Let’s admit it. The Terrier group is so vast that we could hardly decide which one to go for. Even if we come down to two: The Australian Silky Terrier or the West Highland White Terrier, our minds still get boggled which between the two is better! To help with the dilemma, both breeds are actually great in their unique ways. Finding the right dog boils down to what kind of owner you are going to be.
Both Terriers are Earth dogs and they possess the general qualities from their Terrier heritage. Although they have the same ancestry, the Australian Silky Terrier and the Westie are actually distinguished according to their appearance, behavior, and temperament. Looking at what sets each other apart is important for every potential dog owner before bringing one to your household.
To make it easier for you to decide, we have put together a comprehensive list of information for each dog breed such as the history, physical characteristics, health conditions, and lots of other fun facts!
Table of Contents
The Silky Terrier has been developed in Australia although its ancestry is traced back to Great Britain. We have come to meet this Silky dog through crossbreeding the Yorkshire Terrier and the Australian Terrier in the early 19th century. Usually, most Australian breeds are classified as working dogs, but the Silky is excluded from the class. He was primarily bred to be an urban companion, but this does not mean that he isn’t capable of dealing with Australia’s wild snakes!
The popularity of this smooth and shiny-coated little toy dog surged in 1954 when Australian-based American servicemen brought back a couple of Silkies. Up until now, the fame of this breed is maintained and it stays to be a great choice for many dog lovers.
The Westie originally comes from Scotland where the said breed essentially performs hunting duties such as catching field rodents, foxes, and even otters. Unfortunately for this little pooch, there is not much evidence to determine its exact history. Some have speculated him to come from a breed of small dogs gifted to the king of France by James I of Argyllshire.
Additionally, this Terrier dog comes down as a result of many breeding programs of the White Terrier during the 19th century. It is through Colonel Edward Donald Malcolm, 16th Laird of Poltalloch that makes us enjoy the modern Westie that we have these days. It is believed that the development of the Westie resulted from a tragic accident that occurred whilst hunting foxes when one of his favorite wheaten-colored Cairns was mistaken to be a fox and was fatally shot and killed.
To avoid repeating the same mistake, he decided to keep only white and cream highland Terriers despite the local superstition that white dogs are inferior to colored ones. The Westies we see today are direct descendants of the Poltalloch Terriers and is a cousin to the Cairn Terrier.
Size, Appearance, & Coloring
Classified as a toy breed, this little dog is averagely 9-10 inches tall when measured at withers contrasting a longer body length and with a weight of around 10 pounds. His body must have the impression that he is capable of hunting and preying on small animals. The long silky hair is parted in between from his wedge-shaped head to the back making it fall flatly on each side of the body. There is no undercoat as well which makes him a hypoallergenic dog.
His coat colors come in a variety which may include:
- Blue & Tan
- Black & Tan
- Grey & Tan
- Silver & Tan
- Silver Black & Tan
Popularly known as part of the Terrier group, the Westie exhibits a much bigger body composition with a weight of 13-16 pounds for the female and 15-22 pounds for the male. The height is 10-12 inches for the male and 9-11 inches for the female.
The appearance looks robust and small making him a great dog for strength and active tasks. His white coat is 2 inches long with a soft undercoat but is surprisingly not a trigger for allergies. Also, his head is ideally groomed to have a rounder appearance to display a typical Westie look.
Despite the small size, this breed has an innate drive for adventure and hunting. It is affectionate although it won’t stay on your lap for as long as you want. Luckily, his strong prey drive can be satisfied by letting him play hunting games either at home or in the yard.
He is generally friendly with elderly people, but he needs supervision when around young children. He is also not good for novice owners. Since this is a competitive dog, there is a possibility of him causing friction when around other dogs or pets. This pooch also makes an excellent watchdog due to his inclination to bark at suspicious objects or movements.
The Westie is a smart and independent toy Terrier. It is not advisable to mix him with other unfamiliar dogs, especially little pets like birds or hamsters. Unlike some other dog breeds, the Westie is fine to be around kids as he is a kid-friendly dog and needs little to no supervision at all.
Even though they are lively and cheerful, they can stand being away from their owners for long periods of time. The only takeaway is that they are fond of digging up grounds, so they can be a little dirty.
If you think of giving him obedience training, make sure that it will be fun or he will not take part at all. Incorporating treats and rewards will motivate him more to participate. Also, he is prone to separation anxiety due to his high tendency to cling, so crate training sessions must be done at an early age to help him cope with temporary separation when the owner goes to work. Another thing that makes a Silky perform better is when other dogs healthily compete with him.
Understandably, he also shows stubbornness which is a Terrier trait. This means that training him would require firmness and patience. It is also recommended to always positively reinforce his good behavior and be consistent with the training. If there is proper training, your little Westie will be able to learn tricks in no time due to his high intellect. Leash training is also a must since you can’t always trust a Westie off-leash!
Packed with high energy levels, the Silky is capable of doing mountain hikes with its owner, but the length of tasks should depend on his size. He is fairly active and needs mental stimulation and daily exercise. Two hours of vigorous activity each day is preferable.
Generally, a Westie parades low levels of energy when they remain indoors. Even though they don’t need much exercise just like other breeds, a daily one or two walks is still needed. You may also conduct game sessions to stimulate their bodies. The activities with your Westie should ideally last for up to one hour.
Both the Silky Terrier and the Westie can adapt to the apartment lifestyle. They are flexible in whatever kind of living environment they have to be in just as long as they aren’t grounded indoors. If they get regular amounts of exercise and exposure to outdoor activities, they will do just fine. They also have to be trained not to bark too much to make them excellent apartment residents.
Images below show both the Silky and Westie taking up only a small space!
Routine grooming must be imperatively done at a very young age. The Silky’s shiny and straight coat may be maintained by giving him regular baths every 1 to 2 weeks and a twice a week full brushing. Hydrating the hair should be done first before actually brushing the coat off. No matter the length, grooming maintenance must be a high priority.
Since a Westie has a double coat, a daily brushing done several times a week is necessary to avoid matting and to maintain a healthy and vibrant-looking coat. Should you decide to hand strip your dog’s coat, expect it to be time-consuming and expensive. If you go for a clipped trim, the grooming process will take around 20 minutes.
Although this is a generally healthy breed, the Silky may still suffer on minor health issues such as:
Westies have their share of health conditions that require immediate attention once signs and symptoms show. In a recent health survey, it was found out that 1 in 2 Westies may experience at least one of the following conditions:
The size of the Silky doesn’t hinder this breed from delivering a great number of puppies! A Silky can deliver 3-6 puppies in a litter and the pregnancy usually lasts around 60-64 days. Each Terrier puppy will then gain 10% of his body weight each week.
Typically, the Westie is capable of having a litter size of 3-5 puppies every pregnancy. You have to expect that this breed will have predisposed health conditions such as abdominal hernias, so extreme care must be executed right after the puppies are born.
Both the West Highland White and the Silky Terrier have a lifespan of 12-16 years just as long as their health is on the priority list. Although they are not spared from having health issues, regularly visiting the vet can stretch out their time with their owner.
Ranking 112th out of 197 breeds according to the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed popularity, the Australian-based pooch continues to catch the hearts of many. Perhaps one of the reasons why this dog is still gaining recognition worldwide is due to him not being a sissy lap dog and may reveal stubbornness at times. It just proves that this Terrier breed is not for everyone and it’s not a bad thing at all!
The Westie ranks 42nd out of 197 breeds! Specifically, this dog is a popular breed in the UK with several wins at an international dog show Crufts. Moreover, this breed remains in the top third among other breeds in the US since the 1960s.
- This canine is probably named after its attractive and silky coat!
- The Silky is primarily bred for companionship.
- He has a complicated history of names all over the years! From Sydney Silky Terrier to Australian Silky Terrier until it’s finally renamed to just “Silky Terrier”.
- They are primarily bred to move underground.
- The Westie breed started as a Ratter.
- He has sensitive ears which may be prone to sunburn if exposed to the harsh sun for too long.
Which Terrier Is Right for You?
Deciding over getting a Silky or a Westie is not easy at all. There needs to be an extensive consideration of which between the two will be able to suit your situation, lifestyle, and family! With so many things to think about, this guide has been made to aid you in your dilemma.
Silky Terrier or Westie: Which one would you get?