A year or two ago, we covered the topic on why handstripping is a very important for grooming the westies. We also explained then that westies do not shed, they need their coat plucked. If you haven’t read the previous post, click here to read, we won’t go into details on the benefits of handstripping in this post.
Why do westies not shed?
Dogs are the descendants of wolves. Wolves by nature shed twice a year, every sixth monthly. Many dogs by nature shed twice a year too, dogs like the Alaskan Malamutes, Spitz, Huskies, Akitas, they shed just as the wolves do, as nature intended.
In the early ages, westies used to have shorter coat, probably 2 inches long. Once the coat reach a ‘maximum’ length, the coat drops and a new coat grows out. This is known as shedding. These days, we see westies with nice long furnishings or skirtings. This is the result of show breeding. In dog shows, exhibitors and judges prefer dogs with long, straight, white coat because they look beautiful and more elegant in the ring. And in order to achieve that, they started breeding dogs with the ability to keep their coat longer than others. Dogs who’s coat will not break easily and dogs who can grow their coat longer than the original shedding coat (2inches or more)
Hundreds of years later, as a result of breed designing, westies slowly shifted from a shedding breed to a none shedding breed. In order for them to renew their coat, owners and groomers now need to manually pluck the coat out to allow a new set of healthy coat to grow in. Without removing the old and dead coat, the new coat will not grow and the existing old coat will turn hollow, thin and lifeless. A good strong coat that is full of life is bright in color, sturdy, water resistant and will not break easily.
Highlighting this important point – that’s not to say that if you get a pet dog or you got your dog not from a show breeder, your westie will have the ability to shed. This is absolutely false. The breed itself has been cross bred with so many lines for decades. Unless you have a breeder who has always been breeding only ‘working’ westies or westies who shed by nature, it does not matter where you get your westie from. A pet shop, a shelter, a breeder, a puppy mill, they all need their coat plucked. We fail to see the possibility of any westie in this mordern age having the ability to shed on it’s own because that quality in those those working lines have long disappeared.
In conclusion, please bear in mind that many breeds shed their coat in order to grow a new set of coat to keep the skin and coat healthy. With certain breeds such as the westies and many other terriers, they need help with that and they NEED their coat plucked every once in a while in order for the new set of coat to grow in.
Short and sweet. We hope that everyone now understands why handstripping is important and why westies do not shed.
*shedding the top coat and shedding of the undercoat is a different thing*