The West Highland Terrier and Maltese – Two Cute Cuddly White Coated Wonders

Published: 11th June 2010
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There are only a few breeds that have a stunning white coat and the Maltese and West Highland Terrier are two of them. The Maltese has a single layer, white silky coat which is kept long for the show ring but many owners choose to keep it cut short to make grooming easier. The Westie has the Terrier coat which is double layered to protect him in the field. The outer coat is about two inches long and is coarse while the undercoat is dense and soft. The Maltese began as a dog of royalty. His sweet, playful and gentle nature made him a favorite with the nobility and his devotion is almost unrivaled. Before the dog handbag was invented, women of the court carried Maltese in their sleeves. The Westie, however, was developed as a working dog in Scotland. They are essentially a white Cairn Terrier.

Beyond their startling coats, these breeds have little in common. The Maltese is subdued, only acting aggressively if he feels his owner is threatened. The Westie is a game dog, like all Terriers, who will happily tell the Dobie down the street what he thinks of him. Westies are not known to actually start dog fights, though, especially if they are well trained. The Westie loves to be outside and busy. They also love to travel. They are a robust and spirited dogs. The Maltese is a homebody and, indeed, an owner has to be careful that his Maltese is not exposed to too much heat and dampness. The Westie is considered to be excellent with children while it depends with the Maltese. A Maltese who is secure in his place in the pack and has a strong Alpha leader is fine with younger children but a Maltese who is overly pampered and thinks he is boss is likely to be snappish. The Maltese is the smaller of the two breeds weighing in around six pounds. The Westie is a solid 15 to 22 pounds.

There are a few more things that these breeds do have in common. Both are ideally suited for apartment life as long as they are walked daily. They both also have a long life expectancy averaging 15 years. Some Maltese even live to 17 or 18 years old. They also share a place in art history. Art objects dating back 3000 years bear a similar figure to the Maltese. They are also seen in ancient Greek ceramic art. They were often painted in the Royal Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I's reign. Westies were very popular in paintings during the 1800s, including Sir Edwin Landseer's painting in 1831 titled "The Breakfast Party." And West Highland Terrier's are used in pop art today, such as the "Warhol-like" pieces by Laura Sotka.

You may dream of owning one of these breeds. Or perhaps you already carry a Maltese in a Gucci dog handbag or walk the moors with your West Highland Terrier. Whichever one you have or choose to adopt, both breeds are good all around dogs in a small package.

Frank Vesotto lives in Kentucky with his two Maltese dogs Rick and Ben. By day Frank is a dog breeder and you can find him playing at the local dog park almost every day with his two best barking buddies.

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