The West Highland White Terrier (also known as “Westy”) is a small terrier with a strong build, deep chest and level back with the typical terrier attitude. It features a slightly domed head with a tapered muzzle and a distinct stop formed by heavy, bony ridges above the eye. More prominent facial features include a large black nose, medium sized dark eyes which are slightly deep-set and give a sharp piercing look. It also has bushy eyebrows and small, pointed and erect ears covered in velvety hair. A closely fitted jaw features a regular scissor bite with teeth that appear quite large for the dog’s size. The Westy has short, straight and muscular front legs covered in short, hard hair with short and muscular back legs. The breed’s front feet are larger than the hind feet but are practically in proportion with the dog’s size. They are thickly padded and covered with short harsh hair that acts as shock absorber during motion. The straight bushy tail is carried gaily and is about 5 to 6 inches (13 – 15 cm) long. It has a harsh, straight outer coat to protect the Westy from the harsh elements. A fine and soft undercoat acts as a protection during cold weather. Averaging two inches, the coat comes in pure white and is longer on the face.
All dog breeds have different levels of intellect. Some dog breeds; working dogs in particular, are very independent thinkers and have been evolved to be very intelligent. Typically, a highly intelligent dog does well in obedience training and other activities. A highly intelligent dog can be very demanding and do require lots of physical and mental stimulation. If you’re looking for a relatively laid-back dog, that doesn’t require lots of mental and physical stimulation, then you must fully understand the level of intelligence of your dog breed of choice.
Before committing to a certain dog breed, you must fully understand their intellect levels and their specific levels of energy. To keep your dog well-balanced and happy, their needs must be met and maintained.
All dog breeds have different needs when it comes to the level of exercise they require. For the high energy dogs; which are your typical working dogs, they have a lot of energy and require lots of daily exercise along with plenty of mental stimulation. A highly energetic dog breed would suit an individual or family that is equally as active and loves the outdoors. There are also breeds that have relatively low exercise needs, such as toy dog breeds. Although they require daily exercise and mental stimulation, they’re just as happy chilling at home with their loved ones. This type of dog breed would suit an individual or family that prefers the peace and quiet and relaxation.
Before deciding on your chosen dog breed, Mypetzilla recommends that you research the exercise needs and whether you’re well equipped before committing to buying or adopting a particular dog breed.
There are several dog breeds that are known and potentially predisposed to developing health related conditions. Sensible breeding can help prevent the onset of health related conditions and this should always be taken into condition when researching your dog breed of choice. Before committing to a dog, you should speak to the breeder about any health related conditions that may affect the dog you’re looking to buy or adopt. You can also request to see any test results from genetic testing.
There are many dog breeds that tolerate children really well and are not affected by the constant noise and need for play-time. However, there are some dog breeds that don’t do very well with children and can become frustrated and snappy. That being said, all children should be shown how to handle and care for a dog in their home and should always be supervised when playing. As much as a dog can become annoyed and snappy with a younger child, the child can also become less tolerant and misbehaved towards the dog.
Mypetzilla recommends that you always supervise play-time between your children and dog. Children need to respect the boundaries and feeding time for the dog and likewise for the child. We also strongly advise that play-time doesn’t get out of control and too rough which can cause injury to both child and dog.
There are lots of dog breeds that are well suited to living in an apartment. It’s worthwhile noting that you need to check that you’re allowed dogs in your building before committing to bringing one home. If you do decide to own a dog and are living in an apartment, then you must make sure that they have plenty of room to roam around and frequent walks outside to prevent them from becoming bored and depressed.
Mypetzilla recommends that you check as to whether you’re allowed dogs in your apartment building and to fully ensure your apartment is dog proof before committing fully to bringing a dog home.
All dog breeds shed to some extent, some more than others. With this, all potential dog owners should be aware of this, as it will be a matter of putting up with some hair or lots of hair being left around the house. Depending on the dog breed, there are certain times during the year where some dog breeds shed the most and this is typically around spring and autumn. However, there are some dog breeds that shed all year round.
If you’re very house-proud, they you may want to choose a dog breed that sheds very little. Mypetzilla strongly recommends that you fully research your dog breed of choice and their shedding levels before committing.
All dog breeds require different levels of grooming. Some dog breeds are easier to maintain than others and only require a weekly brush to help keep their coat in good condition. There are some dog breeds that require regular trips to the grooming parlour and this can come at a huge cost. Either way, all dog breeds require their coat and nails to be maintained and cared for.
Mypetzilla strongly advices that potential owners research the grooming needs and associated costs with their desired dog breed before fully committing.
Barking is a necessity for your dog to communicate. However, it can also be a nuisance to yourself and fellow neighbours if it’s not kept under control. If you live in an apartment, then you’re better off choosing a dog breed that doesn’t bark as much. If you live further out and far from civilisation, then it’s worthwhile looking into a dog breed that does bark and will bark to alert you of any other company on your property.
Mypetzilla advices that you research the behaviours of your dog breed of choice and whether this would work for you and your family. It’s worth noting that dogs can be trained to bark less and this will take a lot of effort and training from the owner.
Majority dog breeds form very close relationships with their owners and as a result can become very stressed when left alone for a period of time. If a dog is suffering with separation anxiety then they’re very likely to become destructive around the home as a way of dealing with their anxieties. Dog breeds that do form strong bonds with their owners are better accustomed to a household where one member of the family remains home, whilst the others are out, this is to help avoid further anxieties and destructive behaviours.
Mypetzilla recommends that all potential owners research their dog breed of choice on their bonding abilities and how well-adjusted they are to being left alone at home. It’s also worth noting that you should never leave your dog for longer than 4 hours alone at home.
There are certain dogs breeds that have very high intellect and therefore easier to train than other dog breeds. There is also a downside to this; as fast as they learn the new trick or command, they can easily pick up bad habits just as quick. Other dog breeds that don’t rank as high on the intellect scale require patience and plenty of reward treats from their owners during training.
Before committing to a certain dog breed, Mypetzilla advices you to fully research your dog breed of choice and their level of training needs.
All dog breeds have different energy levels. The working dog breed has one of the highest energy levels in comparison to the low-energy dog’s breeds such as the Toy dog breed group. To keep a dog truly happy, healthy and well-balanced, their energy levels must be met.
High-energy dog breeds need lots of exercise and mental stimulation. High energy dog breeds would suit an active family or person. Dog breeds that are considered as low-energy, love to spend the majority of their time relaxing and sleeping in their favourite, comfy spot. A low-energy dog breed would suit an individual that equally loves the quiet life and relaxing lifestyle. Of course, low-energy dogs still need their daily walks and mental stimulation, just not as much as a high-energy dog breed.
Mypetzilla recommends that potential owner research fully on the type of dog breed that would suit their existing lifestyle and to also take into consideration the dog breeds energy levels and exercise requirements.
Before you decide on what dog breed would be suitable for you and your family, you must consider whether they’re a friendly dog breed and if you already have other pets within the household. For homes that already have dogs and other domestic pets, then it’s wise to choose a dog breed that has a friendly personality and temperament.
There are some dog breeds that mix well with other dog breeds and there are others that don’t suit one another and this could potentially cause issues later on down the line.
Another important point to consider is whether the dog breed of choice is friendly towards people and children.
Mypetzilla recommends to research fully on the right dog breed for your family and to also consider their temperament and characteristics.
The West Highland white terrier is a result of a cross between the Cairn Terrier and the Scottish Terrier. Cairns occasionally produce white puppies naturally while the Scottish terrier occasionally whelped white offsprings. Over time, white coloured Bedlington Terrier and Dandie Dinmont Terrier were added to the mix but this practice generally halted during the 1850s. Credit goes to two Scottish gentlemen (Col. E.D. Malcolm and George J.D. Campbell, 8th Duke of Argyll) for working together in creating the breed in the 1800s in the region of western Scotland. The breed was developed to hunt fox, badgers and vermin. It’s white colour made it highly visible when hunting on the moors of Scotland which made it easily distinguishable from game animals. The breed held many other names before officially becoming the West Highland White Terrier in May 31, 1909, including Poltalloch, Roseneath, White Scottish, Little Skye and Cairn. Today, the Westy is a popular terrier in its native origin and has made a loyal following in other countries as well.
Like most terrier breeds, the Westy has plenty of attitude (or "spirit" as some might say) for a dog of its size. As a descendant of working terriers, it packs a lot of energy, tenacity and aggression towards its prey. It will respond with a growl or may even bite if irritated or provoked. Its natural alertness makes it a good candidate as a guard dog. This breed is very possessive of its belongings, including food.
Training the West Highland White Terrier should have positive reinforcements and responds best to a gentle and loving approach. Harsh training will only lead to stubbornness.
The harsh, straight coat is quite easy to maintain. A metal comb or a hard bristle brush should be used to groom the Westy on a regular basis, bathing only when necessary. The hair around the ears and eyes should also be trimmed when needed. This breed sheds little to no hair and should be trimmed quarterly or stripped every six months.
With an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years, the West Highland White Terrier is typically a long-lived breed. The breed usually has a conventional sleeping pattern similar to its human companions and loves taking several naps during the course of the day. There are however, some major health concerns that affect this breed which includes:
Minor concerns include cataracts and patellar luxation.
Foods that provide meat protein especially from poultry and lamb along with sources of carbohydrates such as potatoes, barley and wheat are ideal diet mix for this breed.
It has a high energy level and needs to be taken for regular walks or a session of play in an open but well-secured space. It can adapt quickly to any living environment, be it city or country living; very active indoors, it will do fine even in a house without a yard.
The West Highland White Terrier is a friendly breed. It goes well with older children, and thrives on lots of attention. They can also be be a great companion dog and generally gets along well with other animals that it grew up with but caution must be taken when introducing the breed to unfamiliar animals such as cats. It is a well-adapted breed which can easily adjust to new environments.