West Highland Terrier
Pets can come in different sizes, not only is Westi an alert, compact and sturdy dog but also independent. Additionally, West Highland Terrier is a small charming and friendly dog that has a height of 10-11 inches. Furthermore, a dashing all-white dog with piercing eyes totally irresistible. Originally developed for hunting, and known among the most popular compassion dogs for families.
Despite this, a Westi can also be a show dog, an obedience competitor, a working dog, or a combination of all these things.
Besides all these as the dog’s owner, you will be responsible for how your Westi turns out. With the care and training that you give he can be able to fulfill his full potential. Closely related to Cairn terrier and the Skye terrier.
Key Breed Facts
- Great lapdogs being fun-loving.
- Energetic, playful and enjoy running.
- Loud alerts of anything that passes by due to their loudmouth.
- A small dog of between 11-10 inches tall.
- Hyperallergic dog breed.
- Dynamic temperament.
- Height 11(male) 10(female) inches.
- Weight 10kg.
- Has small, muscular legs and deep-chested.
- Double coat breed.
- White in colour.
- Life expectancy 12-16years.
- Tiny dog with big confidence.
- Has a double coat to protect him from the weather elements and teeth and claws of his quarry in the hunt.
- The outer coat is hard with a softer undercoat for insulation.
- All white, compact, sturdy small dog.
- Prey driven bred for hunting.
- They are happy, playful and affectionate but they are also tough, hardy, independent and alert dog.
Originated in Scotland highlands and was bred to hunt foxes, badgers and killing rats. Although, the exact history is not known. Apart from this, it had different colour coats. It is said that one Malcom decided to breed only white coat dogs when his dog was mistaken for a fox and shot in the 1900s.
From then on, he swore to only breed and use highly visible white Terriers while hunting so that type of tragic mistake could never be repeated.
Moreover, Westi shares a common ancestry with Skye Terrier, the Dandie Dinmont, Cairn Terrier, and Scottish Terrier by differing by colour.
West Highland Terriers are high energy dogs originally bred to hunt and kill game and vermin in the rugged Scottish Highlands. Besides, they were bred to go-to-ground in a hunt, therefore, digging and barking are natural instincts.
Subsequently, the breed was officially recognized by the Kennel Club of England as the West Highland white terrier in 1906.
On the other hand, it is now a popular house dog and a competitive show dog ever since.
on the other hand, they have double coats with a short undercoat and overcoat 2 inches long. The overcoat is hard while the undercoat is soft. Unquestionably, protecting it from extreme weather and from the teeth and claws fury.
The hair on the head is plucked to give it that round shape.
Small, strong and fined boned dog with level shoulders and dark brown piercing intelligent eyes.
Additionally, it has a straight back and powerful hindquarters on muscular legs, deep-chested and exhibits great combination of strength and activity.
Their teeth are sharp and long and can grasp toys, balls with ease.
Importantly, the breed is white in colour.
Besides, their tail is straight and pointed like a carrot measuring 12-15cm long.
Clearly, they have a prey drive making them chase any small animals but also, good with other dogs.
They have a sweet and lovable face making them a lovable companion.
Nonetheless, they can be intimidating as they are bred to hunt and need to be early socialized to be able to act well.
Regardless of the Westie’s nature to chase small animals, he’s still a rather friendly dog with strangers and children.
Can pass as a great guard dog as she loves barking and alerting you especially when a stranger is approaching your territory.
Intelligence / Trainability
Particularly, difficult to train and require a committed trainer. Despite, being stubborn and dominating and want to be the boss early training leads to a positive response. Furthermore, you need to be consistent in training as he will see you mean what you say.
Due to their intelligence, you can also enroll them in obedience classes. Moreover, you can get classes and trials almost everywhere even near where you live. Obedience classes will provide you with a well-behaved dog.
Other dog sports that they are good at are agility, tracking, Flyball and are superstars in dog events.
Keep her training short and fun to capture her attention every time. Get toys for more activities and games when bonding.
They can make good obedience dogs with proper training. Not only can they be used to track thing but also in agility sport. Tracking is a sport at which Westies excel because they were bred to hunt using their noses to help them find their quarry, they only need training on a scent you select.
Children and Other Pets
Their prey drive makes them good with other dogs. However, an intact male despises other intact male dogs in multi-pet homes. It can adjust to cats if raised with them and most will chase after the cat due to prey drive. It is not advisable to have other small pets in the house, for instance, a bird, a hamster, as it will think it’s a prey.
Despite her small size, she is confident in the presence of other dogs and at any chance can pick fight hence need to be trained and socialized early.
Small children need to be supervised and taught to respect the puppy to avoid aggressive bahaviour like nipping. Generally, they are good with children if respect is there.
This breed carries with it a host of predispositions to health issues that can affect his quality of life. The West Highland Terrier is no exception. Some conditions may show a very strong hereditary basis and others are caused by environmental factors.
Prone to lions jaw-appears between 4-8 months of age, believed to be hereditary. The jaw becomes swollen and the dog is not able to open its mouth, it just drools, has a fever and his chewing muscles may not work. It can recur if not attended to and make swallowing painful for your dog.
Take her to the vet to prevent occurrence because when critical the only solution can be euthanasia.
Legg-Calve-Perthes–this condition starts with a limp and lameness, over time, will lead to erosion of the hip joint and arthritis. Can be corrected with surgery.
The dog can also suffer from tremors, muscle weakening especially in males and have difficulties while walking, and skin disorders.
Caring for a West Highland Terrier
This dog needs to see you as his true pack leader. You must be firm, confident, and consistent in training or else he can take up bad and destructive behavior like tearing your furniture or picking fights.
Groom your Westi regularly. To keep the coat tidy you can strip it, or pluck the dead hair he has shed out from his coat. In addition, you can take it to the groomer for faster cleanup.
Be prepared mentally and financially as all this will need time and money.
Fix your fence or repair it to keep it puppy proof as this breed loved digging, you will find her digging your flower beds mostly.
They love attention and if ignored can lead to unwarranted barking just to alert you they are still there, thou they are not barkers.
They are minimum shedders but trimming is needed on the feet, under the feet, and around the eyes. The coat is clean and should be bathed when necessary. To keep the coat white it requires tidying and wiping it up frequently.
undoubtedly, they need daily brushing to keep looking their best; regular grooming is a must as their white colour shows dirt quickly. You can clip the coat for neatness or get a groomer to do it for you every 4-6weeks.
Trim the hair on the ears short and keep it smooth and velvety, free of fringe at the tip.
All dogs need exercise but on different magnitudes.
This is a breed that needs regular exercise but not an all aggressive exercise like some breeds. A daily walk would do but keep him on a leash.
Due to the prey drive, he can dash off if he sees a small animal to chase. You can let him run in a fenced yard without a leash too.
You can take them along for outdoor activities or at the park but on a leash.
Feed her with premium quality food as she has special dietary needs. Additionally foods with chicken, lamb, fish will provide optimum nutrition.
Give adult food with specific amino acids, fatty acids and flaccid to support its dry coat and delicate skin, feed her the necessary nutrients to keep her healthy.
Average Cost to keep/care for a West Highland Terrier
When getting a Westi price can change based on the lineage of the puppy you select. A lot of factors from recurring cost to one-time cost should be considered as well as what the breeder decides to charge based on rarity or location.
It would be easy to adopt a puppy from a rescue or shelter than to purchase one. One must weigh the pro and cons but the bottom line is to get a puppy with a good health linage to avoid future problems.
Breed Specific Buying Advice
Get a Westi from a reputable West Highland Terrier breeder. Moreover adopting would be cheaper but you need to know the parents’ lineage to avoid hereditary diseases. It can be a better option for owners on a budget.
Do your homework, attend the dog shows, kennel clubs, breeders to get information about the puppy you are interested in. do not do impulse buying or buy through an advert or puppy mill.
Careful selection is necessary it will save you future problems, as you are able to know your puppy health linage from parents, temperament, and genetic disorder and choose a puppy that is sound and will grow as a healthy dog.
If you are not prepared to provide structure, leadership, and training for your Westie, this is not the breed for you. Lastly, it will need obedience training, socializing, time and attention to bring out the best in your West Highland Terrier.