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MY FRIEND FROM THE HIGHLANDS OF SCOTLAND
West Highland White Terrier
Member Name: lak11
West Highland White Terrier
Date: 03/05/11, updated on 10/07/12 (211 review reads)
Advantages: Amusing,cute dogs,Little shedding of hair
Disadvantages: Shows the dirt!
My dog is a west highland white terrier called Joey. He is nine years old but thinks he is a pup; he can still be quite naughty. Joey was very poorly recently and things were getting very worrying indeed but, after the last week or so I feel I can say he has made a great recovery. His improvement has made me feel like writing a review of Westies with Joey being the main character.
Joey is a pedigree and his 'posh' pedigree name is 'Sydney's Lad' but really he is anything but posh-more like a rough, working class lad who is a bit on the loud side; he acts tough yet if he sees a cat in the garden he will pretend he hasn't seen it and walk as far away from it as possible so as not to lose face. Nose high in the air he will act as if he is bored with the garden and wander in taking a route as far away from the feline intruder as possible. Funny this as he didn't back down a few months ago when a fox was in his garden, but if a leaf falls on his back he will jump a mile! But Joey is definitely a small dog who thinks he is big.
Before Joey came to stay I hadn't had a pet for years although I had grown up with pets and have always loved them. Then my fourth and youngest child continued to beg and beg to be allowed a pet. She promised to care for it, as they do. One of her brothers, who is three years older than her, wasn't too keen on dogs but was getting to like them; he said he would be happy to share in the care of a pet. My eldest son wasn't too keen on having a pet but agreed to care for it when we were away on holidays. My husband was against us having a dog and so the research and purchase was left mainly to me. When Joey was ill recently my husband was very depressed about it and now is very happy to see how much Joey has improved.
CHOOSE YOUR FRIEND WITH CARE
I actually like most breed of dogs from Pyrenean mountain dogs to cute little Yorkshire terriers but, if the dog is going to stay then I'm a firm believer in doing one's research and being as practical as possible. Before obtaining a pet I would strongly advise a long hard think about the size of your home and garden; does the home suit city type dogs or those that would need long country walks. Are there children in the home or other pets? When I was eleven and talking to, an uncle about our beloved departed pet he promised to get me a dog. He kept this promise and we chose a puppy that became my best friend for many years. She was a beautiful mongrel; intelligent, loving and loyal and long lived. I would have been quite happy to have a cross breed or mongrel dog this time now, one very important factor in suitability was my daughter's asthma. My daughter had suffered with asthma for many years and this was something that made me a little reluctant to welcome a pet into the home. But I have always felt owning a pet encourages responsibility and a caring attitude so researched the effect of certain breeds on asthma in humans. I read that certain breeds such as huskies and poodles are virtually hypo allergenic and others such as West highland white terriers are pretty much low risk on the allergy front. Westies don't shed their fur very much which in a white dog is a useful trait.
As I knew I needed to find a dog that I could lift (for example to bathe) and one that wasn't too strong (if pulling on a lead) as I have a condition that couldn't cope with this, I felt a small breed would be best for our family. I also felt that it is very important before bringing a dog into the household that things such as veterinary bills and the cost of feeding should be taken into account. Of course any pet can fall ill and the costs can be high but certain breeds are more prone to health problems than others. I felt that a Westie might be hardier than some pedigree breeds. Also a smaller dog wouldn't cost as much to feed as a large breed would. This may all seem particularly fussy, as I like most breeds of dog, but I feel it is so important to research and try to get it right for both the pet's sake and that of its new family. Compatibility means a lot. Of course, with all the best will in the world and the most careful preparation things may not run smoothly but becoming a pet owner is an important matter for any one.
The male Westie stands at around ten to twelve inches (25-30cm) from the withers so this is the height not counting the head and neck! Bitches are slightly smaller being nine to eleven inches in height (23-28cm)
The male should weigh 15-22 pounds (7-10kg) and bitches 13-16 pounds (6-7kg)
In my opinion this is a nice size of dog to handle. If you aren't that strong, have health problems then this is a manageable size to lift for bathing.
And when Joey was lame recently he couldn't move without being carried and if he had been much bigger or heavier I couldn't have helped him.
JOEY AND HIS RELATIONS
Before getting Joey I read up on this breed and believe that the breed has been known since the seventeenth century at least. And Sir Edwin Landseer painted his, 'Dignity and Impudence' in 1839 showing a cute little Westie in the harmonious company of a large hound. But opinions seem to vary as to how long the breed has been recognised. This could be because the name has changed often, meaning reliable sources of the breed's history are not so easy to find. In fact the breed name of the Westie has been known by many names; Poltalloch Terrier, Roseneath Terrier and is now known as the West Highland white terrier, or Westie for short.
And I have read that the breed came from Cairn terriers when a breeder discovered some white pups had been born in a litter of cairns. He then bred from these resulting in the breed as we now know it first being 'shown' in the early twentieth century.
The Westie dog, as a terrier, was employed to hunt in Scotland's west coast; therefore it needed to be small to reach into small places whilst hunting badgers, foxes and other fairly small creatures. It needed to be brave and hardy as a hunting working dog.
The word 'Terrier' comes from the Latin 'Terra' and means 'earth'. When Joey digs in the garden and get dirty I have to remind myself that he is an earth dog and is only following his instincts!
Joey is fussy with food and has his likes and dislikes. I aim to feed him on high quality hypo allergenic foods. This may cost a little more than cheaper supermarket shelf options but after some time on good quality foods I feel that quality is everything; Joey is much more active and not sick as much as he used to be when he was fed on a popular brand of dog food which was not of great quality.
Joey is fed on a complete dry dog food. I often add a little chicken, fish or a high quality wet dog food to makes his meal times more interesting.
As he is a small dog, even though he has good quality food, he isn't too expensive to feed. The cost of feeding a dog must be one of the main factors in choosing a certain breed. I believe many dogs are not kept due to the owner really not realising until too late that certain breeds of dog will cost a great deal to feed.
IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH
Westies generally have a good life expectancy as far as pedigree dogs go. They tend to live for fifteen to sixteen years although I know of a one who lived to over seventeen. I have been told of a few living longer. However they are prone to some health conditions although, as far as small pedigree breeds go I feel that they are quite strong.
Some issues can be that they are prone to are:
Jaw bone calcification
I would recommend taking out insurance to help with vet's fees with Westies, or any breed. Failing this remember to put aside an amount each month to help with costs.
THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT
West Highland Terriers need a haircut about three or four times a year. We use a mobile grooming service for Joey. This costs about thirty pounds each time and includes a good cut, bath, flea treatment and nail clipping. I sometimes trim Joey's coat in between the professional cuts but he behaves better for the groomer.
OUT AND ABOUT
Joey loves to go for a walk but he is a runner. I don't think this is a trait inherent with Westies but just with mine. I see many walking along in the park close to their owners, unleashed.
Joey loves a run and will 'ask' us to chase him in the garden. He decides when to play and when to stop. When Joey is out for a walk he is more interested in sniffing smells than running around.
Westies need, in common with all dogs, exercise and like to be out and about, but I find with Joey a couple of short walks will suffice and a run around indoors or in the garden helps to keep him well exercised.
As I have said, I like most breed of dog but if you are thinking of welcoming a dog into the home and want a small dog but not especially a lap dog then a West Highland White Terrier may be just what you are looking for. With their intelligence and cheekiness they make an endearing pet. In the case of Joey he has some naughty habits such as marking items indoors on occasion when he is scared, such as during a thunderstorm, or fireworks. Other than that, he is a fairly low maintenance dog who provides a friend for all the family. He seems happy enough to be left alone in the house. In the case of my dog he is okay to be left for a few hours per day, with a toy or two, a comfy bed and food and water. But of course, he is always happy to welcome his family back into the home.
Summary: A great friend