Why Are Westies So Stubborn?

By John Martin - February 15, 2024

Stubborn Westie on woman's back

Also known as a Westie, the West Highland White Terrier may be a small-sized dog but is known for its huge and mighty personality.

These adorable little dogs are fearless and determined. And, once they set their minds to something, there’s just no stopping them. So, why are Westies so stubborn?

In this guide, we’ve discussed all there is to know about the West Highland White Terrier so that you have all the information to decide if they are the right pet for you.

Are Westies Stubborn?

On average, Westies are more friendly and much easier to handle compared to other terriers, but they can be rather independent, opinionated and stubborn. These curious and smart pooches are clever, feisty and brave and think that they are in charge.

These fluffy little dogs have a pleasant disposition but they like everything to be on their terms and like leading the way. These little pooches have a mind of their own and often, can be quite stubborn and don’t quite like being told what to do.

They prefer to do things only when they are ready and have an attitude that says “what’s in it for me?” Unless your pooch really wants to do something, they will simply keep doing what they want and completely ignore your commands.

For example, your Westie will go for a walk and suddenly refuse to budge right in the middle of the walk or will play fetch only if they want to do it and not if you tell them to.

So, it is essential to train your independent and stubborn Westie from when they are very young to ensure that they adapt when they are older and you have a positive experience with your pet.

But the strong-willed personality and high levels of self-esteem make the training of Westies quite a challenge, especially for first-time owners.

Westies can be stubborn diggers and barkers too. These terriers simply love digging and this habit can be traced to their origins as hunting dogs, where they were bred to chase and hunt rats and other underground rodents. So, by nature, Westies are diggers.

It may be a good idea to provide a specific space where your Westie can dig to their heart’s content. By providing their own digging space, you can maintain an unblemished, hole-free yard.

Westies tend to bark a lot, especially if they are left at home alone all by themselves for long periods of time. If you leave them alone quite often, they may develop the habit of barking incessantly because they are bored.

Providing your pet with toys to play with when you’re away can help to prevent them from getting bored and barking. Proper and consistent training can also help to control your Westie’s barking.

What Makes Westies Stubborn Dogs?

Hailing from Scotland, West Highland White Terriers or Westies are hunting and ratting terriers that were bred to hunt rats, rodents, foxes and badgers.

Around 10-11 inches tall, these dogs may be small but are surprisingly quite strong, tough and determined.

As hunting dogs, Westies learned to think on their own, a deeply ingrained trait and present even today. And their independent thinking and strong-willed determination make the little Westie stubborn too.

Can You Train a Stubborn Westie?

Westies love to go off on their own and do their own stuff and they need the training to keep their rather independent and stubborn nature in check.

And, as mentioned earlier, while their independent and strong-willed temperament makes training Westies a challenge, just like any other dog, you can train your Westie. All it needs is some time, effort and patience.

Right from the start, you must be confident, firm and consistent when training your Westie and they must view you as their pack leader and boss. A soft approach to training can lead to SDS or small dog syndrome.

If not trained, your independent Westie can adopt bad behaviors such as snapping, biting, guarding disorders like guarding their food, toys, etc. possessively and even become aggressive.

Make sure that your training sessions are short, around 5-10 minutes, because very long sessions can bore your Westie. To sustain their interest, make the sessions new, interactive and exciting.

Be consistent with your training and use rewards and positive reinforcements for good behavior and you will have a well-behaved Westie on your hands.

Avoid negative, punishment-based training as this will make your pooch very unhappy and they will completely refuse to do anything you want them to.

If Westies Are So Stubborn, Should I Bring Home One?

While it is true that Westies can be strong-willed and stubborn, they are incredibly happy, friendly, smart and energetic dogs with a lively nature that makes them adorable and loved by everyone.

Westies are very social dogs that get along with everyone at home, including strangers.

They are great with kids of all ages, especially with older children. They also get along with other dogs and cats at home.

Their strong prey drive; however, makes Westies intolerant towards rabbits, gerbils, etc. as they view them as prey and chase them. Westies are very adaptable and are happy to live anywhere, be it in a home with a yard or an apartment.

Their alert nature makes them react to even the slightest of noises and make them excellent watchdogs. Their curious nature, high energy, playful antics and easy-going nature make Westies entertaining and irresistible.

These intelligent and affectionate pooches make great companions. And, although they can be stubborn, all their other wonderful traits and endearing qualities make the West Highland White Terrier wonderful additions to any family.

Parting Thoughts

In conclusion, Westies can be a wonderful family pet. This intelligent, adorable dog breed may be small, but their larger-than-their-size personalities, strong-willed and stubborn temperament may seem like a challenge for some pet owners.

But the positive traits of the Westie outweigh their stubborn disposition significantly. And, if you establish that you’re the boss right at the start and are willing to invest time and effort into your pet’s training, you can overcome your pooch’s stubbornness.