West Highland White Terriers, or Westies, are great dogs. They’re playful, intelligent and have beautiful coats. The Westie is a white dog breed, originating from Scotland. While these are great dogs, they also need a lot of care taken to keep their hair in prime condition.
Do Westies smell less than other dogs? The wire coat on a West Highland White Terrier is short and coarse, keeping scent from being trapped. In addition to this, the grooming needed to keep this breed’s hair and skin healthy adds to the protective factors that keep Westies from smelling.
Read along to find out exactly why Westies smell better than other dog breeds, and what makes them and other terriers such great companions.
Do Westies Smell Less than Other Dog Breeds?
Since wire coats have less fluff to them and each individual hair is coarse and partially hollow, this keeps smell out by making it difficult for particles and debris to attach to them. In addition, the coat itself as a whole is normally short or medium length, and lays in a waved, pattern with each hair close to the other.
Dogs of other breeds with combination coats or wooly and curly coats have hair that goes in several directions, and also has more of the fluffy, softer part of the follicle exposed to the elements. Breeds with these types of hair tend to smell much more than wire or short-haired types.
West Highland White Terriers typically shed very, very little. All dogs do shed some of their hair or fur, but wire hair breeds are much less prone to this. Proper grooming techniques are needed for them, including the use of shampoo rather than conditioner, to keep the hair coarse without stripping it of the natural oils that keep it intact.
Professional Grooming for an Odorless Coat
Westie grooming can be done easily by professionals that have experience with wire type hair dog breeds. Often, professional grooming can be done in our own homes, in a grooming or pet center, and even in a mobile grooming truck or van. You can also groom your own westie. Any way you do it, grooming your westie is really important for his health and for a better smell.
Professional groomers take care of wire hair by stripping it down, which is always done by hand, using special stripping brushes or combs. Wire hair can be groomed faster and easier than other breeds, since the hair follicles are not deeply anchored to the dog’s skin, having less density to work through.
Stripping wire hair coats removes dead hairs and stimulates the skin for new hair to grow in. Professional groomers may also shampoo and condition a Westie, though typically, conditioners are not needed or recommended because they will remove important oils from the hair.
This can cause oil buildup and other skin and hair issues, since wire hair is meant to be coarse and wavy. If a groomer chooses to use conditioner, it is usually done only when the dog’s skin and hair have extra buildup and the dog is in need of a bath. In this case, a groomer will use a lighter conditioner to avoid changing the hair structure of the wire hair.
Home Grooming for an Odorless Coat
Home grooming our Westies can be a lot of fun, and gives us time to bond with them. Following similar procedures to that of a professional groomer, we’ll want a stripping brush or comb for wire hair.
These have specially-designed bristles or teeth that easily pull out the dead hairs, while keeping new growth intact. These tools also make it easier to groom our Westies all at one time, and make it a gentle and quick process.
There is also the option of taking down or rolling the wire hair, which is a process that groomers and people who have show dogs use. Both methods involve plucking hairs, and can be done gently and easily, keeping our Westies comfortable.
Taking down the coat is done all at one time, and begins with the front of the dog to the back. Rolling the coat is done just when some stray hairs are seen that don’t lie correctly with the rest of the hair, indicating it’s time for grooming a select area.
To do either taking down or rolling the hair, we need to use our non-dominant hand to hold the skin taut where we want to start grooming our Westie. Then, holding a small amount of hairs at a time, the dominant hand is used to hold and pull the hair down, and then straight out in the direction of hair growth.
Grooming powder can be used to assist with hair that is hard to grip, and since wire hair is lightly attached to the skin, it makes safely grooming a Westie much easier and painless.
Both rolling and taking down can be done more easily if the Westie is already familiar with the process, since it’s sometimes hard to keep our pups still long enough to groom them this way.
Why can’t wire hair be clipped instead?
Wire hair type dog breeds cannot have their hair clipped, with the exception of any skin or hair issues that a vet would recommend being groomed for.
Clipping wire hair removes parts of the three sections of the hair follicle, which in turn makes it very difficult for the hair to grow back properly. It also does not allow for stimulation of the scalp and skin, which can change how and if the hair grows.
What additional items can I use when grooming my Westie?
Grooming mats, which help to keep hair, debris, and any dead skin cells collected in one area for easy clean up. Grooming mats commonly used are silicone or fabric, but other kinds such as plastic can be found.
Blow dryers, which can be used after baths and should be used cautiously to avoid any discomfort or skin issues. Dryers should be kept on medium or low heat, and waved from side to side while moving around the dog’s coat to dry each part equally.
Nail file for dogs, which are specifically made to keep dogs safe from moving parts, and are one of the best ways to keep the nails at a healthy length. Using a file evenly wears down the nail, similar to how a dog would do naturally.