Are you considering adding a West Highland Terrier to your family? Growing up, my family owned a female Westie named Murphy, who brought joy and love into our lives.
Westies can make good family dogs, but like all breeds, they come with their unique quirks and characteristics. It’s important to understand their specific traits and needs to ensure they’re the right fit for your household.
In this article, I’ll dive into the pros and cons of these little terriers to help you decide if a Westie is the perfect addition to your family.
Pros of Owning a Westie
There’s a lot to love about West Highland Terriers, and many families find them to be the perfect addition to their homes. Let’s explore some of the most attractive qualities of Westies that make them stand out as fantastic family pets.
Devoted and Affectionate Dogs
One of the most endearing qualities of Westies is their loving nature. These dogs form strong bonds with their families, providing unwavering loyalty and affection. Their friendly disposition makes them excellent companions for families, ensuring you’ll always have a furry friend by your side.
Easy to Take Care Of
In general, Westies are a low-maintenance breed, making them a great choice for first-time dog owners or those with busy schedules. Their small size is a definite advantage, especially for apartment dwellers or those with limited room. You won’t need a huge backyard or lots of space to accommodate a Westie, which is a huge plus for many people.
Hypoallergenic and Minimal Shedding
For those who are allergy-prone or simply don’t want to deal with dog hair all over the house, Westies are a dream come true. These dogs shed extremely little and are considered hypoallergenic, making them a fantastic option for families with allergy sufferers. You’ll enjoy the companionship of a dog without constantly battling hair on your furniture and clothes.
Energetic and Playful
Westies are known for their playful and energetic nature, making them ideal for active families. They love to be a part of the action, whether it’s going for a walk, playing fetch, or simply romping around in the backyard. This energy helps keep both you and your Westie healthy and happy, as you’ll enjoy plenty of bonding time through play and exercise.
Cons of Owning a Westie
While Westies have many positive traits, it’s important to consider the potential challenges that come with owning this breed. Understanding these drawbacks will help you make an informed decision and prepare for life with a Westie:
One characteristic of Westies that some owners may find problematic is their tendency to bark a lot. While their vocal nature can be an endearing quirk, it can also become an annoyance for you and your neighbors if not managed properly. Training and socialization can help curb excessive barking, but it’s essential to be aware of this trait before bringing a Westie into your home.
Westies can be territorial, which means they may bark at strangers or other animals approaching their home or family members. This behavior stems from their strong protective instincts, but it can create challenges if you have frequent visitors or live in a busy neighborhood. Early socialization and training (as well as spaying or neutering) can help mitigate these issues, making your Westie more accepting of new people and animals.
Strong Prey Drive
Westies were originally bred to hunt small game, which means they have a strong prey drive. They may be inclined to chase smaller animals like squirrels or even cats. This natural instinct can create challenges when walking your Westie or introducing them to other pets. Proper training, supervision, and secure outdoor spaces can help manage their prey drive and ensure harmonious coexistence with other animals.
While Westies are intelligent and capable of learning, they can also be quite stubborn. This independent nature may make training a bit more challenging than with other breeds. However, with consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement, your Westie will learn the ropes. Just be prepared for a bit of persistence on your part to overcome their stubborn streak.
Frequently Asked Questions
When considering a Westie as a family pet, you may have some specific questions about their compatibility with different family members and their overall care requirements. Here, we’ll address some of the most common questions that prospective Westie owners often have.
Are Westies Good With Kids?
Westies are often cited as a dog breed that does best with older children. However, my experience with my Westie, Murphy, shows that they can also be good with younger children as long as they are trained and socialized properly. Their playful and affectionate nature makes them a fun companion for kids, but it’s essential to teach children how to interact with dogs respectfully and safely.
Proper supervision is crucial to ensure both the safety of the child and the Westie. Early socialization of your Westie with children can help create a strong bond and a harmonious household, allowing them to adapt to the energy and playfulness of younger kids. By setting clear boundaries and expectations for both the Westie and the children, you can foster a loving and safe environment for all family members.
Are Westies Good With Other Pets?
Westies can get along well with other dogs and cats, especially if they are socialized at a young age. Gradual introductions and monitoring their interactions can help prevent any conflicts. Keep in mind that Westies have a strong prey drive, so it’s important to be cautious when introducing them to smaller animals like rabbits or guinea pigs.
Are Westies High Maintenance?
As previously mentioned, Westies are generally low-maintenance dogs. Their grooming requirements are minimal, with regular brushing and occasional bathing to keep their coats healthy. They are also small, which makes managing their feeding and exercise routines easier compared to larger breeds. The main challenge with Westies may be their stubbornness during training, but with consistency and patience, they can be well-behaved family pets.
How Much Exercise Do Westies Need?
Westies need about 45 to 60 minutes of exercise each day. This can include walks, playtime in the backyard, or engaging in mental stimulation activities like puzzle toys or obedience training. Providing your Westie with ample exercise is crucial to maintaining their physical and mental well-being, and it’s also an excellent opportunity for bonding with your pet.
Should I get a male or female Westie?
The decision to get a male or female Westie often comes down to personal preference, as both genders can make wonderful companions. There are some general differences in temperament and behavior between male and female Westies, but these can vary significantly depending on the individual dog.
How Long Do Westies Live?
Westies are one of the longest living dog breeds. On average, Westies live between 13 and 16 years. It is important to have a long term view when adopting any dog, but especially a dog that lives as long as Westies do.
Although they are a long lived breed, they are susceptible to respiratory tract disorders including “Westie Lung Disease” which is the leading cause of death in Westies.
Are Westies Good Family Dogs?
In summary, Westies can make wonderful family dogs, offering devotion, affection, and playfulness to their human companions. Their low-maintenance nature, hypoallergenic coat, and adaptability to various living situations add to their appeal as family pets.
However, it’s important to be mindful of their potential challenges, such as frequent barking, territorial behavior, strong prey drive, and stubbornness during training.
By considering both the pros and cons of owning a Westie and addressing common concerns through early socialization, training, and proper supervision, you can create a loving home for your West Highland Terrier.
My experience with our family Westie, Murphy, is a testament to the joy and love these little terriers can bring. If you’re prepared for the challenges and eager to embrace the rewards, a Westie might just be the perfect addition to your family.