The West Highland White Terrier, affectionately called a “Westie,” is one of the most intelligent dog breeds. In addition to being clever, they are also very entertaining, quite loyal, and generally, they get along well with other animals. They are a small breed dog and have a white coat with pointed ears and dark, piercing eyes, which gives them a toy-like appearance. The Westie is so cute, in fact, that it’s used as the “spokesdog” for Cesar brand dog food! However, don’t let their looks fool you! Westies are highly energetic and powerful. They were bred to hunt rodents, such as rats and squirrels, and that is easy to see in their disposition. Westies are known for being very alert and active, and for loving to chase things.
If you’re thinking about bringing a West Highland White Terrier into your family, keep reading to find out valuable information about caring for this fun-loving breed.
Westie Food and Health
Westies aren’t like many dog breeds when it comes to eating, in that they can be a bit picky about their food. In fact, don’t be surprised if your Westie snubs his nose at some of the food you try to give him.
With that said, it’s important to make sure you are feeding your West Highland White Terrier a premium-quality dog food to ensure that he is getting the nutrition he needs.
Westies, like all breeds, require a diet that is rich in animal proteins; they tend to prefer chicken, fish, and turkey. They also need carbohydrates to provide them with the energy they need for their active disposition, as well as fiber to balance their gut. Choosing a quality commercial dog food, such as Blue Buffalo Wilderness and Taste of the Wild will ensure that your pup is meeting his nutritional needs.
For puppies, two small meals a day will suffice, and adult Westies should be fed one meal a day. You can also feed your dog a few high-quality treats a day, such as vegetables, fruits, and meat; however, with fruit, steer clear of grapes, raisins, and cherries, as they can pose health issues.
When choosing a dog food, look for a formula that contains real animal protein as the first ingredient. You can feed your Westie dry kibble and mix it with water, broth, or canned food.
Make sure you keep tabs on your Westie’s caloric intake. The more active he is, the more calories he will need; however, if he tends to be more leisurely, you’ll want to cut back on the calories to avoid obesity, which can pose health problems.
Westies are prone to a few health conditions, including keratoconjunctivitis sicca, patellar luxation, and cataracts. They can also develop arthritis. Of course, given the fact that they are so active and enjoy running, chasing, and digging, there is always a risk of injuries. To offset the cost of the medical care that your Westie will require, consider purchasing a pet insurance policy. Several reputable companies offer pet insurance at an affordable rate, including Nationwide and Geico. Having insurance will help you avoid having to pay high medical costs out of your own pocket.
Leashes and Collars for your West Highland White Terrier
When it comes to dog collars, there are a lot of options for Westies. However, do keep in mind that while these dogs may have a small stature, they are quite strong, so you’ll want to invest in a collar that is made of very durable material, such as leather or paracord.
Instead of a collar, many owners opt to use a harness with their Westies. Doing so can prevent this dog, who loves to pull, from choking or injuring his neck. A harness will distribute his weight evenly, so you don’t have to worry about him injuring himself; however, keep in mind that it can be challenging to put a harness on such an active dog.
Whichever you choose, make sure that the collar is comfortable and functional. You might want to consider something that has a padded interior to offer greater comfort, such as these Leather Dog Collars, Soft Dog Collars, and Nylon Dog Collars. Also, ensure that the collar or harness fits properly.
For a dog leash, you can use a standard lead or even a puppy leash meant for large breeds; whichever option you find most comfortable to use and that will fit the disposition of your dog. But, it’s important to note that Westies, as mentioned, are very powerful and have a tendency to pull, so you’ll want to pick a leash that you can easily control. Some great options to consider include the Latigo Dog Leash and this Dog Training Leash.
Best Crates, Beds, and Doghouses for West Highland White Terriers
Westies are extremely intelligent, and as such, training is essential; otherwise, they will cause mischief. A crate is an excellent training tool for a Westie. It can also serve as a den and be used to transport your pup.
When selecting a dog crate, make sure that you opt for something that he can easily move around it, but that doesn’t afford him too much space. Measure your dog, including his height and length, and purchase a crate that he can stand up in and turn around in without any issues. If you plan on placing a crate in a very visible location, such as a living room, you might want to choose one that resembles furniture, such as this Luxury Soft Sided crate, as it will tie in with the décor of your home.
A dog bed offers a comfortable space for sleeping for any dog, including a Westie. It can be used in a crate, or on your floor to prevent them from jumping up on the furniture (which Westies are known to do). While Westies aren’t generally picky about their bedding, they do tend to prefer plush spaces and something that offers a cocoon-like feeling to cradle them, such as this Bed for Dogs and this Elevated Pet Bed . Also, for puppies, opt for something that is made of indestructible material, as they like to chew.
Westies do prefer to be inside with their “pack”; however, if you are going to leave him outside for a prolonged period of time, make sure you offer a dog house for shelter. Consider the climate of your region and pick one that offers features that will ensure comfort; for example, operable windows for ventilation and carpeted flooring for insulation.
Westies love to play. In fact, it’s their playful nature that makes them so appealing! Plus, they are quite intelligent and active, so toys provide them with a healthy way to get their energy out.
Since these pups are so smart, they do very well with toys that challenge their minds. Puzzle toys, which they have to manipulate in order to release a treat, are a great choice for the West Highland White Terrier. Some great options include this Dispensing Dog Puzzle or this Durable Dog Play Toy. You can also challenge them with toy that dispense treats, such as this toy. Fill them with healthy options, such as pieces of vegetables, fruit, or cheese.
Other toys that are good for Westies include ropes for playing tug-of-war (something that they really love to play), and balls that they can chase. Consider investing in an electronic ball dispenser toy, which will toss balls for your pup. These dogs also enjoy squeak toys in the shape of animals.
Keep in mind that Westies have extremely powerful jaws. As such, you should choose toys that are very sturdy and difficult to break. Rubber, rope, and plastic are all great materials for Westie toys.
Grooming Insights for West Highland White Terrier owners
Westies have beautiful, thick coats that require regular care. Brushing on a regular basis is recommended to avoid matting and to maintain the cleanliness of their hair and the health of their skin. Use a dog grooming brush that is designed to work with thick hair to remove any dead hair. Use care when you come into contact with mats, as pulling on them can hurt your pup.
Bathing should be done when needed; about once or twice a month. However, base the amount you bathe your Westie on his lifestyle and where you live. For example, if he digs a lot, you should consider bathing him more frequently. The same is true if he is a hunting companion. While bathing, don’t forget to pay attention to the ears. Though they are upright, dirt can collect in them, which can lead to infections.
The coat of a Westie can get shaggy pretty quickly. You can either learn how to strip and clip his coat on your own, or you can take him to a professional groomer once every few months for a thorough cleaning and trimming.
There are dozens of accessories available for dogs, and many of them are useful for Westies. For example, if you are training your dog, you might find a dog collar that tightens, such as a Martingale Collar, helpful. Also, West Highland Whites tend to bark a lot, and anti-bark collars can help to curb the problem. However, use care when selecting one of these collars, as you don’t want to inflict harm on your pup.
Other accessories that can be useful with a Westie include protective footwear, especially in cold climates, such as Alaska, or on rugged terrains, like that found along rocky trails in the Pacific Northwest.
Choose the accessories you use with your Westie according to his specific needs and you can ensure that he is comfortable and well protected.