A New Owner's Guide to West Highland White Terriers


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West Highland White Terriers are extremely popular. They are perhaps the best known of all the small terriers, and may attract novices because of this, and because of their undoubted cuteness and charm. This popularity among novices could be why they have a much higher than average chance of being killed in road traffic accidents, and a slightly higher than average chance of being euthanased for behavioural problems. If you are considering a Westie, and you just want a cute, active, charming white dog, maybe a Bichon Frise would suit you better! Westies are proper terriers, with all that implies. They are similar to Cairns, and are high-energy dogs which like chasing and digging, and can be very excitable. They are also very vocal, more vocal than Cairns, and are perhaps the barkiest of the terriers. Westies are a good choice if you know enough about training to teach house rules while they are pups, and if you don't mind the barking, and are able to control it. They often bark for attention, so owners need to be careful not to reward them for this. Westies are generally affectionate with their owners, and outgoing with strangers and other dogs. A well-trained West Highland White Terrier can be a very good companion for older children, because these dogs have so much energy, are affectionate, and enjoy attention from children. Younger children need careful supervision with Westies, so they don't try to manhandle these small dogs, or get them overexcited.

West Highland White Terriers do need to get out and about for a daily walk, or at the very least, have a daily session of active games in the garden, since they are an active breed. They are much less likely to annoy you by barking if they have had a good run, and are much easier to obedience train if they get enough exercise. Common health problems include skin disorders, and von Willebrands. Knee and hip trouble, liver disorders and seizures can also affect the breed, though they are generally long lived.

This is a very helpful guide for new owners, covering all stages, from choosing a pup to house training for pups and obedience training for pups and adults, and general care, including feeding and grooming. This edition is geared to US readers, but the breed has the same characteristics in both continents, as Westie owners will recognise.