West Highland White Terriers might look like meek, small dogs, but their bark and confident demeanor gives them away. Around big dogs, Westies stand their ground. They won’t let their size scare them away from a staredown…or bark off!
Even though Westie owners, myself included, condemn this behavior, correcting it, we also know that it comes naturally to them. Because in the end, your Westie and my Sami are big dogs stuck in a small dog’s body. They exhibit certain traits and behaviors to remind you and other dogs not to get fooled by their size.
I am familiar with Sami’s quirks and characteristics, but for a new Westie owner or a person mulling over the idea to get one, it’ll be fun to learn about them in advance and then identify them later. Here are five ways your Westie is a big dog:
1. Brimming with Confidence
These small dogs are full of themselves. Put them in a burrowing competition with dogs twice their size, and they’ll not get intimidated. In fact, it’ll be the opposite. They’ll be the one frightening you. This cocky and overconfident breed will make sure to tell other dogs who the boss is …train them to tame this behavior and make them humble.
Even though they think they are a big shot, they are friendly, lively, energetic, and loving small dogs. They won’t get their big dog personality get in the way of a hug and a kiss.
2. Retired Hunting Companions that Are Always on the Hunt
Historically bred as hunting dogs, Westies have a passion for hunting. Their cute, pointy ears stand up straight when they hear a sound. If they see a small animal, they’ll go after it…they won’t be able to resist it because the hunter in them takes over.
This is why, Sami is always leashed. When I walk and he sees a small animal, he tugs on the leash, wanting to go after it. Without his leash, his hunting instincts would take over and next thing you know, he’ll be barking up a storm, trying to get to the squirrel perched up a tree. However, now, they aren’t considered your classic hunting dogs to take with you hunting. From time to time, the hunter in them just resurfaces.
3. Always On the Go
Westies are on the go dogs that will always be doing something. There’s not rest for Sami. It doesn’t exist. Since I am an avid traveler and very active, Sami and I are always doing something together and we’re always going somewhere.
This is one personality trait that definitely works for me. Because of their energetic personality, Westies require a lot of exercise. If you like outdoor activities, such as hiking on terrains of all difficulty, your Westie will happily join you.
Westies have been bred for the outdoors. This is why I go on several outdoor adventures with Sami. Since I take him outdoors a lot, I have noticed a decrease in other behaviors, such as excessive barking and digging. I find new ways to keep Sami busy and you can do the same.
4. Does Not Like to Sit Still
Sami doesn’t like to sit still and if he’s sitting still for too long, he becomes restless. They aren’t a lazy dog breed, that’s for sure. However, that doesn’t mean that there will be days where your Westie will not come up to you to rest or sleep in your lap. He will because even though they are restless dogs, they’re also the most affectionate.
5. Party Animal
I wouldn’t be surprised if the term “party animal” was coined after them. They love to be the center of attention. They love it when all eyes are on them. If you’re not looking their way, they will let you by doing something adorable to get your attention.
When I take Sami somewhere, he’s always interacting with people, including kids. He plays with them and lets them pet him. When he’s among big dogs, he definitely steals all the attention.
6. Little Einstein
One of the reasons training Sami was so easy is because he comes from a breed of intelligent dogs. He picks up on things fast. You can teach him basic commands, and it won’t take him long to learn and follow them.
If you’re getting a Westie puppy, I suggest you train and socialize it with people and other animals from the start. Before I enrolled Sami in obedience training classes, I asked my vet first. When my vet gave me the green light to enroll him, I did and so should you.
Do You Think You Can Handle This Small Dog’s Big Personality?
Don’t let their intense personalities dissuade you from getting a Westie. These small dogs — growing up to 10 to 11 inches tall and weigh 15 to 20 pounds (male) and 9 to 11 inches tall and weigh 13 to 16 pounds (female) — with big personalities have a big heart.
They can live up to 15 years and no matter how old they get, they will still remain the same — bigger than ever…in their mind. Hear it from me: not one day goes by where I am not satisfied with getting a Westie. Moreover, with any dog, it’s challenging at first, some more than others, but it gets easier with time.
Don’t let this small dog change your mind because you’ll love having them as part of your family and will come to embrace their big dog ways.