Interesting Facts About the West Highland Terrier

West Highland Terrier

West Highland Terriers; These little darlings have a very interesting story. I was inspired to write about the “Westie” after recently arriving in Pennsylvania (from Los Angeles) to be with my family. Part of the family is a little boy named “Buddy”-a West Highland Terrier. These little dogs have quite the personality and as you will read, a very interesting background!

West Highland Terrier

The West Highland Terriers, also known as “Westies”, originated in Scotland. The West Highland Terriers were given their name in 1908-around the same time major kennel clubs started to develop. West Highland Terriers, descending from a breed of vigorous dogs that chased rats and foxes through the moors, are naturally inquisitive and very bright. Westies were bred from the white offspring of Cairn and Scottish Terriers in order to create a hunting terrier. They made their first well-known appearance at a London dog show in 1907 and were registered by the AKC in 1908.  Today, it should come as no surprise to see members of the royal family walking with a West Highland Terrier. The Westie is very popular in the United Kingdom and they fall into the top third of all breeds in the United States.

West Highland Terrier running

West Highland Terriers should always be kept on a leash or in a secure area. Westies love to run and you can bet if there is a rabbit in sight, the Westie will be on its way. I know this as a fact! My Mom and Dad have a deck that wraps around a swimming pool. They had to do some additional construction to protect “Buddy” from the pool AND running away. If there is any slight crack in one of the exit gates, “Buddy” is well on his way to do some exploring. He doesn’t walk; “Buddy” is as fast as “Road Runner” when it comes to escaping out of the exit gate where a field sits behind my parent’s home. Shooom! Gone! Though my parents are not very happy when Buddy pulls a stunt like that, it is really fascinating that he knows where (and how) to get out.  Always keep them fenced-in or on a leash. (Yes, “Buddy” always returns within an hour, ready for a bath!)

West Highland Terriers are good dogs for children. They are warm and affectionate but they do not like having their tail pulled or rough handling. Westies are very confident dogs. Even though the Westie is confident, they are big attention seekers. (Which is fine because all dogs should have tons of attention, right?) Maybe this is why I’ve come to the conclusion that “Buddy” REALLY does love the camera!

If you plan of getting a Westie be prepared for separation anxiety. For as independent as they are, some (not all) Westies are known to be a bit destructive when their owners are not home. Westies are great companion dogs who love to play. They will also let you know if there is a suspicious sound outside of your home.

Westies can be a bit of a challenge when it comes to training them on doing their “business outside of the home. These are GREAT dogs, so the extra effort is totally worth it. I always recommend crate training. My parent’s dog (“Buddy”) took nearly one year until he finally got the idea. Now he just lets out a little “roof” when he needs to take care of his business.

Westies are full of life and affection. They are absolutely beautiful, which is why you see them in so many advertisements on TV. These little babies are the featured breed in the Cesar dog food commercials.

West Highland Terrier

The best advice for a Westie is to make sure they are secure and they should not be handled roughly by children.  Like any dog, raise them right and they will treat you right. I have never witnessed any aggression with “Buddy”. I know I will enjoy my time with him and he certainly knows where to come for a belly rub!


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