West Highland White Terrier

Grooming Advice

Originally known as the Roseneath Terrier from Poltalloch Scotland, until first exhibited at Crufts in 1907 and AKC registration in 1908, the Westie was around for at least 100 years before that. “A spunky little Terrier and all determination in one small body” as I read and is described so well - I just love the picture that conjures up!

His coat is required to be a hard outercoat, plenty of soft undercoat and all with little trimming but some neatened presentation and the odd bit of titivation via plucking. The longer coat on back and sides to blend into the shorter coat of shoulders and neck. The head should have considerable hair left to frame the face to present a round appearance as viewed from the front.

Well, there are the purists and advisors who traditionally state that the coat ought to be dry cleaned and indeed it can and I will go through the procedure for that. However it can be washed and still presented correctly if you know how to do it. Your choice as to which method and maybe a combination of both i.e. alternating the procedures, will serve the purpose even better. Products are such these days that we can just about doing anything to achieve a perfect outcome and still stay within the rules.

For those who wish to dry clean or quick clean, then Plush Puppy Powder Puff for Terriers is a great naturally sourced powder cleanser and deodoriser with a soft mandarin and ginger fragrance and not overly fragrant! Just a clean, fresh smell. This product is perfect for achieving hard texture too. Simply toss through the coat either by hand or work through by dipping the brush into the powder and brushing through the coat after each coating of the bristles and work well into the coat. Keep brushing to start to assist removal of the powder and thus any dirt and grime or blow dry with a cool dryer to remove the powder entirely. Bingo - a clean and deodorised coat with a texture as harsh as barbed wire!

Washing the coat instead can also be done and have perfect texture if one understands that you must not have froth and bubbles everywhere. The more sudsing action you have, the more static and fluffier the coat will be. So, the answer if for a low sudsing cleanser. Use Plush Puppy Az Iz Bath Wash by adding a few squirts only from the pump dispenser to either a bucket or bath or hydrobath. Depending on what size bath etc you use will determine how many squirts you add. The answer is just a few as you do not want to see bubbles and froth. If you do then you have put in too much. Add more water! It will cleanse but without all the bubbles.

If you must have more toning effect to reduce any yellowing, then use Plush Puppy Whitening Shampoo diluted 10:1 i.e.10 parts water to one part shampoo. Again the balance for this is to give the tonal qualities without creating fluff and static. you do have to trade off on this but the answer is to then ADD the texture back into the coat. Use Plush Puppy Fairy Frost Terrier which is a white powder specifically for harsh coated breeds and will give that special hardness to the coat that the Westie so requires. It is not a chalk but like a chalk, and is naturally sourced and it is hard and white! Toss as much as is needed onto the coat or with a brush method of application and work well into the coat and leave! So, you get to bath AND have a hard coat. How good is that?

You may choose to oil the coats if you need hydration though the coats are being stripped either by hand or knife on a regular basis lessening the need to do too much. For those who do, then use Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil 1 tspn to a half bucket of water, apply liberally and work through the coat and leave in. Seabreeze Oil is water soluble and not greasy - it just adds all the goodness of Evening Primrose Oil, Calendula Oil etc for healthy vigour to the hair for the discerning show person. I am of the school thatworks by doing all of the 100 things one needs to do to get absolute perfection every time! A top competition athlete strives for every edge! Work it! Can’t live without this oil!

Another great texturiser is Plush Puppy Ruffy Tuffy Coat Spray which can be applied onto wet or dry coat. I prefer to apply this after the bath and once the coat is dry and, prior to adding the Fairy Frost powder. Apply layer upon layer i.e. spray, allow a few seconds and then spray again and keep repeating the spray and wait technique till you achieve the level of harshness required. Then apply Fairy Frost if you wish or need to. The Ruffy Tuffy gives a little extra lift to the coat whereas the Fairy Frost gives harshness and whiteness.

To groom that nice rounded head that is a hallmark of the Westie, use Plush Puppy Sit N Stay which is a sticky shaping prodouct best applied by working a small amount onto the fingers and rubbed together till the product crosses over from wet sticky to dry sticky and then apply to the head and sides of the face. Make sure you are getting this down to the root area too for lift and to hold the shape. Then kind of clump small bits together towards the ends. Lovely!

On show day, Plush Puppy Odour Muncher is a wonderful product for literally munching odours away - leaves a light fragrance that is not too much, nor too little.

Don’t forget that a good coat is not made the night before a show. It begins weeks and months ahead. Keeping good texture and preventing stains etc is not an art, it is just plain hard work and attention. Spray with a diluted mix of Seabreeze Oil (1 dspn to 1 cup warm water) the under carriage of the male dogs particularly to prevent pee staining during the week. Mix a good runny slurry of Plush Puppy Coat Rescue with water and slop onto the lengths of the coat mid week for 10 minutes or so and rinse off. Good for adding protein to the coat and ensuring the coat does not become brittle. These little outdoorsy types do play hard!

Getting the shape right for your dog as opposed to someone else’s dog is the key. Be critical and evaluate your dog honestly and the ideal shape will present itself to you. Never tell anyone else what you don’t like about your dog and trust me, there is always something we want to tweak. However do be critical to yourself. Once you understand the ideal shape of your standard, it is up to you to breed, present, and that means shape your dog, and, show to absolute perfection. That perfect silhouette is there and available to us all. You just have to know what it looks like and then go for it. The products will help get you there.

Watch the experts as they shape and trim their dogs and borrow the procedures, but, bear in mind, your dog is not their dog and where they take off coat you may need to keep coat on yours. Just steal their ideas and not their dog!

A further tip is to use Plush Puppy Revivacoat on the legs. It’s a great leave in moisturiser that won’t overly soften the coat and it is darned hard to find things that do just that. It is the perfect product for after show bathing when you remove all those powder hardeners from the furnishings. It will protect and moisturise. Easy and quick to apply. Just work onto your hands and apply. Simple!

Plush Puppy Wonder Wash is a vital part of the kit for any Westie exhibitor for that quick cleanse to the legs and feet. They seem to get into everything and anything and this no rinse shampoo is a Godsend on show morning. Just spray and work lightly into the coat with your fingers and then towel off. The legs will be pristine once more.

Well why not go the whole hog and apply some Plush Puppy Coverup Cream which is ostensibly white makeup for dogs. A consistency of a paste, it is applied with a barely damp sponge lightly with just a dab at a time and not blobbed on. Good for any stained area around the eyes or feet and then a good generous application of loose chalk or Fairy Frost Terrier Powder to completely and quickly dry it. Is this dog beginning to look glam or not? A touch of Plush Puppy Pixie Dust applied either on it’s own or mixed into the Fairy Frost powder, just a tiny bit, will add some glints of light and shimmer. The trouble with any chalks or powders is that they tend to be a flat white and it’s nice to be able to add just a hint of sparkle/shimmer to pick up pinpricks of light either under spotlights or out in the sun. The trick with all these things is to do them sensibly and not over do it. Everything should appear effortless and never contrived.

The Westie on any day and especially show day, should be full of self esteem and showmanship. His combination of strength and activity with that alertness and great intelligence, is so Terrier, and so typical of a Westie. He is not a pampered dog but a hardy and cunning little dog and easy to show and handle. His distinctive free and easy gait with good reach from the shoulder and balanced drive is a pleasure to watch as he works that ring and the audience. This little dog is quite the head turner and as long as you are as well prepared as he, then the combination ought to be unbeatable! Really like this breed a lot!

- Cheryl Le Court