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West Highland White Terrier (Westie) Dog Breed Info, Pics, Traits & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

West Highland White Terrier (Westie)

Height: 9 – 12 inches
Weight: 13 – 22 pounds
Lifespan: 12 – 14 years
Colors: White
Suitable for: Singles, couples, seniors, families with older children
Temperament: Loyal & loving, intelligent, trainable, independent

Referred to as the Westie by the folks that know and love him, the wee West Highland White Terrier is a pint-sized pup that originally hails from Scotland. A hardy and happy breed, the West Highland White Terrier is recognizable for his white fur, perky ears, and big, dark eyes. A deeply devoted canine companion, the West Highland White Terrier craves love and attention and does best with tons of affection from the entire family.

If you’re thinking about adding a West Highland White Terrier to your household, here is your in-depth guide to everything you need to know about this playful pooch.

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Westie Puppies

west highland white terrier puppies
Image Credit: SergiyN, Shutterstock

Cute and cuddly, West Highland White Terrier puppies look like miniature white teddy bears. As soon as you set your eyes on one, you’re almost guaranteed to want to scoop him up and bring him home with you. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you bring the West Highland White Terrier with the cheapest price tag home with you.

The West Highland White Terrier is a sought-after breed and will cost you a pretty penny. But this doesn’t mean that you should purchase a Westie puppy from a back page or internet classifieds ad. You really need to do your homework about the breeder before you commit to buying a dog.

This is because there are plenty of bad dog breeders out there, including puppy mills and backyard breeders. Out to make quick and easy money, these breeders often have little to no concern about the health and happiness of the dogs they’re selling. Many times, these facilities confine dogs to small, unsanitary cages and never get routine wellness checks from a vet for the dogs they are breeding.

All of this can add up to one anxious and scared little puppy. While the low price tag may be appealing, West Highland White Terrier puppies from puppy mills are often psychologically and physically damaged, leading to a lot of heartache and steep training and vet bills later on down the road.

Today, there are more than 10,000 puppy mills operating in the United States. These facilities sell hundreds of thousands of dogs every year. Many of these puppies are prone to hereditary and congenital conditions, such as respiratory disorders, and more.

Worse yet, many of these puppies can arrive at their new homes with numerous other health problems, like kennel cough or intestinal parasites among other things. On top of that, there are many behavioral problems puppy mill dogs can have. They may be overly shy or fearful. And you are likely to have difficulty during crate and leash training.

If you’re scoping out different West Highland White Terrier breeders, it’s vital to ensure that they are both responsible and reputable. This will guarantee that you’re purchasing a happy and healthy puppy.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Westie

1. They were originally developed to be Ratters.

Your West Highland White Terrier is a little exterminator. Originally developed in Northwestern Scotland to kill rats and other pests, Westies were also used to hunt rabbits and foxes.

2. Their white fur isn’t just fashionable, it’s functional

Yep, that’s right! Westies were bred with vibrant, white fur to help them stay visible while they were hunting.

3. They’re built for tiny spaces.

In order to efficiently flush out vermin, West Highland White Terriers had to be small enough to squeeze into tight spaces.

West Highland White Terrier dog at home eating
Image Credit: alejandro-rodriguez, Shutterstock

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Temperament & Intelligence of the West Highland White Terrier 🧠

Before you bring this breed home, you need to be sure the Westie dog is the right fit for you and your family. One way to determine this is to know all about his personality and intelligence.

The West Highland White Terrier is an extremely active and energetic dog, with brains to match. He isn’t suited for the lapdog lifestyle and needs a home where he’s going to get a lot of physical exercise.

Happy and eager to please, the Westie is a lively, loving dog that thrives on attention. However, the West Highland White Terrier can also be independent and stubborn at times.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Yes, but the West Highland White Terrier is better suited for a family with older children. Due to their innate desire to hunt small pests, quick-moving and tiny children may cause a Westie to chase and even nip.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

Definitely! The Westie dogs love to be part of a pack and if socialized from an early age, will even get along with the family feline.

However, keep your Westie away from rabbits, guinea pigs, or hamsters.

west highland white terrier
Image Credit: bici, Pixabay

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Things to Know When Owning a West Highland White Terrier

Now that you know about the West Highland White Terrier’s temperament, let’s explore everything he needs from you in order to thrive.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

How much your West Highland White Terrier eats will depend upon his age, size, and activity level. As a general rule of thumb, you should feed your Westie 0.5 to 1.5 cups of high-quality, grain-free dog food that is divided into two meals each day.

Ask your vet for their advice if you need further guidance.

Exercise 🐕

The West Highland White Terrier is a spunky, sporty dog who needs a ton of exercise each and every day. He would not do well in a tiny apartment and needs plenty of room to roam, play, run, and explore.

Aim to give your Westie about 45 minutes to an hour of exercise every day. You should walk him at least once a day. If you’re gone from home for long periods of time, hire a dog walker or enroll your West Highland White Terrier in a doggy daycare.

In addition to physical stimulation, your West Highland White Terrier needs plenty of mental stimulation too to keep his sharp mind busy. If he gets bored, your Westie could get into some naughty behavior, such as excessive yapping or chewing.

West Highland White Terrier dog on grass
Image Credit: BIGANDT.COM, Shutterstock

Training 🦮

The Westie is a very smart dog and loves to please. However, he can be willful and stubborn at times.

It’s important to establish your dominance from the very start. Firm, consistent, positive reinforcement training methods work best for Westies.

Grooming ✂️

Westies have a double-layered white coat. You will need to brush him a couple times per week to avoid matting. Trimming is typically needed on his feet and around his eyes and ears.

Clean his ears and clips his nails as needed.

Health Conditions ❤️

Minor Conditions
  • Cataracts
  • Patellar luxation
Serious Conditions
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Craniomandibular osteopathy
  • Legg-calve-perthes disease

The West Highland White Terrier is a generally healthy little dog. But, like all dog breeds, he is prone to certain types of health issues.

This is why it is so important to buy a puppy from a good breeder. They can provide you with health clearances from both of the pup’s parents, proving that the dogs have been tested and cleared of certain types of conditions.

Male vs Female

Male West Highland White Terriers can be a tad larger than females. However, both genders generally have the same personality traits.

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Final Thoughts

If you’re seeking an adorable little dog to bring into your home, consider a West Highland White Terrier. Westies are perfect for active singles or families with older children. They need lots of attention and exercise, so if you’re not home a lot, this breed isn’t for you. But if you enjoy exercise and want a dog that can always go the distance, think about buying a West Highland White Terrier!

See also: 

Featured Image Credit: anetapics, Shutterstock

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