The West Highland terrier is a spunky little white dog that requires regular grooming at least once every six to eight weeks to keep it in tip-top shape. There are two types of grooming for the West Highland terrier: hand-stripping for show dogs and clipping for the pet Westie. Cutting the hair of your Westie will require a great deal of patience and practice to get the look and length you are hoping for on your dog.
Shampoo your Westie in a tearless, whitening conditioning shampoo. Wet your dog all over and lather well. Let the shampoo sit on your dog for at least five minutes, then rinse and repeat. Be sure to remove all lather in the final rinse.
Towel dry as well as you can and then use a blow dryer to remove as much water as possible. Try brushing the longer hair in the direction of its growth while you are blow drying to prevent it from matting.
Brush your dog completely so there are no mats. Follow the brushing by using your double-sided comb, also known as a greyhound comb. There are larger tines on one end and smaller ones on the other side. If you can get a comb all the way through the coat, your dog's hair is in great shape to begin grooming.
Begin the haircut by removing hair from under the pads of your dog's feet with the clippers and a No. 30 blade. Be careful and remove hair under the foot pad safely.
Use the No. 10 blade to shave a small area around the rectum and also under the belly around the private areas for better hygiene.
Connect the No. 7 blade to your clippers and use it on your dog's back, moving from the back of the neck to the base of the tail in the direction of the hair growth. Shave down to the top of your dog's shoulder and all the way back to the tops of the hind legs. Shave under the dog's tail as well. Use the same blade to shave behind the ears and around the neck down to the chest area. Shave to the chest bone.
Take the straight scissors to make a neat line along the dog's skirt on both sides and all four legs. Continually comb the hair and trim any excess hair sticking out. Continue this process on the whole skirt and each leg until you get the desired effect and length of hair.
Use the curved scissors to make a nice, rounded foot. Again use the comb to bring out the fur and make sure no loose and unruly hairs remain.
Very carefully use a No. 15 blade to clip the tops of the dog's ears, only using an up and out movement. Do not clip to the very end. Use scissors to cautiously cut the hair all around the ear as close to the ear leather as possible without cutting it.
Use straight scissors to trim the tail in the shape of an inverted carrot. Comb the hair out and to the side, using the scissors to trim any unruly hair sticking out.
The final step is to create a well-rounded head without using clippers. Trim the hair over the eyes and use your fingers to pluck any wild hairs from the inner corners of the eyes. Use thinning shears to trim the lower face from ear to ear to give the dog a half-moon appearance on both sides of its head. You may need to use thinning shears or your curved scissors to clip away any unruly hair from behind the ears and under the chin area. You may also need to thin out the chest and skirt if it appears too full.
Choice of blades varies depending on how close you want to shave your dog. Be calm throughout the process or your dog will sense your stress. If necessary, take a break during the grooming so you and your dog are not too frazzled.