The West Highland white terrier, known as the Westie, has a tough, straight coat that requires grooming techniques such as stripping for the show ring. Westie owners who keep their dogs as pets can clip their terriers, which consumes less grooming time. This breed is intelligent and wily; owners must use a gentle, patient and firm hand while tending to their Westies' coats.
Decide whether to groom your Westie as a pet or for the show ring. Westies in dog shows must be hand-stripped, whereas pet terriers can be clipped. This is an important decision to make, because each grooming style can result in a different texture for your Westie's coat. Clipping softens the hair and leaves it sensitive to weather conditions; a stripped Westie sports a hard, tight coat that is waterproof.
Brush your terrier thoroughly before any grooming, with both the comb and slicker brush. Ensure that your comb reaches the dog's skin so that all layers of the Westie's thick coat are groomed. Once your Westie has been brushed, place it on a grooming table, holding its head aloft with a grooming noose.
Lubricate your clippers before using them if you have chosen to trim your Westie. Use a #10 blade to clip its rear. Switch to a #5.5 blade to trim the dog's body. Opt for a #8 blade if you'd like the hair shorter, in summer, for instance. Trim the throat and chest areas with the same blade. Use thinning shears to shape the hair on the front and rear legs.
To strip your Westie of dead hairs, put some chalk on your thumb and first or second finger. Pick up a small tuft of hair on your dog's body with your left hand; pluck only the hardest hairs with your right hand. Strip the dog in the direction of its hair's natural growth. Repeat this process on the Westie's neck, saddle, rear, shoulders and chest. Anticipate that this process will take hours; schedule days to groom certain sections if time is scarce. Consult your breeder or a professional groomer with dog stripping experience for advice on this technique.
File down the dog's nails with a grinder. Trim the hair around your Westie's feet with thinning shears. This is especially important, because the Westie's white fur can easily attract dirt and stains on the paws. Your Westie should be bathed rarely; the process can leave the naturally tough coat too soft and subject to the elements. Dirt easily falls off the coats of Westies who are regularly stripped. If you must bathe your dog, lather it no more than once every two months.
Begin conditioning your Westie for grooming at an early age. The dog will undergo lengthy and demanding coat care maintenance, so it's best to introduce it to the process little by little as a puppy.