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West Highland Terrier breed profile

Training and intelligence
Westies are very bright and catch on quick. I have always found they house train very quickly and are eager to learn and please. Local Obedience classes are cheap and a fun evening out, details are often available on the notice board of your Vet or Contact The Kennel Club. Puppies that are fully vaccinated may start at around 14 weeks old and are a good way of socialising dog and enjoyable for owner.

Westies are generally good-natured and good with kind gentle children if introduced to them at an early age. Sometimes they can be a bit bossy with toddlers and some older dogs who have had no exposure to young children can be snappy so it is important to socialise early especially if grand children come around occasionally and the dog lives in an all adult only household most of the time. Who can own a Westie? I would say that anyone who is suitable to own a dog, full stop, is suitable to own a Westie. Their ideal size, nature and exercise requirement make then an ideal companion.

Attitude towards strange dogs and people
Westies are keen to guard their home and behind a closed door they sound like a bit dog which is a big plus. They will bark when stangers are around but seem to know when their owners are comfortable with someone new. On occasion a Westie will have a go at the ankles of a stranger and if warranted, is not a bad thing. Dogs sense when things are not right and some will take action. Any unwarranted agression must be nipped in the bud right away.
Some Westies, especially the males,can be a little too macho around other male dogs, so it is always advisable to keep on a lead untill you know they are going to be friends. Socialisation around other dogs is essential, but if a puppy gets fright with a big dog it may never forget it and always be on the defensive in later life. Generally Westies like everyone and everything that likes them.

Grooming and shedding
Westies don't shed their coat very much at all and usually go to the groomers two or three times per year for a trim. Keeping them very short in hot weather is recommended. Bathing can be done at home as necessary using a mild Shampoo.

Most Westies are fair weather dogs, they will walk for miles when it suits you or have quick walk when time or weather prevents more. For this reason they are suitable for most life styles.

Need for company
After the puppy stage they can be left quiet happy if all their needs have been taken care of, for around 5 hours. No dog should be left all day without company. Many a retired neibour who doesn't have a dog would be happy to walk your Westie during the day without the commitment of having a dog themselves, so do ask around.


The West Highland White Terrier, or Westie, is more popular today than at any time in its history. With more people wanting a dog to fit into leisure time and a smaller home, the Westie fits the bill very well. At 11- 14 inches he is a small dog but no one has told him that, and he remains a "big dog in a little body" . A devoted companion it is not unusual for this breed to live well into the mid teens and beyond, so it is a long commitment owning a Westie.

The down side: Some Westies can have skin problems, but this in my experience is due to the food they are being given. Sometimes they have an allergy to wheat, or red meat (which is all tinned foods), but changing them onto one of the non-allergenic foods such as James Wellbeloved can work miracles. So always try a change of diet before medication, in conjunction with your Vets advice.

The up side: A Pal, a confident, a shoulder to cry on, someone to share the good times and the bad, a happy smiling face to greet you hone you come home no matter what mood your in, someone to help you walk off those unwanted pounds, but who still thinks you look good. That's a Westie....enjoy!

Profile by Eve Smail of Bravehart West Highland White Terriers


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