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Are Westies Good With Kids? Breed Temperament & Personality Traits

Cheryl Regan

By Cheryl Regan

Little girl playing sand at the beach with westie dog

Bringing a new pet into your home is a big decision. It requires careful assessment to ensure that everyone, including your family members and your future pet, are compatible, and therefore have a better chance of getting along. When choosing a dog, one of the most crucial factors to consider will be its breed.

West Highland White Terriers, or Westies, generally get along better with children over the age of 8. These dogs pack a large personality into their compact fluffy exteriors. Originally bred to hunt, their instinct to chase can often be activated when they hear shrill noises or detect sudden movements, both of which smaller children are prone to.

Additionally, tail or ear tugging can push these proud little dogs to become aggressive out of fear. That’s not to say Westies are incompatible with younger kids or that all Westies will get along with kids over the age of 8. Like people, each dog has its own individual personality. If you do have younger kids, it’s important to always supervise them when they are near your pet dog.

If you do opt to bring a Westie home, you’ll be pleased to know that they are full of boundless energy and love. Keep reading to learn more about this adorable breed!

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Can Westies Be Aggressive?

west highland white terrier dog standing on grass
Image Credit: Nixx Photography, Shutterstock

Though some Westies can be aggressive, most of these dogs are affectionate and friendly. It is important to note, however, that Westies do love to bark. These little dogs have an air of self-assuredness, and they’re not afraid to alert you of everything they see happening.

Barking alone is not an indication of an aggressive dog.

If you already have a Westie, the following behavior could be signs of aggression:
  • Snarling
  • Growling
  • Snapping
  • Lunging
  • Barking
  • Biting

Aggressive behavior in Westies could be brought on by a variety of external and environmental stressors, health conditions, and even pain. If your Westie displays signs of aggression, you should take them to a veterinarian for a check-up, especially if they are usually calm and docile.

Do Westies Bark a Lot?

Westies will bark if they are bored, they’ll bark if they’re excited, and they’ll also bark to alert you. It’s not in their nature to be silent, but with a concerted effort in training them and using positive reinforcement, they can be taught not to bark excessively.

Making sure your Westie gets plenty of mental stimulation and adequate exercise throughout the day will help to keep your Westie’s mind and body occupied, giving them less to be vocal about!

What Are the Negatives of a Westie?

Westies were originally bred for hunting. They love chasing smaller animals, especially in the outdoors, making them immensely fun pets to play games with. If you’re looking for a dog with a low prey drive, a Westie is not the best choice for you.

These dogs are also very vocal, which can put some people off. If you don’t mind the noise, or the bursts of energy, adorable Westies make for incredibly fun and loyal pets.

Finally, although Westies are highly intelligent, they are also self-reliant and stubborn, making them a bit of a challenge to train. That said, with enough patience, commitment, and positive reinforcement, it is entirely possible to train West Highland White Terriers.

two west highland white terrier playing in the park
Image Credit: VKarlov, Shutterstock

Are Westies Good Indoor Dogs?

Westies love the outdoors, especially if they get to run around and chase something. However, provided they get adequate daily exercise, they also make great indoor dogs. Their compact size makes them ideal for apartment dwellers.

On average, West Highland White Terriers need between 60–90 minutes of exercise per day. These dogs are fantastic candidates for agility training, which gives them the mental and physical stimulation they need, while also giving you both the perfect opportunity to bond.

Is the Westie a Low-Maintenance Dog?

Westies are not low-maintenance dogs. These dogs have gorgeous thick, long double coats that need brushing several times a week. Your Westie will also need clipping once every 4–8 weeks. If you have the time and energy to dedicate to looking after this breed, they will provide you with endless loyalty!

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Final Thoughts

West Highland White Terriers are affectionate, fun-loving dogs that can thrive with families with older kids. For families with children under the age of 8, sudden movements and shrill noises can cause these dogs to either shy away or react aggressively out of fear.

Westies have large personalities, which they express by being vocal. If your family doesn’t mind the noise and boundless energy, a Westie may be the perfect fit!


Featured Image Credit: Atip Kantajai, Shutterstock

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