West Highland White Terriers

West Highland White Terriers

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Breed Notes:

The West Highland White Terrier, or "Westie," was developed from general rough-coated terrier stock with white coats during the 1800s when a sportsman, Colonel Malcolm of Polltalloch shot his favorite dark-colored terrier by accident. They were known for awhile as Polltalloch Terriers. Later they were called Roseneath Terriers after the name of the Scottish estate of the Duke of Argyll who was another fancier. In the late 1800s, they were called White Scottish Terriers. They were first classified as West Highland White Terriers in 1904.
The Westie is a terrier with lots of energy and spirit. He doesn't go much for cuddling. He is a hardy dog, devoted and happy-go-lucky. He is a true terrier in his tendencies to dig, strut and bark alarms about intruders. He is a hardy and tenacious dog. He is a fine family pet but tends not to get along with other pets. He requires regular grooming as his coat sheds more or less continuously. He has no "doggy" odor.
The Westie's skull is not too broad but in proportion with his powerful jaws. The teeth are even. The skull is slightly domed and gradually tapers to the eyes. The eyebrows are heavy. The length of muzzle should equal the length of skull. The nose is black. His ears are small and sharp pointed, carried erect. The eyes are of moderate size and dark as possible. They are set wide apart. The roof of the mouth and pads of the feet are usually black in color. He has a deep chest with straight, short, powerful legs. His coat is about two inches in length and white in color. There is a soft, short undercoat. The tail is five to six inches in length, straight and carried gaily. Height at the withers is between ten and eleven inches. Weight is between fifteen and twenty-two pounds.

barbie-b@shaw.ca of British Columbia writes:

A loving and loyal little companion &shyp; a heartbeat at your feet.
My husband and I have had the honour of sharing our home with three Westies over the last twenty years. We had two females and one male. We just lost our last one and are still feeling a lot of grief. For fifteen years she was my sweet and faithful little friend and it would not have been possible for me to adore her more. She was fearless - never seeming to realize that she was a small dog. She loved unconditionally, and contrary to other summaries I have read, she was not at all finicky and there was no problem housebreaking her. She had nice manners, but she was definitely a terrier - headstrong! However, I am headstrong too, and we generally managed to compromise. We took our Westies on long hikes, camping, etc., and I don't think our dogs ever snapped at anyone in their lives. The love that you are willing to give a Westie is usually about what you get back from them ... treat them well and they are the sweetest little doggies in the world. I will definitely get another, as I can't bear to be without a Westie.

gss@atlassys.com of Lee's Summit, MO writes:

Loyalty plus and a wonderful loving companion &shyp; just remember this is a TERRIER.
My little Westie has been gone now for four years and not a day goes by I don't think of him, even though I have several other dogs still around. Wouldn't have missed owning this little guy for any amount of money! He was an awesome little companion. Full of energy, loved to take walks, chase a ball, birds, squirrels or anything he thought he could tackle in the backyard and believe me if I had an alligator back there he would have tried to tackle it too! He had no fear for his small size. A wonderful size for apartment dwellers or homeowners. Small enough he could be easily picked up and carried, yet large enough he could get up and down steps with no problem. He had a wonderfully curious spirit and so sensitive to his owner's emotions. There were several times in his VERY LONG LIFE of eighteen years that when life caused me to shed a few tears he would jump up in my lap and lick them from my face to make things better. I would certainly recommend this breed to anyone looking for a perfect sized house pet.
Mine did well with my children and loved all the neighborhood kids as well. He absolutely loved going to obedience school and was quick to learn. If you want that perky little Westie look be prepared to do a substantial amount of regular trimming and grooming. If you like his natural rugged look, then the grooming is cut down to that of only a good bath and brushing on a regular basis. He was cute either way. My little guy did have skin allergies all his life and hot spots seemed to be a consistent problem. When you get a Westie puppy, be prepared for a little creature that definitely has his own mind and a tremendous amount of pent up energy that can end up in some destruction now and then. As they mature the companionship grows stronger and they become more and more attached to their humans. They love to be talked to and can carry on a conversation just with their eyes.
Be prepared to have your Westie for many enjoyable years. My little trooper was totally blind and deaf in his later years, but his strong will and love of life kept him going by sniffing out the family members and following the walls until he got to where we were and tapped us on the leg to let us know he was there, then as we moved throughout the house, he would follow bump our legs and follow with us. He never became cranky or grumpy as he began losing his eyesight and hearing and we actually had to learn to be more tolerant with his handicaps than he did. It was sad to see the years take their toll on this once bouncey little buddy ... finally at age seventeen he began sleeping more and more and because he couldn't hear slept almost like in a coma and would become startled a little when we had to wake him up to eat or go outside. The last few years he wore a sweater almost constantly, just like little old people do. Finally, reality set in and as he was sleeping 20 out of 24 hours and appeared to be suffering with some kind of internal pain, I had to be merciful and send my little friend to the place where pain and old age of this world become a thing of the past. I didn't want him to die alone waiting for me to return home from work and I couldn't help the pain anymore ... so just a few months before his eighteenth birthday I held my little guy in my arms and said goodbye. And even with that, that little trooper continued to breathe for 20 more minutes, but this time he was not shivering in pain. It had been replaced by such a deep sleep from the euthanization drug that he even started snoring. I knew when the shivering from pain had subsided I had done the right thing ... I set his spirit free and he in returned told me in those last moments that he loved life with me too and really didn't want to leave either, but it was better on the other side. I tell you this to show you the devotion these little guys carry for their owners, even in the final hours.
He is gone, but will never be forgotten and his cremains will be placed in my casket when it is my time, never to be parted again. Yes, I certainly recommend this breed to anyone who will take the time to understand the breed characteristics and talk to other Westie owners. But DO REMEMBER: a
Terrier has no fear and are hunters by nature and a have a tremendous amount of energy and determination in anything they put their mind to, AND WESTIES ARE TERRIERS. If you can remember that you'll have a wonderful long life together. Thank you Spanky for sharing your life with me - you are still on my mind and forever in my heart.

Name withheld by request of Kansas City, MO writes:

The most wonderful, loyal companion.
My husband and I adopted our Westie from a shelter when he was nine months old and what a wonderful dog we had. He was with us for thirteen years and was a never-ending source of joy. When we got him, he was potty trained and only messed in our house once. He was very smart and very easy to train. He won over the hearts of many who weren't sure about dogs. When he was about nine years old, he started having problems with his joints, soon turning into arthritis. Shark cartilage worked for awhile and then we started him on low doses of Rimadyl, which worked very well and kept him comfortable for about three years. The downside of Rimadyl is the side effect of liver function. We had to put him to sleep in January 2003 and miss him terribly.
I would highly recommend this breed, but I agree with one of the other reviews: Westies are not good with other dogs. We introduced a Beagle into our home seven years ago, not that it was a mistake, we just didn't have all the information on Westies and other dogs. They did get along ... our Beagle just loved "Luigi" and followed him everywhere!
Just a comment to those people who wrote such scathing reviews of their Westies. I certainly hope that you found loving homes for your dogs and didn't keep them. I can't imagine the dogs staying in such a hostile home. If they behaved so badly, how did you treat them? Dogs behave in a manner that they are treated. I hope in the future that you think twice about any kind of pet and how you treat them.

Brendafitz@hotmail.com of U.S. writes:

Playful, energetic enthusiasm.
We have a nine-month-old male Westie. Never had a Terrier before, always had female Welsh Corgis. I love this affectionate, cuddly little man and he's the most fastidious dog I've ever owned, although it took three months of totally intense training to get the housebreaking done. He's very serious and demanding about his playtime which is okay because he definitely makes me smile (a lot). He's not very obedient so I cannot walk him without a leash or let him loose at the park &shyp; too many distractions and squirrels. He bickers with my thirteen-year-old female Corgi and chases my fat cat. I love having him around because of his playful, energetic enthusiasm.


The best dogs.
My Westie is intelligent, independent, has personality, and is a great guard dog. And she loves to socialize with other animals (and humans). As most Westie owners will tell you, they'll challenge your authority, so you'll have to let them know who's the boss. They also like to chase after small rodents. So don't let them run unattended, or you may not hear back from them. Last but not least, they're excellent for your mental health. I'll bet there are many Westie owners who will attest to how great it is to have a Westie greet you after a hard day dealing with the human race. They're always excited to see you no matter what kind of day you've had. Westies thrive best in a home where the owners have the time and energy to care for them. In exchange, you'll get the same back from them in unlimited ways. I suppose I haven't said anything that most other Westie owners don't already know.

Name withheld by request of Indiana writes:

The most "human like" of any dog breed.
First, whoever said these dogs are not fond of snuggling is completely nuts! Most Terrier breeds exist for one purpose: to love and be loved! Our six-year-old female is the most affectionate dog I've ever seen. She is our second Westie, and I wouldn't have any other (save possibly for a Cairn, which is much the same dog, only different in color and slightly smaller). Westies are so perceptive and so quick to offer solace and love when needed by their owners. They are smart as whips, loving to a fault, and need little daily care; weekly, thorough brushings and a once every-other-month trip to the groomers does the trick. If you want a friend for his or her life, and memories that will last as long as you live, get yourself a wonderful Westie!

Name withheld by request of Tallmadge, OH writes:

Adorable, but watch out!
I had the most adorable male Westie for five years. Lively, affectionate, comical, but ultimately needy and dominating beyond belief. I got him from a backyard breeder, which might explain his temperament problems: tough to housebreak, snappy at kids, barked too much and ran down the street every chance he got. When my first child was born, the dog was one year old and never adjusted to being dethroned. He tried to reclaim me by urinating on my bathrobe which had fallen off the bed, and later by urinating on my side of the bed. Disgusting! The final straw was his refusal to stop having "accidents" in the house. I cannot tolerate this. He was taken to a shelter with a no-kill policy and adopted by a retired widow. I like to think that both the dog and the lady are having a great time doting on each other. The dog clearly wanted to be the center of someone's life!

slasks@optonline.net of New Jersey writes:

Good dogs, but know what to expect from a Westie.
We have had our male Westie for six months now. We got him mainly for our kids. Westies are of course, Terriers, and being so exhibit behaviors typical of Terriers: They like to chase rodents, and small animals. They have an exaggerated high opinion of themselves. Ours is feisty with other dogs, not afraid of any sized breed. They do not make good lap dogs, they get claustrophobic if held for too long. They like your company, but at arm's length after an initial greeting. Ours is great with kids, sturdy and strong for their size. We have had some negatives, such as an occasional accident (poop on the rug) in the house. Also, they are especially prone to skin disorders and allergies. Would I recommend a Westie? It all depends on what you are looking for in a dog. Generally, they are easy to care for because of their diminutive size alone. They are so darn cute, it makes them worth the small amount of trouble they cause.

Name withheld by request of U.S. writes:

Do not buy a Westie unless you can devote half your day to caring for them.
My husband and I bought a Westie over a year ago and thought he was the cutest thing in the world. It took a while to housebreak him, about three months; we also have a Lab, and it only took him three weeks to be housebroken. The Westie is a very finicky eater, barks at every little noise, and if it doesn't think it is getting the proper attention, will poop in our house. He is also a very nervous dog, and makes himself throw up about twice a week. This dog is very neurotic, we didn't do anything different with him that we didn't do with our Lab, and the Lab is the best behaved dog. The Westie also likes to chew on things in our house, and although I saw on some websites where the Westie doesn't have an odor, wrong. I will never buy another Westie, it is too much of a hassle for such a small dog.

Name withheld by request of England writes:

Brilliant little characters.
I am owned by two male Westies and and I would never have another breed. They really are the everything-in-one-small-package even though they think they are a larger package! Both of mine however are opposites. One is a TV addict, the other never even looked at the TV. One is a fussy eater, the other will eat anything and everything. One never leaves my side when out walking, the other loves nothing better than to go off chasing rabbits, etc. One loves the water, the other hates it. One is a great guard dog, the other never barks. Both however are extremely loving and extremely funny. They never cease to make me and others laugh. They are just great characters and extremely intelligent (sometimes too intelligent I often joke!). I won't say they are the easiest dogs to train &shyp; they love nothing better than to rule the roost if you'll let them, but with kindness and persistence you really will have the greatest dog who will give you no end of laughs and love.

jacquie@guarriello.net of Pennsylvania writes:

The absolute best dog!
I've had my little guy for eight years and he is the sweetest, most wonderful dog. He was easy to housebreak and very obedient. We had two young daughters (two and five years old) when we got him and despite what is said about these dogs not being good around young children ours was great. Westies need a lot of attention and love to run and play. Ours sleeps all day now, gets frisky in the evening and wants to play. When he's ready to play he definitely lets us know and will not give up until he gets his way. Our dog did have some health problems develop after we got him. At five months he developed cranio-mandibular osteopathy, a hereditary disease that if left untreated can be fatal. Luckily our vet recognized the symptoms early and treated our pup. Once treated, the disease goes away and there are no signs of it ever again. Also, our Westie developed skin allergies, which is an ongoing problem for us, but we have been able to keep the problem fairly controlled with diet, vitamins, oatmeal baths and occassionally antihistamines. Even with his allergy problem, I wouldn't trade him for the world. We have had two different friends of our family get Westies after they met our little guy because they liked him so much. Both of these dogs have the same personality and temperament that ours has. One last thing, these dogs love to chase small rodents like rabbits and squirrels, and ours on occassion has caught a few. I would recommend a fenced in yard because Westies are fast runners and once they get chasing a rodent they are on a mission and will keep going until the chase is over.

msc1954@aol.com of California writes:

The clown princes of dogdom.
Anybody who has ever had the pleasure of Westie ownership will tell you that these dogs love to put on a show. If you've been to a dog show and watched these guys come in the ring, they should be playing "Send in the Clowns." My dogs were easy to train. They knew exactly when I wanted to go out for a walk.

targirl38@excite.com of Fond du Lac, WI writes:

Loving, kind, gentle, and smart.
We adopted a seven-year-old Westie from an animal shelter. He is the light of our life. He is my pal and follows me wherever I go. We have a fenced in yard but two times already he decided to take himself for a walk and both times we were lucky to get him back. Westies are very smart dogs. He's great with kids! We have two girls who are eight and eleven, he loved them the first day he saw them. He loves other animals. He is not a barker. We cannot leave food where he can get it because he will eat whatever it is. They are great pets for people with allergies.

Name withheld by request of Indiana writes:

My two-year-old Westie is the best dog in the world! Everyone in our neighborhood loves her. She's affectionate, very energetic, and downright hilarious. I've only seen one review that didn't rave about this breed.
My Westie does have her faults, though. She's definitely a barker. She'll find any reason to bark, and she sounds so "professional," but all she wants to do is play! She's also crazy about squirrels, and would do ANYTHING to get her paws on one. It took awhile for us to completely potty train her, but she knows when she's been bad, and will get in your face to tell you she's sorry.

lloydlevy@worthington-levy.com of San Jose, CA writes:

My little buddy with the big attitude.
I've just said farewell to my wonderful, feisty, loving little soul mate, my first Westie. I can't tell if there will be another, because he was so special. He was taken from us by diabetes at age eleven, but that is just a short ending to a long and eventful life that filled mine with laughter and love. He was, like many Westies, extremely alert. As a five-week-old puppy, he looked right at us as if to say, "I'm the guy in charge here." The vet commented how alert he was at seven weeks when we took him in, and throughout his life, people admired how he always seemed to be part of the dialogue.
He would also stare at people who were new or different. It would be so embarrassing, he'd see an older person shuffling, or a baby in a carriage, and stand there transfixed in wonder. I have a design studio and the parade of people who came through became his best friends and biggest fans. Each had an "aunt" or "uncle" name, and he would hear their cars pull up, stand at the window with his paws on the sill and begin a "wwooooo wooooo wooooo" with excitement with each visit.
Westies are not the perfect breed, but he was just about the most perfect doggie for us. He was non-shedding, lovely for me because I am allergic. We had very few children in the house and had none of our own, so I can't say that he was good with them.
He was happiest when "the whole pack" was together in the same room. He was crate trained but eventually ended up in a little bed in our room. Don't expect a Westie to be a good bed companion, if you want to get a good night's sleep &shyp; they are up and down all night, alert to the sounds outside and in. But their own bed makes a perfect spot for them to relax and not disturb you.
Our Westie was very smart. In fact, at times it was exasperating how he would challenge us. You could see his "WHY do I have to do that now?" look on his little face.
He was also a great howler. He would get a faraway look on his face when he heard a siren, and start a small, scratchy wwwwwwoooooo ... then soon he would be howling a big OOOWWWWWWWWOOOOOOO that befitted a dog many times his poundage. Call of the wild in such a little creature. A big dog trapped inside a small dog's body. He could make me laugh until tears poured down my face. But then he was also capable of great love and sweetness. He and I spent a lot of time together and we seemed to read each other's minds at times. A real soul mate. He would roll and play with me, and was easy to train to do all kinds of tricks, a really fun little buddy.
As he grew older he continued to look very young and active, but became a little shorter of temperament and one day bit our housekeeper ... we think it may have been a territorial conflict regarding the vacuum. But after that, he was never left alone with any guest. Still, one could not believe it happened &shyp; he was all smiles, greeting people at the door and announcing their arrival with gusto.
He would have lived to fifteen if not for the diabetes, but even in that, he put up with the shots, the tests, the handling again and again ... he was exceptionally brave and tough, admired by the vets who tried to help us, and loved by all his aunts and uncles &shyp; and by us, his mom and dad. I will never forget this wonderful and dear friend. I hope for any reader of this statement, that you someday have a doggie in your life who enriches it with as much love and laughter as mine did.

RbrtWoj@AOL.com of Michigan writes:

The best dog.
A dog with energy, kindness, and an ability to learn. Makes any other dog look like chopped liver!

Jackpie@aol.com of Brunswick, OH writes:

What a character.
My wife and I brought our Westie home at eight weeks old. She took to her new home immediately. It was like she had always been here. Strong, sound personality and smart. She remembers most things very well, although she tends to have selective hearing at times. She is now twenty weeks old and is 99 percent housebroken. Loves to play, and responds to commands fairly well. Loves to puppy chew, but knows not to as when she is told to not bite, she stops immediately until she thinks it's safe to start again; only with us, though. She loves people and is very good at listening to come, sit, etc. Very smart and healthy dog. Lives life to the fullest every waking moment. She loves water. We set up a small wading pool in the backyard and she has a blast. Does make for added grooming, but we love to watch her have fun. The liveliest and most alert, fun loving dog we have ever had. She will be a great companion for years to come. We love her.

ellie_120@hotmail.com of Los Angeles, CA writes:

Westies rule!
I adopted a Westie three months ago and it has been a joy to have her. She has such a wonderful personality, and can cheer me up just by looking at me with her big brown eyes! She has become a major part of my life and i can't imagine it without her. Westies are the most wonderful breed of dog.

Name withheld by request of Chicago, IL writes:

Excellent little dogs in a big dog's body.
Westies are the best dogs for a family. They are little and compact yet extremely cute. They love kids. They also make great dogs for people who work or live by themselves. The only drawbacks are they can bark when bored but can be easily trained not to; they generally do not go looking for a way out of the yard but they may dig.

spellboundhouse@aol.com of Midland, MI writes:

Wonderful dog.
Our Westie was eight weeks old when we brought him home. He is very lovable, cuddly and so calm for a young puppy. He holds still on my lap for me to trim the hair from the bottom of his foot pads, and to cut little snips of the hair (that grows overnight!) next to his eyes. We bought him from a reputable breeder and did a lot of research on the Westie before we made our decision. We have a fenced backyard for him to play in. He would run tirelessly around the yard taking nips of my hosta plants and then running away with a big leaf in his mouth. He thinks it is great fun for me to take it away from him. He is not yet four months old so I do limit the amount of running in the yard &shyp; until he is older and has stronger bones. I will be taking him to a FUNdamentals training class and am looking forward to many years with our little one.

discobabe_87@hotmail.com of Melbourne, Australia writes:

Best type of dogs in the world.
West Highland White Terriers are the ultimate companion. They comfort you when you feel down, and when you feel happy they will undoubtedly join you while you bound around on cloud nine. Those who say they are stupid little foot dogs should look at them more closely and realise the absolute joy of owning a gorgeous dog with such a personality.

Name withheld by request of California writes:

A big dog in a little body; loving and needs training early on.
I have never seen a cuter puppy in all my life! I bought my Westie at eight weeks old after falling in love with him. As a puppy he ate weird things like leaves, bark, cat poop (which he still loves, yuk!). I should have spent more time training him as a youngster (to come when called and not to bark) although all in all he's pretty well behaved now. His negatives are his love of barking in the backyard, cat chasing (he got along fine with our two cats, though) and making mad dashes out the front door at any opportunity. Luckily he always comes back but has had some close calls with cars. He is also itchy, itchy, itchy! I keep him groomed and use monthly flea protector on him. He was easy to house-train and isn't stinky. You wouldn't be able to smell that we have a dog. He doesn't chew things up or have any other bad habits. He is exceptionally friendly to all people and most other dogs. He never barks at anyone except to "talk" to them and say, "Hi, hi, pet me, pet me." He'd make a terrible guard dog, which is fine since he is solely a companion. He tolerates my two young boys quite well but doesn't like to take orders from children. He will snap if he is hurt, but has never bitten. He is hardy and will hike and camp and swim just like the "big boys." As a companion he is truly loving and senses how I'm feeling. He hates to sleep alone and can be found in one bed or another through the night. At this time my Westie is almost seven years old. He is sitting at my feet as I write this. I wouldn't trade him for any other and look forward to lots of years ahead!

Name withheld by request of Finland writes:

Simply the best.
We are the proud owners of two Westies, aged nine and thirteen. From day one with both of the lads they have shown us nothing but total companionship. It's common sense that you have to train dogs to know right and wrong; these dogs have a great understanding of their environment. Westies are great characters, full of fun and friendly. They have made our lives better.

jsls@centurytel.net writes on 4/24/01:

One of a kind breed.
A Westie can be a soul mate and perfect pet (ours was), or a temperamental pain (like our neighbor's). It all depends on the time and training during the critical 1st year. In our Westie's 13 year life, she NEVER bit or nipped at anyone, attacked another dog, or chewed anything up. What's more, she never barked or wandered off our unfenced two acre property (after training with a shock collar at three and six months). And no dog will become a more active part of your everyday life - if allowed to - than a Westie.
Nonetheless, we would not recommend a Westie as a 1st dog, or if you have to leave it unattended for over eight hours/day during the first year. It won't get the attention it needs, or that all-important training. If the owner doesn't train a Westie, the Westie will train the owner (and trust us -- you WON'T be alpha-dog in that case).
Our 13yr old Westie died last year from medical problems. She was like a child to us, and remained active and eager-to-please right up to her final breath. At first, we decided to buy a different breed, because no pet could match her qualities, and our expectations might be too high (we've had three dogs now). Then, we finally realized we couldn't get anything but a Westie... because of the 5-star characteristics that make this breed so special.

june.case@medelainc.com writes on 2/13/01:

Westies rule!
I've read a number of reviews about this breed where owners indicated their Westies were independent, self-absorbed, non-cuddling, non-lap or dumb dogs. I don't think they are writing about the same breed I own! I have lived with mine for over 11 years and you couldn't ask for a more loving, affectionate, cuddle-loving lap dog! But more important, she gets along with small kids (unless they've crossed the line and hurt her, in which case she is allowed to voice a warning growl), other pets - she lived with my miniature Poodle for the last 10 years of his 20 year life and guarded and watched over him during the last 5 when he was deaf and blind. I can't think of a better dog for a family. I think it's all in the bonding and training of the puppy. When I first got Westie, I had my own usiness, so to make sure her training was done right, I brought her to the office every day for 6 months. She lived in a cardboard box (when office staff and visitors weren't playing with her), where she affectionately greeted everyone who came to the office. Employees in the office vied for turns to take her for a walk! It was evident that she loved people right from the beginning. She also trained beautifully. I think Westies are one of the more intelligent breeds. I almost think she understands the words I say. She also is capable of reading your facial expressions, movements and watches what you are doing. She can figure out when it's time to go for a walk, or a ride in the car...or a trip to the vet, etc. She is a lover. At the end of the day when I finally get to sit down and read or watch TV, she will not be satisfied until she can snuggle up along side me in the chair and she will stay there until I get up. I think I could die in that chair and she would just continue to sit there with me!! I take long car trips (+1000 miles at a time) which she just takes in stride. Loves to sit on the center armrest and watch the world go by! She's a great watchdog, too. Barks to alert me...but she doesn't overdo. She's obedient, loyal, loving, intelligent. She loves to play and can tell the difference between her toys. She loves soft, cuddly ones and will fetch her "bear" or "pig" or "tiger" when you tell her which toy to fetch. She loves to be chased, even tho she's getting a little old now. Tug of war is one of her favorites and she has the jaw power to hold her own weight when she hangs on to the toy! She's definitely not a wimp. She does have a high opinion of herself, which I think is one of the endearing characteristics of the breed. I like dogs who carry themselves with dignity and confidence. Westies certainly do that. Of course, a lot of that has to do with how they are trained and respected by their owners! My experience with her has been so great that I will soon be getting a new little Westie to keep Misty and me company. I am sure we will all get along fine because she is that kind of dog. She allows everyone their own space, as long as you make sure that you recognize her "alpha" dog status in the family. The only problem we have ever had is a skin condition that I have heard is prevalent among Westies. It only happens in the late summer, when the weather is turning cool and the grass gets very dewy, with fungus or mold buildup. She loses patches of fur - sometimes just a little spot, sometimes in several larger spots. The drier the Fall weather, the less she is affected. Nothing seems to help the hair loss. I have found that shampoo & lotions to relieve itching help. Misty can't take the benedryl type of pill - she gets an upset stomach - but I've also heard that this medication can help some dogs with the itching. I have also heard from my vet there is a series of shots that help the condition and we'll probably try that this fall. I don't know whether that treatment stops the fur loss, however. I would recommend the Westie to anyone who wants a companion for them or their family, and likes a dog with a large degree of personality and intelligence. The Westie won't be ignored but they are so darned cute ... who could or would want to ignore them anyway!

Name withheld by request of Pittsburgh, PA writes on 12/27/00:

Cheerful, independent thinkers who love their play time!
I have only owned one Westie in my life - so my review is limited to my experiences with this one dog. I found her when she was two years old and she has become a soul mate for me (my husband graciously shares this title with this wonderful dog!). I gave the Westie a rating of four stars instead of five because they are true terriers in their independence. So many people who want dogs, want a dog who will "obey." Well, I do competitive agility with my (12 years old and still winning classes) dog, and I never quite know what to expect! Sometimes she's a blue ribbon winner with a record course time....and sometimes she just decides to take a quick detour to see what's going on outside of the course ring! VERY fun, funny, and...unpredictable! Many reviews recommend a fenced yard....this is a must, unless you tie up your dog when he or she is out.
Like most terriers, mine has the heart of a lion. NOTHING is too big for her to "correct." We use her at our dog training site to help teach the bigger and more boisterous pups some manners. They like to paw her (becuase she's small), but she NEVER tolerates this and she always makes an appropriate (LOUD and forceful, but never any teeth) correction. She's a great puppy instructor! My Westie shares her home with another dog and four cats. While she isn't a "cuddle partner" with any of these other animals, she tolerates all of them. With me, however, she is as much a cuddler as I ever could have dreamed of!!! In the house, she's never more than a couple of feet away from me. Outside ... she's off to see the world! Have fun, work at that obedience....but don't expect a working dog's attention every time - Westies have too many other things to do, explore, sniff, dig, and otherwise get into! I do therapy work with this wonderful pup and she's the talk of the town each time I go to the hospital. Her good humor, the MANY tricks she performs, and her absolutely charming patience with those who want to pet her are wonderful.

shea127@hotmail.com of New Jersey writes on 12/22/00:

Smart, sneaky, fun, and protective.
I've had my Westie for 8 years now. When he was a puppy he had some aggresion problems. He would growl a good deal, and once bit a plumber that came into the house, who luckily for us left it at that. My Westie is truely my best freind, and there is no doubt in my mind that he can read my mind. The problem is ... he is very protective of "his" things. For example,
his bed and his food and water bowls. The biggest mistake one could make is to touch his bed while he's on it. He'll start growling, and probably bite if you keep it up. He is the same way with most things similar to his bed, like a pillow or cusion he takes over. Last Chrismas he got a present, and when my father went to pick it up, he growled (the dog, not my father) and bit his hand, creating quite a large pucture wound. Don't get me wrong, when your not touching his bed, or picking him up in a strange way he's an angel. He has more personality than some people I know. The same is true with the amount of English he understands. He was not very difficult to train, as long as you use the right reward. I think he would answer the phone if the treat was right. As of now he sits, lies down, plays dead when you hold your hand in a gun position and say "bang!", he stands up on his hind legs and walks around, waves with either paw, shakes, speaks (quite well), and rolls over. He moans when he wants something, I think he's trying to imatate the sounds he hears us humans make, he's getting better with age. Things he hates with a passion(so be careful): The freezer when it's making ice, the vacum, tape measurers, and my sisters feet. My suggesion would be not to get a terrier with very young kids.

dadjc92@aol.com of Peoria, IL writes on 12/3/00:

Great family dog and companion.
We have had other breeds and became the owners of a West Highland Terrier about 11 years ago. I can honestly say that this breed is by far the best dog we have ever had. Our Westie, will be twelve in January and is still very active. He tolerates visiting dogs and has never nipped or become agitated with visiting children or dogs. I don't think there is a mean bone is his body. In fact he loves to run and play with visitors. I have read that Westies are not "lap dogs" and do not like to be cuddled. I have found this not to be true. He loves to be with us and especially loves to be in my lap or beside my husband. I have also read where barking is a problem characteristic of a Westie. Again, I find this not true. He will bark but has learned when to stop. So, I feel it all comes down to training. It is up to the 'owners' to determine the behavior of a Westie. And, they are very intelligent. Even in our dog's advancing age he is still learning. For anyone looking for an all around good family dog I would highly recommend a Westie. Our Westie is not a "dog," he is part of our family. He LOVES people and loves all the attention he gets.

jade_c_davies@optusnet.com.au of NSW Australia writes on 11/21/00:

A pet with personality.
I have had my Westie for 2 months, and in that time she has become the most adored pet we have ever had. Every morning she will wake me up at 6.30am, she goes to the toilet and then she waits at the door so that she can run up to hall to wake up me family. She sees this as her job and loves the attention and cuddles that she gets in the morning. I thought that I was really lucky to have an animal with such personality, but it seems that every Westie owner is just as lucky as me, but they all have this fanatasic and playful nature, and it really brightens your day, and life. She has been easy to train, so far. As she has gone to Puppy Pre-school (obidence training) and has begun to socialise and play with other puppies. Emelda, my pup, can come when called, sit, drop, wait and fetch. Each time something like occurs, she expects her reward - cuddles or food. When she looks at me with her loving eyes, I want to melt. I cant believe that this she can bring so much joy. I would recommend a Westie to anyone who wants a pet with personality!

mvmswestwood@hotmail.com of England writes on 10/12/00:

Intellignet, lively, obedient, nosy, friendly, loveable.
Our Westie is the love of our lives. He is so loveable and intelligent, we have to spell out words like walk, lead and car. He know everything we say and we are greeted every morning with loads of kisses. His one failing is that he has to sniff every person or parcel that arrives in the house, including the shopping basket, he is so nosey. We thought aboout getting another Westie, but decided against it, as we love him as he is, and don't want him to change in any way. He groans and moans and sometimes growls if he doesn't get his own way, but still licks us and loves us through it all. Have you ever heard a dog growl while he is licking you? He does.

MMCL1@eircom.net of Tipperary, Ireland writes on 10/5/00:

Westies rule!
My Westie is,I am fairly sure, a person trapped in a terriers body. She had an eventful life so far! At 9 months, it became apparent that a limp in her left hind leg was a hip-joint disease called legge perths (not peculier to the breed, any small dog can get it at this age) and her hip joint had to be surgically removed. This made no difference to our girl, she continued to enjoy being wheeled around in my kid sisters doll buggy, and takes the tea parties alot better than your average teddy! A few months later,Mindy got a stomach bug,or so we thought.It turned out that in her somewhat unusual love of fruit, she had actually managed to swallow a peach stone which lodged in her stomach.This life threatening condition was solved by more surgery!
So you want a Westie - be prepared! These wonderful creatures create havoc where ever they go. They fully believe that they rule everything and everyone, and this self belief makes them what they are - the best. Your role is simply to let yourself become totally in love with them, to boost their egos when that kitten just isnt scared anymore and finally to be the recipiants of their endless and boundless love. Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention that in my experience, the Westie is an avid t.v. fan (Mindys favourites include wildlife documentaries,action movies and dog or cat food adds) and will always hold one thing dearer than you ... chocolate!

cpredick@home.com of Arlington Heights, IL writes on 6/29/00:

Independent, energetic, dog trains owner.
I have had my Westie for 14 years. He has FINALLY slowed down. He (not unlike other Westies I have met), does what he wants to do, and "minds" if it doesn't interrupt his agenda. He has become a one owner dog, but still loves the other members of the family. He is jealous of my attention to my (adult) children, and will bark to bring it back to him. Westies tend to play "keep away" rather than "fetch". They love a good chase, and never tire out. It is very helpful to have a fenced in yard as they will wander and not necessarily return home. I find them easier with older children who understand how to treat a dog. They do not put up with the torment of small children. They may nip, but would prefer to leave the area and avoid the tormentor. They are a great size for a house dog; not very big, but not easily stepped on. They are clean if kept groomed and wonderful for people with allergies. No one who has complained about being allergic to dogs have had any trouble around my Westie.

Name withheld by request of Brookly, NY writes on 4/14/00:

Smart, sturdy, compact, full of spirit!
The West Highland White Terrier, or the Westie is a great dog, who is devoted on making you happy second to himself. He is full of life and happy to be with you. I have had my Westie for 6 years now and he never does he bring a dull moment! These dogs love to run around outside, lay in the sun, fetch a ball for you or jus sit on the couch and watch television. This breed is independent and knows how to do things for itself. It requires little grooming and i generaly a healthy breed. This is an ideal dog for a family or just on person. I love getting up in the morning knowing im going to go down stairs and see my westie happy and thrilled im in his presence at 6:00am, with his tail wagging from side to side. I would recommend this dog to anybody who wants a layal devoted fun-loving companion.

a029485t@bc.seflin.org of U.S. writes on 1/16/00:

Intelligent, adorable and loving dogs!
Westies are one of the greatest dogs! They are very sweet adorable and extremely intelligent. I adopted my first Westie 6 years ago, and they have become my favorite breed since. Westies are not one of the best guard dogs because they greet and kiss practically everyone they see! Like most dogs, they don't get along with the same gender too well. Even though they are Terriers, and Terriers are known to hunt small animals, most don't. I would recommend a Westie to anyone who wants a friendly, intelligent, beautiful companion!

lesredneck@attcanada.net writes on 11/1/99:

Joyful, charming, loyal, tricky, intelligent, tough.
Just a few words that describe our Westie. We found him in a terrible shape, at a local kennel. This place was dirty ill kept and smelled of urine and dollar bills. This breeder obviously was only in it for the money. At the time we didn't even know what a Westie was. We drove to this kennel from the indications in the newspaper article. When we met our Westie, he was yellow stained from urine. He was petrified to be out of his cage and shaking like a leaf. We had read a book on how to pick a puppy. He failed all the tests. Being a dog lover I couldn't leave him there, so I took him and paid the old witch the 300 dollars. As we got home he would only sit in the corner scared to even move. With a few howling and crying nights I found a trick to make our Westie more comfortable - I took him into bed with us. Well let me tell you that he slept like a baby that night cuddled between the both of us. I honestly have never seen a dog that could describe mans best friend as much as our Westie. I want to take a little time to say to all people who are breeders or call themselves breders "please take care of these animals as if they were your children."

Name withheld by request of Tennessee writes on 10/10/99:

Wonderful pets who need a secure, fenced yard.
We have had our Westie for almost 16 years. She is my overall favorite dog because she is so smart and so much fun. Westies are small, but they are also very sturdy, hardy dogs. One word of caution: They are very intent on catching any varmints you might have living near your home or yard. If they spot a gopher, squirrel, mole, or rat outside their yard, they will dig under, chew through, or climb over your fence unless you have taken preventative measures! They can be difficult to outsmart because they are so smart themselves. They rank very high in problem-solving ability. They love children and are a joy to have as part of your family, though they will fight with other family dogs if challenged.

Name withheld by request of New York writes on 11/5/99:

Devoted, intelligent and energetic with a sense of humor.
Westies are great fun. They are always up to some kind of mischief so there is never a dull moment. They are keenly atuned to their humans as though they can read minds and feelings. A Westie is your protector, your clown and your friend for life. They require, no, they DEMAND your attention and want to take part in whatever it is that you are doing. You will never be lonely with a Westie nearby. I have owned several different breeds of dogs previously but I will never own anything but a Westie ever again.

map10@cornell.edu of Ithaca, New York writes on 11/4/99:

Guard Dog Extraordinaire
Everybody who sees Westies thinks they are so "adorable," and people always want to cuddle them. Non-Westie people tend to think they are cuddly little lap dogs. WRONG. One of the main characteristics of Westies, I think, is their overriding need to control their environment. When a Westie is on his turf, he will defend it against any and all intruders, and he feels it is his duty to be constantly on the look out for those awful intruders. If you don't like barking, a westie is probably not a good choice for you, unless you live out in the boondocks where nobody comes near your house, or walks by your house (and, God forbid, walks by with a dog). Westies have their own agenda in life, although they certainly want to share that agenda with their human and they are extremely loyal and intelligent. I disagree with people who say westies are difficult to train. I find that, with proper motivation (namely, FOOD), they are quite easy to train. My westie can hold his own in the obedience ring with all of the goldens and labs and shepherds. Properly motivated, westies are very trainable--at least this has been my experience. AKC calls them the "sunniest" of the terriers. How right they are!

kate_owens@hotmail.com of Germany (American working for the US Army) writes on 11/4/99:

Tough, courageous, intelligent and free thinking, serious
The breed is sturdy with few health problems. They are a handy size for small houses and yards or large apartments. The breed needs a fair amount of exercise - at least a 30 minute walk twice a day with jogging or running if possible. Even if you have a yard, they will still need a run or walk. They love to muck about in the fields. Watch out for horse manure - they adore getting messy and rough and tumble play. They are loyal, loving and serious dogs. The ones I've had have been steady and reliable around strange children of all ages and strange adults and dogs. They are cautious but unafraid. Definitely not barkers and yippers unless encouraged to do so. Intelligent, they are easily trained but as free thinkers, they may not obey immediately. The sit may be slow or the come means "later" if there is something more interesting than you to investigate. Not a dog to abuse and expect it to forget. A very thoughtful dog. If you need instant and total obedience get a sheltie. If you want a reliable, loving, tough and intelligent dog for one person or a whole family, the Westie is a great pick in a very compact and handy size.

Name withheld by request of Tennessee writes on 10/1/99:

They are independent, loving, loyal and entertaining pets.
Westies need no one to entertain them because they are perfectly happy to keep themselves busy. They enjoy being with people at all times even if they are exhausted and are just sleeping in the midst of all the action. They love everyone, most especially their families. They can lift up your spirits up when you are down because they just sense you need some comedy.

TamD5343@aol.com of Macomb, Michigan writes on 10/1/99:

Highly Intelligent and Spunky
I have been owned by a Westie for over a year now. I am still amazed daily by her witt and spunk. She adds so much joy to our family. Lexie enjoys spending time with every member of our family(2 boys included 4 & 6). Playing ball, doing tricks and cuddling are just some of her favorites. She is like a little person and tells you exactly what she wants and likes. When we have visitors, she thinks they are there just to visit her!! Westie's are easy to love and give you as much if not more in return. They are easy to maintain: Brushing Daily(mimimal shedding) Being fed Annual Vet trips Exercise(which my boys keep her busy) Lots of TLC

landboat@crcwnet.com of Washington state writes on 10/1/99:

Independant, curious, friendly...but not your adverage lap dog
If you are looking for a dog to sit on your lap and look pretty all the time, don't get a Westie.
They are full of energy, mischevious and love almost everyone and everything. They adore being spoiled, but on their terms. If you carried your westie home from your last walk, assume you'll have to do it again NEXT time because a Westie never forgets anything. You must establish yourself as the alpha dog right away because a Westie will take over. They were bred to be independent thinkers and are very smart. This makes them harder to train than some other breeds, but they are worth it. They do well with a small yard, or in an apartment as long as they get their daily exercise.

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