Before you buy a puppy

Things to consider and things to look for in a breeder and a puppy.

Waiting to pick up your puppy

You have found the right breeder and you have selected your puppy. What to do before you bring your puppy home.

Caring for your new puppy

You have a new puppy! Hints and tips for new puppy owners.

Things to consider before you buy a Westie Puppy

Is this the right breed for you?

The first thing you need to consider, is whether a West Highland White Terrier is the right breed for you and your family.

Westies are terriers, they are active, alert, game and full of self-importance. They are not a dog that needs pampering, they love being part of all activities. They are Westies are extremely faithful and will follow their owners anywhere.

So what's the downside?
Westies do have a stubborn streak, early training is therefore essential. Because they are intelligent, they know when it's bath time, bed time or bath time or time to get their nails cut and if you are trying to do something that they don't want to do, they will run, hide and when you finally catch them, they will fight you all the way, making it a difficult and unpleasant experience for both of you.
They are a long coated dog, which means they require regular grooming. They should be thoroughly brushed at least once a week and they need to be clipped every 8 to 10 weeks.

The solution?
Right from the time you take your new puppy home, you need to start their training. Pick them up, cuddle them, play with their feet and get them used to your touch, so that they don't fight you when you try to clip their nails. Get them to stand on a table and give them a quick brush. It only need to be for a minute or two, but do it regularly. Lavish them with attention and praise and then give them a small treat when you have finished. The aim is to make these tasks a pleasant experience for the puppy, so that they look forward to being groomed. Slowly build up the grooming time until you are giving them a thorough brush and comb. If you are consistent, your Westie will respond and this will help you bond with your puppy and the result will be a loving and lasting relationship between the two of you.

Finding the right breeder

Westie puppies can be hard to find, partly because they are so cute, they are always in demand and partly because they only have small litters (3 to 4 is the average litter size).

If you have been searching for a puppy for some time and you finally find one available the temptation is to grab it before someone else does, but make sure you do your due diligence first.

Ask yourself why is this puppy available when other breeders have waiting lists? Sometimes you can just be lucky, being in the right place at they right time. It could be that the breeder had a litter that was larger than expected. Perhaps the breeder had someone lined up for one of their puppies, but they pulled out at the last minute. Maybe it's a new breeder who is just starting to advertise...
or maybe its a puppy mill. A breeder who has a lot of dogs and breeds them in poor conditions and/or over-breeds their dogs.

A good breeder will want to meet you and ask you a series of questions to make sure that you will provide a good home for their puppies, but you should also make sure that the breeder is responsible and raise their puppies in a caring environment. To do this you should visit them and their Westies. Make sure they are happy, healthy and have good temperaments. Same goes for their Westies. Where possible meet the parents of the puppies. This is not always possible as the breeder may have used a stud dog from another breeder, but they may have sisters, grandparents, aunties and other family members that you can meet.

Be wary of any breeder that discourages you to visit them. Some breeders will tell you its a long drive and offer to help you out by meeting you half way at a neutral site or even deliver the puppy to you because 'they were going that way anyway'. This may sound friendly and helpful, but they may simply be trying to sell you a puppy without letting you see the conditions that it came from.

A breeder who offer to sell you a puppy without papers to save the additional expense should also not be trusted. It only costs $30 or $40 to register a pedigree puppy. If they are selling puppies without papers it means either the puppies are not purebred or they have overbred their dog as canine councils will not allow a breeder to register more than 2 litters from a bitch in an 18 month period, to stop puppy farmers from breeding their bitches on every cycle.

So where do I find registered breeders?
Looking for puppies in newspaper advertisements and online selling/trading sites is fraught with danger. Look for sites that require advertisers to be registered with their local kennel council or visit your local kennel council site.
Your local Westie Club should have a breeders list. See our Westie Club List to find the nearest club to you.
Other sites such as Dogzonline require breeders to provide their registration details before they allow them to advertise on the site.

Waiting to pick up your puppy

You're getting a Westie!

You've found the right breeder, they have a puppy available, you may have even been to visit your puppy, what now?
First you need to puppy-proof your home and your garden.

Consider where they are going to sleep and where you want them to go to the toilet.
Even if the breeder has started the process, the puppy won't be fully house-trained and at 8 weeks probably won't be able to go through the night without needing to pee and/or poo, so set up an area for them with that in mind. Use baby gates if necessary to fence off areas that you don't want them to access.
Be prepared for accidents. Remember they are only babies, and they will take time to get used to their new environment.

Get their beds, toys and their food and water bowls in advance. The puppy will be teething, so get some good chew toys for them.

If you have any existing pets, set up the puppy area in advance, so that they have some warning of the impending invader.


After Puppy Arrives

Once your puppy arrives:
- Make sure you have a supply of the same food that the breeder uses. If you want to change the food, do it gradually.
- Never burn candles where they are accessible to your Westie.
- Keep rubbish bins behind closed doors.
- Use pesticides, insecticides and other household, yard and garden chemicals with caution.
- Be certain that oils, paints and chemicals are out of reach and any automotive drippings are cleaned up completely.
- Always make sure that your Westie has access to a toilet area, whether it is via a doggy door or have newspaper or a a small piece of artificial grass in a tiled area that it can use if it needs to when it can't go outside.
- Make sure that you don't ignore any existing pets and focus your attention on the puppy. They will begin to resent the puppy and may harm it.
- Set your ground rules and enforce them from the start.
Don't let the puppy chew anything that it shouldn't. Don't let them chew on an old shoe because they won't know the difference between an old slipper and an expensive pair of new shoes.