TAKING THE BEST LOVE & CARE OF YOUR West Highland Terrier

Are Westies Good with Babies

Are Westies Good With Babies?

Because of their innate hunting instinct, Westies respond swiftly and aggressively to the loud sounds and quick movements of babies. While it is true Westies are known to be entertaining, active, and happy, they are also loud, assertive, and needy. If you are considering adding a Westie to a family with a baby, you may wonder about the compatibility between babies and Westies.

Westies are not suitable for families with babies. Westies have a hunting instinct triggered by loud noises and quick movements, a tendency toward aggression, and a strong pack animal instinct, making them unsuitable for families with babies.

Westies are not the best choice for families with small babies despite their cute appearance and fun attitude. Keep reading, and I try to explain more about whether Westies are good with babies. 

Bred to Hunt

Babies often trigger the hunting instincts of Westies because they are small, like the prey they were bred to pursue. After all, Westies were bred to hunt rodents and small games, so they tend to:

  • Bark
  • Chase
  • Nip

You will see these behaviors in all dogs, but especially with Westies due to their strong prey drive. Under the right circumstances, you will probably see a Westie bark, chase, or nip because of their natural born instincts. Since Westies were bred to pursue small prey, you will often see them chase or bark at small animals. 

Barking

Westies are alert and let you know by barking if someone is nearby. They are ranked as one of the best dogs for alerting you of intruders. Of course, it also depends on the age of your Westie and whether you come in with some treats in your pocket:)

However, with babies in the house, you do not want a dog that barks often and uncontrollably. Westies loud yappy bark can startle awake sleeping babies. This makes Westies a troublesome pet to have around the house and a potential problem for your baby. 

Westies might bark at the sight of pedestrians, when the doorbell rings, when visitors enter the home, when the roadwork outside is loud, when they answer another dog, and so on. Westies bark a lot, and this can upset babies and make them uncomfortable around dogs. 

Chasing

Bred to hunt, Westies instinctually chase small animals, including house cats, squirrels, and rodents. As I mentioned previously, this is because Westies were bred to chase small prey animals and have a strong prey drive. They are fast and good at catching what they chase.

Westies instinctual drive to chase down and catch prey is not a good quality in a dog that will be around babies. There are a few potential situations where the Westies chasing instinct may cause harm to babies:

  • Crawling across the floor
  • Learning to walk
  • Falling out of a tipped stroller because the Westie pulls on the leash

These are situations you should account for if you have a baby around. When a Westie sees a small animal, including a baby, try to crawl or get away, this can lead to an instinctual drive to chase. Despite their small size, Westie’s can also tip over a stroller if a leash is attached when they see a squirrel or other small animals to pursue.

Understanding these potential situations is important for ensuring your baby’s safety, as each situation is highly likely given the strong prey drive Westies have under the right circumstances. 

Nipping

Westies do not like to share, and babies do not know better than to grab at something they want. This can cause problems between Westies and babies. If a baby reaches for its toy that is too close to a Westie, the dog is likely to nip or bite out of instinct. The same is true if a baby were to crawl too close to the Westie food bowl.

Aggressive Behavior

Westies are fun, cute, and playful; however, they are also known for being aggressive if not properly trained. Almost two-thirds of Westies that are surrendered to animal rescue organizations had bitten someone. The aggressive behavior of the Westie and the fragile nature of babies is not a good combination for several reasons, including:

  • If the Westie feels threatened, it will growl, nip, and maybe bite
  • If accidentally stepped on, Westies will bite
  • Westies guard and protect their belongings

Westies will not tolerate any mishandling by babies. If a baby grabs the ear of a Westie, the dog will respond aggressively. If a baby crawls after a Westie, the dog will feel threatened and will growl and nip to scare off the threat if backed into a corner.

Westies exhibit aggressive behavior when accidentally hurt. Westies are known to bite if accidentally stepped on. Westies are small dogs, which increases their chance of being overlooked and stepped on by accident. This likelihood of accidentally stepping on a small dog like a Westie can increase in families with babies because they are typically busy and focused on the baby.

Babies like to grab things that do not belong to them, and Westies heavily guard and protect their belongings. The contrast between the way babies and Westies view belongs is not a good combination. Westies use aggressive behaviors, such as growling, nipping, and biting to protect their food bowl, toys, bed, and anything else it perceives as belonging to it, including you.

Pack Animal

Westies are pack animals and view babies as having a lower status in the pack than them. Because Westies think they are higher in rank than babies, they will take what they want from a baby. 

If a baby drops its toy, and the Westie wants it, the Westie will take it. Westies will exert dominance over babies if they feel their place in the pack is threatened. This is problematic because parents need to spend most of their time with their baby, which can make the Westie feel like it is losing status in the pack.

Westies need to be with their pack. When a baby enters the home and parents start spending more time with the baby than their Westie, the dog feels left out of the pack.

Confinement and neglect are not handled well by a Westie. With babies around, Westies are more likely to spend more time away from the family. This leads to Westies acting out and becoming increasingly difficult to handle, which, in too many cases, leads to an animal shelter. Westies are not recommended for owners that are extremely attentive, and I totally support that.

Making the Right Choice

Babies need attention, quiet places to nap, and a safe place to explore. Westies are active, sometimes needy, loud, and might be aggressive under the right circumstances. So, before adopting a Westie into your family with babies, you must consider the following:

  • The amount of time and attention Westies require
  • Their innate hunting instinct
  • Aggressive behavior

Westies require a lot of attention and time spent with their pack, which means you and your family. Typically, families with babies have less time to spend with their Westie. Because of this, Westies are not a good fit for families with small babies.

Another consideration when adopting a Westie is their no-bullshit behavior. Westies tend to growl, nip, bark, and bite when they feel threatened or hurt. A home where babies visit frequently or live is not a good place to keep a dog that has a tendency toward aggression.

Westies are bred to hunt and have a strong instinct to chase and catch prey. Irregular movements of babies can trigger a Westies hunting instinct. Westies will chase and try to catch small animals, so what is to keep them from chasing crawling babies.

Conclusion

Westies are small, energetic, and adorable dogs. They love to entertain their owners and have an insatiable desire for attention. They are a fantastic addition to the right family; unfortunately, it is not the family with a small baby. 

Westies can also be aggressive, hunting dogs that are proud and demand respect. Despite their size, the strong prey drive of Westies should never be underestimated, especially with babies around. Really consider your choice of adopting a Westie because he doesn’t deserve to end up in an animal shelter just because of his nature! 

Because of everything I mentioned above, West Highland White Terrier is not recommended for households that have small children and babies. There are plenty of other dog breeds that are much more suitable for a family with a baby.