The Basics on the West Highland White Terrier


The West Highland White Terrier is one small dog breed with a huge following all over the world. People are interested in him as a pet, a show dog, an obedience competitor, a working dog, or even all of the above! If you are a Westie owner with the aim of helping your Westie fulfill his potential, prepare to get down and dirty-sometimes literally!

A Westie is a pure snow-white, “big dog in a small body” package. This dog is bursting with care-free energy, wanting always to be part of whatever exciting-looking thing you are up to. Another interesting feature to the Westie are his prickly-straight up ears. His short but very strong tail is the product of years and years of brainstorming what to do when the tenacious hunter gets stuck in some vermin hole (solution: they pull him back through the tail!). Adult males measure about 11 inches in height with bitches being about 1 inch less.

The Westie’s double coat is one of the best shields against the elements, and from anything that an angry furry can unleash his way. Puppies have more of the softer undercoat, but proper hand stripping (which can also be learned by anybody) helps uncover the hard coat. The adult coat sheds lightly, so brushing away the dead hair cannot be discounted. Curiously, the adult coat is “dry,” which means it is soil- and “doggy” odor-proof.

The west highland white terrier is quite content with a few baths. The hard outer coat itself will need only frequent brushing and the occasional dry cleaning to be completely clean. This last one involves applying corn starch into the coat. When the powder is brushed out, the soil goes with it. To keep a westie pet’s spic and span, grooming is scheduled once every eight to twelve weeks. Once a week–or twice-is needed for a show ring dog.

If the westie looks to you like a cuddly lapdog, he actually hates hates being one! Many will start squirming if held for long periods. Indeed they wish to keep everybody in sight, but perhaps from a vantage point like the corner of a room or near a heater. Nevertheless, exceptions to this exist on both sexes of the dog.

If you have a serious gardener in your house, you may need to avoid a westie or most of the other terrier breeds. Westies simply adore digging and squeezing itself into burrows and holes, hot in pursuit of some perceived prey.

If you need a one-man dog, or is out of the house for most of the day, the westie would not make a good pet for you. West highland white terrier are very people oriented and may develop separation anxiety away from you. Although they do not require much exercise, they do get bored if they lack attention and human companionship.