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Breed Characteristics of West Highland Terriers (Westies)

West Highland Terriers, affectionately called Westies, are small, strong dogs with a wiry coat of thick hair. They are well-known for their intelligence and cuddly personalities.

But what more should you know about these dogs before getting one?

In this blog post, we will look at the breed traits of West Highland White Terrier dogs.

Breed Characteristics of West Highland Terrier Dogs - What are Westies Really Like?

We will cover all you need to know about these adorable puppies, from their history and origins to their disposition and physical characteristics. So, if you’re thinking of getting a Westie, keep reading for more information.

Westies In Brief

West Highland Terriers are energetic and playful canines. They are devoted to their family and adore them, although they can sometimes be stubborn and self-sufficient.

The Westie is a short-legged, tiny terrier with a thick, wiry coat. Typically, the coat is white, although you can find Westies with black fur or gray patterns. Their heads are wedge-shaped, with erect ears and dark, almond-shaped eyes. With a deep chest and well-muscled hindquarters, the body is slightly longer than it is tall. The tail is medium in length and held upright.

Westies get along well with children and other pets if they are socialized early and frequently.

Westies require a lot of exercise and mental engagement to avoid getting bored or destructive. They are straightforward to teach if you are consistent and employ positive reinforcement.

A West Highland Terrier has an average lifespan of 12–16 years. Allergies, skin infections, joint problems, and tooth problems are examples of common health issues.

History of the West Highland Terrier Dog

The West Highland Terrier is a Scottish dog breed. Originally, the breed was intended to hunt foxes and other small animals.

The West Highland Terrier is believed to be a descendant of the Scottish terrier and the Cairn terrier. The breed first appeared in the early 1800s. In 1873, the first West Highland Terrier was born. In 1906, the West Highland Terrier was brought to the United States. The breed was officially acknowledged in the United States in 1908.

Size and Appearance of the West Highland Terrier Dog

West Highland Terriers are normally between 14 and 22 pounds (6 – 10kg) in weight and 9 to 12 inches (23 – 30cm) tall.

These pups are surprisingly strong for their size, despite their diminutive stature.

Westies have a thick coat of white fur that gives them a distinctive appearance. They also have bushy brows, a beard, and a very expressive face.

Expressive Face Westie

Temperament of Westies

While West Highland Terrier dogs are excellent for a wide range of homes and families, there are some breed-specific temperament qualities to be mindful of.

Westies are known for their independence and headstrong nature, and they can be extremely stubborn when they want to be. They are also noted for being highly noisy dogs, both barking and “talking,” so if you want a calm, laid-back friend, this may not be the breed for you.

Their outgoing demeanor, on the other hand, means they like nothing more than spending time with their family and loved ones, and they make fantastic, devoted companions.

They are protective and loyal to their family, although they can be apprehensive of outsiders.

Westies are smart and eager to learn. If you’re thinking about getting a Westie, be prepared for plenty of energy, laughter, and even a little mischief!

Westie Training and Exercise Needs

The West Highland Terrier is a high-energy breed that requires mental and physical exercises. Westies require a daily walk as well as access to a secure garden where they can run and play. They also like games like fetch and tug-of-war to help them burn off surplus energy.

Westie Running

Westies are intellectual dogs that require mental stimulation through puzzles, toys, and training. They perform admirably in obedience and agility events and make excellent therapy dogs.

This breed may live peacefully in a rural or urban setting as long as they are given many opportunities to exercise both their body and their mind.

Health Concerns for the West Highland Terrier Dog

West Highland Terrier dogs are typically healthy; however, they are prone to some health issues, as are all breeds. The following are some of the more common health issues for Westies:

  1. Allergies: Westies can be allergic to a variety of things, including grass, pollen, and dust mites. If your dog is scratching excessively or appears to be in pain, take them to the doctor to rule out allergies.
  2. Ear Infections: Westies are prone to ear infections. Examine your dog’s ears on a regular basis and clean them as needed. Take your dog to the vet as soon as you see any redness, discharge, or odor coming from his ears.
  3. Eye Issues: West Highland Terriers can develop a number of eye issues, including cataracts and glaucoma. Make sure your dog’s eyes are checked by a veterinarian on a regular basis.
  4. Hip dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a disorder that causes pain and lameness in the hind legs. It is caused by a hip joint deformity and is more common in larger breeds of dogs. If you suspect your dog has hip dysplasia, take them to the veterinarian for an assessment.
  5. GDV (gastric dilatation volvulus): GDV is a disease that affects deep-chested breeds such as the Westie. This occurs when gas causes the stomach to twist. This can cut off the blood supply to the stomach, resulting in extreme agony. GDV is a medical emergency that must be treated right now.

While these are some of the most prevalent health issues in Westies, it’s important to note that each dog is unique and that not all Westies may encounter these illnesses. Talk to your veterinarian about any health concerns you have for your dog.

Lifespan of the West Highland Terrier Dog

Westies commonly live to be 12–16 years old.

The Westie breed can be prone to some serious illnesses that can affect their quality of life.

Interesting Facts about the West Highland Terrier Dog

The West Highland Terrier dog breed is one of the most popular in the United States.

Here are some fascinating West Highland Terrier dog facts:

  1. Westies were raised to hunt tiny prey such as foxes and rats.
  2. The breed’s name derives from its origins in the Scottish Highlands.
  3. Westies are known for being determined and often keep going after their prey until they catch it.
  4. Westie are also recognized for being exceptionally skilled at digging, which may be both a blessing and a curse!
  5. Westies are extremely loyal canines that make excellent friends.

Summary of Characteristics of West Highland Terrier Dogs

  1. West Highland White Terriers are small, compact, and strong.
  2. They have a powerful jaw and a wedge-shaped head, small and alert ears, and dark eyes with a fierce stare.
  3. They have a thick and wiry double coat with a soft undercoat. They are known as hyperallergenic dogs good for pet parents that suffer from pet allergies.
  4. The hair on their head is short and neat, while the hair on their body is longer.
  5. Most Westies are white, although there are some that are black or white and gray.
  6. West Highland Terrier dogs are well-known for their independence and tenacity.
  7. They are also intelligent, playful, and friendly.
  8. They make excellent companions for active people who can provide ample exercise.

Living With A Westie

Terriers in general, are easy to care for because they were bred to survive on scraps and their own hunting abilities. Excessive indulgence in rich goodies can result in a very heavy dog. These are tough little dogs that often live well into their adolescence.

All Westies should be socialized early and often, especially with other dogs and pets.

Westie with Pet Cat

These dogs are still hunting dogs at heart, and they thrive with plenty of exercise. If left to their own devices, they will excavate your yard while barking. Westies are vigilant and will bark an alarm to protect their homes and families.

Westies should begin training as soon as possible, using inventive and positive methods that are supported by a firm hand.

West Highland White Terriers excel in a variety of dog sports, including obedience, agility, and earth dog trials. They adore human company, but they must be socialized with youngsters and must accept touching and grooming. Grooming can be as simple as getting the dog clipped twice a year or as labor-consuming as hand-stripping the coat of a show dog.

And Finally

Bringing a new West Highland Terrier puppy into your life is a wonderful experience. If you’re anything like me, you start thinking about and buying toys, a dog bed, snacks, and so on before you ever bring the new puppy home!

The personality of your new Westie is one of the most significant characteristics you  observe right away. During this period of their lives, they discover what they can and cannot do. Westies are intelligent dogs. They discover early on how far, if at all, they can shape their new family. Seek assistance if you are feeling overwhelmed by your dog. Never feel bad if you are confused about something, whether it is a friend, breeder, or dog trainer. Dog owners, particularly Westie owners, are always happy to assist a fellow owner!

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