We all adore the West Highland White Terrier but how do you choose a Westie puppy to bring home?
Not only is the Westie a very smart, sporty, and hardy breed that you can enjoy plenty of dog sports with, but the Westie is also friendly, courageous, and keen to accompany you wherever you’re going.
If you’re new to parenting a West Highland White Terrier, this breed has plenty of self-esteem, love, and energy, but you’re going to have to do things right from the get-go, and that starts with choosing a West Highland Terrier puppy the right way!
Here’s the takeaway: whether you’re looking to show a West Highland White Terrier or want a Westie as your new best friend, earth dog, therapy dog, or to compete in obedience or agility events, you should first:
- Learn more about the characteristics this terrific breed
- Find out how to choose a reputable breeder
- Know what to look for in a healthy Westie puppy
- Ask your breeder what screening tests they do
- Be aware of the costs involved in buying and looking after a Westie
In this blog, we will run through all the points above so you are armed with the best knowledge possible to help you choose a Westie puppy.
Is A Westie Right For Me And My Family?
Bringing a new dog is a big responsibility. It’s a living, breathing creature that needs care and attention. Before you even begin to choose your Westie puppy, we encourage you to consider if a Westie is the best dog breed for you and if you can give your dog everything it needs.
Some of the characteristics we love about Westies are:
- loyal and loving
- great family pets (but maybe not ideal with babies)
- sturdy and tough
- not too big (ideal if you live in a small apartment)
- playful and full of energy
- don’t need as much exercise as a large dog (in general, allow for three 15-30 minute walks a day)
Some negative Westie breed characteristics to bear in mind are:
- bark too much
- health issues as they age
- sensitive skin and skin allergies
These negative characteristics can be greatly reduced by consistent training while your Westie is young and paying attention to your dog’s health and wellbeing through a good diet, plenty of exercise and regular veterinarian check-ups.
If you want to read more about Westies and their breed characteristics in-depth, check out our Know Your Westie articles with information on typical Westie lifespan, exercise needs, maintenance and how to train, plus common illnesses.
Plus, you will want to know the differences between male and female Westies to decide whether you’d prefer a boy or a girl Westie.
Finding A Reputable Westie Breeder
If you want to do things right, you should only buy from reputable breeders or adopt a Westie from a rescue.
When looking for your new Westie puppy, it’s essential to understand that appearances can be deceiving. While the cute factor may be tempting, it should not be the sole deciding factor in your choice. By diving deeper into health testing and the breeding practices of your Westie breeder, it’s easier to make a more informed decision and find a healthy Westie puppy.
Many potential Westie parents visit their rescues and check out Westie clubs for a list of reputable breeders with Westie puppies available for sale. By carefully looking at breeders and avoiding puppy mills, you can increase your chances of finding a happy and healthy Westie puppy. It also means you’re not supporting puppy mills and protecting the well-being of all dogs.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) AKC MarketPlace is an excellent resource to explore your area’s reputable West Highland White Terrier breeders.
Additionally, The West Highland White Terrier Club of America (WHWTCA) provides a list of certified breeders on its website. This resource can help you establish a relationship with a breeder and find available puppies in your area.
What To Look For In A Healthy Westie Puppy
When you visit your chosen Westie breeder, you should be allowed to pick up a puppy, and the breeder should always be open to answer any questions you have.
The key things to look for when choosing a Westie puppy are:
- Is the puppy bright and alert?
- Does he/she have a sturdy build and steady walk without signs of injury or limp?
- No visible signs of injury or rashes or sores
- Clean, thick white coat
- No discharge from eyes or ears and no bad odors
- Healthy pink gums
- Is the puppy active
- Will the puppy let you pick him/her up? He/she will squirm to start with but should relax quickly and allow you to hold them for a short while. Although, you shouldn’t be allowed to pick up a puppy before it has had the relevant vaccinations
- Is the environment the puppies are in clean and safe?
Ask the breeder about the personalities of the puppies they are showing you. They’ll have noticed how they behave as individuals and will be able to help select one that fits with you and your family.
Are you after a boisterous, energetic dog or one that’s calmer and quieter?
Before purchasing a Westie, you should ascertain what health screening checks your breeder undertakes for their breeding animals.
Westies, like all dog breeds, are prone to certain genetic health conditions, and these screening tests help reputable breeders choose dogs without those genetic markers to be in their breeding programs.
Some of the recommended screening for Westies include:
- hip dysplasia
- patellar luxation
- eye examinations
You can find out more about health screening tests relevant to Westies and suggested by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and breed clubs, such as The West Highland White Terrier Club of America (WHWTCA).
How Much Do Westie Puppies Cost?
Breeders in the US vary with their puppy prices, but before you purchase or adopt a Westie, it’s best to do your research and also visit regional Westie Clubs and look at American and Canadian parent clubs representing this breed.
A Westie puppy can range from $800 to $3,800 and higher in the United States, but these are general estimates, and prices may vary. You can also adopt a Westie or Westie mix via Petfinder and find your new Westie best friend.
However, it’s important to note that the investment can be higher than the average cost for those seeking a show-quality Westie puppy. Reputable breeders who specialize in producing top-notch show dogs put significant effort into selecting breeding pairs with excellent pedigrees, health clearances, and desirable traits.
For show-quality Westies, the price can exceed $5,000. These dogs are carefully bred to meet breed standards, exhibit exceptional qualities, and have the potential for success in conformation shows.
When considering the cost of a show-quality Westie, it’s important to understand that the initial price is just one aspect to consider. Westie show parents often incur additional expenses, including training, grooming, showing fees, travel costs, and professional handling services. These factors contribute to the overall investment in owning and showcasing a Westie in the competitive show world.
If you are interested in purchasing a show-quality Westie, it’s important to research and connect with reputable breeders known for their expertise in breeding and exhibiting high-quality dogs. They can guide you through the process and provide valuable insights into the show world.
If showing Westies is something you are considering, we suggest joining a Westie Club to get expert show advice on training, grooming and show protocol. We highly recommend the West Highland White Terrier Club of America (WHWTCA).
Whether you choose a show-quality or pet-quality Westie, acquiring a Westie puppy is a long-term commitment.
What Extra Costs Are There?
In addition to the price of your dog, you’ll also need to have your home set up for your new puppy. Including
- Food and Water Bowls: Choose sturdy, non-slip bowls that are easy to clean and won’t tip over easily. Opt for ceramic and stainless steel bowls instead of plastic or rubber, which are linked to pigment loss on the nose and allergic reactions in some Westies.
- High-Quality Puppy Food: Consult with your vet to find the best brand of puppy food for your Westie. Opt for high-quality, age-appropriate nutrition via reputable brands.
- Collar and Leash: Purchase a secure, adjustable, lightweight collar and leash for walks and outdoor activities. It’s important to choose the appropriately sized collar for your puppy. The puppy collar should never rub on his neck or slip over his head. The best materials for a Westie puppy collar include nylon or soft rolled leather.
- ID Tags: Attach identification tags to your Westie’s collar with your contact information, including their name and phone number, in case they get lost.
- Ex-Pen: All puppy Westies should have a safe play area and form a mini corral indoors or outdoors.
- Crate or Dog Bed: Provide a comfortable and safe space for your Westie to rest. You can choose between a crate for crate training or a cozy dog bed. Most Westies prefer padding in their crates, which should be made from a non-toxic material. Cushions and puppy blankets with a few dog beds are a good idea so that your puppy has a few different locations around your home. Avoid flannel blankets and polyester synthetics since these tend to give off “static shocks.”
- Puppy Chew Toys: Westies are energetic and playful, so provide them with various toys to keep them entertained. Include chew toys, interactive toys, and soft toys for comfort. Puppy toys are so important for Westies and provide your pup with a chewing outlet and curb boredom. Stuffed frozen puppy Kong toys will also help with teething and keep your pup busy.
- Grooming Supplies: Westies have a double coat that requires regular grooming. Get a slicker brush, pin brush, terrier palm pad, comb, and organic dog conditioning shampoo for bathing. You may also need nail clippers and ear-cleaning solutions. Stripping dead hair in adult Westies is the norm and is used for showing.
- Puppy Pads or Outdoor Potty-Training Supplies: If you plan to potty train your Westie indoors, consider using puppy pads or a designated indoor potty area. Alternatively, you can opt for outdoor potty training if you have a secure outdoor space.
- Training Treats: Use small, soft, and tasty treats as rewards during training sessions. Positive reinforcement is effective for teaching obedience and good behavior. Remember that this breed is independent with a high prey drive, so you should always keep him on a leash in areas where he may not be safe.
- Doggy Waste Bags: Always clean up after your Westie during walks or outdoor potty breaks. Carry Climate Pledge-friendly waste bags to keep the environment clean and hygienic.
- Pet Insurance: Consider getting pet insurance for your West Highland White Terrier to help cover unexpected veterinary expenses. Research different insurance providers and find a plan that suits your needs. There are monthly and annual payment options available usually.
There are a wide variety of price points for each of these items, but you should set aside at least $300 – $500 if you need to buy a completely new set-up for your dog. This will be less if you already have suitable dog equipment or are gifted items by friends and family.
Allow an estimated total purchase and initial set-up cost from $1,300 – $4,500+.
How Much Do Westie Puppies Cost to Keep?
If you’re considering adding a West Highland White Terrier puppy to your family, it’s essential to understand the ongoing costs associated with their care. While the initial purchase price and essential equipment are one thing, ongoing expenses should also be considered.
Here are some factors contributing to the cost of keeping Westie puppies and what to expect.
Factors Affecting Ongoing Costs of Caring For A Westie:
- Veterinary Care: Regular veterinary visits, vaccinations, preventive medications, and annual check-ups are crucial for your Westie’s well-being. These costs can amount to approximately $500 to over $1,000 annually. Additionally, Westies are prone to specific health issues such as allergies, skin conditions, and joint problems, which may require specialized care and additional expenses. Emergency veterinary care expenses need to be considered, and that’s where Westie pet insurance protects your pup, allowing for the best care.
- Food: Westies have specific dietary needs, and high-quality dog food like The Farmers Dog is essential to maintain their health. Expect to spend around $600 to over $1000 annually on pet food, treats, and supplements for your Westie.
- Grooming: As for grooming, Westies have a distinctive white double coat that requires regular brushing, bathing, and professional grooming every 4-6 weeks. Grooming costs can range from $75 to $150 per session, depending on where you live. On that basis, you could expect to fork out anywhere from $600 – $2,000 annually for grooming.
- Training and Socialization: Proper training and socialization are vital for Westies starting early puppyhood and throughout their lives to help reduce behavioral issues. Puppy training classes, obedience training, and interactive toys can vary between states and when combined with in-house training, depending on your preferences. Spend as much as you can on puppy training classes, interactive dog toys and games, pet vacays, travel, agility set-ups for your garden like tunnels, steps, chutes with different surfaces, and lots of car rides. Get your Westie to live his best life with you with plenty of outdoor adventures and mental stimulation.
- Pet Insurance: Pet insurance is an ongoing cost of approximately $300 to $600 per year. You should also factor in additional medical expenses such as microchipping, spaying/neutering, and potential unforeseen costs such as emergency veterinary care.
- Miscellaneous Expenses: Other expenses include replacing worn accessories (leash, collar, crate, etc.), new toys, waste bags and general fun stuff you want for your Westie.
Realistically, you should budget for your Westie costing you a minimum of $150 per month ($1,800 per year) in basic veterinary care, food, grooming and insurance.
However, as you can see from the list above, there are always unexpected costs and a list of ‘nice to have’ items that will add to your budget. Ideally, you should really be setting aside nearer $4,000 a year to allow for those extras and any unexpected costs.
Add That Up For Me – How Much Does A Westie Cost?
In summary, the estimated guideline costs for a Westie are:
- Purchase and initial equipment: $1,300 – $4,500+
- Ongoing costs (food, grooming, vet): $150+/month or $1,800+ per year. Provision $4,000 per year to allow for unexpected vet bills and other extras.
There are many factors that affect these costs. These are just intended to give you a ballpark figure.
How Old Does a Westie Puppy Need To Be Before You Can Take Them Home?
Reputable breeders typically only let their puppies leave their mothers once they are at least eight weeks old. Some experts suggest that for terrier breeds like Westies, it may be better to wait until they are 12 weeks old before taking them home. We agree with this because all puppies learn essential skills from their littermates.
Giving the puppy enough time with its mother and littermates is also important for pups to receive proper nutrition. The time spent with their mother and siblings helps in their emotional and physical development.
“Bringing home a puppy who is too young can affect the behaviors your dog will have for the rest of his life – and not necessarily in a good way,” says the AKC. They add that pups’ socialization period is between 6 and 12 to 14 weeks of age.
Additionally, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) adds that during this time, puppies need to be exposed to as many new people, animals, stimuli, and environments as possible, but this must be done carefully without overstimulating your puppy.
“Socialization of a puppy during this period has a huge effect on the behaviors, confidence, and attachments the dog will have throughout their lifetime. It’s also the time when the puppy will form a strong bond with the humans taking care of them,” explains the AKC.
Most vets recommend having the Westie puppy spayed or neutered between 4 to 5 months of age. However, there is a growing belief among some experts that waiting until they are 10 or 11 months old can be more beneficial for their long-term health.
Here’s the takeaway on how to buy a healthy West Highland White Terrier:
- Research and Find a Reputable Breeder: Research local Westie breeders with a solid reputation for ethical breeding practices. Look for breeders who prioritize the health and well-being of their dogs. They should conduct health screenings, provide proper vaccinations, and offer support throughout the puppy’s life.
- Assess the Puppy’s Environment: When you visit the breeder’s facility, pay close attention to the living conditions and cleanliness. Observe how the puppies interact with each other and with people. A well-socialized puppy will be curious, friendly, and comfortable around humans.
- Evaluate Health Certifications: Ask the breeder about the health certifications of the parents. Good breeders ensure that their breeding dogs are tested for genetic conditions common in Westies, such as hip dysplasia and patellar luxation. This helps minimize the risk of passing on these conditions to the puppies.
- Observe the Puppy’s Appearance: Take note of the puppy’s physical characteristics. A healthy Westie puppy should have bright eyes, clean ears, and a shiny coat. Look for any signs of skin issues or abnormalities. The coat should be white and free from any discoloration or patches.
- Assess the Puppy’s Temperament: Spend time interacting with the puppy to gauge its temperament. A well-adjusted Westie puppy should be playful, curious, and friendly. Avoid puppies with excessive fear, aggression, or shyness, as these traits may be difficult to address later.
- Ask for References: Request references from the breeder, including previous puppy parents and veterinarians who have worked with them. Speaking to others who have purchased puppies from the breeder can provide valuable insights into their experience and the health of their Westies.
What Redditors Say
We checked out Reddit to see if there were any good tips about choosing and parenting a Westie. Here’s the takeaway:
One Redditor said, “Puppy training and socialization with people and other dogs is going to be very important. Stubborn as hell, so you’ll have to stand your ground!” Another user adds, “Watch out for skin problems/allergies. Diet can play a huge role in causing and alleviating these problems.”
“Welcome to the world of Westies! They are the funniest, most tenacious, mischievous, curious, HIGHLY opinionated, and loving dogs in the world. The puppy stages can be rough sometimes (as all puppy stages are), but you will come out with a best friend for life,” says another Redditor.
“Just remember to keep reminding them who’s boss. They WILL push your boundaries to see what they can get away with! Also, worth noting that Westies are quite prone to skin allergies, some of which can be mitigated through food and others through medicine. You may want to look into pet insurance if you are worried about cost. We get ours through Nationwide.”
FAQ’s How To Choose A West Highland White Terrier Puppy
Q: What to look for when picking a Westie puppy?
A: The Westie should be sturdy in appearance and have a heart-shaped chest. This is a big dog in a small package. When choosing a Westie puppy, it’s important to keep in mind that Westie puppies are active unless they’re sleeping.
Your puppy should look healthy with no skin infections. Ensure that the puppy appears healthy and active. Look for clear eyes, clean ears, and a shiny coat. The puppy should have a good appetite and show no signs of illness or discomfort.
Q: What papers should I get from my Westie breeder?
A: Ask for the puppy’s pedigree or registration papers from a reputable kennel club, such as the American Kennel Club (AKC) or the United Kennel Club (UKC). These papers provide information about the puppy’s lineage and can confirm their purebred status.
You should also get health clearances for both the puppy’s parents, particularly for common health issues in Westies. This may include certifications for hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and genetic disorders.
Finally, your Westie breeder should also provide documentation of the puppy’s vaccination history and deworming, including the specific vaccines administered and administration dates.
This will help ensure that your West Highland White Terrier puppy has received the necessary vaccinations for their age. After that, you will need to follow up with your veterinarian and follow a specific vaccination schedule.
Q: How do I pick the best-looking West Highland White Terrier puppy?
A: Breed type was set in the early 1930’s and has been maintained for this terrific breed. Thankfully, you can browse the West Highland White Terrier Club of America (WHWTCA) to learn more about confirmation and breed requirements to help you decide which Westie puppy is best for you.
If you’re going to show your Westie, it’s a good idea to attend regional club meetings and local dog shows to get a feel for the breed.