The AKC Standard says that the West Highland White Terrier is possessed with no small amount of self-esteem.
Along with the Cairn Terrier, the West Highland White Terrier is what many people picture when they hear “terrier.”
The Westie is everything a terrier was designed to be. Sturdy, spunky, and bold, he/she needs their daily walks and interactive play sessions. Yet they are easier to handle and friendlier than some other terriers. They can adapt to any home in which they can be a full participant and busybody.
Extremely fast to announce anything, including visitors, the Westie usually proceeds to welcome them inside with an overly excited wagging tail. West Highland White Terriers can be bossy with other dogs of the same sex, but otherwise can coexist with other dogs and cats more easily than most terriers. We have three girls, and they’re ALL bossy!
Assertive but cheerful, with the typical stubbornness and cleverness of a true terrier, the Westie must be shown that you are in charge, else they may become demanding and testy when they don’t get their own way. They don’t respond well to consistent discipline and to obedience training that utilizes food rewards.
West Highland White Terriers can be possessive of their food and toys, and they are determined diggers and moderate barkers. Try to break this very early on, as it gets harder to break the older they get.
If you’re looking for a dog that is small, sturdy and tough, needs moderate exercise, a good watchdog, and doesn’t shed too much, yet, is not a delicate lapdog, then a Westie might be for you.
If you can’t deal with a dog that is stubborn, likes to dig, barks moderately, requires regular brushing and clipping, and may have health issues later in life, then a Westie may not be for you.