West Highland Terrier – A Healthy Breed!

Image taken from www.content.petsecure.com

Image taken from www.content.petsecure.com

Friday, April 04, 2014

Hello everyone!

This is Sharda again for another West Highland Terrier Breeder newsletter.

Whether you decide to purchase a puppy or a full grown Westie dog, it is important to take time to check into any concerns that may arise, and to make sure that you get a healthy animal.

The advantage of purchasing a full-grown dog is that you will be able to check to see if most genetic or physical conditions have occurred in the pet, and if they are manageable.

With a puppy, these conditions are often undetected at this stage of development, so it is important to have your questions answered by the breeder to your satisfaction.

The key to choosing a healthy puppy is to work with a reputable breeder. Make sure that you are able to see both the kennel or home environment that the puppies were raised in as well as the mother, and if possible, the father.

Ask for any health information or about any genetic issues that may be present in your puppy, and make sure that you feel comfortable with the breeder’s answers.

The puppy should be:

  • Alert and attentive
  • Inquisitive but not aggressive or timid
  • Playful with the littermates and mother
  • Willing to approach new people after a short time (although not necessarily immediately).

In addition to these personality traits, the puppy should:

  • Be sturdy looking and proportional
  • They will be muscular even as puppies, and may not like to be held but will relax after being picked up
  • The coat should be white and free from soiling or excessive matting
  • The eyes, nose and mouth should be free from any kind of discharge
  • The gums should be a nice, healthy pink and not red or pale
  • There should not be a foul odour to the breath

Since puppies are just like people, and each have their own independent personalities, it is important to see how the puppy you are considering reacts when not with its littermates. Ask the breeder to allow you to interact with the puppy away from the litter.

If you notice a sudden change in the puppy’s temperament and behaviour, you may wish to consider another puppy. Be aware that the puppy will become nervous and afraid if away from the litter for too long, and this is normal behaviour.

Since training a puppy can often be frustrating and too time consuming for some people, an older, already trained dog is a wonderful option. Ask for a complete vet record for the dog if available, or even speak directly to the vet yourself.

The Westie breed is not a “one person” dog, so they do adjust very nicely to new environments and loving families. The benefits of choosing an adult dog are:

  • Already housebroken
  • Knows the basic commands
  • Will be able to be left alone for longer periods of time

A healthy adult Westie will:

  • Be alert looking and friendly, not overly aggressive or timid
  • Respond well to a positive tone of voice
  • Be stocky and muscular with a good gait free from limping or favouring one leg
  • Have good gums with no redness or bleeding
  • Have white teeth with little or no tarter build up
  • Have their vaccinations up to date
  • Have no genetic or hereditary conditions
  • Have clear eyes free from film or discharge
  • Not have any discharge from eyes, nose or mouth
  • Not have a discharge from the rectum or urinary tract

In addition, the Westie’s coat should be clean and free from mats. While this does not necessarily indicate poor health it may indicate a negligent owner, and the dog may need some extra attention.

Be sure to be aware of the eye, skin and skeletal issues that occasionally are found in the Westie breed. Talk to the prior owner if at all possible, to attempt to learn as much as you can about the dog before you make the decision if it is the right dog for you and your family.

Hope you learned a lot from today’s West Highland Terrier newsletter.

Sharda Baker