The West Highland White Terrier, (a.k.a. the “Westie”), is a Scottish breed of terrier.
Aspects of the West Highland White Terrier Temperament
Every Westie is different, so it’s difficult to gauge a “normal” West Highland White Terrier temperament. Some Westies are great with kids, while others would rather be left alone.
They can also be possessive with both their toys and their food. And they won’t stand for rough handling like, for instance, a child pulling at its ears or tail.
Here are some more elements that make up the West Highland White Terrier temperament:
The West Highland White Terrier is a lively one. You will notice this as its ears will perk up if there’s another animal like a cat or another small dog.
He's always ready for a chase so it’s important to keep an eye on them and to reprimand them if they do this
Regardless of the Westie's nature to chase small animals, he’s still a rather friendly dog. This typically also includes strangers and children. He’ll jump at the chance (perhaps even literally) to indulge in some companionship.
The West Highland White Terrier is self-confident while in the presence of other dogs. You have to take care in training him not to pick fights, which is something that he’ll be inclined to do, despite his tiny size.
You may be surprised, but the Westie actually makes for a pretty good watchdog, despite her smaller stature. Two things she loves to do are digging and barking, and she’ll do plenty of the latter if she feels her territory is being encroached upon.
If you want to take your Westie on vacation with you, he’ll love the idea! And, considering his tiny size, he’ll fit easily into a carrying case. The Westie is a robust dog, and he’s generally up for any challenges you want to throw at him.
One thing to watch out for is Small Dog Syndrome (SDS), which is a condition that small dogs can sometimes develop if their owners are softer on them in the training department.
Dogs with this condition are tiny but mean because their owners are more tolerant to their bad behavior than bigger dogs.
The dog needs to see you as his true pack leader. You must be firm, confident, and consistent. Else he can take up such unsavory behavior as biting, snapping, or guarding disorders (like guarding his food or the furniture). He could even seek out fights with other dogs.
Another thing to keep in mind is that a Westie may need his training refreshed every once in a while.
He can be stubborn at times and give in to his instinctual drive to hunt. For example, he may chase a ball into the street, or run after small prey rather than remain on the property where he belongs.
The same goes for barking and digging. Because these are two of the West Highland White Terrier’s favorite things to do, you may have to remind him at times that barking at the mailman or digging up your flower bed is not part of the deal.
The Health and Lifespan of a West Highland White Terrier
On average, West Highland White Terriers are estimated to live about 12 to 16 years. Unfortunately, this breed carries with it a host of predispositions to health conditions that can affect her quality of life.
Abdominal hernias are one such condition, as is a disease known as Craniomandibular osteopathy, a.k.a. “lion jaw”. This is also called the “Westie jaw,” and it is typically found in dogs under a year old. This condition makes it difficult for the pup to chew and swallow food.
A test can be done to diagnose this condition, and it often reaches its peak by the time the dog turns one year old, sometimes even regressing. Unfortunately, if it does not, euthanasia may be your only option.
Some of the other more common Westie health conditions include:
- Skin disorders
- Globoid cell leukodystrophy (a neurological disease that causes tremors, muscle weakness, and difficulty walking),
- And “White Dog Shaker Syndrome,” a condition involving tremors and muscle coordination problems that can last longer in males than in females.
Bringing Home a Westie
Now that you know more about the West Highland White Terrier temperament and other facts, you can make a better-informed decision about whether or not you want to bring one home.
As far as the Westie temperament is concerned, you’ll be taking a loyal, active, and happy pup into your home.
Just be careful that you don’t give him too much leeway, or he’ll go from happy to scrappy in no time.