Regardless of whether or not you have children in your home, picking out a new pooch is always a major decision. The goal is to to find a dog who not only matches your lifestyle, but who also makes a good, friendly and safe companion to all members of your household. West Highland white terriers often live happily alongside older kids but may not be the best fit for younger children.
West Highland white terriers -- or "Westies" for short -- are Scottish dogs who historically hunted animals including badgers, mice and foxes. As companion pets, these dogs typically are jovial, loving, self-assured, staunch, headstrong, inquisitive and sometimes even a little bit needy. They adore being in the middle of all of the action, whatever might be going on at the moment. Without sufficient training, they can sometimes be rather bossy, not only to their owners but also to fellow canines within the household.
Young kids and West Highland white terriers together are not the greatest idea. If your child isn't at least 8, 9 or 10 years old, you should turn your focus to a different breed. Remember that Westies have a lengthy past as hunters, and those innate behaviors still run strongly in them. Wee children tend to be boisterous and lively things, full of swift, abrupt motions and unexpected, sometimes jarring sounds. All of these things can bring out the hunter in a Westie, making him think that it's time to pursue a prey animal, whether through biting, running or barking. Avoid those potential hazards by keeping Westies and small children apart, period.
Children who are a minimum of 8 to 10 years old can work well with Westies. As long as the child provides the Westie with ample consideration, the arrangement has a strong chance of being a success. If you have an older child, make it a point to thoroughly instruct him on an appropriate and safe manner in which to interact with a Westie. Older kids can even have some fun in brisk playtime sessions with these cuties -- perhaps fetch.
If your residence is always a bustling hub of activity for children, a Westie might not be the optimal choice for you. If your living room seems to be a constant stream of your kids' best buds and and the cuties you're babysitting, all of that action could be overwhelming for canines of this breed. When Westies are overstimulated, they sometimes end up enthusiastically biting on things, even without aggressive intent.
- Oklahoma Westie Rescue: What is a Westie?
- Vetstreet: West Highland White Terrier Dog Breed Information
- American Kennel Club: West Highland White Terrier Page
- DogChannel.com: Popular Dogs - West Highland White Terriers
- The West Highland White Terrier Club of Southeast Texas; About Westies, Young Children, or Cats/Other Small Animals
- DogChannel.com: West Highland White Terrier Dog Breed Profile
- Animal Planet: West Highland White Terrier
- Westie Club of America: Westie FAQs
- Wisconsin Westie Rescue: Westies and Children
- Westie Rescue: Is a Westie Right for You?
- Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images