THE WEST HIGHLAND WHITE TERRIER
When thinking of buying a West Highland White Terrier (Westie) it is a good idea to read some literature about the breed to see if it will fit in with what you want in a pet. They are a terrier and not a toy dog. They are a very intelligent breed and need to keep their brains occupied. Westies can have a will of their own but are also keen to please their owner. You must however be firm with them so they know you are the pack leader and not them. With proper training they make wonderful pets.
Westies and Children
Westies generally get on well with children but you must be careful that the child is not allowed to manhandle the puppy. The puppy is tiny at 8 weeks old and they may hurt it. In addition, if the child hurts the puppy it may retaliate and then be labelled as vicious when it is not their fault. As with most puppies of any breed, they will chew anything and their teeth are like needles so be prepared to ensure the puppy knows not to bite fingers, toes etc. If they are chewing or biting, tell them very firmly “no” and if possible give them a toy that they are allowed to chew.
Care of the Coat
The Westie coat needs attention; their coat grows and needs regular grooming. They will also need to visit the grooming parlour about four times per year for trimming. They have a dense furry undercoat and a harsh outer coat. If you get your Westie clipped then he or she may well loose the harsh texture to the outer coat. Most pet owners have them clipped; it is very hard to find a groomer who will hand strip the coat which is what is required to keep it harsh. If you are grooming your Westie, use both a brush and a wide tooth comb. You must get through the undercoat as well as the top coat otherwise the coat will become matted which can lead to skin problems as well as discomfort for the dog.
Care of the Puppy
When you get your puppy it will probably be 8 weeks old, at this stage they require feeding four times daily and frequent trips outside to the toilet to enable you to housetrain them. They also require human company and it is not a good idea to have a young puppy if you are out at work all day, it is unfair to the puppy. You should ask the Breeder has the puppy been wormed, and what it has been fed on. All puppies should have been wormed by the time they are ready for their new homes, it is also a bad idea suddenly to change their diet. The Breeder should give you a diet sheet and probably enough food to last a couple of days. You should take the puppy to your vet for examination soon after getting it to ensure it is healthy and to have his or her first vaccination if this has not been given already.
Paperwork for Your Puppy
When you get your Westie (or any other breed you choose), you should receive the Kennel Club Registration Certificate. Sometimes this is not back from the Kennel Club and in those cases get something in writing to say the registration will be forthcoming. You also normally get a pedigree with your puppy and some breeders will provide insurance for the first 6 weeks of the puppy’s life. It is up to you at the end of that time to decide if you want to continue with the insurance. It is a good idea as if Westies are going to develop any health problems particular to the breed they will usually appear in the first year of its life.
Westies are generally healthy animals but as is the case with many breeds of dog, there are some conditions that crop up from time to time in the breed.
They are as follows:-
Skin problems – many conditions come under this umbrella
Dry Eye – this is where the eye does not produce enough tears and they will require drops for it
C.M.O. – this involves an over production of calcium generally in the jaw which causes pain when eating. It will often appear when they start to change their teeth. It can be cured by anti-inflammatory medication and they normally grow out of it by 1 year old. There are no long-term affects from it.
Leg Perthes – this condition involves the head of the femur not fitting correctly into the socket, an operation is usually necessary but the puppy will live a normal healthy life with no after affects. Again, this normally appears in the first year of life
The following is a link to the American Westie Club site where you can read in depth about many conditions. Please do not be alarmed they are not common but they are known in the breed.
Other useful links are
What to Look For When Buying Your Westie Puppy
1. Try to find a reputable breeder, contacting the Kennel Club does not guarantee this; it only means the puppy is Kennel Club Registered. A Breed Club is a better way to find a breeder. Our Breed Club has a Code of Ethics as do the other Breed Clubs in the UK, which our members have to stick to in their Breeding Programmes.
2. Be careful of buying puppies advertised in the Newspapers. Not all of these will be Puppy Farmed Westies but the majority of Puppy Farmers sell their puppies by advertising in local press.
3. Be wary of breeders who only use mobile telephone numbers in their ads or who offer to meet you in a garage forecourt for example to hand over the puppy.
4. Note the age the breeder is willing to let the puppy go at, reputable breeders will normally not let them go until they are at least 8 weeks old; Puppy Farmers will let them go from 6 weeks which is to young.
5. Try to establish if they have any other breeds of dog for sale, very few Puppy Farmers sell just one breed.
6. Visit the premises to see the puppy before you buy, ask to see the mother, often the father is not owned by the breeder so it may not be possible to see him. A healthy Westie puppy will be full of beans, and full of mischief. Eyes should be bright with no discharge. Check the coat for parasites or signs of them, e.g. scabs on the skin.
7. If you cannot get a puppy immediately from a reputable breeder, please be prepared to wait, do not be tempted to buy from a Puppy Farm, you could be buying a lot of trouble for yourself, in some cases the puppies die a very short time after they go to their new homes. You may have to wait for a puppy from a reliable source but it should be a well-reared, healthy puppy who will be a wonderful addition to your family.
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