Here at the WHWTC of NE we are frequently contacted by people looking for a Westie puppy. Sometimes those looking for a puppy will state:
"I am not interested in breeding my puppy and I am not looking for a show dog or one with Champion lines. I just want a good family pet."
Below is our response.
By contacting local breed clubs to find a quality Westie you are taking a step in the right direction. You SHOULD want any potential puppy you might purchase to have Champion lines because that means the relatives of that puppy have been held and met a higher standard. For you, that means your puppy's parents have been screened for certain health problems that are known to the westie breed such as CMO, skin issues and temperament. You want your potential Westie to look and behave like a Westie should.
Backyard breeders, puppy mills, pet stores (this includes people that sell puppies over the internet without meeting you) do not participate in Conformation (dog shows) or other breed sports that Westies are known for (Earth Dog & Tracking). These people have no standard of measure and only care about making a profit. Their dogs end up in rescue. A QUALITY hobbyist breeder will take back any puppy over its lifetime, regardless of the circumstance. AKC papers being offered by backyard breeders are not worth lining a birdcage with because they do not have the goal of bettering the Westie breed overall!
A quality westie (or any breed puppy) will take time to locate. Anyone willing to sell you a puppy within a few weeks without meeting you or you meeting them is a red flag. A quality breeder will become a lifelong friend as well as a lifelong resource for you. We implore you to not purchase from a petshop or over the internet. These pups are from puppy mills.
Westies are not for everyone. We recommend that potential westie owners read the section entitled, “Is a West Highland White Terrier the Right Dog for You?” found on the Westie Club of America's page:
Westie Right For You
Westies are a very active and long-lived breed. Most people are unprepared for the energy and strong-willed nature of a Westie. Training your westie using positive reinforcement methods are a must. This means you should do your homework and find a quality training program near you. Westies do not do well being trained using aversive techniques. Be leery of trainers professing to use “balanced training” or “pack leader” methodology. To find qualified trainers check out:
You should meet each breeder and interview them. In turn, you should expect to be interviewed by the breeder as well. Be aware that most breeders have a waitlist for their puppies.
This may all seem like a lot of work but the effort will be well worth it. You will have a wonderful Westie companion for 12+ years. Good luck with your search!
Tracey Costa, CPDT-KA, CNWI
West Highland White Terrier Club of New England