Do Westies Shed?

By John Martin - September 2, 2020

Well-groomed Westie posing in the grass

While the cliches like “dogs are man’s best friends” exist for a reason, no one likes their best friends to shed all over their new couch or rug.

For this reason, many people prefer to adopt dogs that not just complete their family but also don’t shed as much fur around the house. All this fur then has to be cleaned using a range of tools or you’re putting yourself at the risk of developing allergies!

Brief Background on West Highland White Terriers

If you have been thinking about bringing home a Westie — officially known as the West Highland White Terriers — it is important that you acquaint yourself with the dog and some of its basic characteristics.

These are essentially small dogs that usually weigh between 15 and 20 pounds. Not growing above 10-11 inches in height, these are small like most breeds of terriers and also show a similar temperament.

For example, you will notice that the Westies are usually fond of barking and digging, which keeps them alert at all times. They are loyal by nature, going to great extents to keep their master safe.

You do not have to be too particular about the kind of environment that the Westies need to be kept in. Similarly, they also do not need too much space to live and thrive.

However, you must keep in mind that in order to keep the dogs at their active best, you need to take them out for a walk every day. While there are many terriers that don’t work well with strangers and other dogs, that isn’t something that you need to worry about with the Westies.

Do Westies Shed a Lot?

While many breeders have been known to sell Westies to potential customers as “hypoallergenic” dogs, that is far from the truth. Instead, these are dogs that shed very little, which in turn can be beneficial for people with severe allergies as there isn’t too much fur doing the rounds in the house.

The main reason for a lack of extensive shedding when it comes to Westies is the way their coat has been designed. This will be discussed in greater detail in the next section.

While the original coat of the Westies was known to be about two inches long with the capability of shedding, over time these dogs were bred to shed less and less hair. In most cases, however, you will have to put in more effort into keeping the dog groomed and in the best shape.

Overall, if you were looking for an answer to whether or not Westies shed, it is a simple yes, they do shed some fur. However, if you were wondering whether they shed a lot of hair, the answer is no, their shedding is on the lower side when compared to a number of dog breeds that you may be thinking of adopting.

Related: Top 5 Westie Shampoo Picks

Why Don’t They Shed Very Much?

Westies have a bright white coat that makes these dogs a delight to look at. These dogs are actually double coated.

The outer coat of the Westies tends to be more wiry in terms of texture, which gives it a rougher appearance.

The undercoat, however, is much softer with a texture that resembles the fleece that you’d find in a winter jacket. This undercoat is responsible for acting as an insulator for the dog and keeping it warm even in harsh conditions.

The softer undercoat is also a common characteristic for the relatively smaller dogs that don’t have the capacity of shedding too much hair.

The main theory behind Westies not shedding as much fur as other dogs is that they have been bred to reduce the shedding so that the length of their coat would increase. However, as the dog does not shed as much as other dogs, its coat can develop an almost matted appearance that does not look good at all.

In order to prevent this, you need to take care of the grooming aspect very well. In the next section, we will be delving deeper into the need for grooming and how you can keep your Westie in the best possible condition.

Importance of Grooming Your Westie

If you want your Westie to remain presentable at all times, you need to put some extra energy into grooming. As these dogs do not tend to shed too much on their own, they need to be brushed with added vigor in order to keep the coat bright and shiny.

Putting some energy into brushing the Westie’s coat will help in getting rid of all the dead fur that the dog cannot get rid of on its own. This keeps the coat clean and prevents it from getting thin and hollow.

Another important step of grooming your Westie is clipping its fur on a regular basis. If you are going to do this on your own, make sure you have the right tools at hand to complete these tasks.

Some important tools to keep are sturdy brushes that can withstand some intense brushing sessions, thinning shears for maintaining the quality of the coat, scissors and nail clippers. Keep in mind that going too short could lead to skin problems for the Westie.

Finally, hand stripping is a useful technique to adopt when you are trying to maintain the quality of your Westie’s coast. In this process, you are required to pull out the dead parts of the Westie’s outer coat — usually the roughest part — by hand instead of relying on any physical tools like scissors. As these Westies do not shed too much on their own, this process lets them grow an outer coat that is of better quality.

If you are looking for a small dog that doesn’t conform to the stereotypes of delicate dogs meant for your laps, the West Highland White Terrier is a dog that you must consider. Ideal for people who don’t want to bother themselves with too much cleaning after a dog sheds its coat, Westies are friendly dogs that will protect you and stay loyal!