The Wee-Chon (or Highland Frise, Westie Bichon, and Westion, as they’re sometimes known) is a small dog with a big heart. A hybrid with Bichon Frise and West Highland White Terrier parentage, they’re incredibly loyal and loving, with a teddy bear-like appearance, dark shiny eyes, and a bright, cheery disposition. If you’re considering opening your heart and your home to this adorable breed, here are ten things you need to know.
1. They’re a hybrid
The Wee-Chon is a hybrid, a designer crossbreed that’s one part Bichon Frise and one part West Highland White Terrier. While no one’s quite sure about the origins of the Wee-Chon, the same can’t be said for its parents. As DogZone.com says, the Westland Highland White Terrier, as its name suggests, hails from Scotland. It was first developed sometime in the 17th century as a working breed designed to flush out and kill rats and other vermin. According to legend, it owes its signature white coat to Colonel Malcolm of Poltalloch, who once mistook one of his dogs for a fox and shot it. After that, he decided the best way to avoid a repeat mistake was to breed only white dogs. The Bichon Frise, meanwhile, dates all the way back to the 14th century. During the 16th and 17th centuries, they were a favorite with French and Spanish royalty. During the 18th century, their popularity began to wane, and it wasn’t until the mid 20th century that this friendly breed established its rightful place as a beloved family companion.
2. They’re easy to train
Both the West Highland White Terrier and the Bichon Frise are intelligent dogs that love to please. Training rarely presents a problem with either breed, and their offspring is no different. Providing you use a consistent approach and apply lots of patience and positive reinforcement, you shouldn’t run into any difficulties. The only problem you might face, as PetGuide notes, is with housebreaking, particularly if they follow after the Bichon Frise. But again, a patient, consistent approach should eventually win the day.
3. They’re tiny
A fully grown West Highland White Terrier will usually measure up to 11 inches in height and weigh between 15 and 20lbs. An adult Bichon Frise, meanwhile, will be between 9 and 11 inches in height and 4 and 7lbs in weight. Small dogs then, and not one’s likely to produce a 100lb bruiser. Which they haven’t… the Wee-Chon is tiny, typically weighing in at just 9 to 14lbs.
4. Their health can be an issue
Most hybrids tend to be more robust than pedigrees, but there’s no guarantee they won’t succumb to the same range of health problems their parent breeds are prone to. From their Bichon Frise side, the Wee-Chon may be susceptible to allergies, bladder infections, eye diseases, dental disease, liver shunt, gastrointestinal issues, and both orthopedic and metabolic ailments. They may also be at risk from pancreatic enzyme deficiency, dry eye, juvenile cataracts, Addison’s disease, lymphoma, pulmonary fibrosis, atopic dermatitis, patellar luxation, inflammatory bowel disease and white shaker syndrome from their West Highland White Terrier parentage.
5. They’ve been recognized by the ACHC
It’ll be a cold day in hell before the American Kennel Club recognizes the Wee-Chon or any of its other hybrid buddies. But the Wee-Chon needn’t get too cut up about. Numerous other organizations have welcomed the breed to their registries, including the American Canine Hybrid Club (ACHC), the Designer Dogs Kennel Club (DDKC), the Designer Breed Registry (DBR), the Dog Registry of America, Inc. (DRA), and the International Designer Canine Registry (IDCR).
6. They’re a good choice for allergy sufferers
If just the sight of a dog makes you sneeze, the Wee-Chon could be your perfect companion. Like both its parent breeds, the Wee-Chon is a hypoallergenic dog that rarely sheds, making it a safe choice of pet for allergy sufferers.
7. They’re not always white
Both the Bichon Frise and the West Highland White Terrier tend to be thought of as exclusively white-haired breeds. However, black Bishon Frises, while rarer than the white variety, do exist, with the result that Wee-Chons, while predominantly white, can also have black markings. Their coats are usually long, but the texture depends on which parent breed they take after. If it’s the West Highland White terrier, their coat will be straight and silky. if they favor the Bichon Frise, it’ll be wavy and wiry. Other distinctive characteristics include a short, flat muzzle, triangular-shaped heads, and round, dark eyes
8. They’re high maintenance
As wagwalking.com says, while Wee-Chons rarely shed, their fur is long and gets easily tangled. To avoid mats forming, daily brushing using a pin brush and sticker brush is needed. If you bathe them (although avoid excess bathing as it can strip away the essential oils needed for skin and coat health), be sure to brush them first to avoid any tangles becoming tighter. If they have a white coat, eyes drops can be prescribed by your vet to avoid tear stains. Teeth should be cleaned daily to keep dental problems (to which they’re prone) at bay. Nails should be trimmed monthly, and ears should be regularly checked and cleaned using an ear cleanser and cotton ball.
9. They’re great with kids
Thanks to their gentle, loving natures, Wee-Chons are great family pets. Providing they’re socialized well to prevent the dreaded small dog syndrome setting in, they make loyal, trustworthy companions to kids and adults alike. They also tend to get on well with other dogs and animals, although again, early socialization and training will be needed to bring out their best qualities.
10. They’re high energy
The Wee-Chon might be small, but they’ve got a lot of energy. They’re also prone to packing on the pounds, so plenty of healthy exercise will be needed to keep them happy and healthy. As they’re social animals, try to factor in a few visits to the dog park where they can let off some steam and make some friends while they do it. Due to their intelligence, mental stimulation is just as important as the physical kind: try to keep plenty of interactive puzzle toys around the house to keep their minds occupied and prevent boredom.