Westies do not need to be bathed as often as some other dog breeds. Most experts and Westie owners recommend bathing your Westie every 4 – 6 weeks.
However, circumstances and your Westie’s individual needs may change how often you bathe your Westie.
In this article, we will guide you through:
- How often you should bathe your Westie.
- The reasons behind suggested bathing frequencies.
- Other factors to consider, including professional grooming.
- How to bathe your Westie.
Owning a Westie can be a big responsibility and a lot of work if you want them to be happy, healthy, and looking their best at all times.
When I first became a Westie owner, I had many questions about how to give my Westie pup the best care and how and how often we should bathe our Westie.
As a general rule, Westies should be bathed every four to six weeks, although the frequency of bathing may vary depending on personal circumstances. It is important to use products deemed safe for a Westie’s sensitive skin and coat.
Understanding Your Westie’s Skin and Double Coat
It is important to understand a Westie’s skin and coat type. Westies have what is called a double coat.
They have a soft, thick undercoat of fur which keeps them warm and protected from harsh weather conditions.
They have a second outer coat of hair that is hard and wiry to offer additional protection.
Westies are known for having notoriously dry and sensitive skin.
Excessive bathing and dirty skin can both lead to dry, itchy skin that is uncomfortable and unpleasant for your dog and can lead to other health issues if left untreated.
That is why it is so important to maintain a grooming and care schedule for your Westie.
How Often Should You Bathe Your Westie
As mentioned above, it is generally recommended that you bathe your Westie every four to six weeks, which is around eight baths per year.
This recommendation is mostly for the typical pet owner who prefers to take their dog to a professional groomer.
If you plan on showing your Westie, many professionals recommend bathing your dog only four times a year unless there are medical reasons for more frequent cleaning.
However, it is a hotly debated topic. A Reddit vote of 209 Westie owners on how often they bathed their Westies gave the following results:
- 10% once a week
- 20% twice a month
- 36% once a month
- 34% every six weeks or longer
The majority of owners, a whopping 70%, wash their Westies once a month or less.
Factors Affecting How Often To Bathe Your Westie
If you own a Westie, you have probably figured out by now that, like most other dogs, they like to get dirty. Digging holes and splashing in muddy puddles is one of their favorite pastimes.
You might have a young Westie who is constantly rolling around in the dirt outside. Or a quiet, older Westie who rarely ventures past the front door other than for a gentle walk.
Your Westie’s individual personality, together with its skin sensitivity and your own preferences, will dictate how often you bathe your Westie.
The frequency of bathing and grooming can vary depending upon:
- How dirty your Westie gets from playing outside
- The condition of your Westie’s skin
- How often you get professional grooming for your Westie
- Any medical conditions your Westie has
- If you participate in dog shows
- Your personal circumstances
- Your personal preference
The Importance Of Brushing Your Westie
Regular brushing really is the key to maintaining your Westie’s coat in good condition.
How often you brush your Westie can also have an effect on how often they will need to be bathed. Regular brushing helps reduce the need for frequent bathing.
Ideally, you should aim to brush and comb your Westie daily or every other day.
Brushing and combing, which gets deeper and closer to the skin, helps:
- prevent matting of the fur
- removes loose hair, which collects on the brush and helps reduce random shedding
- spreads the natural skin oils to keep the coat shiny
- removes dried dirt and foreign objects
- reduces the need for frequent bathing
Check for mats as you are brushing. Pay extra attention to the armpit areas.
Once matting has formed in your Westie’s fur, it can be difficult and painful to remove and may even need cutting out.
Combs and detangler brushes used regularly help stop matting from occurring.
Should I Use A Professional Groomer?
It is recommended to take your Westie to a professional groomer once every six to eight weeks to have their coat and nails trimmed.
As part of the process, your groomer will bathe your Westie.
For some owners, this is enough, and they will not need to bath their Westie at home. (Unless their Westie gets exceptionally dirty or other circumstances arise).
Get a Groomer with Westie Experience
Do your research before settling on a groomer for your Westie. A Westie’s skin and coat require special care.
If the groomer does not have experience with this breed of dog, they run the potential of ruining the coat.
Once a Westie’s coat has been compromised, it can take a lot of time and work to get it back to its optimal state.
Mark Your Calender and Set Reminders
I mark my calendar and set reminders on my phone whenever I brush out or bathe my Westie.
My life can get pretty hectic. Sometimes, something as simple as remembering to brush or bathe the dog can slip through the metaphorical cracks in my mind.
By keeping a log of when I brush out and bathe my Westie, I can keep better track and stay on top of things.
In addition to staying more organized, scheduling reminders also makes my dogs happier because they are receiving the attention they so greatly desire.
Having said that, don’t be afraid to change your schedule if circumstances change.
How Often Should I Bathe My Westie Puppy?
In terms of bathing, Westie puppies are no different to adult Westies.
Bathe your Westie puppy every four to six weeks with a gentle shampoo, but be prepared to adjust that frequency if individual circumstances make it necessary.
How To Bathe Your Westie
Here are some tips to help you prepare for bath time with your Westie:
- Get all your supplies and towels ready.
- It is also a good idea to brush your Westie’s hair before washing. This will help remove or loosen any dirt or debris from their fur and allow you to wash them better.
- Get that pup in the tub and get scrubbing. Lather them up really well, and be sure to really work the shampoo everywhere, especially areas that tend to get extra dirty or moist. Some shampoos and conditioners recommend that you let them sit on the dog’s skin for a certain period of time. It is important that you don’t let it sit too long, or it can dry out your dog’s skin.
- The biggest and most important step when washing a Westie is to rinse thoroughly. We can’t stress this enough. You do not want to leave any soap in their fur. When soap is left on the fur and then dries, it can cause irritation to the dog’s skin which will eventually lead to other health issues. A Westie’s undercoat is so thick it can take several rinses before they are truly soap-free.
Rinsing thoroughly is the key to prevent skin irritation as a result of bathing your Westie.
Rinse, rinse, rinse.
Some owners suggest a pre-final rinse with vinegar to disperse any remaining soap or shampoo. If you do this, choose a plain, white vinegar and follow with one final rinse of water.
A shower is ideal to help rinse all products away with clean water. It’s much easier than pouring cups of water (dirty from the bath) over your pup.
Products to Use for Bathing Your Westie
If you want to keep your Westie looking pristine and vibrantly white, it is important to use the correct shampoo. Using the wrong products can dry out your Westie’s skin and cause other issues.
When a dog has dry skin, they scratch. The more they scratch, the more they irritate the skin. Once the skin becomes raw, it is susceptible to infection.
A dog’s paws can also carry a lot of dirt and bacteria, so when they are digging at their skin, those dirt and bacteria particles are being transferred to your dog’s already sensitive skin, which can lead to skin infections.
Skin infections can be difficult to get rid of and can also cause a very bad smell. So, be sure the products you are using are safe for your Westie’s delicate skin.
What to Look for in a Shampoo
When I first started caring for Westies, I was overwhelmed by the number of products available for bathing and grooming dogs.
They all make boastful claims that their product is the best, but how do you really know?
When buying bathing products for your Westie, it is important to choose a shampoo that is detergent/soap-free. It is also important to be sure it conditions and whitens the fur as well.
See our guide to the best shampoos for West Highland Terriers.
If you are looking to freshen your Westie up in between baths, there are some dry shampoos available for dogs. However, read the ingredients and do your research ahead of time to be sure there are no chemicals that may irritate their skin or cause other issues.
Do not use human shampoo on your Westie. People and dogs have different needs, and human shampoo can seriously dry out your dog’s skin.
Hand Stripping Versus Clipping
Hand stripping is a method used to remove the dead hair from the outer coat of a Westie. Hand stripping your Westie keeps the hair looking as it naturally should, coarse and wiry.
Many people are concerned that hand stripping is painful to the dog; however, if done correctly, it can actually be a pleasant experience for your dog and give you some extra bonding time in the process.
Typically people who hand strip their Westies are showing their dog at competitions.
Most pet owners simply take their pets to a groomer and have them clipped.
Clipping makes the fur softer and, in some dogs, even a bit curly in appearance.
Stripping results in a wirer coat.
Bathing also softens the coat, which is one reason Show Westies are usually bathed less often.
Bathing Builds a Bond with Your Westie
Take your time brushing and grooming your Westie, and you will develop a beautiful bond with your snow-white pup.