Whether you want a Westie or a Schnauzer, it is not a tough choice because they each bring different things to the table. Here’s what you need to know about both these breeds.
There is a lot of fascinating history with respect to both these dogs. Here’s a quick lowdown.
Westies or West Highland White Terriers are originally from Scotland and were used to hunt foxes and badgers. They were also very effective in killing rodents which was a huge problem when these dogs were first bred.
That started in the 17th century when they were called earthdogs and were predominantly used to help farmers and nobles stop grain pillage and disease that were spread by rats.
They were bred only in white color and that’s what we have today. But these dogs have other names like Poltalloch Terriers and Roseneath Terriers.
Westies were officially recognized as the West Highland White Terriers in 1906 by the Kennel Club of England.
There are three types of Schnauzers: giant, standard and miniature. They are all originally from Germany and have been around since the 1500s.
We know this because these dogs featured in the works of painters like Rembrandt and Durer. These dogs were bred to guard people and herd sheep and other cattle.
Back in the day, they also did a good job of protecting their humans in travel and hunting vermin. But breeding standards came to exist only in the 1800s.
Standard Schnauzers are a cross of the giant and miniature versions of this dog. At the time, these dogs were referred to as Wirehaired Pinschers.
That’s because Miniature Schnauzers were a cross of the Standard Schnauzer and small dogs like Miniature Pinschers and Poodles. They were called Zwergschnauzer in Germany after the German word ‘zwerg’ which means ‘dwarf’.
By the 1900s, the standard version was referred to as Schnauzers after the German word ‘schnauze’ which referred to the dog’s unique muzzle. These dogs also have a mustache and a beard.
Schnauzers came to the US with families that moved here from Germany after the first World War.
Back in the day, you’d find Schnauzers in many colors like tan, black and red. But today, you mostly find them in shades of silver and black.
It’s very easy to tell these two dogs apart because, for one, there is no color overlap. But there’s more. Let’s see.
Westies are small dogs with a deep chest and a rectangular frame. They are roughly 11 inches in height and about 15-22 pounds heavy.
The females are about an inch shorter than the males and weigh 13-16 pounds. But that can change depending on upbringing.
Standard male Schnauzers are about 18-20 inches tall and 35-50 pounds heavy whereas miniatures, both male and female, are 3 to 14 inches tall and weigh 11 to 20 pounds.
Standard female Schnauzers are about 17 to 19 inches tall and 30-45 pounds heavy.
Both these dogs are pleasant with a few differences that make them each special. Take a look.
Luckily for anyone who wants a Westie, there are more good things about this dog than bad.
- Westies are confident dogs that like to have fun.
- They are also intelligent but you don’t have to work too hard to entertain them.
- They like belly rubs, squeaky toys and love to eat.
- Westies are also mischievous but not overbearing.
- They get along with most people.
- They might not start fights but they don’t back off if they get into one.
- Female Westies are not as calm as their male counterparts.
Standard or miniature, Schnauzers are interesting dogs. Even if you land into trouble with the temperament of these dogs, there are easy ways out.
- Schnauzers are curious and feisty dogs.
- They are intelligent which makes training them very easy.
- Schnauzers are extroverts which means they like to keep themselves engaged.
- They are protective dogs and stay alert when strangers are around.
- Schnauzers can be a bit manipulative so you must be smarter than them.
- They can be a little stubborn which means you need to train that out of them.
- These dogs can be all about themselves which isn’t always a good thing.
- They love their independence but also love to be as close to their humans as possible.
Mostly, both these breeds are considered to be healthy. But that also depends on the way they are taken care of.
And there are some genetic predispositions to note.
Westies are healthy dogs but here’s what you should keep an eye out for.
Westies are prone to have some problems with their skull bones when they are puppies. In some cases, they grow irregularly and it causes a condition called craniomandibular osteopathy.
When the pups are 4-8 months old, you will start to see symptoms. You will see that their jaws might be swollen which will make it difficult for them to eat and they will drool a lot.
They may also have fever once every two weeks or so. There isn’t any treatment for this but painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication can help.
It is not clear what causes this problem although there is a hereditary aspect to it. You must make sure they eat well and if the condition is severe, feeding tubes are not uncommon.
But the problem is likely to get solved on its own by the time the puppy is a year old. Sometimes it leads to jaw problems permanently which means they will always struggle with eating.
Westies also have cataract problems which affects their vision causing them to have cloudy eyes. While this is mostly a problem that comes with age, juvenile cataract among Westies is not unheard of.
If it’s a matter of old age, surgery can help.
Like other small dogs, Westies are also prone to patellar luxation. This is a condition that affects the bones at their knee joint.
It is the result of the joint getting dislocated which can cripple the dog. But a lot of them do manage to lead a decent life despite the problem.
This condition is also referred to as slipped stifles.
Then there is the Legg-Perthes which is the result of the leg bone not getting enough blood. But since the femur is connected to the pelvic region, the latter disintegrates over time and it causes atrophy and might even result in limping.
Surgery can help relieve pain and also fix the problem.
Also Read: Top 11 Westie Dog Food Picks
These dogs are considered to be quite healthy. But you must get a test done which is recommended for all types of breeding dogs.
Schnauzers are also prone to cataracts which result in the dog not being able to see properly. Surgery can help fix the problem.
Then there is entropion, which is a condition that appears in some Schnauzers when they are about six months old. If and when it happens, the dog’s eyelid will roll inwards and injure its eyeball.
This condition can affect one eye or both and the dog will rub their eyes a lot. But luckily, it can also be fixed surgically.
Myotonia Congenita is a skeletomuscular problem that is hereditary and found only in Miniature Schnauzers. It is like muscular dystrophy and starts to affect the pup just a few weeks after birth.
This will make the muscles in their thighs and shoulders contract making them stiff. This makes movement difficult and also enlarges their tongues.
Then there is a disease called Von Willebrand’s disease which happens to occur in humans too. This affects the clotting of the blood which means they will have problems with nosebleeds, post-surgery recovery, bleeding gums and more.
Typically, you will see the symptoms when the pup is 3-5 years old but there is no cure for it. You can manage it with different treatments and avoid tricky situations.
Schnauzers can also have a condition called congenital megaesophagus which makes them regurgitate anything they eat. This is because the food gets stuck in the esophagus.
You can help the dog by adjusting the quantity of food but there is no treatment let alone cure. This problem can also lead to other conditions like pneumonia.
And then there is the matter of caring for these dogs and grooming them. Here’s what you need to know about both the breeds. They have different needs.
Westies are active dogs that like to go for walks. They also tend to chase moving things which is why they are best kept behind a fence.
But they are intelligent dogs which means you need to be smarter than them to stay ahead. Westies are also really good at canine sports because they are obedient and agile.
Grooming a Westie is not difficult. They have a terrier coat which means you need to groom them regularly and get the dead hair out.
You must also make sure that you know the right grooming technique or get their coat clipped for convenience. Failing that, you can always find a groomer who knows what to do with them.
Visit the professional once every 4-6 weeks and it should be fine. But you should still comb and brush their coat every day.
The Standard Schnauzer is a nice dog whether you are on a farm or an apartment. But these dogs need exercise every day.
They like to live with humans but you must have a high fence because they tend to jump and can go as high as six feet.
Schnauzers have a lot of energy which means they are ready for 20-minute brisk walking sessions at least three times in one day. That means they are a good choice if you have the time for it.
If that doesn’t work, you can take them for two 30-minute walks every day. Exercise can also come in the form of playing with the Frisbee or fetch with their humans.
Luckily for you, swimming and hiking are also good options when it comes to Schnauzers.
These dogs need to be trained while they are young with someone who has patience but is also firm. And we don’t need to tell you that training any breed requires consistency.
Schnauzers respond very well to a command when there is positive reinforcement. Usually, this means praise, treats and play time.
Now, this is an intelligent dog which means they will tell you whether or not they are happy with any given situation. That’s actually a very helpful cue so keep your eyes and ears open.
Miniatures, on the other hand, also love to play but they need 45 minutes of workout on a daily basis. It is said that tiring them out is a good thing.
These dogs are active even inside closed doors but if you have a yard, that works best.
You want to make sure that these dogs get crate training. But don’t confine them in there for too long unless they are asleep at night.
And now about grooming. Standard Schnauzers need a lot of grooming.
The hair on their legs and chin must be brushed everyday otherwise it gets tangled. And you must wash their face after they eat.
The coat must be stripped with your hand once every 4-6 months but a groomer can take care of this too. But it does lead to more shedding because the coat becomes softer.
You must brush their teeth 2-3 times every week and daily if you can. Trimming the nails 1-2 times a month is also important.
Miniatures need grooming every 5-8 weeks so that they look good. Professionals do this job the best because they know how to make this breed look pretty.
It is important that they like the process of grooming so that they don’t give you too much trouble. And it’s easy to do that too because you just need to make it a pleasant experience with treats and a ton of praise.
If you love your little guy, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Both these dogs are incredible breeds, especially if you are looking for a pet. They have their own distinct qualities and are overall likely to be happy and healthy additions to the household.
Whichever dog breed you choose, you will be lucky to get a wonderful companion.