Wednesday, August 3, 2011

West Highland White Terrier

West Highland White Terriers really now how to make people smile, especially with that cute look on their faces. The West Highland White Terrier is known as the Westie for short.

This Terrier comes from Scotland, and is related to Skye Terriers, Cairn Terriers, Dandie Dinmont Terriers, and Scottish Terriers, too. It was bred to go underground to find small vermin for hunters. It was bred to dig underground in holes, and in fact, the "Terra" in "Terrier" means "earth". Legend says that a hunter named Colonel Edward Donald Malcom kept many terriers for hunting. However, one of the reddish-colored terriers was shot, being mistaken for a fox.

So, he bred a dog to have a white coat so he wouldn't be mistaken for a fox. This coat repels and sheds dirt, and is also double-layered. Some Westies also got stuck in holes while looking for small game underground. Westie owners would then have to dig them out. So many got stuck, that they bred for a Westie with a strong tail. This way, they could be pulled out of the hole by being grabbed on the tail. It doesn't hurt them at all, and if you tried to grab a Westie by the tail and lift it up, it wouldn't hurt the Westie at all. The breed gained AKC recognition in 1908.

Grooming this breed is sometimes demanding. It needs a weekly brushing, and will be more demanding if you want to use a West Highland White Terrier for show. The breed has health issues, such as heart disease, hip dysplasia, juvenile cataracts, and allergy and lung problems. He can live up to about 14 years on average. The breed's double-layered coat makes it good for cold climates; and they are sensitive to extreme heat. It needs some time to romp in an enclosed yard to release that Terrier energy. It could be an apartment dog as long as you exercise it. Because it is so independent at times, training could be a challenge. Westies can be good family dogs for those who are looking for a cute and feisty companion.

However, if you devote yourself to your Westie, he will devote himself to you.

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