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WHWT -part 7 - coat & grooming by Joan Graber

The first sentence in the coat section is a most profound truth. Coat IS
very important and is seldom seen to perfection. It also affects the dog's
balance and overall appearance. The Westie is to be double-coated with a
hard tight jacket, the standard says about 2'" in length. This double coat
was what kept the dog warm in the inclement weather of the Scottish
Highlands. The outer coat should be straight and impeccably hard, wiry to
the touch, with no suggestion of fluff or softness. It should protect
the dog from the elements and the jacket should be virtually waterproof.
Interestingly, in the past 90+ years the emphasis has gone from undercoat
to top coat. Today, despite the standard calling for a double coat, it
will be hard to find any amount of undercoat on the back of a Westie being
shown, as the majority of exhibitors rake it out, to help the topcoat lay
flat. When looking for undercoat, you should be able to find it on the
sides, flanks, etc. With a correct hard coat you should not be able to
separate the hair and see the dog's skin, either due to the undercoat or
because the top coat is so thick. With a thick hard coat there may be a
slight wave, especially over the rump, but the coat should never curl. To
me a truly hard coat feels almost like a 'Brillo pad".

A really hard coated Westie will not get profuse head, leg and belly
furnishings until it is about 3 years of age, as the hard hair breaks
easily and this can affect the dog's overall picture of balance.(picture #
The more the hair is pulled, the thicker it will come in, but it takes
time! When I see a Westie's head furnishings teased to where the dog
looks more like a Bichon (picture #55) I start to question
the quality of the coat texture. If you try to tease a truly hard coat you
end up breaking hairs, thus on the dog with teased head furnishings you
very likely will find a fairly soft coat. On a young Westie with a hard
coat most breeders, between shows, will oil the furnishing to keep them
from breaking. Let me get on my 'soap box' for a minute regarding this
issue of teasing furnishings, both head and leg. When I see a teased head,
two things enter my mind regarding what I need to check for. One is the
texture of the coat as I have already mentioned. The other is, does this
dog have enough bone for the breed? One of the reasons some exhibitors
started teasing head furnishings was to make the dogs look like they were
wide in skull with enough bone, when the dogs were actually a little
lacking in bone overall. Also, on a dog with a softer coat the head
furnishings will likely separate if not pulled often enough, thus the
teasing is a faster way to make the head look acceptable. There are
degrees of softness and you should penalize by the degree of softness. At
no point should you reward a Westie whose furnishings look like 'cotton

In my 40 years in Westies, I don't know that I have ever seen a Westie, in
the ring with, with a 2-inch coat anywhere on the back, despite this is
what the standard asks for. The proper Westie coat should never
approximate the tight short jacket of the Lakeland or Schnauzer. I like to
see a Westie's jacket at least 1 inch, preferably 1 inch, long. With
most Westies today you will be lucky to find many at even 1 inch, it's less
work to keep the top coat very short!

Texture and color often influence each other. Very hard coats often are
more silvery white than 'pure' white and can look gray by comparison to the
softer textured coat. They may also show some degree of wheaten tipping on
the outer coat down the dorsal strip. Often the color is just on the tips
of the hair. With hard coats this could be due to over stripping,
stripping with a knife rather than by finger and thumb, or simply a phase
the dog is going through. Thus, you might see a Westie who has some color
and several months later there is none, or vice versa. More than likely
nothing, other than stripping, was done to achieve this change. The softer
coated dogs are frequently whiter=looking and rarely have any dorsal strip
coloring. John Marvin felt that wheaten tipping on a hard straight coat
was preferable to a 'pure' white softer coat. As with other aspects each
person needs to decide what they will tolerate regarding color and texture.

Let me address the issue of grooming further at this point, as it has an
impact on your impression of the Westie.( picture #56)
Remember that only hair texture and coat color are part of the genetic
inheritance, and that the results of grooming are man made. If I place a
dog despite its incorrect grooming, I make a point of telling the handler I
put them up in spite of what they did regarding the grooming; teased head,
top coat too short, etc. and I also tell them what I prefer. Like the
majority of terriers the show Westie coat should be hand stripped, not
scissored. Like many other things, grooming styles change over the years
and are dependent on the groomer.(pictures #57-62) The head should be
groomed to resemble a chrysanthemum. (pictures #63, 20-24, 41, 53) When
examining the head, don't worry about what you will do to the grooming!
You should be able to easily feel the skull through the hair. You should
also be able to run your fingers from the skull up through the hair without
meeting any resistance. Toplines, as mentioned earlier, can also be
affected by the grooming style.(pictures # 15-17, 39, 40, 54, 60, 61)
Overall proportions can be thrown off when hair is built up over the
withers and shoulders, often in an attempt to make the back 'short',
(pictures #64, 65) and in the process throwing the overall balance off.

part 8