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Skin Issues

West Highland Terriers are known to be at risk for various skin disorders of different types, and the occurrence of skin and coat problems as a whole within the breed is much higher than it is for most other breeds.

Atopic dermatitis is an uncomfortable and ongoing condition that affects 25% or more of all Westies, with male dogs of the breed more likely to be affected than females.

Hyperplastic dermatosis is another condition associated with the Westie, and one that is not known to affect any other breed of dog. While the condition is not particularly prevalent within the breed as a whole, the condition, when present, is rather severe. Sometimes the condition is misdiagnosed as a simple allergy or general dermatitis in the early stages, as the condition is progressive.

Symptoms of the condition include hair loss, red hyperpigmentation of the fur (the fur taking on a reddish tinge) and scaly lesions of the skin that are known as lichenification. Hair loss is often associated with the condition, and the appearance of the skin underneath is often rough, scaly, lumpy and uncomfortable-looking, and very dry. If hair loss is not present, sometimes, the affected areas are shaved in order to gain better access to the affected skin. Generally, the skin along the dog’s back is the most likely to be affected with hyperplastic dermatosis.

Caring for a Westie with skin problems is an ongoing process, which may require regular medicated baths, application of skin ointments and moisturisers, and other care. If you suspect that your Westie might be suffering from a skin condition, or they appear to be particularly itchy or prone to dry skin, it is important to take your dog to the vet to get a diagnosis, and establish the best way to proceed with treatment.

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