Westie FAQs

Do Westies have hair or fur?

Westies have both. They have a fleece-like fur next to the skin and along their bellies, and they have longer, rougher guard hairs on the outside of their fleece coats. These rougher guard hairs help to protect the undercoat and keep it clean.

Do West Highland terriers shed?

West Highland Terriers do shed, but not very much, especially compared to some other breeds of dogs, which produce mounds of fur shed daily. A Westie is not completely hypoallergenic, but comes pretty close because of the light shedding they do. Frequent bathing and brushing will help to loose hairs at a minimum.

Can I get a Westie in a colour other than white?

The simple answer is no. The white West Highland Terrier comes in only one colour: white. If the dog is any other colour, it is not a Westie; it may be a Cairn Terrier, Scottie Terrier or a Westie cross.

Do Westies get on with cats?

Many Westies adore cats, but most cats distrust Westies, and they try to avoid them. You may find that some Westies can be trusted with your cat, but for the most part, it’s inadvisable unless you are willing to teach your dog through training to leave the cat alone. Westies are enjoy the company of smaller animals but these small white dogs are terriers and therefore hunting dogs; they particularly like to chase them.

Do Westies bark a lot?

Westies are not yappy dogs but at times you may think your Westie loves to bark just to hear herself. In reality, your dog is telling you everything she senses about the world around her. She has no filter in determining what is significant and what is not, so she responds by barking. You can, however, through early socialisation and training teach your dog to stop barking after alerting you to a situation.

How much exercise should a Westie have?

Permit your Westie a daily walk, and he will be a happy dog that is less likely to go looking for trouble. Your Westies will get a lot of exercise running around the house and the yard, but the walk will help to wear him out a bit and be less prone to get up to mischief.

How far can a Westie walk?

While your dog’s weight and age will be a factor in determining the length of your walk, your Westie should be able to walk for about 30 minutes daily.

Are Westie allergies serious?

Westies are susceptible to allergies which can sometimes be severe. The most common allergy is Malassezia dermatitis, which is identified by hair loss, blackening of the skin, itchiness and a strong odour. In addition to using special shampoos to treat the yeast-based infection, Westie owners may administer Ketoconazole or cyclosporin to their dogs for relief of this condition. In some cases, pet owners have turned to special diets for their dogs.

Is the Westie temperament friendly?

Westies are affable dogs that generally like people. These small white dogs believe they can do anything, often forgetting their small size. They are extremely smart canines who enjoy an active, and their independent streaks can clash with owners who want a lap dog to snuggle with.

How do I keep my Westie white?

Some owners swear that certain foods (such as beef), dyes used in dog treats and even some infections cause those beard stains, but in reality, the discolorations could be due to the pH of your dog’s saliva. If this worries you use a whitening shampoo and a tear stain remover to get the bright white look you love, and consider replacing highly processed foods and treats with something more natural.

What’s the best shampoo to use on a White West Highland Terrier?

There are many special shampoos formulated especially for the sensitive Westie skin. Look for shampoos that soothe the skin and contain gentle ingredients like oatmeal and green tea. Never use you own shampoo on your Westie because the pH in your shampoo is not designed to meet your dog’s needs.

What toys does a Westie need?

Your Westie will like chewing and digging. He’s also perfectly capable of entertaining himself throughout the day. If, however, you don’t agree that entertainment consists of digging through the trash to search for treasure or gnawing on your favourite pair of leather shoes is fun, buy your boy Westie-appropriate toys. That means purchase rugged playthings.

Natural products like bone, horns or hooves are great for the Westie. Keep in mind, however, that you will need to check their condition on a regular basis and throw them away when gnawed to bits or broken/splintered. The good news is that they are fairly inexpensive to replace.
The best man-made toys are Kongs, which can survive nearly any dog.

How much training should I give my Westie?

Your Westie will need consistent and daily training. It isn’t that she doesn’t understand what you want, it’s that she prefers everything to be her way. Establish your house rules from day one, and then stick to them. If you aren’t consistent in teaching your expectations, your Westie will decide that she should be the boss of you, your home and the universe.
Plan to devote ten minutes every day to Westie work. You’ll both be happier for it.

Will a Westie get along with kids?

Westies do well with children certainly when they are 8 and older. Younger children that have not had previous supervised puppy handling may make your dog anxious, and tiny children might not be able to take the roughhousing a Westie likes to do. Your Westie might not appreciate younger children poking at them and pulling on them. Regardless of the dog breed, always supervise play between dogs and young children.

How can I make sure my West highland Terrier is taken care of if he outlives me?

Create a pet information card that lists your Westie’s current medications, vet and pet sitter if you have one. Include helpful information like whether your dog has been micro-chipped, gets along with other pets and any instructions for feeding.

What should I feed my West Highland Terrier?

Feed your Westie the best quality diet you can afford. Foods with the nutrients, vitamins and minerals a dog needs is critical for optimal health. Avoid products with corn meal and chemicals that you cannot pronounce, especially if any of them are found in the first five ingredients listed on the bag or container.

What are the best treats for a Westie?

If you feed your Westie a high quality diet, you will notice that there is little need for treats between meals. The additional treats can make your dog overweight. While some pet owners prefer gluten free products for their dogs, others are fine with an occasional treat. You can make your own dog biscuits, or you can opt for healthy snacks like blueberries. Avoid giving your dog rawhide because of chemicals treatments.

Should I spay or neuter my West Highland Terrier?

If you do not plan to breed purebred West Highland Terriers, it’s a good idea to spay or neuter your dog. Doing so will help your dog calm down, and you’ll be limiting the glut of unwanted mixed breed puppies.

How can I find a reputable Westie breeder?

West Highland Terriers breeders are passionate people who want to produce the best dogs possible. Don’t expect to walk away from the breeder with a puppy immediately. The best breeders have waiting lists. You’ll likely get to visit the parents on site, and you’ll get a chance to meet the puppy to make sure you are a good fit for each other. Many breeders will have you sign you a contract requiring you to end back the dog if you are unable or unwilling to care for the dog at any time.

What if I want to show my West Highland Terrier?

If you are thinking about showing your Westie in the ring, talk to breeders before selecting your new pup. While a show dog can be a family dog, not all family dogs are show quality, even if they are the very essence of the white West Highland Terrier. Showing a Westie means making a commitment to a higher grooming standard and more. Breeders can tell you about the work and commitment it takes to enter and succeed in dog shows.

I’ve heard rescue dogs might be a good choice. What should I look for?

Rescuing a Westie can be a good decision for both you and for the dog. Understand though, that the dog you adopt may have some issues. Many of these can be overcome with the right home environment. For example, your Westie may be terrified of thunderstorms, but can learn that she’s in a safe environment now. Ask the rescue organization if they know where the dog came from, and what issues the dog has had. By rescuing a Westie, you are saving a life and helping to eliminate bad breeders/puppy mills.

I work all day. Does my Westie need doggie day care?

If your workdays are long, you may consider doggie day care for your Westie, even if it’s only a couple of days a week. The day care give pups a chance to socialize and play with each other, and the outing can be a welcome diversion for the Westie looking to add a little adventure to his schedule.

What do I look for in a doggie day care?

Visit the doggie day care to view (and smell) the condition of the facility. The day care should require that dogs are current on vaccines, and there are staff who can supervise the dogs’ play. Ask how the facility handles communications. You may even request a trial visit to see if the day care is a good fit for your Westie.

What sort of grooming does a West Highland Terrier need?

Teach your Westie pup from early on that getting groomed is a pleasurable experience. The Westie coat will need clippering or stripping, depending on the outcome you want. Clippering creates a soft coat, and stripping gives a rough look. Few owners opt for show quality grooming unless they have show dogs. A professional groomer can help you with keeping your Westie in tiptop shape.

Can I have my Westie’s toenails painted?

You can have your dog’s toenails painted, but it’s not recommended. Some dogs will chew at the polish and ingest it. At any rate, it’s discouraged from the show ring, but if your daughter wants to pint the dog’s toenails, use a dog-friendly polish. Just don’t expect the polish to last as long as your own manicure.

Should I crate train my Westie?

You are doing your dog a favour by crate training him. A crate (or kennel) is a safe haven you provide your Westie. It’s his space. The crate becomes a secure place to sleep and a place the dog can go for some alone time. You may find it necessary to crate your dog for several hours or overnight.

Should my Westie be on heartworm medication? He’s hardly ever outside.

It’s a good idea to have dogs on heartworm prevention medication. Having heartworms is a horrible disease that will prevent your Westie from enjoying life and you from having your fur baby around for a long time. Even dogs who aren’t outside for very long will benefit form heartworm protection. If you are in doubt, ask your veterinarian whether this treatment is right for your dog.

What should I expect when my Westie gets older?

The aging Westie may begin to experience sensory loss, such as vision and hearing problems. Likewise, the teeth can build up tartar, and your vet can clean your dog’s teeth. Your Westie may get urinary tract infections or have kidney difficulties. In addition, your older Westie may prefer a quieter environment with less stress.

Do I have to brush my Westie’s teeth?

Brushing your dog’s teeth can help to reduce tartar build-up and can keep the gums in good health. Begin brushing your dog’s teeth when he is young, and it will be easier to continue in his adult years. If you are not sure how to brush your dog’s teeth, check with your vet.

Will my Westie dig?

Is your Westie white? Some West Highland Terriers wont touch the garden while other Westies loves to dig – he never knows what could be under all that dirt but has an insatiable desire to find out. Provide your dog with alternative activities, such as toys with treats hidden inside) to reduce the chance he will rearrange your flower beds.

What supplements are appropriate for a Westie?

If your Westie is healthy and on a well balanced diet they don’t need anything. Talk to your vet if your Westie has a health issue. Glucosamine is a favourite supplement, and many vets recommend it to help with stiff joints. Other supplements include digestive enzymes, fatty acids and essential oils that can help with aging and skins conditions.

What’s the best way to travel in a car with a Westie?

Westies are ready as soon as you say the word, “Go,” so travel is in their nature. To travel with you dog, be sure to keep his vaccines current, and take his food/medicine along if you plan to be away from home during meal times. As tempted as you will be to hold your doing in your arms or have him sit on the seat beside you, teach him to lie down on the floor. The floorboard is the safest place for your dog to travel. A proper car safety harness is also recommended to secure your little dog in their spot in the car. A crate with a comfortable mat is also an excellent way to travel.

Ask your vet for assistance if your Westie gets carsick, it an be an issue for some Westies but many improve with age.

Should I let my Westie sleep with me?

Your Westie would love to sleep with you, but you may not want to sleep with her. If that is the case, teach your dog from an early age where her bed will be, and insist that she sleep there. If you don’t do this, you may find that she will creep into bed with you every chance she gets. You dog will probably sleep through the night, and adult dogs sleep through half the day, too.

How long does a West Highland Terrier live?

The average lifespan of a West Highland Terrier is 12 – 16 years.

What is the annual ownership cost of a West Highland Terrier?

A Westie costs a little less than $100 a year to care for, but of course, this figure may vary depending on where you live.

I have to say good-bye to my Westie. Now what?

In a very short time, your Westie will have become your constant companion, and a significant member of the household. You will enjoy his antics, and together you will create incredible memories. You fur baby will age, though, and eventually you will have to take his quality of life into consideration and decide if euthanasia is something you should consider for your dog. If it seems like he can no longer “be a Westie” – he’s lost his ability to move around easily, lost one or more senses, is in pain, or is aging poorly, it may be time to consider end of life options. Do what’s right for your dog and your budget. Your vet will not make the decision for you, but can give you valuable advice and guidance through the process.


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