PERSONALITY – Although Westies are clever, affectionate, and playful, they are a high energy dog. They are big dogs in small packages. Moreover, they are considered to be one of the most intelligent breeds. The best owner for a Westie is a person who feels at ease with an energetic dog. If you cannot say, “No” and mean it then a Westie is not for you. When you consider the high physical energy of the Westie along with their intelligence, a Westie owner must be prepared to provide outlets for their mental and physical energies.
INTELLIGENCE – When considering a Westie, you must take into account their extreme level of intelligence. This means you must have some knowledge of how to raise a pup before you acquire a Westie. If you do not have this knowledge and the ability to implement appropriate training, if you are unable to be consistent, patient, and understanding, you will create a situation you are not prepared to deal with. While all of this is true for all pups, it holds even truer for Westies.
RESTRAINT – Westie must be kept on a leash when going for a walk or must be kept in a fenced area when loose outside. The invisible fencing concept does not work with Westies. Because of their high prey drive instincts, they will take the “correction” of passing over the buried wire if it means they can go after their prey.
DIGGING – Westies are terriers, which means they are genetically wired for digging. While many dogs will dig, terriers are driven to do so to a higher degree. The word “terrier” comes from the Latin word “terra” meaning earth. This is instinctual behavior.
BARKING – Westies are among some of the more vocal breeds. They do bark a lot by our human standard, not by the terrier world standard. Much of their barking is just their voice, their talking. But if there is a true catalyst, such as a critter or unfamiliar intruder anywhere in their environment, they will respond appropriately as any good terrier will. As with any breed, depending on how you handle their barking, you can either successfully modify their instinctual behavior or you can exacerbate, infuse the very behavior you are looking to change or modify.
GROOMING – Westies are a double coated breed: a soft undercoat and a hard top coat. It is this hard, coarse top coat that you see on Westies at dog shows. This hard, coarse coat is maintained through a regular regimen of hand stripping. This process is hard to learn to do on your own and generally requires securing a groomer who is skilled in hand stripping. A groomer skilled in this technique can be difficult to find and quite expensive. If your Westie is not going to compete in the show ring, hand stripping is not essential. More than likely, you will need a groomer who will clipper your Westie. The use of clippers removes the hard outer coat and exposes the soft undercoat.
Westies benefit from daily brushing which keeps them cleaner and their hair and skin healthier. Without daily brushing, your Westie can quickly develop mats and clumped hair. Since Westies are white, many people feel they need baths every time they appear soiled. This is not the case. A Westie can appear dirty, and after a brushing, they are clean again. Westies are prone to skin issues, and too frequent bathing only exacerbates this propensity by depleting their natural skin oils. A Westie only needs to be bathed every three to four months (except in extreme situations.)
Keeping a Westie’s toenails short and consistent brushing of their teeth is very important to maintaining a healthy, well-kept pet.
WESTIES AND HUMAN ALLERGIES -- Because its coat consists of hair, not fur, a Westie does not shed. However, as with humans, they will lose some hair on a daily basis. Along with the normal loss of hair comes dander. It is the dander that can aggravate allergies in humans. So to say that Westies are good for humans with allergies is untrue.
HEALTH – Most Westies are healthy and suffer few serious anomalies. However, as with most other breeds, there are certain health issues that are common to Westies. Some of these include atopic dermatitis, luxating patella, inflammatory bowel disease, pulmonary fibrosis, and Legg Calve Perthes disease. Purchasing a Westie from a responsible breeder who breeds for good health, temperament, and proper conformation in their line is the foundational prevention measure to insure a healthy longevity. However, knowing about breed specific health information will supply owners with facts they need to make the best health care choices for the Westie. Informed Westie owners are the best veterinary clients. Responsible, knowledgeable, and selective breeders will openly discuss health concerns.
TRAINING TIPS -- Most definitely a Westie needs structure and guidelines. While the breed’s intelligence and cleverness allow the Westie to learn quickly, these traits will also cause the Westie to become bored with the same training techniques repeated over and over again. Varying one’s training methods and using positive reinforcement will provide interesting stimulation and fun for both the Highlander and owner.
PRICE -- Puppy pricing varies from breeder to breeder, situation to situation. You will also find that the price varies from one region of the country to another. Price is not an arbitrary amount but rather one which can be based on factors such as the value of the pedigree, the reputation of the breeder, the qualities of the dam/sire, etc. Unlike the ads for a low priced Westie found in the newspaper or on the Internet, reputable breeders are highly selective in deciding which two Westies to breed to further improve their line and the breed as a whole. You are paying for that expertise and experience. Puppies from responsible breeders will cost more, but you will be saving money in the long run when compared to the health risks one may encounter when purchasing from venues that charge much less. Keep in mind that anything of quality is worth the price. Breeders who are breeding to better our Westies always take into consideration health, temperament, and conformation – not profit.
COMMITMENT – Before you make the decision to bring a Westie into your home, you must truly consider what it will mean to live with a Westie. You must be very prepared. You must have done your research and have your game plan fully thought out and ready to implement. You cannot expect a Westie pup or dog to be anything other than who they are. Either you will be prepared for what lies ahead or you will not. If you are not, the pup will pay the price. All of this is why we say, “The Westie is not for everyone.” We ask you to search your heart. We ask you to make an informed decision for you, your family, and your lifestyle. Remember, you are making an average 12-15+ year commitment to bring a Westie into your home, your family, and your heart.