Do Westies Smell Bad?

By John Martin - February 15, 2024

Westie standing outside in grass

Westies, or West Highland White Terriers, do not actually smell too bad. However, care must be taken to ensure that this remains a consistent phenomenon since poor hygiene is one of the easiest ways for your Westie to start smelling bad.

You can find out more about Westies and the smell associated with them as well as when and why this kind of smell can become bad.

Do Westies Smell Bad?

Westies smell like dogs generally do, so in that sense, they do not have a distinctly bad smell that is worse than other dogs. In fact, the short and wiry coat that Westies have can ensure that they remain clean, leading to a better smell as compared to other dogs.

While Westies generally smell alright, you should note that it is quite easy for this to turn bad if you do not take proper care of their coat and health.

When Do Westies Smell Bad?

Whenever you end up neglecting the general care and grooming that Westies tend to require, they can start smelling bad. These dogs usually tend to require frequent brushing, grooming and bathing to ensure that they remain healthy and fresh.

This is important to maintain the condition of their wiry coat which might end up becoming matted and dirty if not cared for.

Whenever your dog’s coat remains dirty and neglected for too long, this can make them more prone and vulnerable to certain kinds of infections, diseases and allergies that can then emanate a bad smell while also impacting their health.

Why Do Westies Smell Bad?

Now that you know when Westies smell bad and what leads to it, you can go through the specific reasons that may come about in these dogs that can then cause them to smell bad.


Westies, as a breed, are quite vulnerable to allergies of different kinds, particularly of the skin. These kinds of allergies are usually genetic or can lead to certain body compositions in these dogs that make them more likely to get such allergies in the first place.

Due to these kinds of allergies, Westies might develop a strong smell.

Staph Infection

Staph infections are those that are caused by staphylococcus bacteria. Such infections can usually affect the skin of people, particularly that of dogs.

Since Westies have a coat that needs to be regularly maintained and are also more prone to such infections or allergies, they might easily end up getting an infection if their coat feels dirty and itchy.

Due to this kind of coat, the Westie might end up trying to scratch, lick and bite their skin more often to feel some kind of relief, although this can simply expose their bodies to an infection that can lead to a pungent smell.

Yeast Infection

Yeast infections on the skin or coat of dogs are also known as yeast dermatitis or Malassezia dermatitis that comes about due to a fungus. This kind of yeast infection on the skin can then potentially put your Westie at risk of disease.

These kinds of yeast infections can lead to itchiness, swelling and redness if the yeast happens to spread across the skin. Pigmentation might also occur alongside dry skin that continues to flake off.

Such skin yeast infections can then lead to a musty smell from your Westie’s skin.

Ear Infection

Ear infections and diseases are actually quite common in dogs, with nearly 20% of them developing some form of ear infections. This is mainly because their ear canals are shaped in a way that makes them prone to infections and harm.

There are several reasons for such infections to occur, including yeast build-up, moisture, wax, allergies, injuries and even too much cleaning.

These infections can lead to scratching and itchiness, discharges, swelling, redness and a bad odor.

When it comes to Westies, such ear infections tend to occur with or after dermatitis that can then persist to lead to such a smell.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is another skin disease that Westies are highly prone to as compared to other dog breeds. This skin disease is genetic and chronic and is more likely to affect male Westies as compared to females.

This condition leads to inflammation of the skin and can also lead to odors due to the itchiness, swelling and discharges that may occur.

It can be difficult to spot in the early months or even years since it can be latent for a while. However, when it does occur, you will be able to notice it through your dog’s behavior which can include licking and itching paws and skin.

Armadillo Syndrome

The Armadillo syndrome in Westies is also known as epidermal dysplasia or hyperplastic dermatosis. This is another skin condition that results from the overgrowth of the Malassezia fungus.

This skin condition usually tends to arise when the Westie is barely a year old. This can lead to itchiness and thickness in different parts of the skin, resulting in inflammation, swelling, folds and growth on the skin.

Itching and scratching can then expose the skin to infections, leading to bad smells that may come from the skin of your Westie.

What to Do If Westies Smell Bad

It is now clear that Westies are more prone to different kinds of skin conditions, infections and diseases as compared to other dog breeds, which can usually lead to bad smells.

Thus, if you notice that your Westie smells bad, make it a point to observe your dog for a few minutes or hours to see if any other symptoms or signs of infections show up such as itching, swelling, scratching, licking, redness and the like.

In this case, you should consult your vet immediately so that they can diagnose the condition and provide a solution such as medication, ointment or treatment.

How to Prevent Bad Smell

Many of these skin conditions and infections are actually avoidable if you can manage to keep your Westie clean and healthy at all times. You can go through some preventive measures in detail below.


Westies need frequent brushing when it comes to their coats. This is because they tend to shed moderately but still more than many other dog breeds.

Ensuring that you run a brush through their coats can help get rid of such excess hair while also clearing out dirt and other bacteria that might be stuck to the coat or skin.

As long as you manage to carry this out two or three times every week, you should be able to prevent odors and infections.


Grooming in dogs can include proper cleaning, trimming coats, brushing, trimming nails, removing dead and decaying hair, combing and bathing. This can be a great way to keep your dog clean enough and free of odors.

While you can make it a point to carry this kind of grooming out on your own, it might also help to invest in professional grooming once a month or so if you are not confident about some of the techniques.

Cleaning Ears

Cleaning your Westie’s ears once in a while is another requirement that can clear out all the dirt and dust and particles, thereby preventing any kind of itching that can make them prone to infections.

However, make sure you do not overdo this either since this might impact their ear canals and end up scratching out a part of their sensitive skin.

Brushing Teeth

Sometimes, your Westie might end up smelling bad simply because you have not brushed their teeth in a long time. Make it a point to carry this out regularly to minimize the odor from their mouth as much as possible otherwise this could lead to infections as well.

Regular Bathing

You should aim to bathe your Westie on a monthly basis to clean them up and remove the conditions that could otherwise lead to infections and diseases. Buying suitable soap, shampoo and conditioner is an important part of this as well.

Using Dry Shampoo

While you only need to bathe your Westie on a monthly basis, they might still need some cleaning on a more frequent basis. For this, you can make use of dry shampoo which can get rid of dirt, oil, grease and other such particles from your dog’s coat and skin.

Maintaining Healthy Diet

Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet when it comes to your Westie is quite important to help prevent allergies and skin diseases from occurring or at least for reducing their intensity. Consult your vet to figure out how to proceed in this case so that you can chalk up a plan to feed your Westie well.

Final Remarks

Westies generally smell as dogs usually do but this can turn into a bad smell if they develop allergies, skin conditions and infections. This is why it is essential for you to make efforts to keep your Westie clean through brushing, grooming, bathing, cleaning ears and feeding them well.

Consult your vet in case you notice a bad smell.