Why Do Westies Growl So Much? How to Decode Growls

Why do Westies growl so much? Growling is a useful communication channel between a dog and his human.

Westies are strong-headed, lively, and bold terriers who love to express themselves, so rather than punishing them for growling, look for the information hidden in this type of behavior. 


Why do Westies growl so much?



There might be many reasons why your westie is growling. Their temperament differs a lot, and so growling can mean anything from a sign of aggression or fear to pure excitement. You should always analyze the reason behind a westie growling, so you know how to act next.

Are Westies Aggressive? 

The word “aggressive” is often misused in a dog’s world and can cause a lot of problems that many times lead to a dog shelter. No, westies are not aggressive, but they might be anxious or over-assertive, which you might wrongly translate as aggressive

West Highland White Terrier is frequently linked with words like strong-headed, stubborn, quick to react, bossy, etc.. It is not wrong because they have a terrier temperament, and those are some of the reasons we love them so much. But does it mean they are aggressive? No!

On the other hand, these are traits that we, as their proud parents, should know about and act accordingly. For example, if your westie bestie is a dominant puppy, start obedience training early. Also, I know how much fun it is to play tug with him, but even when playing a game like his, it can have negative results. 

I would say, make sure that you know your westie and train him according to his unique personality. You can also do some research on how to prevent westies from bad behavior.

Why Is My Westie Growling At Me?

Are you trying to find out why your westie is growling at you? Here comes my favorite answer of them all. Because! It can be for several reasons, and not all of them are bad, or you should worry about it, but it is good to know the difference. 

Are you playing a game? Your westie might be growling. And, it’s totally normal; it is just a sign of excitement. Playful growling is nothing to worry about; your westie is having fun and is vocal about it. 

However, if you think that it might be getting too much, take a break from playing and let your dog calm down. 

Are you having a good time? Your westie might be growling affectionately from a belly rub or ecstatic ear rubs or any other enjoyable patting. It is quite a funny way how to show you; it is me me me time! And it sounds like a dog version of a cat’s purring or something. To be honest, my westie Tasha did this maybe three times in her whole life.  She is not a lap dog, and she definitely has better things to do than being used as a cuddle toy.

Westies vary in personality, so maybe yours is a cuddler (lucky you!). And if you think that he demands too much attention, you can try more exercise to keep him pleasantly tired or try a new toy.

Do you have something that is rightfully mine? Oh yes, I will let you know that you took my favorite toy and I want it right now. Oh, and don’t let me even start on my food regime! I have to be vocal; it is not my problem that you are like 10 minutes late with my dinner time.

Your westie may be growling from frustration, which basically means his needs are not met, and he does not understand why he is not a top priority. I really think you can say by just looking at your dog; he wants something. The posture, look on that cute white face with piercing black eyes, wiggling tail, and some growling.

Occasional growling (as a reminder of a great personality) is OK. Still, you have to show your westie that you are the boss, and implement more training or modify your current methods. 

Am I afraid of something? There is a big chance your westie is growling from fear. Are you going to the wet? Are you pushing him to do something over his tolerance threshold? Did anything surprise him? Is he guarding food or toy?

You can tell a westie is fearful growling by his body language too. It is definitely different from that relaxed, playful growl. The body is stiff, maybe shaking too; a growl can become a snarl with some teeth showing. 

The best thing you can do now is to stop anything that you are doing and also try to eliminate the stressor if you know what it is. After that, wait until your westie stop growling, and only after he stops, give him a treat. You have to make sure that you are rewarding your furry friend for good behavior, not the bad one. 

Westie Growling At Other Dog 

It is the same as when a westie is growling at you. Growling is a communication tool between dogs, and it can mean a variety of things. Your pup might want to play and take a closer look at another dog, so he is growling from excitement. 

Also, it can mean your westie is afraid of another dog as is trying to protect his territory. So, growling is a polite way to say, back off.

The last one can be a little scary – tense body, showing teeth growling, snapping. Especially when your terrier thinks it is a good idea to try to pick up a fight with a dog twice his size. And the reason? Westies can show dominance or try to protect themselves. For example, my Westie did this when she was tired of one dog trying to hump her in a dog park.

If you don’t know how to deal with this confrontational behavior yourself, it’s better to find qualified help. Your westie doesn’t know it, but it is your job to keep him safe. 

Westie Growling For No Reason 

I can assure you that there is always a reason behind growling; you just don’t know it. If your westie is growling and you don’t know why, try to think about less obvious things than he only wants to play, or he is just guarding his food. 

The first thing that comes to mind is that your furry friend is sick or has some injury. You know our lovely westies are curious creatures; they enjoy examining the surroundings, sniffing, and also licking objects. Perhaps you didn’t notice, and something happened on the walk- the dog ate something or injured a paw, etc.

You will notice that he doesn’t want you to touch certain body parts, or he doesn’t want to be touched at all cause it is causing him pain. You can also notice other changes in behavior than growling. I know, it is terrible when you don’t see what’s wrong with your furry baby, but don’t panic, observe and look for signs of pain and pay a visit to a veterinarian as soon as you can. 

So, what are some of the other reasons your westie is growling? I would say, look into what has changed recently in your daily routine or what possible stressors are in your westie’s world. It can be anything, and maybe you didn’t pay attention to previous signs of stress. 

Here we go. There might be construction work nearby, including some heavy equipment, and your westie is noise-sensitive or noise-phobic. I live in an apartment, and any time a neighbor did any noisy reconstruction work, my westie went straight into barking crazy mode. A thunderstorm is also a problem for some dogs, vacuum cleaners, or not to mention fireworks.

A new family member. Whether it is a newborn baby, or your in-laws staying with you, or a new partner, all these are potential stressors for a westie.

Another stressor is harsh treatment. It can be verbal or physical, and I don’t only mean towards your westie but your spouse too. For example, you may be arguing and shouting at each other, and this might be stressing your dog. And of course, your stress is stressing your dog too!

These are only a few examples to give you an idea of what might be the problem, but it can be something entirely different for your westie. I would just like to remind you; you have a very perceptive dog who wants to be on top of things, and you won’t get away easily with sudden changes, and you will hear about it.

How To Stop A Westie From Growling?

I think the answer is pretty apparent here. Find the cause of the growling and then deal with that. It can be eliminating as many stressors as possible or making gradual changes to your common routine, and last but not least, training. 

One more thing I want to say here is that westies are supposed to be generally easily trained (but it must be consistent and persistent training with a dose of patience), but it might not be your case. Maybe this cute white devil is your first dog and moreover with a huge personality, so no shame if you need help. I’m talking about obedience training, trainers, or qualified behavior professionals. Trust me; life will be better with your westie as a companion, not a boss.

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