How to Care for West Highland White Terriers

by J. Lang Wood
West Highland white terriers are sturdy and outgoing.

West Highland white terriers are sturdy and outgoing.

west hilend wite terrier 4 image by Olga Barbakadze from Fotolia.com

West Highland white terriers, also called Westies, Poltalloch terriers or Roseneath terriers, are popular companion dogs today, but they originated in Scotland as a fox-hunting pack dog. Recognized by their all-white full coat, they are small dogs, standing 10 to 12 inches at the wither and weighing 15 to 22 pounds. Westies are a good fit for both apartment life and rural areas.Their hardy, compact bodies and terrier nature make them good family dogs with plenty of personality, but they can become a problem if not firmly trained. They love to be with people and are generally friendly and adaptable. Westies need some special care to keep their double coats in good shape and to ensure good health.

Step 1

Feed your Westie puppy as recommended by the breeder. Generally, Westies require high-protein food. Poultry and lamb are good choices for this breed. Beef and horsemeat are not recommended for Westies, according to the Animal World website. Even as adults, Westies have a tendency to vomit yellow bile when their stomachs are empty. To avoid this problem, feed small meals two or three times a day.

Step 2

Take your Westie to the veterinarian for his proper immunizations and preventive measures such as parasite checks and prevention, and to have regular health checkups. Genetic diseases that sometimes show up in West Highland terriers include atopy (skin problems), cataract, deafness, chronic hernia, jaw problems and Legg-Perthes disease. Regular visits to your veterinarian can help catch these conditions early.

Step 3

Walk your Westie on a leash daily for at least 20 minutes. This breed is strong and energetic and can develop problems when not allowed to burn off excess energy. A romp in a fenced yard will also help to prevent problems. Though West Highland white terriers are independent enough to be left alone for long periods of time, they enjoy interaction with their families and will be much happier and better adjusted with plenty of family time.

Step 4

Take your Westie to the dog park to interact with other dogs. Westies have strong, dominant personalities. Though they may not start fights, they can be aggressive when other animals approach. Play time with other dogs will teach the Westie to interact in acceptable ways.

Step 5

Train your West Highland white terrier from an early age. Westies love companionship, but they can be headstrong and can try to boss people, and especially children, in the household. They are easy to train, however, and will follow rules well if given strong and consistent leadership.

Step 6

Teach your Westie from an early age not to chase cats, or he will continue this behavior all his life. Westies raised with cats will be less prone to this behavior.

Step 7

Take your Westie in for grooming every three months. The Westie has a double coat, a wiry top coat and a smoother undercoat. The undercoat should be stripped by the groomer every six months. Brush the dog’s coat daily to keep it in good condition.

Step 8

Discourage excessive barking and digging, which are inherent Westie behaviors. These Westie habits can be annoying and disruptive to households. Provide alternative activities like toys and rawhide chews to burn off energy.

Items You Will Need

  • Poultry or lamb food
  • Leash
  • Wire brush

Photo Credits

  • west hilend wite terrier 4 image by Olga Barbakadze from Fotolia.com