water in the ears. It is a good idea to put cotton balls in the ears before you start to avoid this.

Step 3

To wet your dog’s head use your thumb to flatten down the ear and from back to front wet that side of the head. Repeat on the other side. Gently hold your dog’s head down by the muzzle and wet face. Now raise the head up and wet under the chin being careful not to get water in the nose.

Step 4

Use tearless baby shampoo to thoroughly wash your Westies face. Then apply the other regular dog shampoo down the dog back and work into a lather using your fingers or a rubber dog bathing brush such as The Zoom Groom.

Step 5

Many shampoos are quite concentrated so you can premix with water which will help the shampoo lather and will rinse better. Work in the direction the coat lays or the coat will be trained to stand up. Never use human shampoo on your dog as human hair has a different pH level and it will dry and irritate your dog’s skin. Human shampoos may also contain chemicals that may cause skin irritation.

Step 6

Then rinse your dog using the same process you use to wet them. I always do two lots of shampoo as it gets the dog much cleaner and the clean smell lasts longer, so with the first rinse, you don’t have to rinse as thoroughly as you will with the final rinse.

Step 7

Once you have done the two shampoos and thoroughly rinsed all the shampoo out of the coat scoop excess water off your dog with your hand. If you don’t want your dog to shake while in the bath put a towel over them and pat to dry.

Step 8

Then dry as best as you can by rubbing with a towel working in the direction of the coat as much as possible. You can even leave them wrapped in a towel for a while to absorb as much water as possible. Don’t forget to remove the cotton balls from their ears.

Step 9

Blow-dry your Westie. You can use a hand-held dryer for human but this can take a long time.

The best solution is to use a dog blow dryer. Commercial dog blow dryers like those used in grooming salons are very expensive, however, there are available smaller dog dryers available at very reasonable prices.

I would recommend something such as these low-cost dryers which come with two airspeed settings and three heat levels (no heat, medium and high) and several easy to attachments to increase airflow.

How often to bathe a Westie

At most you should bathe your Westie once every two weeks. Bathing too often, even with a gentle shampoo can dry out and irritate their skin. Ideally, once a month is fine.

If your Westie tends to get really dirty you can use a dry shampoo between full baths. Westies love to dig and get dirty which is not ideal for a white dog. Regular brushing will also help to remove dirt from the coat.

For more information on bathing a dog see here.

Best Shampoo for West Highland Terriers

There are countless shampoos available and selecting the best shampoo can be confusing. The Westies coat is quite unique compared to other breeds. They have a wiry double coat.

You need to take into account any special needs your Westie has. Do they have sensitive skin? Or are they prone to yeast infections or hotspots?

Some Westies have a very oily coat and smell even after a bath. A Deodorizing shampoo may be the best choice.

Many Westies can also become stained from dirt or licking. A whitening shampoo will help to make them white again.

These are our top picks for the best shampoo for a Westie.

Best shampoo for sensitive skin

Paws & Pals 5-in-1 Oatmeal Dog Shampoo

Oatmeal is one of the best ingredients for sensitive skin. It has all-natural ingredients and is soapless so it won’t inflame or irritate dogs’ eyes. It is an excellent all-purpose shampoo being a 5 in 1. This shampoo aside from cleaning conditions, detangles, moisturizes, is anti-itch and controls odor.

Best antifungal and antibacterial shampoo

Nootie Medicated Oatmeal Dog Shampoo

This shampoo is very concentrated and when you apply it forms a really thick and rich lather. It also works really well in treating yeast infections and cooling and soothing your dog’s skin It will also always leave your Westie smell really clean and fresh and leaves their coat beautiful and shiny.

Best whitening shampoo

Veterinary Formula Solutions Snow White Shampoo 

Snow White Shampoo is specially formulated for dogs with white coats. Patented optical brighteners safely eliminate the appearance of yellowing and stains while bringing out your pet’s natural bright white coat.

It is pH balanced for sensitive skin and has a long-lasting citrus fragrance. This shampoo is also safe containing no bleach or peroxide that might irritate your Westies skin. With gentle Vitamin E and green tea extract, your Westies coat will be free from stains and back to its natural bright white color.

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Best type of toys for Westies

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