West Highland White Terriers are prized for their white, long coats. These coats are plush and thick thanks to a double coat consisting of a cottony undercoat and an outer coat of hard, straight white hair. The white coloring makes a distinctive looking dog, but can be the bane of an owner's existence when a Westie loves nothing more than diving down holes or digging in the backyard. However, Westies do have sensitive skin and should be bathed very sparsely. Unfortunately, due to a variety of reasons, bathing is sometimes needed rather more frequently. In this article, we'll take a look at why Westies should be bathed infrequently and some tips if bathing more frequently is needed.
Why is frequent bathing often bad for West Highland White Terriers? The answer is rather simple - too much bathing will deprive the skin of the natural oils that it produces to help keep the coat in good health. If the dog is bathed too frequently without taking the natural oils in consideration, the oil could eventually cease production. Without the oil, the skin can become flaky, itchy and very uncomfortable for the dog. It is for this reason that most Westie clubs and associations recommend that the dog only be bathed three or four times a year. Obviously, this doesn't mean that a dog shouldn't be bathed if he's rolled in something particularly nasty, but it is a good general rule.
Because some owners prefer to have their Westies groomed by a professional groomer, they may choose to bathe their dog once every four to six weeks, in order to take advantage of their shorter hair cut and bathe when the hair is freshly cut.
Bathing a Westie more frequently than every four weeks in really not recommended, but there are a few circumstances when it may be necessary. If the dog has an allergy or another skin disorder, he may need a bath with medicated shampoo, prescribed by a veterinarian. Other Westies might produce too much natural oil, and bathing can help remove the excess. Dogs that spend a great deal of time outside and habitually find something smelly to roll in may need a bath more frequently, or it may even just be their owner's personal preference.
If you do find that you prefer bathing more frequently than recommended, it would be best to consult a veterinarian about the best bathing products available to keep the skin healthy. A shampoo specially formulated for Westies should always take preference over others, unless specifically prescribed by a veterinarian, and there are also special conditioners and rinses to help keep the skin in good condition. The most important thing is remembering that caring for the health of your Westie's skin is just as important as having a dog that is clean.