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West Highland White Terrier Breed

Sara Ochoa

By Dr. Sara Ochoa


Are you looking for an all-around companion for you and your family?

Want a dog that will enjoy time with both you and your kids?

Hoping to find a long-term four-legged family member?

Look no further than the West Highland White Terrier!

This little charmer will win you over within seconds!

 

The westie has been stealing hearts since the 18th century.

He was originally bred for hunting and exterminating rodents around the family estate in Scotland.

This breed is independent but loving, stubborn but loyal.

He loves being active but can cuddle up after a long day.

Low-maintenance physically and emotionally, this pup is perfect for any family!

 

So, what do you need to know before getting a westie?

What are his grooming and exercise needs?

How does the westie interact with other people and dogs?

Do you need to plan hangout time with your pup?

This article will cover all these topics and more!

Learn what makes your westie tick, and what to expect in social situations.

You will get the rundown on what to expect as a westie owner.

So, join me, in learning about the West Highland White Terrier!

 

Appearance

tiny fluffy puppy

This breed is almost instantly recognizable in the vast world of dogs.

Small and compact, the westie has a perky face and ears.

His body is strong and stocky, perfectly proportionate for his size!

Just like his name, this pup only comes in the color white.

The westie used to be clumped together with a bunch of other terriers.

But selective breeding was used to isolate the white gene in the highland terrier group.

His coat is medium length and the double type.

Your westie may look soft, but the outer layer of his coat is actually wiry and tough.

This helps him to avoid getting dirt and debris stuck in his coat.

 

This adorable pup measures between 10 and 11 inches tall.

A healthy weight for this breed is 10-15 pounds.

He may be a small dog, but the westie is mighty!

This little guy is a bundle of energy true to his terrier name!

With his bright eyes and attentive ears, your pup will make you feel important!

He’s always full of energy and ready to have a good time.

You won’t be the first or last to fall in love with a westie’s happy-go-lucky face.

 

Personality

The westie is a cheerful addition to any family!

He loves children and takes well to living with several people.

His sweet, social nature endears the westie to everyone he encounters!

The westie needs to live inside, so don’t try to keep him outside for long amounts of time.

This pup will be more than happy to spend time romping around the house with you and your kids!

 

When it comes to other pets, it’s best to be judicious.

Westies can live peaceably with other dogs.

Experts state that westies do not do well around other male dogs who are still intact.

Cats are a toss-up for westies.

If you can take the time to introduce your westie and cat slowly, they may be able to live together happily.

Any pet smaller than a cat is a no-go for cohabitation with a westie.

This breed’s prey instinct is so strong that it would be dangerous to have small pets in the house.

 

The westie is incredibly vocal.

While you can train a dog not to bark, there is some biological drive that will always be there.

If your westie notices something new or out of the norm, he will not hesitate to let you know.

And he will let you know loudly!

So, if you don’t want a dog that barks a lot, the westie might not be for you.

Just remember that he has your best interests at heart!

 

Exercise

This breed is naturally very active.

Even if you aren’t actively exercising your westie, he will be running to and fro, always sniffing something new.

However, don’t completely write off regular exercise.

This pup needs 20-30 minutes of dedicated exercise and playtime daily.

Make sure your pup is either in a fenced-in area or on a leash.

His prey instinct will often override any training you have worked on.

Westies are known for running after any small wildlife they may encounter.

Do yourself a favor and always have your pup on a leash if there is no containment fence.

 

It is important for your westie to get regular socialization with other dogs.

Utilizing local dog parks is an excellent way to achieve this.

Your pup will love running around with other dogs and engaging in friendly tussles.

This breed is incredibly social, so playing with other dogs is important for his happiness.

Both you and your westie can have fun playing outside and meeting new friends!

 

Grooming

The westie is one dapper looking gentleman!

His beauty routine is not complicated.

Just make sure you regularly take time to care for his coat.

Your pup has a double coat.

This means that there is a soft underlayer and a coarse overlayer.

Daily brushing to remove any dead under hair is important.

While daily brushing is important, the westie actually sheds very little.

The top layer of hair resists dirt and debris, so don’t worry about washing your westie too often.

In fact, bathing your pup too often can result in damaging their protective top layer.

 

Many westie owners will have their pup’s coat trimmed by a professional groomer every 4-6 weeks.

This is imperative if you plan to show your pup.

Even if you don’t show your pup, professional grooming is a great decision.

Your westie’s coat will look amazing, and he will love the regular pampering!

 

Always be sure to check your pup’s ears.

Any buildup of dirt can become an infection if not taken care of.

When you are brushing your pup, do a quick visual check of his ears.

If you see any dirt, remove it gently with a warm, wet cloth.

Your westie will be happy and content when he is properly taken care of!

 

Training

The westie was bred to work alone and independently.

This can make him challenging to train.

However, don’t be discouraged!

The important thing is to be encouraging and consistent.

Once you establish yourself as the one in charge, your westie will happily follow your lead.

 

As stated above, regular socialization with other dogs is important for this breed.

Start socialization training as early as possible.

This will ensure that your pup is always ready to interact with other dogs.

It’s never fun to be unprepared for social situations.

Help your dog and help yourself by utilizing socialization training!

 

Another way to help your pup is crate training.

A crate can be a safe place for a pup to be when you don’t want to trip over him, such as when you are moving.

It is also a refuge for him to retreat to when he needs a nap or some time away from the other occupants of the house.

The crate should never become a cage, though.

As with all dogs, crate training should be loving, ethical, and kind.

If you take the time to consistently train your pup, both of you will be happier for it!

 

Health

While westies are generally healthy, they can be prone to certain genetic conditions.

Responsible breeders will have their breeding stock tested for any medical issues.

Do not hesitate to ask your breeder questions about your pup’s parents and any health issues they may have.

A reputable breeder will be able to provide paperwork and health records upon request.

In particular, your breeder should have clearances for patellar luxation and cardiac disease.

Of course, this isn’t a failsafe way to make sure your pup never has medical issues.

But it is helpful in weeding out glaringly obvious problems.

 

For the westie, maintaining a balanced diet is important.

This breed was bred to function on scraps and trash.

Always follow your veterinarian’s recommendation for portion size.

It is easy for these little guys to gain too much weight.

Extra weight then puts stress on his joints and your westie may develop other health issues.

In addition to good eating habits, brushing your westie’s teeth is important.

Ask your veterinarian what oral products he recommends.

Brush your pup’s teeth at least once a week to maintain his health and cleanliness.

A healthy and well-cared for dog is a happy dog!

 

History

white dog runs to his owner

The story of the West Highland White Terrier begins in the British Isles.

As early as the 16th century, terriers were developed as a breed to combat with rodent problems.

It didn’t matter if you were rich or poor.

Food stores were eaten, and disease was spread by mice and rats.

This left everyone in desperate need of an exterminator.

And the terrier was the resulting perfect, adorable exterminator.

While the terrier group started as one indistinguishable group, selective breeding led to the splitting of the breed.

The West Highland White Terrier is one of the distinct breeds that descended from the original terrier breed.

 

The westie as we know it came into being in the 1700’s.

The Malcolm clan selectively bred terriers for their own estate in Scotland.

This solidified the individuality of the breed.

The westie participated in his first Scottish dog show in 1896.

His inclusion in the American Kennel Club came not long after, in 1906.

Since then, the westie’s popularity has only increased.

Now, the breed is known to be one of the most popular house-dog breeds in the world.

 

Where Can I Find West Highland White Terriers?

As always, the key to finding a lifelong companion is locating a reputable breeder.

A reliable breeder will have all their records and information available for you.

They will have no problem answering questions regarding their breeding practices and health screenings.

As always, it is imperative to avoid puppy mills and internet scams.

Take the time to ask thoughtful questions and engage in conversation with your breeder.

This will help in ensuring you don’t fall prey to the darker side of dog breeding.

 

The West Highland White Terrier Club of America (WHWTCA) has a list of westie breeders available for download on their website.

However, there is a disclaimer that these breeders are not endorsed by the club.

It is your responsibility to do the research to ensure you are purchasing a puppy from a safe and ethical breeder.

 

As always, choosing the right puppy is important.

Many breeders provide a personality quiz so that they can recommend a specific puppy to you.

Take the time to spend several hours with your pup, preferably over one or two days, before taking him home.

This will help your westie to acclimatize to you before he is taken to a new environment.

Once you have a westie, you will never go back!

 

 

FAQ

Q: Are West Highland White Terriers good apartment dogs?
A: Yes! Because of his size, the westie is perfect for apartment life! Just make sure that you are able to properly exercise him outside every day!

Q: Are westies good with children?
A: Westies adore children and are a great dog to have with children. They will play with your kids and be a wonderful companion for them!

Q: Is it difficult to train a westie?
A: This breed is very independent, so it can be frustrating to train westies. However, the key to success is consistency and positive reinforcement.

 

 

In Closing

No matter where you are in life, the West Highland White Terrier will be the perfect companion for your lifestyle.

Good with kids and other dogs, the westie will add joy and excitement to your life.

With his bright eyes and cheerful personality, your westie will live a happy life with you!

So, what are you waiting for?

Check out these West Highland White Terrier puppies today!

 

Thank you for taking the time to learn about this energetic breed with me today!

I’ll see you next time!

 

References
American Kennel Club. (2022, 2 28). West Highland White Terrier. Retrieved from American Kennel Club: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/west-highland-white-terrier/

Dogtime. (2022, 2 28). West Highland White Terrier. Retrieved from Dogtime: https://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/west-highland-white-terrier#/slide/1

Hillspet. (2022, 2 28). White Highland White Terrier. Retrieved from Hillspet: https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/dog-breeds/west-highland-white-terrier

PetFinder. (2022, 2 28). West Highland White Terrier. Retrieved from PetFinder: https://www.petfinder.com/dog-breeds/west-highland-white-terrier/

West Highland White Terrier Club of America. (2022, 2 28). Homepage. Retrieved from West Highland White Terrier Club of America: https://westieclubamerica.com/index.htcl

 

Picture of author Dr. Sara Ochoa in her scrubs with a cute dogSara Ochoa, DVM is an expert veterinarian ready to help you give your dog an amazing life. Stationed in East Texas, Dr. Ochoa specializes in small and/or exotic animals. She’s currently loving life alongside her husband Greg and their three fur babies: Ruby the Schnoodle, Monkey the tortoise, and Oliver James (affectionately dubbed “OJ”) the cat.

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