West Highland White Terriers have long white coats that are absolutely beautiful. You might think that such a fluffy dog would shed a lot—but you’d be pleasantly surprised! Westies shed much less than the average dog. If you keep your Westie clean and well-groomed, you won’t have to deal with much shed hair or dander at all.
West Highland White Shedding
Westie fur has two layers—a long, straight outer coat and a fleecy, soft undercoat.
The outer coat helps keep dirt and dust off your dog’s skin and undercoat, while the undercoat helps your dog stay warm in cold weather. This undercoat is similar to the curly hair of poodles, another low-shedding breed. Although you will see some shedding in a Westie, their fur doesn’t shed as frequently or as quickly as most dog breeds.
Another reason to love Westie fur is that they don’t have seasonal coat changes. Some dog breeds will grow a new, warmer winter coat every fall that is replaced by a shorter coat when the weather warms up. This leads to a lot of shedding every spring and fall. Westies shed a small amount of fur year-round, skipping the seasonal shedding mess.
Are Westies Hypoallergenic?
If you have a dog allergy, you’ll probably know that some dogs are better than others. Low-shedding breeds like Westies are sometimes called “hypoallergenic” by breeders, but that’s a little misleading. Westies produce allergens like any other dog, but less of their shed hair ends up floating through the air.
This means that if you’ve got dog allergies, having a Westie in your living space may be easier than having a high-shedding breed. But sadly, petting and snuggling a Westie can still give you allergy symptoms. If you do want a Westie for allergy control, consider getting a female—they tend to produce fewer allergens.
Caring for Your Westie’s Coat
Westies might not shed very much, but they still need regular coat care. You should brush your Westie a few times a week to remove dust and dirt and clear up any tangles. This will keep your Westie’s coat clean and healthy. Many Westie owners also have their dogs trimmed regularly to make the coat easier to maintain. You should bathe your Westie as needed, usually every four to six weeks. Too much bathing can be bad for your dog’s coat as it can strip the oils from its skin, leading to dry skin.
Because Westies have such pale fur, you might notice reddish “tear stains” beneath your dog’s eyes. This is totally normal and not a sign of any health issue, but it can be messy looking. Regularly wiping the fur under your dog’s eyes with a washcloth soaked in warm water can help keep the area clean. If the fur becomes heavily stained and can’t be cleaned with water, diluted hydrogen peroxide can remove the stain, but it’s important to be very careful as it can sting your dog’s eyes on contact.
If you’re looking for a small, low-shedding dog, a West Highland White Terrier is a great choice. Its soft white fur only sheds a small amount, making it easy to keep clean. However, Westies aren’t right for everyone. Their coats aren’t completely hypoallergenic, and their fur still requires plenty of maintenance. It is important to make sure you’re prepared to meet a Westie’s care needs before you bring one into your family.
Featured Image Credit: Nixx Photography, Shutterstock