West Highland White Terrier.

Other Names:

Poltalloch Terrier, Roseneath Terrier, White Roseneath Terrier, Westie

Price Range:

$1,100 – $2,200

Size:

Small

Dog Group:

Terrier

Coat Length:

Short

Energy:

Medium

Kid Friendly:

High

Life Expectancy:

12-16 years

Available in these colours:

Characteristics & Tendencies:

TENDENCY TO DIG93%

93%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

SNORING10%

10%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

DROOLING10%

10%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

EXERCISE NEEDS52%

52%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

GROOMING NEEDS93%

93%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

BARKING93%

93%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

APARTMENT FRIENDLY

HYPOALLERGENIC

About the West Highland White Terrier

The West Highland White Terrier, also known as the Westie, is a smart and affectionate breed of dog from Scotland. It is a small breed of dog, which were originally bred to hunt otters, foxes and vermin. The Westie has a shaggy, white coat, and generally weighs from 6.8 to 9.1 kg, and measures 25 to 28 cm. They are characterised by their deep-set, almost-shaped eyes, and pointed and erect ears. This breed has a double coat, consisting of a softer undercoat and harder outer coat. He is a hypoallergenic breed which does not shed large amounts.

Due to his high tendencies to bark, Westies make great watch dogs. They have earth dog and hunting instincts, which explains their inquisitive, adventurous nature and tendency to dig holes and chase smaller animals such as rabbits and hamsters. Westies should be socialised at an early stage to ensure they mix well with multi-pet households. They are self-assured breeds which usually will not pick fights with other dogs, as long as they have been trained properly. In general, they are social dogs which love human companionship. At the same time, they are not lap dogs, so will not require constant human attention.

In terms of exercise, the Westie should be exercised between 20 to 40 minutes a day, through walks and play sessions. They have a medium energy level, and love playing with toys and chasing balls. Although they do best when not left to live outside, they still require adequate exercise. The Westie’s natural Terrier ability can be tested through dog sports including agility, flyball, obedience and rally.

FEEDING

How much do West Highland Terriers eat?

0.5 – 1.5 cups of food a day

TEMPERAMENT

Are they kid-friendly?

Make great playmates for children

EXERCISE

How much exercise?

20 to 40 minutes of daily exercise

LIVING

Do they need a lot of space?

Make great apartment dogs as long as they get sufficient exercise

Top health issues

What are the most common health issues for West Highland White Terriers?

  • Craniomandibular Osteopathy
  • Legg-Perthes Disease
  • Cataracts
  • Patellar Luxation

IN DETAIL

Common West Highland White Terrier diseases & conditions, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment in detail:

Feeding

How much does a West Highland White Terrier eat?

Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) and adjustments will be required as their needs change with age. Westies can be fussy eaters so it is suggested to add little treats to his food to encourage him to eat and make his food more appetitisng. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. His diet should incorporate protein as well as good sources of fat. Puppies can benefit from DHA, a specific form of omega-3 fatty acid to aid their brain and eye development. Some ingredients should be avoided for Westies, including beef, corn, wheat, soy, meat by-products and garlic. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. As Westies are likely to develop food allergies and skin problems, you should consult your vet if you see any symptoms. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

Shedding

How often does the fur fall off?

Westies are low to moderate shedders. They are also hypoallergenic dogs, making them suitable for owners with allergies. They have fairly short, dense white coats which can shed dirt easily. This consists of a soft, furry undercoat, and a more stiff outercoat. Regular brushing will ensure the amount of hair shed is minimal.

Grooming

Are West Highland White Terriers high maintenance?

Whilst the West Highland White Terrier sheds a little amount, his coat needs to be clipped or hand stripped to work out the dead undercoat. Stripping is the preferred grooming method if you are interested in showing your dog, and should be done about twice a year. Alternatively, their coats may be clipped for neatness, around once every 4 to 6 weeks. As their outer coats are hard, it does not retain dirt, which helps to keep them clean and protect the undercoat. Therefore, they do not need to be bathed often. For their undercoat, it should be brushed or combed with a stiff bristle brush to prevent any mats at least once a week. Trim around his ears with blunt-nosed scissors, and trim his nails as needed. Brush your Westie’s teeth with vet-approved pet toothpaste for dental health.

Exercise

How much exercise does a West Highland White Terrier need?

With medium energy levels, the Westie will generally require less exercise compared to some other, more energetic breeds. They love to romp and play, and should be taken on one or two walks a day. Inside the house, the breed usually is lower-energy. Westies love playtime, as well as digging, running and hunting smaller creatures. Due to their hunting Terrier instinct, it is not recommended to leave your Westie off-leash in any open areas. Some Westies enjoy swimming, but should be supervised at all times.

Vet Visits

How often should a West Highland White Terrier visit the vet?

Westies are hardy dogs with fewer health-related issues in their lifetime. They may be susceptible to ‘Westie jaw’, which affects their skull, as well as Legg-Perthes disease and cataracts. Veterinary care is essential to a dog’s health and wellbeing, however the frequency of treatment and checkups will depend on the dog.

Scheduled six-monthly health check visits with your vet are important to ensure your West Highland Terrier is healthy and happy throughout all life stages. In these annual visits, your vet will complete a physical examination, take your dog’s temperature and check his heartbeat, among other things. Routine maintenance for your dog gives you a chance to track your dog’s growth and development and discuss any concerns with your vet, and forms a key part of preventative care.

Family Suitability

Are West Highland White Terriers kid-friendly and sociable with humans?

Fun-loving and friendly, the Westie gets along well with children. However, they are not as suitable for younger children as they can become irritable at times. It will usually not be tolerant of any rough handling or pulling on its ears or fur. The Westie can often be possessive of its food and toys. Westland Terriers generally get along with everyone, including strangers, and enjoys being a part of the family. He should be kept indoors, to prevent him from turning noisy and destructive. He can be spunky at times, with a typical Terrier temperament, being independent and slightly stubborn. Terriers generally are easy dogs to raise as they were originally bred to rely on their own hunting skills.

Westies have an alert and courageous temperament, making them suitable as watchdogs, despite their small size. They will often alert and defend their families by barking. They also retain characteristics of earth dogs, such as being inquisitive and investigative.

Trainability

Are West Highland White Terriers difficult to train?

Westies can be quite independent and stubborn at times, making it sometimes challenging to train them. Therefore, training should start as early as possible, and incorporate a variety of creative and positive reinforcement methods. They are capable of soaking up everything they are taught, and it is important that they are correctly trained from the start. Their excessive barking may become a concern later on, so plenty of early socialisation with other dogs and proper training should be done to prevent this. A Westie may require its training to be refreshed at a later stage in its lifetime. As the Westie also possesses natural instincts to dig holes and bite, this should also be noted in their early training. The Westie’s natural Terrier ability can be tested through dog sports including agility, flyball, obedience and rally.

Compatibility with other pets

Do West Highland White Terriers get along with other dogs or cats?

With other dogs, they are generally social and are good for multi-dog households. However, male Westies may show dislike towards each other. If they have been trained with proper leadership from their owner, Westies will usually be self-assured enough not to pick fights with other dogs. Westies are able to adapt and tolerate cats with enough socialisation, however, their strong prey drive should be noted. They will usually chase and sometimes attack smaller animals including hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits.

Need for company

How often do they need to be around humans?

Westies are affectionate and loyal dogs who love companionship. Whilst they love being with their humans, they are not lap dogs. Rather, Westies prefer to be on the move as they have a keen sense of adventure. They love being occupied, and are usually always involved in something. Westies are independent and self-assured enough not to need constant human attention. They are fun-loving and not a one-person dog.

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