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The West Highland White Terrier

So you have decided you are going to buy a West Highland white terrier, otherwise known as a Westie. Westies are great little light-hearted dogs. They are quick to learn, and as a rule they are very self sufficient, and have wonderful, unique personalities. Most Westie owners will tell you that their dog possesses a "big personality." They are lovable, but will never be mistaken for a lap dog.

If you are looking for a cuddly lap dog, a Westie may not be the right breed for you. They are notoriously independent, and won't tolerate being held for very long periods. They like to be in close proximity to their owner/families, but they need their space. As a rule, when a Westie chooses a sleeping area they will find a private space. Away from the family, this sleeping area will most likely be somewhat protected on three sides; they also like to "cover their backs" when they sleep. Naturally there are exceptions to the rule. If the dog is taught to be a bit of a lap dog, they will most likely be a lap dog. But the Westie is not a natural lap dog. They like to call the shots, so to speak.

The Westie likes to be taken along with the family whenever possible. They are friendly, and love people in general, especially children. They are very loyal to their families and prefer being with their owners/families whenever possible.

When purchasing a dog most people prefer to buy a young puppy, and train the dog themselves. This can be rewarding. If buying a puppy, make sure you are home regularly enough to train the puppy properly. Westies are easy to train, but someone has to be in the home to do the training. Remember, it can be a frustrating and time consuming task to train a puppy. The other option is to purchase a dog that is a bit older, and has already been trained by the breeder. This is a good option, and many breeders can accommodate with a dog that is a little older and trained.

Male or female? In regard to temperament, there is little or no difference between the two in the Westie breed. It is said that Westie males are more affectionate than female Westies. The female is smaller and lighter, so easier to control on a walk or carry when necessary.

This pure white, sturdy small-framed dog is always full of energy and always on the alert and looking for fun. They love to get out and walk, and run in a wooded area, looking for game.

Westies’ ears stand up naturally at each side of their fluffy, happy face. At the opposite end, a perky short tail, which - by nature’s design - comes to a gradual point. As adults, it is desirable for the male Westie to be 11 inches in height; the female 10 inches in height. A Westies coat should be pure white. They have a double coat; the under coat being soft and fluffy, the top coat a bit coarse and wiry. This dual coat is natural to the Westie. The breed was developed and bread for a hard and dangerous job - that of hunting out and killing vermin. So the dual coat provides the Westie a good natural form of protection, not only from the elements, but the claws and teeth of its prey. The dry texture of the Westies coat also works to cut down on doggy odor. Due to this dryer coat they require less baths. They can be kept clean with frequent brushing and dry cleaning (this is done by adding a bit of corn starch to the dogs coat, brushing it out after a few minutes.)

Choosing a reputable breeder is very important. It is impossible to know when picking out your particular puppy just how that dog will turn out emotionally and physically. This is the best reason to find a good reputable breeder. A good breeder strives to breed healthy dogs that will exhibit traits that are natural to the dog they chose to breed. There are three choices when it comes to breeders; pet shop breeders, back yard breeders, and serious hobby breeders.

The pet shop breeder is the worst possible choice you can make when buying a dog. The puppies are poorly bred, and are thought of as merchandise to be sold for at a high profit. This form of breeding as a rule puts out sickly, unstable dogs, and I highly recommend you stay clear of pet shop breeders.

The backyard breeder can also be a poor choice. This type of breeder may be a Westie owner that thought it would be “fun” to have puppies. They know little about puppies and the training of puppies. As a rule they are not well acquainted with the stud dogs, and can offer little information on his background. They are unaware of the history of the breed, and any special needs of a given breed. To sum it up, they are ill-equipped to breed dogs, and lack the knowledge one needs to be a good breeder.

Your best choice when buying a dog is to find a serious hobby breeder. They have done their homework on the breed they are selling. As a rule, they are dog fanciers and do not look at breeding as a profit-only venture. They are breeding for show dogs. They strive to breed the best of their chosen breed. They will take responsibility for any and all pups produced, and stand behind their dogs. You can be assured the dogs are healthy, and have been given all the veterinary care they need as puppies along with proper training. A good breeder of Westies will belong to the “West Highland White Terrier Club of America”, and/or other well known Westie Clubs. They will most likely be involved in showing their dogs. A good breeder will ask you questions, and be very discriminating on the homes their puppies go to. They will guarantee their puppies, with an agreement to take the puppy back if for some reason you find you are not compatible with your new puppy. They will give you time to have the puppy looked at by a veterinarian of your choice, just to ensure there are no health problems looming, and that the puppy is in a good healthy condition.

A good breeder will have numerous references. They will be able to provide you with such references, in the way of other persons that have purchased dogs from them, along with their own veterinarians references. The breeder should be able to answer questions on the breed, and show a good knowledge of the breeds history. The breeder should also provide written instructions in regard to the puppies needs. Diet, exercise, and health care needs as a puppy and adult dog. The kennels should be clean, providing the dogs with a healthy environment. The dogs should be comfortable with the breeder, and show a good rapport with them. The dogs in the kennels should be of good temperament, and healthy in appearance. The good breeder will never sell a puppy that is too young to leave its mother.

And finally, the breeder should provide you with a record of the dates and types of vaccinations and worming that has been done on your puppy, along with any and all records on visits to the vet the puppy may have required while in the breeder’s care. It is also desirable to ask questions on the health of the parent dogs. The breeder must provide you with A 3- to 5-generation pedigree, and a "blue slip" to apply for registration of the Westie into the AKA.

Once you have found a trustworthy breeder here are a few tips on choosing the right puppy: Age is important; a puppy is usually ready to be taken to its new home at the age of eight to twelve weeks. You may find that all Westie pups look alike; they pretty much do all look alike. Look for a puppy with a sturdy build. The dog should feel firm, with good muscle tone. Their legs should be straight. The pup should be active when picked up, squirmy, after a short time relaxing and willing to be petted and cuddled a bit. Their coats should be thick and clean. There should be no discharge from eyes, nose or ears, and no odor at the ears. The eyes should be bright, with an alert look. The gums should be moist and pink. The dog should be active with the other pups. It's a good idea to ask the breeder about the puppies personality. They can help you pick a dog that will be suited to your needs and your personality.

It is always smart to observe the dam for her traits. Does she appear overly shy, aggressive, stand-offish. Is she patient and watchful of the puppies, and not overly aggressive of the liter? Do the parent dogs look in good health? Are their coats healthy and do they appear active with good stamina? It is well known puppies can and do inherit traits from the parent dogs.

If you do your homework, you are more likely to pick just the right dog. The Westie is a wonderful breed. They are bright, happy spirited dogs, and will bring with them their own special outgoing personality. They will fast become your best friend.
About Author Sharon Stajda :

Sharon Stajda is a proud owner of a Westie known as Rose. For more information about the West Highland White Terrier, visit: <a href="" target="_blank"></a>

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Article Added on Wednesday, July 19, 2006
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