Ideally, your West Highland white terrier sports a coat as pure as the driven snow. Practically, his love of digging and hunting paired with his incessant curiosity might make him appear more slush-colored than snowy. Have no fear -- there are ways to keep your Westie white, at least the majority of the time.
How to Keep Your Westie White
Your Westie boasts a double coat, with the topcoat consisting of straight, coarse hair and a softer undercoat. If you show your Westie, you must have his coat stripped so that it conforms to American Kennel Club breed standards. If you don't show, you might still want to have your Westie professionally clipped and groomed to keep him tidy and allow for easier coat maintenance.
Bathing is the most obvious way to keep your Westie white, but how often you should bathe your Westie depends on various circumstances. While a bath every few months is probably fine for most Westies, that's not enough to keep this feisty terrier pristine. Frequent bathing can cause skin drying and exacerbate any latent Westie skin conditions. The West Highland White Terrier Club of America website states that Westies kept in short cuts and professionally groomed usually can have a bath every four to six weeks. If bathing your dog yourself, only use shampoos designed for canines. Use shampoos developed with white or light-colored dogs in mind. In between wet baths, spruce up your Westie with dry powder dog baths. You also can wash the dirtiest parts -- his paws or face -- on a regular basis.
Brush your Westie every day. Not only does this help remove dirt and prevent matting, but hairs on the brush aren't hairs on your carpets or clothing. Since Westies are prone to skin diseases, this daily routine also helps you spot any incipient dermatological issues, so you can take your dog to the vet promptly for treatment.
If you have a fenced-in yard to which your Westie has regular access, get him used to a touch-up routine before he re-enters the house. Keep a towel at the ready and train him to either wait outside or in a mud room while you clean him off. If he's muddy, another alternative is keeping a crate with a clean towel available by the door. The West Highland White Terrier Club website states that most Westies will shed dirt once it's dried. Leave him in the crate for half an hour or so, and voila, a relatively clean Westie emerges.
It's not uncommon for white dogs to experience tear staining; the Westie is no exception. Formally known as epiphora, these reddish stains result from pigments in the tears. Take your Westie to the vet for an eye examination to ensure he's not suffering from a serious eye disease. Your vet might recommend products to remove the stains, including plain hydrogen peroxide. She also might suggest nutritional supplements, which can reduce staining.