Straight outercoat with a soft, dense undercoat.
The West Highland White Terrier is hardy, devoted, and happy-go-lucky, exhibiting typical terrier tendencies - sturdiness, a no-nonsense attitude, loyalty, tenacity and independence. But this dog is not as volatile as some of the others in his group. In fact, the Westie standard warns against excessive pugnacity (having a combative personality). Inclement weather is no deterrent to his energetic personality, and he makes a fine family pet.
The Westie is adaptable and can make a good apartment dog as long as he's given plenty of exercise and the opportunity to explore. Like most terriers, he is a good watchdog who will bark at any suspicious behavior. He loves to dig, so a secure fence is necessary.
Nimble and lively, the Westie enjoys participating in all activities, including play sessions, training and a variety of dog sports, like agility and earthdog.
The Westie needs a fair amount of exercise to release pent-up energy. He is happy to accompany anyone who's going out on an adventure, whether it be a stroll through the neighborhood or to the kids' soccer game.
Westies like to eat but can be finicky. Feeding several smaller meals a day may be more to his liking - but make that sure the food is a high-quality, age-appropriate dog food.
The West Highland White Terrier is one of the easiest terriers to train. He is eager to please and responsive, particularly enjoying the attention and rewards he receives for doing what you ask. Keep training sessions short and positive, and train him throughout his lifetime to keep him mentally engaged.
Westies get along well with older children. A properly socialized Westie can get along with other dogs, but he'll occasionally practice a bit of one-upmanship with other males. A true terrier, he sees smaller pets as prey.
The average life span of the West Highland White Terrier is 12 to 14 years. Common health problems of the breed include hernias; Legg-Calve-Perthes disease; liver disease; skin problems; and White Shaker Dog Syndrome.
Although the white Westie is low to the ground, he doesn't really get dirty. His is a wash-and-wear coat that quickly comes clean of dirt and mud with a simple brushing and combing. He is not a shedder, but his thick coat needs to be hand-stripped several times a year to keep him from becoming shaggy.
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