West Highland White Terrier Club of America

Westie FAQs

Most Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take to find the right Westie for me?

You may have to wait six months to a year to find the right Westie for your family. Keep in mind that a Westie will be a member of your family for the next 12 to 16 years or more and is well worth waiting for, if this is THE BREED for you.

While you are looking, you can be gathering the many things you will need when you bring the new addition home. Books, toys, a crate, a pen, feeding dishes, grooming tools, etc. all take time and money to acquire. You will also need to check and repair your fence and "puppy proof" your home. All of these activities will help fill the time while you wait for your new family member.

Are they good with children?

This is highly dependent on adult supervision and the age of the children. If the adult in charge has taught the children proper respect for the puppy's rights and care of the puppy, Westies and children can be a happy combination. Children, particularly 10 and older, can enjoy playing a good game of soccer or catch with a Westie. They are sturdy for their size.

No child should be the primary caretaker of any dog. This must be an adult's responsibility.

Westies are not recommended for the home where children from the entire neighborhood gather to play. This can lead to too much excitement for a Westie and may lead to unintentional nipping.

What do they cost?

The price of a companion quality Westie puppy varies significantly depending on where you live. The cost averages less than $100 per year which is not a lot compared to the annual maintenance cost of a dog. Westies have small litters (average is 3.5 puppies per litter). Stud fees, shipping, pre-breeding tests, veterinary expenses, occasional Caesarian sections, vaccinations, feeding, and toys are all costly. Money from the sale of puppies does not cover all of these expenses, let alone the time invested for good care and socialization. Young adults and rescued Westies cost considerably less and usually make wonderful pets.

Do they bark?

They are not yappers, but they do like to bark to announce a visitor. Early training and adequate attention will lessen the chance of obnoxious barking.

Do they make a good lap dog?

Many do; however, some Westies are too independent to be held for long periods. While they like to be in close proximity, most find a corner of the room or a spot near a heater vent to be ideal. However, there are some exceptions and it has nothing to do with the sex of the dog.

Are they smart/intelligent?

Yes! They also get bored very easily.

Are they easy to train?

Westies enjoy pleasing their owners. They are not stubborn, but may express their independent nature on occasion by demanding "What's in it for me?". Patience encouragement, praise, and rewards such as treats or play may be required to train new behaviors.

Are they easy to housebreak?

Yes, they like to be clean. Puppies which have been kept clean during their formative period should be easy to housebreak. A crate and a pen are useful tools for housebreaking.

Do they dig?

Can I train him not to dig? Yes, they may dig; they were bred for going to ground so digging is natural for terriers. If a Westie has the instinct to dig and hunt, he is not easily discouraged.

Are they hyper?

No; but they are energetic. "Laid back" is not descriptive of the Westie.

Are they obedient?

They can make good obedience dogs with proper training. Modern training methods are very effective with Westies. There are many excellent books and videos on training and your puppy's breeder should be able to refer you to local puppy training and obedience classes.

Do they like to travel?

Yes! They like to go with you. Puppies need to become accustomed to the car at an early age. A crate is his seat belt. "Crate for safety!"

Do Westies like to swim?

Some do but they MUST be supervised. Swimming pools can be a death trap for any dog. They can not get out! Also, chlorine is very hard on the coat and skin.

Do they like to hike?

Do they like to go on boats? They like to share in your activities. There are backpacks and life preservers especially for dogs. And don't forget a good quality collar and leash.

Are they good with other animals?

Dogs? Cats? Every situation is unique. Westies can get along with other animals under the right circumstances. Dominant, male Westies often have difficulty getting along with other unaltered male dogs.

Are Westies hypo-allergenic?

The AMA reports that Westies have relatively low dander (ranked number 7) and may be acceptable for individuals with asthma or allergies.

Do they shed?

They do shed a little. However they do not shed profusely and their hair is easily vacuumed or removed with a lint brush. Regular brushing will reduce shedding to a minimum.

Do they run or roam?

Yes. Westies are hunters and even the most well-trained and obedient Westie is not reliable when he spots a squirrel, bird or other varmint. A leash and a fence are your symbols of love. Neutering and spaying will reduce the desire to roam.

How do I get on a breeder's list?

Each breeder handles prospective buyers in his/her own way. However, persistence pays off. Try visiting the local dog shows and read up on the breed. Knowledgeable and persistent buyers seem to find a puppy sooner.

Do Westies make good gifts?

It is generally not a good idea to surprise someone with a living, breathing gift. Even if you are positive that the individual wants a puppy and a Westie puppy in particular, that individual should get the joy of picking out his/her own puppy or young adult. A book with lots of pictures or a toy Westie make a wonderful presentation and can be beautifully gift wrapped too!

Christmas and other busy holidays are the worst time to bring a new addition home to your family. A new puppy needs extra attention during the first couple of weeks and it deserves to have the opportunity to adjust to its new home and routine calmly and quietly. In addition, holiday decorations provide many more dangers and hazards for the curious young Westie.

What should I feed my Westie?

A Westie is special and has special needs and you will want to feed your dog a premium quality food found in pet stores. Your choice of food for your dog is very important for its total well-being. By their very natures, dogs are carnivores and need a meat-based diet to look and feel healthy. That's why premium quality foods are made with real meat including chicken, fish or lamb. The animal-based protein in these products provides superior digestibility, optimal nutrition and great taste.