The West Highland White Terrier, often known as the Westie, is a delightful and lively small breed. These dogs are known for their snow-white coats, perky personalities, and friendly nature. Westies make excellent companions for families and individuals alike, bringing joy and affection to any home.
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Unearthing the Westie’s Origins
Centuries ago, in the 1700s, the rugged terrain of the Isle of Skye and the Scottish Highlands bore witness to the emergence of small terriers. Scottish breeders classified these terriers into two main categories: the Skye terriers and the Dandie Dinmont terriers.
The Dandie Dinmonts were recognized as a distinct breed, while the Skye terriers encompassed various breeds, including the Scotties, the Cairns, and the West Highland White Terriers, also known as Westies. It’s worth noting that Westies were the result of careful breeding, combining Cairns, Scottish, and Dandies terriers. This mix created a loyal, tenacious, and adept hunting dog. Many Scottish royalties of the era owned terriers remarkably similar to today’s Westies.
A Heartwarming Tale of Loyalty
One heartwarming story highlights the unwavering loyalty of Westies. There was a Westie that intervened whenever a mother scolded her teenage daughter. The dog’s aggression escalated over time, rendering the mother unable to reprimand her child effectively.
Upon closer examination, it became evident that the daughter was inadvertently reinforcing the dog’s protective behavior. She would comfort and soothe the Westie after each perceived “threat” from her mother. What seemed like an act of helping her mother change her ways was, in fact, the daughter’s way of rewarding the dog’s behavior.
Westie’s Vital Statistics and Temperament
For breeders and enthusiasts, understanding the basics of Westie characteristics is crucial:
Living Environment: Indoors (highly recommended); Outdoors (fenced yard)
Coat: Approximately two-inch coarse and wiry outer coat with a soft, dense, and furry undercoat
Height: Between 10 and 12 inches
Weight: Between 13 and 22 pounds
- They have a penchant for barking and digging.
- They exhibit less stubbornness compared to most terriers.
- They thrive on companionship.
When properly trained,
- They can become fairly friendly towards strangers.
- They develop a close bond with well-behaved children.
- They enjoy chasing cats but do not harm them.
- They make excellent watchdogs.
- They exude liveliness.
Health Matters for Westies
Breeders should be aware of potential health issues commonly associated with Westies:
- Chronic skin problems
- Perthe’s disease (hip problems)
- Jawbone calcification
- Cranio mandibular osteopathy (lion jaw)
- Patella luxation, a kneecap disorder
- Liver ailments
- Congenital heart disease
West Highland White Terrier Grooming
To keep your Westie in top form, follow these care and exercise guidelines:
- Regularly brush their coat with a stiff-bristle brush.
- Bathe them only when necessary.
- Strip their entire coat at least twice a year and trim it every four months.
- Trim the fur around their eyes and ears using blunt-nose scissors.
- Engage them in regular play sessions and walks to promote agility and overall health.
The charming West Highland White Terrier, known for its intelligence and adaptability, has been endearing itself to owners for a remarkable 300 years. These terriers were originally bred for solitary work, making training a challenging endeavor. However, their astute intellect allows them to excel in patient, consistent, and upbeat training sessions. Despite their diminutive stature, Westies are robust dogs that demand minimal indulgence.
When it comes to nourishing your beloved West Highland White Terrier, ensuring they thrive is of utmost importance. Opt for a top-tier dog food, whether it’s a premium commercial brand or a carefully crafted home-prepared meal under the watchful eye of your trusted veterinarian. Tailor their diet to their specific life stage, whether they’re a lively puppy, an active adult, or a wise senior. It’s crucial to be mindful of their weight since some dogs are inclined to put on extra pounds. Keep a close eye on their calorie intake and overall weight to ensure they stay in tip-top shape.
Are West Highland White Terriers good with Children?
West Highland White Terriers, often referred to as Westies, are generally good with children. They are known for their friendly and playful nature, making them suitable companions for kids. When considering a breed’s suitability for families, it’s essential to evaluate their level of tolerance and patience towards children’s behavior.
A truly family-friendly dog not only gets along with kids but also excels in creating a safe and loving environment for them. It’s crucial to remember that even the most well-behaved dogs should always be supervised when around young children, especially if the children have limited exposure to dogs. This precaution ensures a harmonious and joyful coexistence between your furry friend and your little ones.
West Highland White Terrier History
Westies share their lineage with Cairns, Scotties (descendants of Skye terriers), and Dandies. These breeds were initially developed on the Isle of Skye, one of Scotland’s highlands. Early breeders selected white whelps from wiry-coated Cairns, Scotties, and Dandies to create the variety known as Poltalloch terriers.
The historical record tells tales of Westies being favored companion dogs:
- In the early 17th century, King James I of England had a fervent desire for small, pure white dogs hailing from the picturesque landscapes of Argyleshire in Scotland. It was during this time that Colonel Malcolm, the visionary behind the remarkable Poltalloch terriers, encountered a fateful mishap when he unintentionally discharged his firearm, inadvertently harming his beloved dark terrier. Deeply moved by this unfortunate incident, Colonel Malcolm made a solemn vow to exclusively preserve and cherish the elegant lineage of white terriers, forever commemorating their grace and regal stature in the annals of canine history.
- In the 19th century, terriers closely resembling Westies were called Roseneath terriers, named after the Duke of Argyll’s patronage. Roseneath was his estate in Dumbartonshire.
- In the late 1800s, Westies were known as White Scottish terriers in the first-ever dog shows. In 1904, they were officially classified as West Highland White Terriers.
- During the mid-1900s, Cairn breeders in Argyll, Scotland selectively bred white puppies from their stock and interbred them to acquire white Cairns. In 1917, the American Kennel Club allowed Cairns with Westies’ lineage to be registered.
In conclusion, the West Highland White Terrier, with its rich history and endearing personality, has firmly established itself as a beloved companion dog in countless households. Their loyalty, charm, and resilience make them a cherished addition to any family.