Beth E. Widdows
Owned by Miss Molly Marie (Briarcliff Golly Miss Molly CGC, OAP, NJP, JE) and Glennie (Glendennin's Pride GCG, NAP, NJP)
There are a few subjects that can be guaranteed to cause confusion and controversy. Westie grooming is surely one of them. To discuss this subject, we must make sure it is understood that we are talking about PET GROOMING. Show grooming is a whole other issue entirely. Rather than try to set down hard, fast rules that say, "Here is the only way to do it", we are going to discuss different approaches and different circumstances.
STRIPPING VS. CLIPPING
For a pet, this is strictly a matter of preference. Stripping is done on show dogs and can be done on pet dogs but is not necessary. Stripping will make the coat harder and coarser. Clipping will tend to make the coat softer and on many dogs, curlier. Many pet people clip because it is convenient. Unless you strongly prefer the look of a stripped coat, you are likely to clip or have your dog clipped. You can accomplish a very nice "Westie" look on a clipped dog if you or your groomer knows what a Westie should look like and have the information on how to accomplish this look. You can find grooming tapes and instructions on the market. If you decide to take your Westie to a groomer, we suggest you do some things to help ensure your dog comes out safely and actually looking like a "Westie". You may want to contact your local Westie Club for information on groomers who are used by Club members. If you can't find any, you may have to interview several groomers. Ask them questions about how they will ensure the dog's safety. You may want to be there for the first grooming. You may want to ask for references from other customers. Many groomers will tell you that they know what a Westie should look like and when you get the dog back, it looks like a Scottie or a Schnauzer. To hopefully avoid this, ask to see a photograph of a Westie they have groomed. Take in photographs and grooming instructions. Discuss the round face (rather than square), the carrot tail, the skirt, etc. Show enough interest that they will realize that you will know if they don't do it correctly! If they resent this, find another groomer. Understand that they will use their own shampoos etc., but that you are free to bring in your shampoo, rinses etc. if you wish.
BETWEEN BATH MAINTENANCE:
Before discussing how often to bathe a Westie, let's talk about how to deal with Westie grooming needs between baths. This applies to Westies who are bathed 3 times a year as well as to Westies who are bathed twice a month.
This is the million-dollar question. There are a lot of circumstances to consider when trying to answer this question for your particular dog.
BATHING PRODUCTS AND PROCEDURES:
OTHER GROOMING ISSUES:
This discussion is intended to center on the care of the Westie Coat but while talking about grooming, we must mention one other thing. DOGS NEED DENTAL HEALTH TOO!!! Like people, gum disease in dogs can cause many other illnesses. The infections that start in the gums can migrate to other parts of the body and cause serious disease. This is why your vet always checks your dog's teeth and gums. And many dogs need to have regular dental cleanings under anesthesia. It only makes sense that a dog should have its teeth cleaned on a daily basis just as a human does. (If daily is not possible, make sure you do this at a minimum of once a week and more if possible. It will save you dollars in the long run as you will not need to pay for as many dental cleanings and extractions over the years.) Another benefit of brushing the teeth is that it will improve "doggie breath". You can buy doggie toothpaste and do this at home. (Make sure you do not use human toothpaste. Dogs swallow the toothpaste so the doggie versions are made to be safely swallowed; also they taste good!) If you start while they are young, they will accept and even look forward to it since the toothpaste is like a treat to them. You can use a finger cot but, if possible, try to graduate quickly to an actual toothbrush since this will provide a stronger bristle that can get below the gum line where the plaque causes problems. You can also find articles describing the use of an electric toothbrush if your dog will tolerate it.
Many people ask about the beard and paw stains. These stains are reddish-brown to burgundy in color. There are many causes or suspected causes of these conditions. SALIVA is the most common cause.
Look closely at the stains. If the hair is white at the base and then becomes stained, this is an indication that licking is the issue. If it is stained right down to the base, this indicates the hair is growing in stained and the issue is more likely fungus.
There are things you can do. Your vet can provide medicines to kill fungus/yeast but you can also try home remedies such as:
The peroxide and bleach should be done sparingly since they are quite drying. You can do the salt rinses more frequently. Often the staining on the muzzle is directly related to the issue in the paws that has caused the licking and will begin to grow out when the issue is gone. (Note: Don't use the bleach or salt if there is an open wound)
If the issue is allergies, you will want to consult with your vet.
If the muzzle is stained and not the paws, there are other possibilities:
If your dog's muzzle is stained, you can dip a cotton ball in Hydrogen Peroxide and wipe the beard daily. At first the stain may turn pink but eventually it should almost whiten until it can be replaced with new growth. When the new hair grows in unstained, continue to do this to help prevent future stains.
Any information contained on this site relating to training and behavior of Westies is for informational purposes only. The WHWTCA recommends that Westies undergo obedience training. For assistance in locating an obedience training club in your area, please consult the American Kennel Club's website at www.akc.org/events/obedience/getting-started/
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