Westie Rehoming


Before you can adopt one of our Westies, you must fill in and send us an Application to Adopt Form.  Details of how to do this are linked below, but first please take a moment to read all we have to say here in this section of the website.


Charity Registered Number: 1108659

The Kennel Club Breed Rescue

Breed Rescue


Have you taken time to learn a little about this delightful breed before adopting one?  Westies are now excessively popular and it is easy to see why they are used extensively in advertising any number of services and products, but please do not be misled.  They can be little demons with their feisty, stubborn natures and independent spirits.  Despite advertising's best attempts at persuading you that they would love riding around in a basket on the front of your bicycle the hard truth is that your little bundle of fluff would probably be happier digging up the garden or chasing the neighbour's cat (or worse!!).  Never forget that the Westie has a true terrier temperament, is fiercely determined and was bred to hunt.  The Kennel Club Breed Standard perfectly describes the Westie as "possessed of no small measure of self esteem".  The media, in depicting them as pretty little white lap-dogs, does not convey the true character of the breed.  Make no mistake........dynamite comes in small packages!



Do you consider that a rescue Westie is the 'cheaper option'?

If so please do think again.  You may well encounter some behaviour problems with your new friend, at least for a while until he/she feels more secure in their new environment.

House soiling may be a problem for a while (although maybe previously out of character) – how would you react if it soiled the expensive carpet?  Chewing or other destructive habits (used as a displacement activity by the dog to help it cope with the disruption in its life) could prove rather expensive.  Then of course there may be vets' bills brought about by the stress it has to deal with which ultimately affects its health.

Behaviourists' fees, if necessary, don't come cheap either.  All of this could add up to quite a tidy sum of money.

Are you bowing to pressure from the children?

The appeal and visual attraction of the Westie puts it towards the top of a child's list of wants.  Before long however the novelty often begins to wear off.  It is common for Westies to live to 14 or 15 which means a long term commitment.  It is unusual for a child to commit to looking after the dog for its lifetime without leaning rather heavily on a parent or other adult.  Of course, rescue dogs have often had a bad experience with children and may have come in as a result.  No matter how well behaved the child may be, the dog could retain this distrust and could tend to be on the defensive.

Are you motivated by emotion?

Never adopt a dog for emotional reasons alone.  There will then be a tendency to over-compensate for the dog's past and no dog likes to be smothered.  It rarely happens that the dog will be forever grateful for its change in fate and will behave accordingly.  A rescue dog needs respect and understanding, communicating in a way that it understands, with canine values.  Any new situation may be difficult for a nervous or fearful dog to deal with, and cuddles and kisses will only make it feel more threatened and cause an adverse reaction.


Westie ReHoming, like most other rescue centres, rarely has 'the perfect dog'.  The majority of requests that we get are for one that is young, healthy, sociable, good with children/cats/other dogs, is well behaved and friendly, not yappy, and can be left all day while the family is out at work/school.  In fact, does everything but make the tea!  If this is the kind of dog that you are looking for, then you are too idealistic, and you are certain to be disappointed.


Please, never rule out taking on an older dog which can be far less demanding, an important consideration if you are older or less active yourself.  Like people, some dogs act older than their years and some will act younger, but generally speaking a young Westie is not designed to be a 'couch potato' but needs appropriate levels of mental stimulation and exercise to avoid behavioural problems and to delay the onset of those illnesses related to a sedentary lifestyle.


Westies are well known for their predatory instincts - after all, they were bred to hunt.  Doubtless you have heard of a Westie that co-habited in perfect harmony with one or more cats or even a pet rabbit, but be warned, most can represent a death threat to cats, rodents, rabbits or birds.  You will have to consider that your first loyalty is to any existing small, fluffy pet and that it is unkind to introduce another pet that has the potential to attack and cause them harm.



© 2011 Westie ReHoming - Jacqui and Robert Ferris-Woods.

We receive so many enquiries from families with children that we thought we should clarify our position.

Westie ReHoming does not have a blanket rejection policy on rehoming where there are children.  We prefer to consider each application and situation on its own merits.


Children and dogs can be taught mutual respect at a very early age and form a close bond, and occasionally we have a Westie that has lived with children and would miss exposure to them.  These are of course very much in the minority, many of the dogs come to us because their temperament is in question or they have had an unpleasant experience with a child and would tend to be on the defensive in the future.


In this case, or where compatibility of the dog with children is uncertain we cannot take the risk of rehoming where there is a young child.  Therefore when considering rehoming with children we must always take into account the temperaments and personalities of both the child and the dog.


© 2011 Westie ReHoming - Jacqui and Robert Ferris-Woods.
(Photos of Jacqui & Robert's grandson Jack with our own Lilidh, and Jack's little friend Maisie)

© 2011 Westie ReHoming - Jacqui and Robert Ferris-Woods.

© 2011 Westie ReHoming - Jacqui and Robert Ferris-Woods.

© 2011 Westie ReHoming - Jacqui and Robert Ferris-Woods.



© 2011 Westie ReHoming - Jacqui and Robert Ferris-Woods.

Westie ReHoming is happy to rehome dogs with people of any age provided it is felt that the applicant will be able, over the lifetime of the dog, to provide for all its mental and physical needs.  In short, we would request people to be realistic when stipulating the preferred age of the dog, given that the life expectancy of a Westie is commonly 15 years, and sometimes more.


Older people, as wonderfully kind and nurturing as they may be, and having an abundance of time and companionship to offer, are physically unable to cope with an extremely energetic young dog.  As a result the dog becomes quite a handful, and because its needs are not met becomes bored, suffers from a lack of exercise and stimulation and quickly goes out of control.  This is when the dog comes into our care by which time it is not easy to place, the original owner not being able to understand that what it is displaying at that age is not 'naughtiness' but excess mental and physical energy.


Please understand that we see this happen over and over again and will not put a dog into what we feel is an inappropriate home.

On a happy note we can report that we have very successfully rehomed a lovely little Westie of twelve and a half recently, with a delightful, suitably active couple aged ninety!



© 2011 Westie ReHoming - Jacqui and Robert Ferris-Woods.
(Murphy here aged 14, and still going strong one year later)

If you are considering adopting a Westie to join your family, please don't rule out a more mature dog.


Westie ReHoming take in lots of 'golden oldies', or more mature dogs that are undemanding, companionable and uncomplicated.  Most of them are perfectly fit but simply now prefer a more predictable life, home comforts, companionship and plenty of love.  They may well have come in through no fault of their own and experiencing bewilderment by a change in their circumstances and having their life turned upside down after all this time.


Behavioural problems are usually worst between 6 months and 4 years. Once the dog reaches middle age (around 7 years) the issue has usually been resolved, or they can't be bothered with jumping up, fighting or finding their own amusement any longer.  Don't forget, Westies don't usually start growing up until they reach 7 years or so.


We admire people who are willing to take on an older dog because they are ultimately putting the needs of the dog first, and their own needs second.  It can be seen as a privilege to care for an older dog, and should be the prime requisite for wanting a rescue dog.

So, if you are committed to a dog for life and to giving it security, happiness and love in its later life why not take it out of rescue, and into the warmth of your home and your heart?


Unfortunately the popularity of the Westie has encouraged widespread indiscriminate breeding for profit which has resulted in some diseases, once rare, becoming much more prevalent.  We have listed the more common diseases here.

C.M.O. (Craniomandibular osteopathy, sometimes called 'lion jaw')

This is a condition found in the terrier breeds indigenous to Scotland and appears to be inherited.  It is a painful condition usually occurring between 4 and 7 months of age which affects the lower jaw.  The disease is an extraordinary growth in the cells of the bone where the mandible joins the skull and usually affects both sides of the jaw.  It goes through stages of growth and rest and can only be confirmed by an X-Ray.  Cortisone is commonly used to control swelling but homoeopathic remedies have been used with excellent results.

DRY EYE (Keratoconjunctivitis)

This occurs as a result of a decreased production of tears causing the eye to become inflamed.  Both eyes are usually affected, but not necessarily at the same time.  First signs are excessive tackiness around the eyes which may become partly closed due to lack of lubrication.  Certain factors are known to cause the condition, e.g. the use of certain drugs over a long period of time.  There seems to be a genetic factor involved.  Treatment consists of lubrication several times a day throughout the dog's lifetime, or surgery where the saliva gland is diverted from the corner of the mouth to the corner of the eye, the saliva providing a lubricant for the eye.


This affects terriers indigenous to Scotland as well as humans (not necessarily indigenous to Scotland!).  This usually starts between 4 and 10 months, and is caused by a degeneration of the hip joint due to lack of blood supply to the head of the femur.  Pain and lameness results and treatment consists of keeping the puppy on drugs to reduce inflammation until the bone recalcifies.  Occasionally surgery is necessary to remove a piece of bone, or even a total hip replacement, with excellent results.  There is a genetic link again here although environmental factors can do much to create a problem.  Care must be taken to avoid knocks or injuries, or over-exercise when immature which could result in a lack of blood supply to the hip joint.


Responsible breeding can do much to prevent these problems in the West Highland White Terrier.




Sadly, Westies are received into ‘rescue’ for a number of reasons e.g. bereavement, dog not liking a new baby, marriage break-up, owner becoming unable to care for the dog, owner’s circumstances changing.  The list is endless.


All Westies are assessed on arrival and are given the necessary care.


All potential adopters are rigorously home checked by registered volunteers to establish their general suitability for ownership of a rescue dog and are then specifically matched to appropriate dogs.  We do not have a store of dogs needing homes for adopters to choose!  Our priority is to focus on the needs of the dogs, which may not coincide with the wishes of the humans who would like a Westie.


Our aim is to ensure that dogs are placed in permanent homes to avoid future trauma and disruption.  Some of the dogs coming into our care have experienced neglect and often require extreme patience and special care to regain their trust in humans.  Please consider carefully whether you could care for such a dog.


Once adopted, full back-up and support is given to the new carers.  They are also required to undertake that should they become unable to care for the Westie at any stage the dog will be returned to Westie ReHoming.


As a registered charity we ask for an adoption donation to help towards the cost of running Westie ReHoming.



Although we frequently use the term ‘rescue’ when referring to our organisation there is a good reason why, after much deliberation, it was not included in our title.  There is a popular misconception that most of the dogs that come into our care are neglected, unloved, unwanted or abused in some way, and we would like to dispel the myth here and now.  Most of the dogs that come to us do so because their owners realise that they can no longer give them the quality of life that they deserve.  This involves tremendous sacrifice and heartache on the owner’s part and one can only feel respect and admiration that they choose to put the dog’s needs before their own.



(we advise you to read all the information in this section of the website by clicking on the links at the top of the page)


We recommend that you read "The Rescue Dog" by Gwen Bailey to help you to understand a little more of what you may be taking on and the level of commitment that will be involved before making a decision.  Please pay a visit to her web site at http://www.dogbehaviour.com/ to find out how to purchase her books.  


1. Fill in and send off an Application to Adopt Form.  See below for how to do this.


2. Be patient!  We regret that we do not have the time or resources to acknowledge every application immediately.  Occasionally we may need to ring you to clarify some of your answers/comments on the form.  Some applications we receive are, frankly, unrealistic but if we view your application favourably we will inform you that one of our volunteers will be contacting you to arrange a Home Visit.  This is nothing to worry about, and if any problems should arise during the Visit, we will work with you to resolve any obstacles to your becoming an Adopter.


3. Our volunteer will contact you direct to arrange a mutually suitable time to visit.  This Home Visit does not guarantee that there is currently a Westie available which would suit your particular environment and family situation, but it is another step along the way towards adopting your own Westie - as we often remind people, our priority is to focus on the needs of the dogs, which may not coincide with the wishes of the humans who would like a Westie.


4. You will be informed as soon as a suitable dog becomes available.  As we said, please be patient until the right dog comes along - but above all let us know immediately if you have decided not to proceed with an adoption from us, or if you obtain a dog from another source.  This is MOST important!  We need to remove you from our list straight away, so that a dog is not assigned to your name.


5. We will arrange a suitable date and time for you to collect the dog.  If certain improvements have become necessary to ensure the safety and security of the Westie in your home, and a return visit has not been arranged and carried out, we will need to check that this is satisfactory before we release the dog into your care.


6. You will next be required to fill out an Adoption Form & Declaration, which is a legally-binding document setting out what we require to guarantee the dog's future health, security and happiness with you.  We will ask you to sign this in the presence of our representative, who will make sure you understand every point of the Declaration.


7. You will then be asked to make a Donation to Westie ReHoming, in respect of the many costs incurred in re-homing all our dogs with adopters such as yourself e.g. transportation, vets' bills, grooming, short-term fostering and such-like.  We cannot operate without these donations.  We would obviously expect a higher donation for a young dog with no problems than for an elderly dog, or one needing ongoing veterinary care, but in exceptional circumstances we will waive the donation altogether.  We will be happy to offer guidelines as to what we consider a fair donation for your particular dog. 


Download Application to Adopt Form


You can download an 'Application to Adopt' Form here by right-clicking on the links below, and choosing "Save Target As..." in IE ("Save Link As..." in Firefox).  You will be asked where you wish to save the document.  Once saved, you can open it by clicking on it:


.DOC     .PDF      





When submitting your Application to Adopt Form

One of the questions we ask on your form is: "Would you be prepared to adopt a dog with an ongoing medical or skin problem?"  Westies have always been susceptible to idiopathic skin problems, but in recent years the rise in incidence has been extraordinary.  At the time of writing around 70% of Westies coming to us have a skin problem to a greater or lesser degree.  Some Westies may have skin problems that are difficult and expensive to treat, whilst others appear to be seasonal and quite manageable.  It is important to realise that even if your Westie does not have a skin problem when it comes to you it does not mean that it will not develop one in the future, at any age.


Sometimes a change in diet, or reducing the dog's stress can make a huge difference, but it usually needs veterinary intervention which can sometimes prove costly.  Over recent years, indifferent breeding has undoubtedly contributed largely to the problem, as has dietary insensitivity to proprietary pet foods (including one that hints that it is the ideal food to feed your Westie!).


Your Westie should be examined daily for possible skin problems, which must be identified and treated professionally in the early stages before it develops into a major problem which could go out of control.


Page last updated Wednesday 13 Jun 2012

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Westie ReHoming. Charity Registered Number: 1108659.
Dedicated to the West Highland White Terrier.
tel: 0844 879 4260. address: PO Box 2868, SWINDON, SN4 0WU .