The West Highland White Terrier is not the typical lapdog. This breed may seem docile because of its size and its all-white fur. Anyone who does not know much about this breed would be surprised by all the feistiness and tenacity hiding beneath this dog’s small and cuddly exterior.
People who love spunky small dogs may appreciate having the West Highland White Terrier around. Might this be the dog that you’re looking for? Find out more about this breed as you read along.
Some Facts About The West Highland White Terrier
Also called Westie, the West Highland White Terrier is an intelligent and strong-willed dog. Although this breed is more popular as a family dog breed these days, its hunting instinct is still quite intact. It is not exactly a surprise if this little dog suddenly scurries off to chase prey and dig holes in your backyard.
Where is the West Highland White Terrier from?
Westies were originally bred in Scotland, where they were used to hunt rodents and small game. It is believed the Westies’ history can be traced all the way back to the 1600s during the reign of King James I.
The modern Westie was primarily developed by Colonel Malcom of Poltalloch in the 1800s. He wanted to create a terrier breed with a distinctive white coat, a color which is easier to spot in the hunting grounds. He crossed different terrier breeds, choosing only the dogs with dominantly white fur.
Before the breed has its present name, it was called the Poltalloch Terrier and the Roseneath Terrier.
What does a West Highland White Terrier look like?
A Westie has the following traits:
- Dark, almond-shaped eyes surrounded dark rims
- Black nose
- Pointed and erect ears
- Fairly short, dense, and solid white double coat
- Roundish face (due to the fur filling the area)
- Slightly short muzzle
- Small but stocky body with shortish legs
- Sturdy tail
- Stands around 10 to 11 inches at the withers and weighs between 14 to 20 pounds
What is the temperament of a West Highland White Terrier?
Like other terriers, Westies are feisty, lively, and intelligent. They tend to assert their independence and can be stubborn, which makes training a bit challenging.
Westies are hardly short of energy and definitely loves playing and exploring. Because they have a strong prey drive, they have the tendency to chase after small animals, even dig holes to go after them.
These little dogs can get along with anyone, including other pets and animals, if they are properly trained and socialized. But they may still have a problem with other small pets because of their hunting instincts.
Is the West Highland White Terrier hypoallergenic?
The West Highland White Terrier is considered a hypoallergenic dog breed because its dense coat sheds minimally. Shedding is associated with the production of dander, which is a common allergen found in dogs.
But no breed is completely non-allergenic. A Westie might still have allergens in its body which can trigger a reaction from allergy sufferers. People who are prone to having allergies should spend a little time with a Westie first and find out if they’re allergic to the breed before they get one for a pet.
Are West Highland White Terriers prone to having skin problems?
West Highland White Terriers are prone to suffering from various skin problems. These disorders are often hereditary and Westies are more at risk to having them compared to other breeds. Some of these skin problems are:
- Atopic dermatitis – This is an allergic skin condition, which appears as inflamed splotches or lesions on the skin. It is not breed-specific but Westies are more predisposed to having this condition. Dogs affected by it are constantly scratching, licking, and rubbing their skin. If left unattended, it becomes worse and causes severe infection.
- Malassezia dermatitis – This condition is caused by the abnormal overgrowth of the yeast called malassezia pachydermatis. It can be diagnosed as skin allergy at first because of similar symptoms such as hair loss, itchy skin, the appearance of redness or lesions, hyperpigmentation, etc.
Westies can also be affected by hyperplastic dermatosis. Though not common, it is considered a breed-specific skin problem. It can be misdiagnosed as a different form of skin condition because it shares similar symptoms of other skin diseases.
When is a Westie full grown?
Westies may reach their full height when they’re about 12 to 15 months old. They continue to fill out in weight until they’re around 18 months old.
What does a Westie eat?
Westies can eat dry food, raw food, or homemade dog food. Any of these will do—it all comes down to what type of food your Westies best thrive on. Here are a few points to consider before you make a choice:
- Commercial food, kibble or canned, is convenient. But it may contain harmful or dubious ingredients, which can eventually harm your dog. For example, kibbles or dry dog food may have fillers made out of overly processed, low-quality stuff containing dangerous additives and preservatives.
- If you feed your dog raw food and homemade dog food (see some recipes here), you have more control on the quality of the ingredients. Many people believe both are healthier for them—dogs actually thrived on these before commercial food became available in the market.
- Westies are prone to having allergies and skin problems. It may take a lot of trial and error before you find out what they’re really allergic to.
Small dogs like Westies breeds typically need more calories per pound than large dogs. But it does not necessarily mean they have to eat a lot. What they really need is a well-proportioned, calorie-packed meal containing a balanced amount protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. They can thrive on half a cup or a cup and a half of dog food per day, divided into two meals.
Before you get a dog, make sure that you have read some essential dog diet tips. It is important you know what human food is good for your dog and the kind food which may be toxic.
How much does a West Highland White Terrier cost?
Westies may cost anywhere around USD $900 to $1,500. Prices vary depending on the dog’s pedigree, health, and location. The breeder’s reputation affects prices as well. Adoption costs, meanwhile, range around USD $150 to $300.
Check out this Animal Planet video to learn more about Westies: