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 pup the best care. If you are new to this breed of dog, you may also have questions such as how often you should bathe your westie.
As a general rule, westie’s should be bathed every four to six weeks. The frequency of bathing may vary depending upon personal circumstances. The bathing process is lengthy as it needs to be repeated. It is important to use products that are deemed safe for a Westie’s sensitive skin and coat.
If you would like to know more about how often you should bathe your westie, continue reading this article for some tips that may benefit you and your four-legged friend.
Understanding Your Westie’s Skin and Coat
Before you begin, it is important to understand a westie’s skin and coat type. A westie has an extremely soft and super thick undercoat which keeps them protected from harsh weather conditions and predatorial attacks. They have a second coat that is more rough and wiry as their outer layer to offer additional protection.
Westie’s are known for having notoriously dry skin, which can lead to serious discomfort and other secondary health issues if left untreated. That is why it is so important to maintain a grooming and care schedule for your westie.
The next section gives information on how often to bathe your westie.
How Often You Should Bathe Your Westie
As briefly mentioned above, it is recommended that you bathe your westie every four to six weeks which works out to be 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 that you only bathe them about four times a year unless there are medical reasons that require more frequent cleaning.
The frequency of bathing and grooming can vary depending upon:
- If you participate in dog shows
- The condition of your westie’s skin
- Your personal circumstances
- Your personal preference
Other factors that will affect how often you need to bathe your westie are how well and how often you brush them out. Brushing will be discussed further down in the article.
Mark Your Calander and Set Reminders
I mark my calendar and set reminders on my phone every time I brush out and/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/or bathe my westie, I am able to 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.
The next section will give you tips on how to properly bathe a westie.
How 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.
Here are some tips to help you prepare for bath time:
- Begin by getting all of your supplies and towels ready beforehand. It is also a good idea to brush them out before washing. This will help get any loose 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. 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.
The next section will give you some insight on what kind of products to use when bathing your westie.
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 type of product. 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 they can also cause a very bad smell. So, having said all of that, 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 westie’s, 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? You may be wondering what kind of products you should look for when bathing your westie.
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 dog 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.
The next section will give tips on how often to brush your westie.
How Often to Brush Your Westie
How often you brush your westie can also have an effect on how often they will need to be bathed. When I first began caring for westie’s, I was amazed at how much care they require in order to maintain their healthy skin and coat. That probably brings to mind the natural question, “how often should I brush my westie?”
Brush your westie every day or at least a few times per week if your time is limited. Brushing a westie frequently keeps their skin and coat in better condition. Choose a brush that easily glides through the fur without catching too much as that can be painful for your dog and damaging to the fur.
It is also very important to check for mats as you are brushing. Pay extra attention to the armpit areas. Matted fur can be very difficult to remove and painful to your pet, so you will want to focus on mat prevention through frequent brushing practices.
The next section will discuss options for grooming your westie.
Hand Stripping Versus Clipping
Hand stripping is a method used to remove the dead fur from the outer coat of a Westie. Hand stripping your westie keeps the fur 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 using them for competition purposes. Most pet owners will simply take them to a groomer and have them clipped. Clipping makes the fur softer and, in some dogs, even a bit curly in appearance.
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 original state after being taken care of improperly.
Bathing Builds a Bond with Your Westie
Now that you understand how sensitive the skin and coat of your westie is, you will be able to keep your pup looking like it is ready for the show ring every day. Take your time brushing and grooming your westie, and you will develop a beautiful bond with your snow-white pup that will last a lifetime.