Westie vs Yorkie: What’s the Difference and Which Breed is Best for You?

By John Martin - February 15, 2024

Westie vs Yorkie

If you often get confused between a Westie and Yorkie, fret not. You are not the only one to have this confusion. These dog breeds are indeed similar, and for someone who is not an expert, they could look immensely similar, especially in the first go!

However, the fact of the matter is that they are two distinct breeds with various prominent characteristics that set them apart. Here is all you need to know about a Westie vs. Yorkie.

History of Both Dog Breeds

What makes both these breeds feel alike is that they are both small and share a few similar features. They are both terrier breeds and were developed at the same time. However, they have distinct needs that make them suitable for different types of people. Let us find out more about their origin!


The West Highland White Terrier traces its origin to Scotland and it was developed around the 19th and 20th centuries. This is an agile dog that was primarily bred for hunting purposes and to keep an eye on animals such as otters and foxes in the rugged terrains of Scotland.

The color white was also chosen deliberately after a red dog was accidentally shot after being considered a fox. The American Kennel Club recognized the Westie in 1908 and since then, these dogs have been a hit among people across the globe who love small breeds.

In some places, these dogs are still used to hunt rabbits but are mostly kept as pets at homes.

Even JK Rowling owns a Westie! That speaks volumes about the craze for this breed, particularly in the UK.


The Yorkie can be called one of the prettiest and daintiest dogs of the 21st century, but they have had quite a past of their own. Originally from the UK, they were developed as ratting terriers and were traditionally used in mills where they used to scare away smaller animals into small spaces.

Their silk coat has had a huge role to play in their transition to a family dog. Some people took fancy to their shape and appearance and started keeping them as pets. Today, they are a rather popular pet for dog lovers across the globe!

Westie vs. Yorkie Appearance

Yorkie licking nose

This is one of the most common points of confusion for people who aren’t into dogs. Even those who understand and identify dogs can be sometimes confused between these two breeds given the number of similarities.

Let us find out what physical appearances they share and where do they differ!


One of the key differences between these two is that the Westies are at least double the size and shape of Yorkies and weigh, on average, 15-20 lb as compared to the latter. Yorkies are one of the smallest dog breeds out there and can go up to 7 lb in most cases.


Westies are white while Yorkies are usually black and tan when they are born and gradually change their color to blue and gold. This is one of the differentiating factors between the two breeds.


Long, shiny and silky hair is one of the most defining aspects of the Yorkie who have a single coat. In contrast, Westies have a double coat with a hard outer layer and soft, dense undercoat that keeps them warm and fuzzy in the extreme weather conditions of the UK. This difference in their coats also makes Yorkies high maintenance as opposed to Westies.


This is one of the most confusing features that makes people confuse one for the other. While both these breeds have short tails, one needs to remember that Westies have naturally short tails while the Yorkies have docked tails. The docking of the Yorkie tail is a conflicting practice that has people divided over it. In some places, it is also illegal.

Yorkies vs Westies: What Do You Need to Know?

For a pet parent, it is crucial to know that what your dog likes and what you should give your dog so that it remains happy and healthy. Here are some food options you can consider for these dog breeds!


Healthy food is what you should give Yorkies. At all times, you need to keep them away from items such as chocolates and sweets that may be a cause of concern. Similarly, make sure to not give them big pieces of food because this is an incredibly small breed that may choke on bigger pieces.

Consult a good vet to understand what is best for your dog and take into account any individual health conditions to supervise the diet. In addition to dog food available in the market, you can serve them turkey, chicken and raw vegetables in the right proportions.


A healthy diet and balanced food are the main requirements for Westies. There are several ready-to-eat dog foods that you can get from the market to meet their nutritional needs although consult a good vet to start your dog on these.

Westies are fussy eaters and but you should still try to meet their average daily calorie requirements of 600-700 calories to keep them healthy.

You need to keep in mind that these dogs are prone to allergies and anything you serve them should not aggravate or trigger these. Therefore, consulting a good vet on all aspects of diet is key!


Since both these breeds are terriers, they have a similar disposition, which again is a point of confusion for several people. They are both very lively and full of energy and crave physical and mental stimulation.

They are loud dogs who love to raise an alarm when they see people approaching their home. This may be a problem for those who live in apartment settings as they run the risk of annoying their neighbors. They also still possess their prey drive and may feel compelled, at times, to drive away small animals.

The point of difference is that Yorkies may be more people oriented than Westies because they have been bred for companionship longer. They both lack patience and may not be great around persistent children.

They also do not do well with a prolonged period of your absence and will thrive and be happy only in households where there is at least one adult to keep them company at all times. They are not clingy but do not enjoy the feeling of being abandoned for long.


It is necessary to understand the personalities of the dogs you are planning to get home. Both Westies and Yorkies have several similarities and a few differences.

To begin with, they are both loyal, protective and friendly (but not clingy). They have the right amount of aggressiveness and assertiveness to make excellent watchdogs. They are, however, not too great with children and do not like to be mollycoddled at every instance.

Training Needs

Westie sitting outside on leash

Though both Yorkies and Westies are amicable, they have a fierce stubbornness to them that makes training very important for both the dogs. It can be a challenge to train these dogs because you need to use their natural tendencies in their favor rather than against them.

It is a matter of great patience and understanding and you would have to spend a good deal of time understanding their brute nature to train them. A lot of reward and reinforcement techniques that work for other dog breeds, such as enticing through food treats, may not work in this case.

The same goes for potty training these breeds. Due to their small size and stubborn attitude, it may be troublesome to train them.

How to Train Westies and Yorkies

If you are at a loss for how to train Westies, here are a few tips that can help you.

Designate a Space for Their Bathroom Needs

This is one of the most important things that you need to do from day one. You should deliberately bring your dog to this spot so that it becomes a habit for them. Do not make them habitual of running loose and doing their business all over the place. Once it becomes a habit, it will be difficult to change this.

Just make sure that the area is accessible and well within your reach. This will make things easier for your Yorkies and Westies.

Supervise Yorkies and Westies

Lack of supervision can be a dealbreaker when it comes to Yorkies and Westies. You need to be a hands-on pet parent and not someone who is only available to watch over your dog periodically.

In the initial days, you need to guide them through everything so that they become habitual of things even when you are not around.

Praise Them

You should make sure to reward your dog for good behavior. However, the treats that you give them should be conducive to their nature, as they will not be very great with foodie treats.

Manage Their Prey Drive

This is true for both breeds but particularly for Westies and you should make sure you manage their prey drive well, otherwise, they can wreak havoc on small animals around them and sometimes may be dangerous to children.

It won’t be easy to train Westies as they can break away from their leash and run away while you try to teach them new things. You will have to spend some time teaching them boundaries and what is acceptable and not acceptable.

Manage Their Independent Streak with Tact

One good thing about the Westies and Yorkies is that they are not clingy dogs like the Maltese and can do well even if you don’t cuddle with them every day. However, this independence can be a cause of trouble when it comes to training them.

You should use this to your advantage with tact. Use their intelligence and independence to teach them things they need to imbibe, such as where to go when they have loo needs and how far they can go unsupervised.

Exercise Needs

This is a key consideration for dog owners. When it comes to both these breeds, you may mistakenly think that they have moderate training needs due to their small size.

However, both the Yorkie and Westie have active exercise needs and it is on the owner to keep them active and fit. They will tend to become irritable and lethargic if you do not meet their exercise needs.

Long walks, fun games and exercise are things you will have to integrate into your routine to keep these dogs happy!

Westie and Yorkie Health

Cute Westie having fun outside

Caring for and keeping your dog healthy is a key concern of all dog owners. It is also an expensive proposition at times and you should only get a dog home if you are able to commit to this.

There are some particular health concerns that you need to be mindful of when it comes to Yorkies and Westies. Here is what you need to know!


Hip dysplasia and luxating patellas are quite common in Yorkies and this makes them a fragile and sensitive breed to pet. They are also susceptible to a jaw disease called craniomandibular osteopathy that causes their jaw to grow too thick, leading to pain and swelling that makes them very uneasy.

Seasonal allergies, itchy skin and painful lesions are also common in Westies and this makes them a difficult dog to keep at home. The problem with this condition is that it can be difficult to keep this in check and to correct it when it happens.

Shaker dog syndrome is also quite common in Westies and may make those who are afflicted by it prone to seizures. Lung diseases and hormonal imbalances are also quite common in Westies. So, if you are thinking of getting one home, you ought to give this due consideration.


Luxating patellas are common ailments in these dogs and they may experience slipping away of knee caps. This is a hereditary condition and needs to be managed by the breeders at the time of breeding. However, it can be corrected by surgery, but that comes with its own risks.

A collapsed windpipe is also another condition that afflicts Yorkies. Besides, their small size puts them at risk of breaking bones and other conditions such as hip joint diseases.

Additionally, they may also suffer from heart diseases and tooth decays.

Yorkie vs Westie Lifespan—Who Lives Longer?

Now that you know that both these dogs are susceptible to several diseases, you must be thinking about their lifespan. Both Yorkies and Westies have similar lifespans and are expected to live anywhere between 10 and 15 years, with an average lifespan being 13 years. You must also remember that small breeds live longer than medium or big dog breeds.

Yorkies vs Westies: Which Dog Makes a Better Pet?

Yorkie posing on a rug

Now that you are aware of the many similarities and differences between Yorkies and Westies, you must be thinking which dog makes a better pet? The health issues that both these breeds are susceptible to make it a tough choice, as both require a lot of care.

They both require company and do not take well to households with very young children. It is, therefore, apparent that none of these breeds is better than the other. In the end, it comes down to a matter of personal preference.

Still can’t decide? You might want to check out our article about the Fourche Terrier (a Westie Yorkie mix).

Parting Words

Both the breeds Westies and Yorkies are quite similar that it is natural to get confused between the two. These breeds are not genetically similar to each other but still share a number of similarities, particularly in the health department.

The most defining difference between the breeds is the color of their coat and their weight. Pay attention to their tale and you would know the difference between the two breeds easily!