The West Highland white terrier, the "Westie" to his fans, is more than just an adorable little dog. He's an independent, feisty but loyal companion for the right owner. The Westie contains a lot of energy in a small package, so he's best suited for active owners and households.
They're cute, no question. Pure white, with a rough outer coat above a softer undercoat, Westies grow to between 10 and 11 inches high at the shoulder. Native to the West Scottish Highlands, these little guys with the shoebutton eyes are built like classic small terriers -- ready to dig out vermin anytime, anywhere. This little dog isn't one to sit on laps, but he loves to spend time by your side.
While Westies are friendly little dogs, they're also very active. He's confident, determined and spunky. Westies make great companions, ready to join in on any adventure you propose. The American Kennel Club describes the breed as "game," which means they're always up for fun. Your Westie possesses a strong will, with some stubbornness thrown in. He's also a good little watchdog, so you'll always know if someone's at the door or anywhere on your property where your trusty friend can spot them.
Don't forget a Westie is a terrier, with all the typical terrier traits. He was bred to hunt vermin, so keeping small pets in the house isn't a good idea if you want them to live a happy life. Westies generally get along well with other dogs, but cats are a different story. A Westie raised with cats might be fine with them, but strange cats in the yard will ignite the Westie's strong prey drive.
As terriers, digging and barking come second nature to the Westie. With training, you can teach him to contain those energies or channel them into appropriate directions, but it will take some work. One way to let him express his inner Westie is by training him for earth dog competitions, in which terrier types can dig for caged rats. All his energy and focus needs direction, so obedience school is a must. Your Westie can shine in agility, flyball and other canine endeavors.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.