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Owning a Westie: My Experiences With Sean and Cloudy

A passionate dog lover and writer—I think that phrase very much sums up who I am and my purpose in life.

My Westie, Cloudy, relaxing on the couch.

My Westie, Cloudy, relaxing on the couch.

I have been a proud owner of dogs for a large part of my life, including two rambunctious little West Highland Terriers. My knowledge of the breed has increased since I adopted Cloudy, my six-month-old Westie, prompting me to share my experiences of owning (and cleaning up after, etc.) one. I wrote this for anyone who might be considering adopting a dog; this is my assessment of the Westie as a furry companion.

Background of the Breed

Heralding from Scotland and directly related to the Cairn terrier, these terriers were bred for their ability to hunt all manner of rodents and small game. They were famous for their burrowing and digging skills and brought all manner of moles and vermin for their owners. Landowners used them to ferret out small animals and vermin so that they could be rid of these pests.

Knowing their background, it came as no surprise to find Cloudy chasing the occasional cockroach (or, as I would like to think my apartment is very clean and has no cockroaches, chasing her own tail). Sean, my other Westie who passed away from old age, chased anything that moved; and that, of course, meant that I would have to chase him.

Fun Facts About the Westie

  • Westies, or West Highland Terriers, are short-bodied, white dogs with pointed ears.
  • Heralding from Scotland, they were bred as hunters and ratters.
  • They weigh between 15 and 21 pounds.
  • Their height ranges between 10 to 11 inches.
  • They are also known as Poltalloch Terriers or Roseneath Terriers.
  • They were first registered as pedigree dogs by the American Kennel Club in 1908.
  • The average cost of owning a medium-sized dog like a Westie is $13,000.
Westies have double-layered coats that require regular grooming to avoid matting.

Westies have double-layered coats that require regular grooming to avoid matting.

Features of the Breed

Here are some distinguishing characteristics of the breed.

The Double-Layered White Cloud

The Westie was originally bred for its famous white coat. Double-layered to give it warmth in the cold Scottish weather, the coat consists of a coarse top layer and a soft, fine-haired bottom one. Cloudy and Sean have taught me that this can be a challenge to groom.

The two coats, if neglected and not combed for a day, can be terribly matted and unsightly. Sean was difficult to groom; I practically had to shave his hair off at one stage. Owning a Westie entails the sacrifice of time spent on grooming.

Speedy Gon-Westie

I have to mention that the Westie is a super-fast runner, very much like the little Mexican mouse many of us know. I once had to run up 10 flights of stairs just to catch Sean, who had run out of the house in the excitement of greeting me. I finally caught and cornered him in a 10th-floor corridor. It was good that I am petite and am a fast runner myself, or I might have lost him for good.

A Super-Strong Tail

A fun fact that is seldom mentioned about the Westie is that it has a super-strong tail. Historically, this allowed owners to pull them out of burrows should they have gotten stuck while trying to catch that mole. There are those who claim that pulling on the tail does not cause the dog pain; whatever it is, I will definitely not try it on Cloudy.

Pointed Ears

An adorable Westie feature is its pointed ears. They simply make anyone go “aww.” They become especially pointed when the little dog is curious about something. When Cloudy tilts her head and her ears point upward, it is entirely lovable. They require a little grooming to keep them standing, though.

Benefits of Owning a Westie

It's true that I may be biased, but I think there are many benefits to having a Westie as a companion.

Owning a Westie Reduces Stress

These dogs definitely lower blood pressure and stress levels. Going for a run with or playing with Cloudy helps me to forget the tribulations of the entire day. It is entirely relaxing to watch her go about her “doggy” ways. When she chews on her bone and it hangs from the side of her mouth, the laughter she generates does not fail to lower my blood pressure. Having a Westie means fewer trips to the doctor.

When You Own a Westie, You Make More Friends

The Westie never fails to attract attention. I noticed a couple as I went on runs with Cloudy and they giggled unstoppably at the sight of her. Cloudy never fails to make friends; whoever sees her usually just wants to get to know her a little better.

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The Westie is a Paragon of Faithfulness

This little dog is a faithful companion. It never fails to follow you wherever you go. Cloudy does, all the time, and I never feel like a lonely writer whenever she is around.

Westies Make Excellent Watchdogs

Westies make excellent watchdogs. The doorbell outside my apartment does not work, but I never really had to bother repairing it because I have Cloudy to tell me whenever anyone is outside the door. Their sense of hearing can be especially sharp.

The Westie is an Extremely Intelligent Breed

The Westie learns really fast. Teaching Cloudy to learn the basic commands of sit, stay and come did not take long, supported by a little 'treat' reinforcement.

Westies are frisky but loyal dogs.

Westies are frisky but loyal dogs.

Cons of Owning a Westie

Of course, as with any breed, there are some cons, as well.

The Westie is Prone to Hyperactivity

This breed is extremely hyperactive and needs regular runs. This is a point to note especially if you prefer a more sedentary kind of lifestyle. Cloudy wakes me up early in the morning without fail; she needs her run in the morning to help her burn her excess energy.

Please do not get a dog of this breed if you like your morning peace.

The Westie Requires Discipline

Being really frisky, a Westie can be destructive when it does not get proper attention and discipline. I had to establish boundaries so that Cloudy, for instance, would not chew my slippers. Sean had a similar problem; so I gradually learned to set rules for them to let them understand the limits.

A Westie loves going to extremes. On the one hand, it is known for its independence, wanting its “alone” time. But it also craves your attention. Cloudy, for instance, simply loves her morning hugs. This little dog also loves to bark to tell you where it is, almost as if it is afraid that it will never be found.

This Dog is a "Ratter"

The Westie loves to dig . . . and dig. Sean was famous for digging and scratching on the sofa; I had to let him know that it was not appropriate for him to claim his territory and warmth by digging. Knowing that they were bred to dig, this is definitely not unusual.

The Westie is Susceptible to Certain Illnesses

Like any other breed, the Westie has illnesses it is prone to. These include:

  • Addison's disease
  • Atopic Dermatitis
  • Blastomycosis Fungal Infection
  • Brucellosis
  • Cushing's
  • Diabetes
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (CIKS)
  • Lyme Disease
  • Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency
  • Seborrhea
  • Westie Lung Disease
  • White Shaker Disease

For more information, please consult your veterinarian.

Good Luck!

If you want to own a Westie, be prepared to welcome a charming, albeit sometimes too lively little fellow into the home. He can be entertaining, but he requires a lot of an owner’s time and effort.

One thing that a Westie is not—boring!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2012 Michelle Liew


Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on July 16, 2020:

Hey Mario, thanks for writing. You can give your furkid's an inexpensive probiotic! I do so for my dogs.

Mario Bon on July 15, 2020:

I have had my Westin (Santino)for 9 years and he suffers from occasional stomach acid, which causes him to throw up acid and bile. I was wondering if there is anything I can do to give him some relief.

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on June 18, 2020:

Thanks for the advice, Lynn!

Lynn on June 15, 2020:

Mark, its been 2 years for me too, since my Westie died in May 2017. It's the worst pain and heartache. Just wanted to say it's ok to cry, these Westies are each so special to us. We never forget them, they are always a part of us. Cherish your photos and memories.

Lynn on June 15, 2020:

First be sure your Westie doesn't have a flea. It only takes one to make them scratch. Have a q-tip with some vaseline to stop the flea easily and remove it promptly if you spot one. Be sure to kill it.

Amazon has Stratford Omega fish oil caps for Small to Med dogs. These really helped keep my Westie's skin and coat looking nice. Also good for overall health. Our vet said 1 cap daily of this brand. Hide in a small slice of banana or other treat. (They have a strong flavor and scent if cracked open some dogs don't like)

Also possible your Westie could be allergic to something. Sometimes keeping them with a short Puppy Cut will help too. Good luck.

Rod Whiting on June 11, 2020:

how do I stop my Westie, Sam from scratching.

I prefer not to give him medications.

is there a all natural holistic approach?

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on May 11, 2020:

Sorry to hear this Mark. I am close to Cloudy too so I get it.

Mark on May 08, 2020:

My westie was the best dog i ever had he lived a little over 15 years of age. I miss him every day it been almost 2 years and i still cry .

Jan on May 26, 2019:

I have my 3 rd Westie in 37 years. No other breed can take their place.

Maxine is almost 10. Got her as a puppy mill rescue at 9 weeks ❤️

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 01, 2014:

A Westie is quite a two room might be a little confining for it. But build a good relationship with it and it'll listen when you don't want it to go out.

Wd on April 01, 2014:

Hi, so I live in Singapore, where the climate is quite hot. Is the temperature still comfortable for them? Also, I live in a 2 room HDB, is there enough room for the puppy to move about? Many thanks for your help!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on June 15, 2013:

I would love to meet them! Thank you so much for sharing, Margaret and I am so glad to connect with a fellow Wstie lover!

Margaret Braban on June 15, 2013:

Add Your Comment..we had our first westies 12 years ago, sadly we lost them both to cancer, Molly when she was 8 and Pippa last year aged 11. We now haveWilma who is nearly 7 and our latest little girl Marnie wo is now 6 months old. We adore this breed and are having such pleasure fom the new baby. she was accepted by our big girl immediately and they play together all the time. Their bonding is so complete that Wilma often cleans Marnie. Someone old us to o have two bitches but it works really well. Westies Rule!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 13, 2013:

Thanks, Nithya!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on April 12, 2013:

Cute breed, they look adorable! enjoyed reading and voted up.

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on March 27, 2013:

I went into the hub before and just went in again! As usual, the dog is a truly loving creature and does not judge. That's why I like them too. Thanks, Pagesvoice!

Dennis L. Page from New York/Pennsylvania border on March 27, 2013:

Please don't misunderstand me because I am not self promoting, but I would love to have you visit my hub titled, "The Unconditional Love of a Dog." I'm not asking you to read it or even comment. I would just like you to look at my photos of Dexter, Daphne and Jasmine. I cannot imagine a life without the company of at least one dog. Thank you. Dennis

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on March 27, 2013:

Westies are like that...loving, giving and try to get along with everyone! Thanks for sharing, Pagesvoice!

Dennis L. Page from New York/Pennsylvania border on March 26, 2013:

I am so glad I came across your story on West Highland White Terriers. I agree with every word you have written. I have one Westie name Dexter. I rescued him as a 6 month old puppy and to this day Dexter has never done one thing bad in the house. On the very rare occasion when he needs a bathroom break in the middle of the night he climbs on my chest and lightly touches his nose to mine.

We also had a girl Westie named Daphne, along with our chihuahua Jasmine. Daphne was the spark that would fire up the other two and then she would lay on her back while they would play bite at her. She died a few years ago and I still miss her. Once she died Dexter and Jasmine no longer played with each other.

When Dexter was younger he made sure we didn't have a mole in the yard. Sadly he is getting old and I now have to lift him into his favorite chair and down the stairs. Even now he is fast asleep at my feet. Do I love Westies? Oh you bet I do.

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on January 12, 2013:

Cloud barks hi! Yes, they are, especially as they get older! Thanks for sharing!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on January 12, 2013:

We don't see Westies in my area of Florida. I don't know why. I think Cloud is just adorable. I love those little perky ears that stand straight up. They really are prone to a lot of health problems, though. I never knew the Schnauzer was prone to so many health problems until I got one!

I voted this UP, and will share.

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on January 12, 2013:

Hi Janine, Taffy must've been such a great dog for you to have missed him till now! That's the power of dogs, their faithfulness can be everlasting. Thanks of sharing!

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on January 12, 2013:

Michelle, I love reading about the Westie breed, because as you know we had one when I was growing up. You always bring back such great memories of Taffy for me. Thanks hon for doing that, because I still miss that dog so after so many years. That said I couldn't agree more that a Westie is an awesome dog to have as a pet!! Have of course voted up and shared all over!!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on June 10, 2012:

Glad your Westies are great company! Mine comes from Australia too, by the way. And yes, indeed, they are full of mischief!

Donna on June 09, 2012:

I have two Westies Molly is 2 and a half and Hamish is 17 mths I agree with some of what you are saying except the watch dog. Mine don't bark at people at the door they run to the door with tails wagging but a cat or another dog they go berserk. Lol they are full of mischief and have great personalities very popular here in Australia

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on June 03, 2012:

Thanks Daisy! These are adorable dogs indeed!

Chantele Cross-Jones from Cardiff on June 03, 2012:

Great Hub! I adore Westies. My parents bought one when I was 11, and he is still going, if a little old now. Alfie! He is the best dog I have ever had and has such a great character and temprament.

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on June 03, 2012:

Thanks for reading! Yes. The humidity over here can be a little difficult for them, so they need lots of water. I usually give Cloudy lots after her runs and keep a clean water bowl filled.

Nettlemere from Burnley, Lancashire, UK on June 03, 2012:

Interesting to read about your experiences of westies. I notice you live in Singapore - do they cope well with the humidity and heat there? I should imagine it's a very different climate to their native Scotland!

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