I feed my Boxers, Janice and Leroy, store brand dog food (with the approval of my veterinarian), and I don’t plan to change that any time soon. That said, I’ve been doing a lot of research, and writing a lot of posts lately, about different types of dog food that might be appropriate for different breeds.For instance, in What to Feed a Border Collie, I did suggest that dogs that are participating in conformation shows and agility events might benefit from dog food brands that deliver a bit more “oomph” than the preparations I typically give my two big pets.
In this post, I’m going to talk about the foods that are best for the West Highland White Terrier, more commonly known as the “Westie.” Before we get into Westie food recommendations, though, let’s talk a bit about the breed in general.
Top Westie Food On Amazon
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The West Highland White Terrier
The West Highland White Terrier is a small, compact dog that has been around for a very long time. In fact, terriers in general go back centuries, having been bred mainly in the British Isles for use as work, farm and hunting dogs. In Scotland, little white terriers have been prevalent since at least the 1500s.
Male Westies stand about 11 inches at the shoulder and usually weigh anywhere from 15 to 22 pounds. Females are about 10 inches at the shoulder, and weigh between 13 and 15 pounds. Westies are double-coated, with a soft, dense undercoat beneath a rough topcoat.
Westies are friendly, confident and brave, but can be stubborn. They usually get along well with children, but can be a bit snappish if handled roughly. The Westie’s prey drive is strong, so he may not do quite as well with other animals – in fact, he is very likely to want to chase just about anything that moves.This is hard-wired into the breed, because of its hunting past, and is one of the reasons why Westies perform so well in earthdog trials – athletic events where dogs work to find small animals underground. (Note: no animals are harmed in earthdog trials.)
If you do plan to have your Westie take part in earthdog events or other athletic endeavors, you should keep this enhanced level of activity in mind when evaluating the top Westie food recommendations.
Westies are typically long-lived. You can usually expect to enjoy your Westie’s company for 13-15 years.
Feeding Your Westie
As a general rule of thumb, a 20-pound adult Westie that is reasonably active will require approximately 660 calories per day. Very athletic dogs will require a bit more, and Westies that have been spayed or neutered or are not overly active will need less. Growing puppies of any breed will always need more calories per body weight than adult dogs, and for Westies, this translates into a puppy between the ages of four months and one year needing about 426 calories each day.
The top Westie food recommendations will generally include brands that are specific to small breeds. Small breed formulas are more nutritionally dense than preparations for larger dogs, meaning that they will have more calories per unit of food.
Westies are also somewhat more prone to skin conditions and allergies than other breeds, so this will also be a consideration when you are choosing among the top Westie food recommendations. The most common triggers for allergies are wheat, soy, corn, lamb, fish, chicken, beef, eggs and dairy products. I realize that this might seem to eliminate virtually any dog food that you would find on the market today, but it is very unlikely that your dog is allergic or sensitive to more than one or two of these ingredients. Your vet can carry out tests on your Westie so that you will know which ingredients are likely to cause problems, and you won’t have to change dog foods over and over until you find a suitable formula.
The other thing about feeding your Westie is that these little guys are often fussy eaters. If the food doesn’t look good and smell good, your dog may refuse it. You can often circumvent this issue by adding a little bit of wet food to the usual dry, or by mixing a few of his favorite treats into the food.
Most Westies do best on two meals per day. Puppies should start off with four meals, and then you can scale it back to three as he gets older. By the time he reaches one year, he should be fed twice a day.
The Best Ingredients
The best dog food for your Westie (and in fact, for most other breeds), should be high in protein and fat, and relatively low in carbs. When it comes to protein, dogs digest meat protein more easily than they do plant protein. This is not to say that your dog food can’t contain protein from peas or lentils, but there should be two or three meat proteins first up on the ingredient list on your bag of dog food. This can come from whole meat or fish, or from meat meals. Some people object to meat meals, but there is really no good reason for this – meat meals are just meats from which the moisture has been extracted, and in fact, they contain much more protein than whole meat.
Dogs also need good sources of fat. I’ve talked about this in The Facts About Fat in Your Dog’s Food. When you are looking at the ingredient list, try to identify specific types of fat (chicken fat, for instance). Other fats could include fish oil – one in particular is a form of omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which helps with eye and brain development in puppies.
You have to be careful with foods that include DHA, though, because it goes rancid very quickly – in fact, usually in about a year. So, make sure to check the date that your dog food is manufactured, and don’t keep it around any longer than 12 months after that date. Rancid fish oils can cause serious health problems, including liver and kidney failure. For this reason, you should also avoid the fish oil supplements you sometimes see sold in clear jugs at dog shows – you have no way of knowing how old that oil is. Your dog is actually better off getting no fish oil at all than he is getting a product that has gone, or is going, rancid.
Now, about grains – you don’t really have to avoid them unless your dog is sensitive or allergic. The choice to go grain-free is a personal one. I’m not sure if it really does a lot of good eliminating grain, but certainly it won’t do any harm. Don’t go carb-free, though – your dog does need some carbs, but he can get them from other ingredients like potatoes or pumpkin.
There are some ingredients, though, that really don’t have a place in the top Westie food recommendations. You should avoid the following:
- Brewer’s yeast
- Artificial flavors, colors and preservatives
In the material that follows, I’ll offer my top Westie food recommendations for Westies at various stages of life. None of them contain soy, corn or wheat. You will find that these foods are all on the high end price-wise, when compared with store brands. Personally, I have raised many, many dogs to well past their “best before” date using nothing more than store brand dog food with the occasional vitamin supplement thrown in, but then, as I’ve pointed out before, I don’t show, and my dogs are not athletes. It’s certainly not outside my personal belief system to think that dogs that participate in conformation or agility trials might need a little something extra.
Top Westie Food Recommendations for Adults
Here are my 3 top picks for adult Westies.
1. Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Small Breed
Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Small Breed Dog Food is a high-calorie, high-protein food that is specially formulated for active adults. The first three ingredients are deboned turkey, turkey meal and chicken meal. This food is 36% crude protein and 16% crude fat, and contains no fillers or meat by-products. It also includes probiotics and antibiotics, as well as glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health. The small kibbles are perfect for little mouths, and if your Westie is a finicky eater, Wellness CORE also offers canned products that you can mix in.
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2. Fromm Small Breed Adult Gold
Fromm Small Breed Adult Gold Dog Food is another small-kibble brand with a lot of meat protein in the form of duck, chicken and chicken meal. The crude protein is less than in the Wellness Core Brand, at 27%, and the fat content slightly higher at 17%. This dog food also contains barley and oatmeal, but this is not necessarily a bad thing – dogs that have difficulty with soy, corn and wheat will usually tolerate barley and oatmeal perfectly well, and these ingredients are good sources of dietary fiber. This is a good maintenance food for dogs that are not competing.
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3. Merrick Grain-Free Real Chicken + Sweet Potato
Merrick Grain-Free Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food is recommended for active dogs at all stages of life. 70% of the dog food is meat, including deboned chicken, chicken meal and turkey meal. The remainder is vegetables, minerals and vitamins. There are no meat by-products. This formula delivers 38% crude protein, 17% crude fat, and 3.5% crude fiber, as well as glucosamine and chondroitin for your dog’s joints. If you’re looking for a superior high-protein dog food, this is a good choice.
There are other excellent choices when it comes to a premium dog food for adult Westies, and several I would include here if not for space limitations. The main thing is, read your ingredient list and go high on the protein, moderate on the fat, and low on the carbs.
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Top Westie Food Recommendations for Puppies
You should start your Westie on a good puppy food as soon as he is weaned. Some breeders advise using puppy food for a full year, while others suggest that you can start your dog on adult food once he has reached his full growth (usually about 8 months for a Westie).
The main thing to keep in mind is that puppy food should have a proper calcium/phosphorus ratio – approximately 1.2 parts of calcium to 1 of phosphorus. You don’t want to short-change your puppy when it comes to calcium, since it is the most important nutrient for bone growth. By the same token, you shouldn’t go overboard on the calcium, so if your puppy food is adequately formulated, don’t give extra calcium in the form of cheese or milk (for that matter, don’t give milk at all, since it can cause diarrhea) or supplements.
Here are my Westie food recommendations for puppies.
1. VeRUS Puppy Advantage
VeRUS Puppy Advantage is the puppy food to choose if you’re looking for a holistic formula. Chicken meal is the first ingredient, followed by easily digestible ground brown rice and oats. It contains DHA (so watch for the manufacturing date!) as well as other fish oils, chelated minerals, vitamins and freeze-dried live probiotics (which are, as far as I have been able to determine, not available in any other puppy preparation). It also contains no preservatives, sugars, fillers or artificial colors, and the meat and plant material is chemical-free.
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2. Canidae Grain Free Pure Foundations Puppy Formula
You will also find probiotics in Canidae Grain Free Pure Foundations, but not live, freeze-dried probiotics. Still, any probiotics will help with digestion. This formula also includes antioxidants to help your puppy maintain a strong immune system. The first three ingredients are chicken, menhaden fish meal and lentils, and the recipe also includes peas, lentils and potatoes. All of this adds up to an ideal preparation if your puppy has sensitive digestion. It’s also high in calories (520 calories per cup), so a little goes a long way.
As with my top Westie food recommendations for adults, there are a lot of other very good choices. These are two of my favorites, but you and your puppy may find others that are equally suitable.
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Top Westie Food Recommendations for Seniors
As previously mentioned it’s not uncommon for Westies to live into the double digits. At this point, his show or agility career will be behind him, and he may begin to put on weight. Westies being, also as previously mentioned, fussy eaters, this is not the time to stop giving him top-quality dog food. It just means that you will need to switch to a formula that is suitable for seniors.
Senior Westies do not, in general, require a great deal of protein, and in fact may have some difficulty metabolizing it – too much protein can be hard on the kidneys of an elderly dog. On the other hand, if your senior Westie is losing muscle tone and does not have a weight problem, and his kidneys are in good shape, you can probably continue to feed him as you always have.
These are my top Westie food recommendations for senior dogs.
1. Orijen Senior Dog Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Orijen Senior Dog Food provides 38% crude protein and 15% crude fat, so it is an ideal food for the senior dog who still needs a fair bit of protein. The main ingredients are deboned chicken and turkey, yellowtail flounder, Atlantic mackerel and eggs. This food also contains glucosamine and chondroitin to help with stiff joints in your senior dog. Price-wise, it’s on the high end of premium dog foods, but it’s definitely one of the best senior dog foods available.
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2. Weruva Caloric Harmony Venison & Salmon Meal Dinner with Pumpkin
Weruva Caloric Harmony is another very good dog food for seniors. The meat source is grass-fed venison, and this food also contains salmon and herring meal, so it delivers a substantial 37.8% crude protein along with 14.4% fat. This is a great maintenance dog food for aging Westies, and the pumpkin also makes it very digestible.
Again, I wouldn’t recommend dramatic changes in feeding for your senior Westie – fewer calories if warranted, and less protein if he finds it hard to digest. You want your best buddy to enjoy his “golden years,” and sudden, dramatic changes in general (not just when it comes to diet) will not be pleasing to him.
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Top Westie Food On Amazon
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The Final Word
Westies have been very popular over the years, and with good reason. These friendly, playful, loyal dogs have a way of melting your heart. So, if you’re fortunate enough to have a West Highland White Terrier in your life, these top Westie food recommendations, lots of love, exercise and regular veterinary care will help to ensure that you enjoy your Westie’s company for many years.