by Miss Jane

Volume Two, Issue Three

Photo by M. Duffy


Dear Miss Jane,
I would like more info on grooming a westie. I presently clip my Webster but not sure I am getting the head just right. Do you know where I could go to a school to learn dog grooming? Not just Westies but all breeds, especially Westies though.

Webster's mom

Hello Linda,
Nice to hear from you. Grooming Westies is quite an art, isn't it? Groomers will tell a client they know how to groom a Westie and then the poor dog turns out looking like a Schnauzer or worse! The first place to check out information on grooming schools is at: The directory will give you a list of schools in your state and hopefully you'll find one in your area.

There are two ways of grooming a Westie, handstripping or clippering. Once you've taken clippers to the coat, it is very difficult to get the proper harshness back. In order for the head to look right it helps to pull out hairs rather than scissor. You can scissor but if you want the chrysanthemum head look you see on show dogs, you really can only get that look by finger plucking, some scissoring, teasing, mousse and hairspray.

Good luck in all your endeavors.

Top of page

Dear Miss Jane,
I am involved in the Northern Ill. West Highland Terrier Rescue. My most recent acquisition is a 4 year old male that goes "crazy" when a thunder storm occurs. He even gets nervous when it starts to rain. He runs to the window and barks and barks even time the lightening flashes and the thunder crashes. Any feedback on how to recondition him. He appears to be a very bright dog however in the past has also bitten so I want to be careful on how we deal wtih. So far I have fosterd him for a week and half and no signs of aggression he is a "perfect" dog except for the fear of storms. I even tried putting him in his cage with a towel over the top of it no luck.


Ah yes, you have a "Storm Dog". I have had two of those, one Greyhound, one Westie. Panting and pacing are two early signs dogs give to alert us to changes in the barometric pressure, I'm not exactly sure what part of the body is affected with dogs but I know I get terrible headaches before and
during some storms. A storm dog "feels" the storm more intensely than we do and the noise associated with thunder storms just double the anxiety. I have a cat who practically goes wild during certain rain storms. A meterologist I'm sure could explain to me why.

Sometimes dogs try to ground themselves from the static electricity in the air produced by lightning so they search out a damp area like a bathtub. Anit-static stips may help your dog during this time as well. What has really benefitted my "storm-Westie" is the Bach flower essence Rescue Remedy. Rescue Remedy is a homeopathic remedy that helps produce a calming effect, without harmful drugs. I have been using it for years as have many, many people, not only for their dogs but for themselves and other animals. You can find Rescue Remedy at any good health food store (not the GNC type) but an honest-to-goodness health food store.

I'm sure your dog will be fine but if you are going to place him in another home, please alert the new owners to his fear and pass on my suggestions. Remember storms are more FELT, than seen or heard, that's why those audio tapes of storms aren't extremely beneficial in reconditioning.

Best of luck to you.

Top of page

Dear Miss Jane,
I have a few questions about the Westie.

  1. I heard you can't bath a Westie, if this is true how do you keep them clean?
  2. Are Westies lap dogs?
  3. Are Westies very playful dogs especially when there puppies?
  4. Are there any health problems with the Westies?
  5. How many times do you walk a Westie?
  6. What is the best way to house break a Westie?


Hello Jim,
Thanks for writing to Westie Wisdom. Owning a Westie (or any terrier) is a little different than owning any other breed of dog. Westies were orginally created to go to ground after vermin. The course coat provided protection as a shield against aggressive prey and resistance to the harsh elements of the
Scottish Highlands. The Westie has a double coat: the part of the coat against the skin is dense and soft to keep the dog warm and the outer coat is course and straight to repel dirt and water, just like an all weather coat would protect you against the elements, so does the Westies' functional coat protect him. Frequent bathing of this unique coat will soften it, making it much easier to attract dirt, and tend to cause skin problems by removing the essential oils the coat needs. Westies do not shed like other breeds and their coat really needs to be properly maintained by a process called hand-stripping, meaning the dead hairs of the coat are pulled out by finger plucking. This is the best way to avoid any additional skin problems that some Westies are plagued with. If you feel you must bathe, only do so a few times A YEAR, not weekly or monthly. When the coat is properly maintained to correct harshness, dirt just falls right out, even mud. The course coat acts as a great dirt repellent and even if the dog gets wet and dirty, a quick dry off and a dry bath with corn starch is all you need to end up with a clean, fresh smelling dog. Just powder the dog with corn starch, brush in, brush out and you are all set. Bathing attracts fleas as well, which is another reason to be very sparing with soap and water.

Westies are busy little dogs who require at least two walks a day or one walk and several rounds of active play, like fetching a tennis ball. If you don't provide plenty of exercise for a Westie, he will amuse himself in ways you never dreamed. Westies are brilliant and do very well in performance events like obedience, agility, earth dog trials and terrier races, but overall they simply enjoy being with their people. Some Westies are lap dogs (I have one who is) but most Westies simply like to be near by but not on you. They tend to rule the roost if given half a chance so I highly recommend a good dog obedience class to help you establish a bond and learn the leadership skills required for owning a terrier.

Westies are VERY active as puppies, as are all puppies, so make sure your household and lifestyle are appropriate for having a puppy. Pups are like small children, into everything, have potty accidents, need constant supervision and a safe place to go when they (and you) need a break. A dog crate is advised. There is a great article on housebreaking and one on Westie diseases at the Westie World web page, which will help answer your questions on those two subjects.


Top of page

Dear Miss Jane,
Just bought my first Westie pup - Cody is almost 3 months old. How much will he weigh when full grown?


Hello and thanks for writing to Westie Wisdom,
Well, size and weight vary depending on your puppy's lineage. Breeders who breed and show Westies usually have very good stock which meet the standard for Westie size and weight. Pet shops and casual breeders known as backyard breeders don't match their Westies with mates which meet the standard and you can very likely end up with an oversized Westie. Generally speaking male Westies are about 11 - 12 inches in height and weigh 15 to 20 pounds.

~ Jane


Copyright © 2001 Jane Fink and Westie World.

Previous   Next
Top of Page

|| Westie Wisdom Main Page || Westie Wisdom Archives || Westie World Site Index ||