This is our first post in a series concerning owning a Westie – especially if you are a first time owner.
Do not bring a Westie into your life if you are looking for a calm dog – especially when outdoors. Most Westies are not quiet when outside in the elements. West Highland White Terriers by nature are earth dogs and some exhibit strong hunting instincts. This breed was developed in the Highlands of Scotland for the hard and arduous work of destroying vermin.
‘Terrier’ comes from the Latin word Terra, meaning earth. When outside, you will find a Westie’s nose usually pointing down towards the earth. Especially one with a powerful prey drive.
Westies aren’t labeled at dog shows as hunting dogs, but Westie Insider views them that way. When you watch any dog show, they are in the terrier group, and rightly so. Terriers have a mix of possessing working and tracking/hunting instincts. Westies like to sleuth. The minute you take them outside, their nose hits the ground, and in an instant, they are pulling the leash following any new or unfamiliar scent.
When you come home from work tired and simply want to relax, are you fine taking your Westie for a walk with her/him continually pulling on the leash following every new scent? Sure trainers work, and we have worked with many over the years, with various Westies; however, when the strong earthdog instinct takes over, it supersedes training.
If you don’t have a fence, are you prepared to always take your Westie outside with a leash? Let’s say your Westie needs to take a potty break at midnight and you are fatigued and groggy-eyed. If you accidentally open the door before putting on the leash and there are deer or any small animal in the yard, the Westie will bolt.
Typically, Westies do mellow a little with age, but it’s not enough to stifle their earth dog, hunting instincts.
This is not to say that absolutely every Westie possesses a strong hunting instinct. Over decades and generations (breeding) some natural instinct was lost in certain lines of Westies. However, there are still lines of Westies with keen earthdog instincts. These descendants would love nothing more than running after a rabbit, even if it means crossing a bustling street.
At Westie Insider we strive to show a practical and honest insight of West Highland White Terriers. They are glossed over as amazingly calm and well-behaved dogs, and often that’s not the case. We don’t want to see a Westie abandoned or handed over to a shelter. If you don’t think you can handle a Westie, please don’t purchase one.