West Highland White Terriers make adorable pets. These furry friends were bred to be fierce and hard-working dogs, but they’re also very loving and make for a great cuddle buddy! If you have a westie or are considering getting one, here are 10 facts about these little, fluffy companions. We should warn you though, after this list, you won’t be able to resist!
1. Their White Fur
These little snow-whites remained visible during hunts due to their white fur. Colonel Edward Donald Malcolm of Poltalloch, Scotland hunted with a pack of Cairn terriers and accidentally shot his favorite dog when he mistook it for a fox or rabbit. Since then, he consistently hunted with white dogs only, vowing not to make the same mistake again. So these pooches were bred until all offspring were white.
2. They Were Originally Working Dogs
West Highland Terriers were originally bred as working dogs in Northwestern Scotland. They used to clear out barns of rats and other vermin, as well as farms and mines. They would often be brought to hunt foxes and rabbits with hunters as they would scare them from their burrows. However, do not misconstrue them for aggressive beings, as they are very loving and friendly.
3. They Move Underground
Another reason they made great hunting companions was that Westies can fit through tight spaces; they could squeeze through underground spots and chase rodents, and their bodies are able to wriggle through tunnels. So if you consider a Westie as a pet, they will find tight, secluded areas in your home to wriggle into. But hey, more photo content for Instagram!
4. They Suffer from Separation Anxiety
These cuddly canines do suffer from severe separation anxiety, so helping them adapt to you leaving the house for work might be a prolonged event. A variety of soothing methods are recommended by fellow westie owners at westievibes.com to comfort your travel companion and make sure they feel as secure as possible. Music is known to help dogs relax so play some soothing melodies before bed. Don’t leave them in the house alone for long periods of time; instead, ease them into it by only leaving for an hour a day, and gradually extend your absence each time. Take this into account when traveling with your Westie, and throw in their favorite toy to soothe them on trips. Don’t fret though, with a consistent routine, your puppy will be cured of their anxiety and should be set to travel with you more frequently.
5. They Are Very Verbal
Our fluffy friends, as cute as they are, are also very alert. They will definitely communicate with loud barks when they spot a passing car or other animals. Being a loudmouth has its perks as hunters could hear them during hunts in case they got stuck or trapped somewhere. Don’t mistake their alertness for protection, though; they are not the ideal guard dog. They are very friendly, even with strangers, so your intruder and your Westie will most likely become acquaintances.
6. They Need More Training
All dogs need training, but Westies require a lot more than a Golden Retriever or Labrador. So if you are a first-time dog owner, perhaps a West Highland Terrier is not the best way to go just yet. These furry playmates are strong-willed and independent. If you are consistent, you could have one well trained within 6 months; however, you would have to be very diligent and have a lot of experience with dog training in your toolbox.
7. They Get Sunburn
Westies have less fur on their ears, so this part of their body is quite sensitive to sunburn. They may even require sunscreen before being exposed to heat. So if you plan to have a playdate on a sunny day, sunscreen is highly recommended.
8. They Are Hairy
Stating the obvious here, but your furry pooch will need regular haircuts. They have a double coat and will require frequent brushing. The topcoat sheds dirt they may have collected throughout the day, and the bottom coat keeps them warm. So in order to keep their coat white and clean, keep them well-groomed.
9. They Are Highly Playful and Intelligent
West Highland Terriers are little bundles of energy. They are happy to amuse you all day long and keep you busy with playful activities. Their busy bodies require downtime too, and they would also appreciate sitting on your lap and cuddling you all day on the couch. In addition to being quite hyper and active, Westies are also very clever. They tend to bark a lot to get your attention or ensure you meet their needs and will not hesitate to inform you of their requirements. It is vital you make sure your pup’s mind and body are stimulated, and they have their regular walks and exercise. Chew toys are also very beneficial to their health. These also keep them occupied and entertained. So post a schedule and a daily routine on your refrigerator to avoid your Westie’s needs becoming neglected.
10. Health Issues
Westies are generally very healthy dogs; however, they are susceptible to illnesses like all other dogs. They can be prone to Craniomandibular Osteopathy, which causes cranial bones to become malformed or suffer from Legg-Calve-Perthes disease which is inadequate blood flow around the femur, including Westie lung disease. So consistent visits to your veterinarian are a must. It is imperative to your Westie’s health that you stay on top of things. Consider enrolling in pet insurance to ensure your playmate enjoys a long, happy and healthy life.
So as you can tell, West Highland White Terriers are a great addition to your family. These smart, confident, and always entertaining dogs will charm their owners in a heartbeat. So if you can’t resist these adorable, little tykes then get one of your own. Many celebrities opt for this breed as they are easy to travel with and fill your home with lots of love and playfulness. Whether you are a single individual or have a family, this dog will fit right in, and they are a perfect pet for your children!