Westies are amazing dogs. They seem like 80-pound Golden Retrievers or German Shepherds that are tightly compressed into one 14-20 pound muscular body with a beautiful white coat. They are as fierce as any other hunter, yet as loving as a baby.
Several years ago, a survey was conducted on men and their preferred macho dog breeds by the American Kennel Club where the winner was none other than the West Highland White Terrier. It was 1989, and I was raising Westies even at that time. It took my then husband a couple of weeks to get well acquainted with my male dog Jordy, but (and unfortunately for me) he was soon sitting beside him while driving in his truck. He often said a man’s dog isn’t required to be tall and macho since a fine little Westie can do the job!
Time keeps passing, and after more than 27 years, I’m still raising an excellent bloodline of some of the finest Westies in the whole country. Westies are known to possess an exceptional level of intelligence. Usually, people don’t think of dogs to be capable of reasoning. But in my line of work, I have found that to be totally false since our Westies have amazed me on countless occasions.
You might be familiar with the fact that Westies are cute, protective, lovable, loyal, smart and tough. At the same time, they can’t be handled properly by everyone. They possess an inherently independent and vigorous nature that might not be suited for some families. Families with young children usually come across such problems when the children push the dog to the limit where he starts becoming aggressive. It starts when the children don’t know where to draw the line when it comes to playing with the dog. So when the dog feels like enough is enough, first it demonstrates an aggressive behavior with a show of teeth, and the final event usually involves a nasty nip. Of course, they are not as aggressive as the typical guard breeds, since the latter often come with inbuilt nastiness.
If you are a dog owner, you would probably be familiar with the difference between biting and mouthing. While biting depicts aggression and wrath, mouthing is an act of love. A dog extends its love to his owners by mouthing them. This is yet another expression of the fact that dogs are very loving, so they expect to get the same kind of love in return.
Unfortunately, some families do not feel that way about their dogs and leave them with their kids who don’t treat them the way they should be treated. If you are a dog owner and you see your dog trying to hide or avoid a situation, he wants to tell you that he’s finished and doesn’t want to play anymore. In such scenarios, the play must be stopped. Otherwise, the dog may exhibit a show of teeth which may be followed by an aggressive snap or even a bite. You need to learn how to appreciate your pets, as they are very loving and expect nothing else but love in return.
Another thing to consider is the fact that terriers usually possess an instinctive ‘Pry Drive’ which may be thought of like the urge to chase any running or noise-making object. This drive is known to be unyielding and irresistible to some extent. What you need to understand is that kids or adults who demonstrate a quick movement could be chased—Westies are hunters after all. So if such a situation comes up, it is important for you to make your kids understand that they can never kick the puppy, as it may cause an awful effect on him. He may start developing a nasty and aggressive behavior which may become a part of his personality and overall attitude permanently. I’ve seen such behavior several times over all my years of working with these beautiful puppies. So the best course of action in situations like this is to do whatever it takes to set up the stage for the good behavior.
It should also be noted that by giving you all these details, I do not wish to repel you from the Westie breed. However, I feel it is my obligation as a responsible dog breeder to give you some details about the breed so that you can make an informed decision about becoming a new parent to one of my amazing Westies. Westies may develop a wonderful relationship with children. The key point is the need for each party to respect the responsibilities and rights of the other—this includes your Westie as well. It needs to be taught well what’s acceptable and what’s not. Several dog owners are a part of our family and doing well with their Westies since their puppies get along well with their kids. Westies usually have dominant natures and are known to be natural leaders. They require someone to be in charge. In case you have a pack of more than one dog, you need to know that the terrier would be willing to be the one in charge. In such a scenario, you need to do whatever it takes to control the entire pack accurately. Otherwise, it may lead to a lot of inconvenience with the passing of time.
As a dog owner, you need to understand that Westies crave uncompromised affection. So the best kind of bonding takes place between the dog and its owner when the owner demands something from the dog and then receives it with respect and love. You might be familiar with the concept of being the Alpha while dealing with a dog. To properly maintain being an alpha, you need to do a little work. Westies fully comply with the old saying ‘offer me one inch, and I will take one mile.’ So it is crucial to do whatever it takes to make sure that you are the one in charge. Otherwise, your dog might want to dominate your superiority. They do that by demonstrating some different things, including snarling, snapping or growling at you or it could just be a little humping on your leg. In such a situation, you need to discipline your pet to maintain your status as the alpha. This is not that hard as you might foresee it. All you need to do is let your dog go through a few things that might declare that you are the one in charge. These could be some unusual exercises or some other stuff like that. As Westies are brilliant, they have a tendency to get bored sometimes. So the best course of action is to do something unusual to revive their interest.
For example, when you are playing fetch with your dog, you have to train him to sit for a while when you pick up the ball from its mouth and prepare to throw it. When you repeat the same practice for some time, your dog might get bored and may want to change the position from sitting to laying down. A similar kind of behavior might also be observed in several other cases. If you let your dog do whatever it pleases to do, it means you’re allowing him to become dominant which is never a good practice. You need to make him do what you like him to do so that he gets the idea about your firmness and keeps on following all your commands whenever you want him to follow.
Caution: Always be watchful of someone (especially a kid) carrying some food item in their hand while keeping it at a low level. If the food item comes within reach of your Westie, there is a good chance that the food might get snatched away. During this process, some skin from your fingers could also go along with the food. You have to make sure that such an event never happens to an alpha member as a result of the training. Training your dog to keep itself from touching freewheeling food can easily be accomplished, but it requires a certain level of perseverance. You might be familiar with the fact that food usually is considered to be the biggest motivator for a dog when you want to train him. Westies are always indulged in a food hunt, so they can never be trusted with food. It may be hard to believe, but it is true. They will be snatching food from a human hand in the event of its availability, so you have to be careful about it.
West Highland White Terriers usually have pretty sharp instincts when it comes to hunting vermin, be it is small or large. Upon getting into the ‘critter pursuing mode,’ it becomes hard for them to listen to the individual commands. The whole scenario appears as they are simply ignoring your commands, but in fact, their critter instincts become a bit overwhelming. Everything gets naturally filtered out except their drive to pursue the critter. Keeping this reason under consideration, it is important for you to keep your Westie confined within a closed yard until you are sure that it won’t ignore your commands whenever it gets charged by its critter pursuing drive.
To understand this concept in a better way, consider the fact that your dog starts chasing a squirrel and it climbs a tree. In the meanwhile, your dog sees something else that it might pursue, say another dog. While being already charged with the critter pursuing drive, your dog would be willing to chase and tackle the other dog which might lead to a pretty nasty ending. Therefore, it is crucial to protect your dog from this kind of drive because it needs your protection.
In most of the cases, Westies usually develop an understanding of how to get along with cats when both the parties are willing to do so. As discussed above, running leads to chasing, so the most crucial part of such a scenario is to teach the cat to stay for a while. Never forget that Westies tend to get bored very soon. So having a playmate might help things get a bit easier. Therefore, you need to do whatever it takes to make your dog get along fine with cats because having a playmate means minor problems at hand.
There is still a lot more that you might want to learn about these beautiful, little creatures to know what affects their worlds the most.
The sole purpose of my company is to ensure the availability of loving parents and homes for my lovable high-quality West Highland White Terriers. La Terra Dios Westies puppies are available with a complete health warranty for two years in addition to partial potty training and basic lead training. Most of my dogs can be easily housetrained by the new owners within just a couple of weeks when they get adjusted with their new homes. You can also go to my page on basic house training if you need any further details.