- IS A
WESTIE RIGHT FOR YOU?
- Please be aware that a
Westie is not an appropriate breed for everyone. Many people are captivated
by the Westie’s appearance but few are prepared for the strong-willed
terrier personality possessed by this breed.
- What is a Westie?
- The West Highland White
Terrier or "Westie" is a small compact dog
standing about 10-11 inches tall. The weight of a
Westie can range between 15-22 pounds with the average
weight between 16-20 pounds. The Westie has an
average life span of 12-14 years, however, many live 15+
years. A Westie's hair is always white, though, some
may have a darker dorsal streak. Its coat is usually hard
and straight, but it may also be soft, curly or wavy.
Grooming is a necessary part of your Westie's general health
and hygiene routine. It includes brushing, combing,
bathing, hair trimming or clipping, ear care, dental care
and nail clipping. Daily
brushing will minimize shedding and prevent mats. The hair
is generally clipped and groomed every 6-8 weeks. More
frequent bathing may be required if your Westie has skin
allergies. The Westie no doubt shares a common
ancestry with the other terriers of Scotland, the Scottish,
Skye, Cairn and Dandie Dinmont.
- Westie Traits
- Westies are very
intelligent and definitely not "laid back". They are
happy, playful and affectionate but they are also tough, hardy, independent
and tenacious! They
are also possessed of no small amount of
self-esteem. They can be assertive and demanding. This makes them a wonderful companion for
those who appreciate and are charmed by the terrier
temperament but a disaster for the person who wants a
gentle-natured little dog bred primarily for cuddling.
If you are not prepared to provide structure, leadership
and training for your Westie, this is not the breed for
- If you are drawn
to Westies because "they are so cute" please be
advised that their looks are deceiving. West
Highland White Terriers are high energy dogs originally bred to hunt and kill
game and vermin
in the rugged Scottish Highlands. Westies were bred to go-to-ground in
a hunt, therefore, digging and barking are natural
- Westies are
"pack" animals and need to be with their
owners. If your lifestyle is such that the Westie will be
home alone for a large portion of each day, this is not the
right time in your life to add a Westie to your family.
Westies that are routinely neglected, confined and
ignored can become unmanageable. Westies who are
not sufficiently trained can become too difficult for an
owner to handle. Westies need owners with a willingness to provide patience,
obedience training, socialization, understanding and plenty of quality time.
- High Prey Drive
- Canines, in
and terriers, in particular, possess an instinctive behavior
called "prey drive". This instinct allows wild
dogs to chase and kill animals for food. Our domestic
dogs no longer have the need to kill their own food, but, nonetheless, the
instinct remains very much intact.
- Westies are definitely high
prey drive terriers. Consequently, any small house
pets such as cats, rabbits, birds, mice, rats or hamsters
will be viewed as as "prey" and will be in serious peril from a Westie. Even if the Westie and the other small pets are
separated, there will be stress to both the animals and the family
as the Westie will continually bark and attempt to hunt the
- Westies and Children
|Many of the popular breed books
have unfortunately misrepresented Westies as unequivocally
"good with children". This is not an accurate
statement. Many Westies will NOT TOLERATE even unintended
mistreatment from a child.
- They will not put up with typical
child handling such as pulling of ears or tails nor will they
tolerate taking or "sharing" of the dog's bones, food
Children are often the most
disrespected members of a dog's "pack". A Westie may
view himself as a much higher-ranking pack member than your
- Additionally, the sight of a running child may
trigger the Westie's high prey drive resulting in the Westie
instinctively trying to bring the child to a stop anyway it can.
- Responsible Westie Owner
- To be a responsible
pet owner you must fully understand the health, behavior and temperament
traits of the Westie breed and what the puppy will be like as he matures into an adult dog.
- Each pure breed of dogs
has its own particular hereditary health issues. The Westie is no
exception. You should be familiar with the common
health concerns that may be encountered in Westies.
- Many dogs placed into Westie Rescue programs are unwanted simply for
being Westies by nature and behavior. Their owners found
that they were unprepared to provide the care required for this
- If you have never owned a
Westie, we highly recommend you read the excellent Dog World magazine
article, "Fire and Ice". This article
accurately depicts the pros and cons of living with a Westie and
includes a description of common personality traits and health
- The West Highland White Terrier Club of America's
will provide insight regarding the
compatibility of this breed with your household and lifestyle.
- Read and become knowledgeable with
the traits, temperament and
behavior characteristics of the
local dog shows to talk with breeders and owners.
- Before you make your final
decision to add a Westie (or any breed) to your family, you
should talk with your veterinarian, experienced breeders,
trainers and rescue volunteers about the breed.
- The SFBWHWTC holds a Specialty
Show each year as well as two informal family
picnics. These are excellent opportunities for potential
puppy buyers to meet and talk with Westie breeders, Westie
owners and our Westie Rescue Coordinators. Please mark
your calendar with our upcoming events.
Westie drawing generously donated to
the SFBWHWTC by artist Robert Masch.
- Copyright © SFBWHWTC.
All rights reserved.