West Highland White Terrier Information

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(Westie)The big eyed West Highland White Terrier is a small dog covered in fluffy, white fur. The hair on their bodies is close to the skin while the hair on their legs and under their bellies is loose and thick. One of their most distinguishing characteristics is their shaggy manes which frame their small but always alert faces.  Their short, fur-covered muzzles end in a tiny black nose.  Their tiny ears stand straight up on their head, and their large, dark-colored eyes stand out against the whiteness of the rest of the dog.   At the end of their compact bodies is a 5 to 6 inch tail that, like its ears, sticks straight up as if it is constantly at attention.  Despite its small size, the dog should be muscular and have a deep chest since they were originally designed for running after small vermin.

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Westies have carrot shaped tails that should never be docked.

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The West Highland White Terrier is a friendly breed. They are outgoing with strangers and other dogs. They will play well with children as long, as those children are not overly rambunctious. Westies need moderate exercise but are generally good companion dogs. They are lively in the house, but they do bark frequently as is the case with many small breeds. If allowed, they will dig which can cause problems for owners who value their gardens and landscaping. As with many hunting dogs and terriers, the West Highland White Terrier can be slightly stubborn and difficult to train.

Westies may become more stubborn as they get older. They are easily motivated by treats. They may tend to be snappy with too much commotion or over active children. It's important to socialize them from birth.

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9-12 inches
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13-22 pounds
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General Health

West Highland White Terrier run the risk of acquiring a number of health problems such as cataracts, copper toxicosis, craniomandibular osteopathy, deafness, enzyme deficiency, inguinal hernia, and Legg-Perthes disease.  Despite this seemingly long list of health issues, the West Highland White Terrier is generally healthy and can live to be over 15 years of age.

Some Westies suffer from a skin condition that affects the underarm. The affected area will become black and gummy. Others may have paws that go bald. Keep this breeds ears cleans as they are prone to ear infections.

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West Highland White Terriers arose after a breeder of Cairn Terriers in Scotland started finding all-white pups in his litter.  He decided to begin specifically breeding for white Cairn Terriers and eventually developed this breed.  The modern West Highland White Terrier’s loyal and self-confident personality developed over time thanks to selective breeding.  Although the dog was originally used to hunt and kill vermin, such as rats, today it is mostly used for companionship.

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Grooming West Highland White Terriers is relatively simple. They need to be brushed once a week which should keep them from needing a bath very often. They need the hair around their ears and eyes trimmed regularly. They should also have their coat stripped twice a year.  Like any dog, they need some exercise. However, many West Highland White Terriers release their energy by just playing in the house.

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Ideal Environment

West Highland White Terriers can live in small apartments or large houses. They are good for families with well-behaved children and other animals. The breed can live in almost every climate without problem. The breed makes especially good companions for the elderly since most of their exercise is obtained simply from playing in the house. If children are around the dog, they need to be supervised so they do not harass the dog.  The breed can become angered and will snap. West Highland White Terriers are protective of their families and love to travel with them.

This breed is prone to sunburn on the tips of their ears if they live in a sunny environment.

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Dog Training!

If you're having problems training your dog or getting control, you should read our review of DogProblems.com. Adam will do whatever it takes to help you whip your dog into shape. I've used them to help with my Great Dane as well as help friends train their dogs. It's the first place I go to help answer users Questions. Many training issues are too extensive to answer in this forum, which is why I refer a lot of the load to his site. Update: I've been using and recommending DogProblems for three years now. I, as well as my users, value the techniques we've learned. I get weekly emails from users who have become better owners from the information they received.

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West Highland White Terrier Q&A

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How bad are they to shed.

They dont seem to shed much at all. At least not as much as most dogs ive owned in the past.


we are thinking of getting a westie puppy but live in an apartment and are worried if left alone will it bark alot??obviously we will be training it but does anybody know if they are still prone to barking?

Yes they will bark, and if it's a puppy it will also chew the heck out of wooden surfaces such as chairs, skirting boards and even low window sills. It's a counsel of perfection I know but no puppy should be left alone for long periods. Like the article says, Westies love to travel with their families. Ours doesn't even mind waiting in the car for up to 45 minutes as long as he is brought along. (Not in hot weather of course.)


what do you do when you are allergic to the dog's hair?

Westies have a coarser fur which rarely if ever causes an allergic reaction. In two and half years our Westie has never caused one in a wide range of friends including one with severe nut allergy and asthma.


I have a 5 month old westie and her ears have not gone fully up yet, does anyone know when the ears become erect?

My Westie is 8 yrs old. His ears did not really stand up till he was about 10-12mo. The right ear stood up a good two months before the left did. Be patient they will.


My westie is 15 months old and pretty much just has a wire coat. Does anyone know when the second layer will come in. Most other westies that I have met that have both are a bit older.

Our Westie was in full thick double coat by 12 months. Some do take a bit longer though. Consult the dog's breeder to see if their dogs take longer. Also check the Westie's skin ...if it looks reddish, irritated, or has browinsh flakes then it could be skin allergies are preventing the coat from growing in properly. If that's the case, consult your dog's vet.


we have a female westie and are thinking of getting a second westie for her to have as a companion - do you think our existing westie would like a playmate? Thanks!

She would probably enjoy a playmate. My Westie has been around other dogs her whole life and she enjoys making new friends and is very social.


I have a girl westie who is about 9 months old and her ears are not standing up yet. Should I be concerned or will they come up eventually?


My westie is doing well, however on her higher back, like 3 inches by her neck her skin is all skabbed and sometimes it oozes or bleeds. Also, that skin has rised a little. What is this?

If it's oozing and bleeding please ring her to a vet! Sounds like skin allergies though ...this is common in Westies.


How much do West Highlands actually shed. I don't want a dog that will leave hair on my clothing. Will this breed do that?

I have had 2 westies now. The first westie I had never shed, however, my little guy now will leave a few white hairs on your clothes but no more then us humans do. I have never had hair balls or anything from them around my house. They are great inside dogs and have the funnest personality! Highly recommend them.


How many puppies does a West Highland White Terrier have in a litter?

A westie usually has two or three puppies in a litter. Our westie had three puppies but one was two small to live.

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