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Westies & Health

West Highland White Terriers

Westies may be small white dogs but don't let that fool you, their abundance of terrier personality makes up for their size. They are renown for their cheeky, opportunistic character. If a door is slightly ajar, a Westie will most certainly push it open so as not to miss any happenings.


They have the ability to suck you in (and quite possibly twist you around their little paws) with their seductive eyes and sweet expressive faces.


Westies aren't for everyone. The wonderful illusion of the TV ad Westie can be just that. A lot of Westies aren't lap dogs or lie around quietly looking pretty and always pristine white. First and foremost Westies are terriers. Terriers are generally small active and somewhat feisty dogs, which were originally bred to hunt vermin living in underground burrows. Many have the attitude that they're always eager for a spirited argument. They are bold, confident dogs who have a mind of their own, which can be at times very hard to persuade to your wishes.  


Also known as earth dogs due to their burrow hunting instinct, cleanliness is of little importance when a Westies mind is set on their task. To have any hope of changing their focus, you must be aware of your Westies Motivation Gauge (WMG). Westie may not always be compliant, but this does not mean that they are unintelligent. Far from it, these cheeky little thinkers always want to know what they're going to get out of a situation, before actually making the move to it.  


The WMG means the greater the distraction that is causing your Westie not to follow your command, the greater you motivator diversion must be eg. loud noises, excitement, favourite toy, favourite treat etc. Diversion must be greater than the distraction to gain your Westies attention. Once you have this categorised your Westies motivators, you can then have the upper hand when it comes to persuading your Westies to do as you say.

Westie Health

This is a list of some of the health problems Westies are predisposed to:


Addison's disease (Hypoadrenocorticism)  

Atopic Dermatitis 

Bladder Cancer (TCC) 

Cleft Palate 

Copper Toxicosis (CT) 

Craniomandibular Osteopathy (CMO)  


Diabetes Mellitus 

Ear Infections 

Epidermal Dysplasia 

Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy (GCL) 

Heart Disease 

Hip Dysplasia 

Immune System 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) 

Hernia (inguinal and umbilical) 

Juvenile Cataracts 

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS, Dry Eye)

Kidney Disease


Luxated Patella 

Portosystemic Shunt  

Pulmonary Fibrosis (Westie Lung Disease)  

Pyruvate Kinase (PK) Deficiency 

Seborrhea, Primary and Secondary 

Skin and Allergy Problems 

Teeth and Gums 

White Shakers Syndrome 

Informative reading 

True or False

There are many myths surrounding the Westie breed. When rehousing a Westie, it is our job to make sure that the new family doesn't have any fictitious preconceived ideas about the breed. Especially those that may impact on the Westie itself.



True or False

Westie's come in various colours


The correct breed name is West Highland White Terrier, which highlights the fact that they only come in white

Westies are prey driven


Just like all other terrier breeds, Westies were bred to be vermin eradicators. This is why they are not recommended to live with cat, rabbits, birds & other small pets

A Westie's black pigmented skin, means they will not have any skin problems


There is no correlation between the black pigmented skin of a Westie & whether they will be prone to any skin problems.


Taking Care Of Your Westie

Grooming Your Westie

This is one of the best in depth grooming websites presentation by Joan Graber