Developed in Scotland, the West Highland white terrier is a sassy and independent dog equipped with a remarkably bright white coat. Affectionately called ''Westies," these dogs adore people. Their devotion and friendliness, along with their strong-willed personality, make them a loving addition to the family. If you're interested in raising Westies, you need to be aware of this breed's temperament and health issues in order to bring up happy and healthy dogs.
Take your Westie puppy to the veterinarian for puppy shots and deworming. Your breeder should have already given your puppy a set of shots but you must continue the series in order for your puppy to be fully immunized. Bringing a stool sample along will be helpful so your veterinarian can run a fecal exam and rule out parasites, which can be common in puppies.2
Housebreak your Westie. Your breeder may have already started training your puppy by creating two distinct areas: one for sleeping, playing and eating, and one exclusively for soiling. Invest in a crate and make it extra comfy by adding a soft blanket and some toys. Westies are generally easy to potty train; just let them know that outdoors is the place to go by rewarding them with treats.3
Socialize your Westie puppy as much as possible. Socialization will provide guidance on how your Westie should be expected to behave around people and other dogs. Puppy classes can be an optimal place for Westies to learn the ABCs of the world and appropriate behaviors.4
Obedience train your Westie as much as possible. It must learn that you're in charge of all resources to prevent any potential food or toy possessiveness, something this breed is prone to. Ensure your Westie understands where its boundaries are by displaying a firm, confident and consistent leadership role. Failure to do so may result in food guarding, aggressive behaviors, excessive barking and biting.5
Groom your Westie. Luckily, this breed's coat doesn't shed much, requiring only regular brushings using a stiff bristle brush. Don't forget to trim around the ears and eyes with a blunt-nosed scissor. Trim a Westie's coat about every four months and strip it at least twice a year.6
Exercise your Westie to keep it happy and healthy. This breed needs a nice walk each day to fulfill its primal instinct to exercise and move. A stroll will also help prevent behavioral problems stemming from boredom and pent-up energy.7
Keep up with routine veterinary visits to ensure your Westie's health. According to the Westie Club of America, this breed is predisposed to the following health conditions: atopic dermatitis, luxating patella, inflammatory bowel disease, Legg-Calv-Perthes disease, dry eye and white shaker's syndrome.