Do Westies Smell? Learn the Good from the Bad

Westies have a typical dog smell. It is not as strong as other dogs due to the Westie’s wiry coat. However, they must be kept clean to minimize the smell.

Westies can suffer from a dermatitis yeast infection that causes a terrible odor. It requires a vet diagnosis and will clear with treatment.


Do Westies smell?


West Highland White Terriers, Westies, have one of the most adorable and iconic faces in the dog world. Due to their intelligence, high energy, and spunky attitude, many prospective dog owners consider purchasing a Westie as a family pet. There are other considerations, like dog smell, to take into account when considering a particular dog breed to bring into the home. 

Westies are so adorable that neither myself or other dog owners mind the typical dog smell.

Westies must have frequent grooming to maintain the iconic Westie coat and stylish groomed look. This frequent grooming helps to minimize foul smells.

Keep reading to learn what is needed to help a Westie smell cuddle-worthy all the time. 

How Healthy Westies Smell

Westies are not renowned for having any abnormally bad smell when their coats are in good condition. In fact, I have noticed that Westies have a somewhat “doggy” smell, but it is less noticeable than other more notoriously smelly breeds such as a Newfoundland or Beagle. 

Westies have a mild doggy smell. They smell best when their coat is kept fresh with: 

  • Frequent brushing 
  • Professional grooming
  • Regular baths

Westies that are not suffering from allergies, dermatitis, yeast infections, or staph infections have less smell than many other dog breeds.

Westie coats need a lot of care to smell and look their best.

They have wiry textured coats that must be frequently groomed by a professional groomer unless the owner knows how to properly clean and strip the dog’s hair.

We can learn this with enough practice and it is a great way to bond with your dog and save a little money too.

  • Westies need frequent brushing to keep the coat in top shape, which in turn helps to minimize odors. Brush at least twice a week. This helps remove dead undercoat hair. This will help to remove particles that may contribute to smell, as well as keeping the skin as healthy as possible.
  • Westies need baths every 4 to 6 weeks. Westies skin is very prone to allergies and inflammation. Bathing too often can cause dermatitis, which inevitably leads to bad smells and discomfort for the dog.
  • Westies that are dirty and smelly before the scheduled bath time can be thoroughly brushed and cleaned with dry shampoo to prolong the cleanliness in-between baths.
  • Dogs that are taken for monthly grooming should not need baths in-between grooming sessions unless a dry shampoo is used.

A healthy Westie with skin that is comfortable and in prime condition will have a mild dog smell that should not be offensive to dog owners. Most dog owners will not notice the smell in particular.


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See our guide to the best dog shampoos for Westies.

Westie Skin Problems That Cause Bad Smells

Unfortunately, Westies have very sensitive skin that is prone to allergic reactions, dermatitis, staph infections, and yeast infections.

I have noticed that these skin conditions are incredibly uncomfortable for the dog and make them smell terrible. 

  • Westies are prone to atopic dermatitis caused by allergies which are not noticeable until the Westie becomes very uncomfortable and begins licking paws obsessively, and scratching at spots until they become raw. Owners must be attentive to the Westie’s “cleaning” because it may be the first sign of a more serious condition.
  • Westie Armadillo Syndrome. The name is quite an accurate description of the condition. Arising when the puppy is just three to 12 months old, the dog gets itchy feet, belly, and head. Scratching causes the skin to become thickened and swollen, and the hair falls out. Soon secondary infections set in that also cause itching and bad smells.
  • Malassezia Dermatitis. This is a yeast infection that occurs all over the skin. While the yeast is naturally found on dog skin and in dog ears, Westies tend to get an overgrowth of this yeast which makes them itchy and smelly. The scratching can cause secondary staph infections, so prompt treatment is of utmost importance.
  • Ear yeast infections. This condition is not exclusive to Westies by any means. It is the most common reason that dogs go to the vet for ears that reek. In Westies, this nauseating ear smell is usually accompanied by or preceded by an episode of dermatitis that has not been fully resolved in the ear canal.

Westies are prone to allergies, and these allergies can cause a Westie to emit a pungent odor. 

I have found that putting the Westie on special vet-recommended diets and purchasing special Westie food goes a long way. This helps to manage dermatitis and other common Westie skin problems.


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Ways to Help Westies Smell Great

The best ways to help a Westie smell its best are preventative maintenance and cleaning. I recommend taking the Westie to a professional groomer monthly to help ensure that the coat is at its best and that the Westie is being properly shampooed for skin health.

In the meantime, Westies benefit most from owners who take the time for brushing sessions several times a week. This brushing maintains the cleanliness of the coat, helps the skin to get the oxygen that it needs for optimal health, and will give the Westie owner the opportunity to continually check for signs of dermatitis and take the dog for immediate treatment.

  • First, brush the Westie gently all over with a slicker brush, also called a pin brush. These pins will help to remove all the dead hair from the undercoat. This is also where food particles, stickers, and other smelly items will be found and removed during brushing.
  • Secondly, go all over the fur with a steel comb. A good comb will have closer tines on one side and wider tines on the other side. This will help to ensure that the coat is smooth and tangle-free.
  • For stubborn tangles, do not pull and tug at the Westies fur. This is uncomfortable and will make the Westie less cooperative for brushing sessions. Instead, get a detangling tool and use it to gently loosen tangles and separate hair with the tool and your fingers.

Aside from frequent brushing, it is important to keep ears and teeth clean. This is also the perfect way to watch for signs of mites or yeast inside the ear. 

To clean ears, I take a cotton ball or cotton swab moistened with warm water and gently swab dirt and debris from the visible parts of the inner ear. Never put anything into the ear canal. Simply keep the outer part of the ear as clean as possible.

To clean teeth, I use a dog toothbrush and toothpaste and gently clean the dog’s teeth daily. Dogs generally do not like this procedure, but with patience, the dog can be trained to submit to both ear and tooth maintenance. Another way to help keep the dog’s teeth clean and smelling fresh is to use dental chews that are formulated for this purpose.

What to Do When a Westie Gets Smelly

When a Westie gets smelly, it is a sign that something is wrong. Aside from a typical doggy smell, a Westie should smell pretty fresh and cuddly. 

I never ignore unusually strong or offensive smells, as these are usually a sign of an underlying health complication. Here are some steps I recommend taking to identify the reason why a Westie is smelly: 

  • Immediately begin to check the dog over for signs of swollen, red, or scaly skin.
  • Check the paws, in-between the toes, the belly, and around the head for signs of irritated skin, dry flaky skin, or red patches from scratching and biting.
  • Look in the ears for signs of yeast. These will be a bad smell, scaly skin, redness, sticky colored discharge in the ear, or any other unusual-looking contents in the ear.

It is important to make a vet appointment immediately. Many Westie owners seek to DIY treat conditions first. This is a mistake because often the condition continues to worsen during weeks of home treatment. By the time the dog gets to the vet, it is much harder to clear up the condition that may have been more easily treated early on.

Wrapping Up

Westies have a dog smell, but I do not find this smell to be unusually odorous or offensive. When they are in healthy condition, the smell is easy to ignore and never impedes petting sessions, cuddles, and enjoying lap naps. 

Westies that have any kind of unusual or offensive smell, especially when it is combined with unusual licking, biting, and scratching, is a sign that the Westie is suffering from a skin condition. This requires a prompt visit to the vet to treat the skin condition and remove the odor. 


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