What Makes A West Highland Terrier Special?

Image taken from www.animals.desktopnexus.com

Image taken from www.animals.desktopnexus.com

Friday, February 21, 2014

Hello everyone!

This is Sharda again for another West Highland Terrier newsletter.

One of the first things that is evident when you first meet a West Highland Terrier is their enthusiasm for people, and their enjoyment of life.

The breed is known for their keen intelligence, and their ability to adjust to a wide variety of environments and situations.

So here is what makes a West Highland Terrier Special:

As mentioned earlier, a West Highland Terrier tends to have a very personable temperament, and tends to enjoy interacting with people.

They are fair watchdogs and will bark if a stranger comes to the door, but generally they quickly get to know the person and interact well. They are not timid or fearful dogs if treated properly, and some owners may find their independence and inquisitive nature a challenge to train.

They interact well with children, provided that the children respect the dog. Since they are of the terrier breed, they may have a tendency to nip if overexcited, so it is important that the children learn how to correctly play with a Westie.

Avoid any games that encourage the puppy or dog to nip or bite at a person, rather play fetch or Frisbee with this breed.

Since they are very active, they love going for walks with the family. Westies are also a great traveling companion, and they quickly learn to enjoy trips in the car.

West Highland Terriers are relatively easy to train, and work very well for positive praise and rewards. They can be a bit stubborn, however, if their hunting instincts are aroused, and are not generally good animals to walk off a leash. They will need a fenced in yard to prevent them from wandering off or hunting neighbourhoods cats and other animals.

Most West Highland Terrier breeders and owners report that Westies are very easy to housebreak. This is particularly true if the breeder kept their area clean when they were small puppies. Crate training is a good option for a Westie.

They also benefit from the socialization and obedience training of a puppy or dog training class. While they are generally social dogs, they do not do well with other species such as cats. Proper introductions are critical to this relationship, and should be started as early as possible when the Westie is a puppy.

Westies will generally not interact well with any rodent type of animal, due to their natural hunting instincts.

Westies have a low dander rating, ranked number 7 by the AMA (American Medical Association) and may be tolerated by people with mild to moderate asthma and allergies.

This is a general guideline only, and if possible visits in the home and kennel should be completed before determining if a Westie would be a good breed, if you or a family member has these medical concerns.

Westies shed relatively little, and are easily kept clean with a damp cloth and a good brushing. Since Westies have shorter hair, they do not require as intensive grooming as some of the other breeds. Their hair is coarse, and is easily picked up with a vacuum or lint brush.

The West Highland White has a natural oil to their coat, as do all terriers, and it is not advisable to bath a Westie too often, as this can cause skin allergies for the dog. A bath once a month is plenty, and may not even be required this often.

Many breeders and groomers recommend no more than four baths a year for a Westie, and the use of dry clean products in between if necessary.

Most Westies will clean their own coat if they are allowed to dry naturally. Wiping the dog down with a towel when they come in from outdoors will help this process, and avoid the dirt being spread through the house.

If you love to play with your dog, and enjoy watching them play with toys, a Westie is a breed that can meet these requirements. They love to play with all kinds of toys, and should be provided with a variety of balls, moving toys, squeaky toys and others.

The number of toys is not as important as the variety. Since this is a highly intelligent and energetic breed they will find things to play with, so it is best to provide a few inexpensive toys to prevent damage to other household items.

The Westie is a very hardy little dog that does well in all climates. As with any dog, care should be taken to avoid over-exercising in the heat of the day.

They do have some genetic conditions that need to be mentioned such as hip dysplasia, external skin conditions, cataracts, dry eye, and a tendency towards copper toxicosis.

Discussing these conditions with your breeder and vet will help you be aware of the symptoms and how to treat the conditions. Breeders will be able to inform you of the lines that your puppy or dog is from, and if these conditions are prevalent.

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

Sharda Baker