The West Highland White Terrier, affectionately known as the “Westie,” is a small dog breed known for its somewhat feisty personality.
These pint-sized pups only reach heights of nine to 12 inches tall. Fully grown, they only tip the scales to around 20 pounds at most. But don’t let their small stature fool you.
These dogs can be a handful!
While dedicated Westie owners will gush over these small puffs of white fur, many aren’t too keen on this breed. Westies are getting less popular in the United States and beyond.
Once among some of the most elite and favored breeds, these dogs are nowhere near the top 10 list these days.
But what is it about these dogs that are turning people away?
There’s a lot to love about Westies, and staunch defenders are more than eager to talk about their highlights. However, it’s important to be realistic when looking at potential dog breeds.
Compatibility issues can result in rehoming, which is no fun for you or the dog.
To help you understand whether a Westie is suitable for you, here are some reasons why people think this dog breed is one of the worst.
8 Reasons Why Westies are the Worst
#1. Grooming Needs
Let’s start with one thing you can’t ignore as a Westie owner: Grooming!
These dogs are the epitome of adorable. They have thick, double coats of pure white pure. When you think of perfectly coifed locks and spoiled pups,
Westies often come to mind. But those beautifully groomed dogs you see on TV and in magazines require a lot of work to look as good as they do.
Grooming Westies can be a nightmare!
In addition to regular baths, you must brush these dogs frequently. Otherwise, they develop tangles that quickly turn into stubborn mats.
But that’s not all. Trims are a must, too.
Westies can look worse for wear if you don’t trim their fur. Shedding is moderate, so that’s a plus. However, many Westies visit groomers once a week!
Even if you do everything yourself, that’s a big commitment.
#2. Lifestyle Needs
Like other terrier breeds, the Westie was initially bred to hunt vermin. While most dogs these days are nothing more than house pets and beloved family members, their ancestors’ instincts are still present.
Westies have a seemingly endless supply of energy. They’re not known for being super muscular, but these dogs are surprisingly athletic.
They excel in sporting activities and need ample exercise to stay happy.
Westies aren’t for you if you’re looking for a lazy lap dog.
They do best in active households with plenty of opportunities to exercise. Standard walks around the block aren’t enough.
#3. A Constant Need for Stimulation
Westies are an intelligent breed. They have to be to excel at hunting cunning rats! But that intelligence is like a double-edged sword.
While it does lead to some great moments of understanding and capability, it also can create a nightmare scenario of boredom.
Westies don’t do well locked up at home alone or cooped up in a crate. They need constant stimulation.
Even if you work from home, these dogs will be by your side, asking to play every moment they can.
If you don’t provide enough mental stimulation, Westies can turn to destructive behavior. Whether it’s chewing or incessant barking, it’s not something you’ll want to deal with regularly.
Chew toys, treat dispensers, and other mental stimulation playthings are a must for Westies.
#4. Loud Habits
Speaking of incessant barking, this is a trait that can drive many dog owners crazy. If you live in an apartment, condo, or any other home with shared walls, prepare for your neighbors to hate you if you have a Westie.
This breed is one of the more vocal. They often communicate through howls, barks, and yaps. If someone comes to your home, you’ll know about it!
The good news? Westies almost always have a reason to bark. The ones that bark for no reason are often conditioned to do so.
They’ll require extra training and help from a dog behavior expert. But even “normal” Westies can use some additional training to encourage them to be quieter.
#5. Aggressive Tendencies
Unfortunately, Westies can be a little aggressive. Despite their small stature, these breeds have no problem standing up to humans or dogs three times their size.
Aggression can come in many forms. These dogs can bark, growl, snap, and snarl at anything they’re not used to seeing.
Some dogs will even challenge your leadership and authority, occasionally biting owners.
Many Westies will also get aggressive in guarding resources, such as food and toy.
They can also exhibit some predatory behavior against smaller animals. Remember: Westies are born vermin-hunters!
This breed isn’t aggressive in the same way as other vicious dogs. They’re fully capable of getting along with other animals and people. However, they need time to get to know them first.
Aggressive tendencies can come out in full force if an unknown pet or person comes into the mix.
#6. Over Protective Nature
Here’s something about Westies that some people find admirable.
These dogs are pretty weak-looking compared to other breeds. They’re small and fluffy, making it easy to assume that the dog is weak and scared.
However, the reality is far different.
Westies are fiercely protective of the people they love. It doesn’t matter if you have things under control; Westies feel the need to protect owners whenever something new comes into the mix.
They might bark at perceived intruders, get between you and another dog, growl, and more.
It’s a cute quirk that shows just how loyal Westies are. But there’s no denying that it can also cause some trouble.
Getting a Westie comfortable with new environments and people can be a tall order.
#7. Training Challenges
Westies aren’t impossible to train. The process simply requires more patience and unique strategies.
In recent years, this breed developed an unfair reputation of being nearly impossible to train. But that often comes from inexperienced dog owners.
Westies aren’t the breed for people who have never tried to reign in an independent dog.
Westies are notoriously independent thinkers. They’re similar to Siberian Huskies and Akitas.
While other breeds linger on your every command, Westies will decide if your orders are worth following or not. They don’t necessarily need your approval.
Furthermore, Westies were initially bred to think fast while hunting. Waiting around for your commands isn’t something that comes naturally to them.
You can train Westies successfully, but it usually requires more work and strategic methods. It’s not the same as training a Golden Retriever or Border Collie.
If you’re inexperienced, getting help from a professional is always good.
#8. Unique Health Challenges
Considering potential health problems is crucial no matter what type of dog you’re thinking of adopting.
Dogs are living creatures who can get injured, suffer from diseases, and more. It’s a reality you must face, and knowing what to expect with a dog can help you prepare for the future.
Westies are susceptible to many health conditions. Some are genetic while others depend on the dog’s lifestyle and diet.
Common issues Westies experience include:
- Dental disease
- Skin disorders
- Ocular conditions
- Joint pain and arthritis
- Patellar luxation
- Endocrine disease
- Urinary problems
- Neurological conditions
Always go to a reputable breeder. Many will screen for genetic dispositions, giving you a better idea of what issues could occur.
Of course, regular trips to the vet are necessary, too.
Are Westies Really That Bad?
With that list of shortcomings, it’s easy to think Westies are the worst breed ever. But that’s all up to perspective!
The West Highland White Terrier can be an adorable canine companion. They have unique challenges like any other breed, and some of those issues are too much to handle. That’s OK.
But if you’re up for the challenge, Westies can be a rewarding breed to raise. It all depends on what you can manage.
With careful training, tons of support, and loads of patience, you can have a happy and healthy bundle of fur to love.
Also Read: Why Schnauzers Are The Worst Dogs