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Is a Westie just a white Cairn?

Someone suggested that to me this week. And i felt so offended, hehe. We tried hard to find an adorable, but less-than-typical dog. This region is packed with Yorks, Westies, and of course poodles. But to me, the Westies look quite q bit bigger, and more sausage-bodied.

Originally we were trying to get a Norfolk, or Norwich... but apparently it is impossible. So we settled for a Cairn, thank goodness! i am so in love with my Biscuit, it's ridiculous!

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Westies are descended from Cairn's, but a whole different breed. I think that a lot of similarities exist, but I think a lot of differences exist too. Several people on the Forum have both breeds and can expand.

Tracy, Brattwrust & Mettwurst a.k.a The Gremlins
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Apparently AKC recognized the Westie as such in 1908 although it was pretty well established by then. It wasn't until 1917 that the AKC forbade registration of Cairns with a Westie in its three-generation pedigree. Since that time the Westie has standardized into a distinctively different dog.

Cairns had continued. If you wanted a Cairn, you chose a colored puppy from the litter. If you wanted a Westie, you chose a white puppy. About 1917 the American Kennel Club decided on stern measures by refusing to register any Cairn that had a Westie in the first three generations of pedigree. The English Kennel Club quickly followed suit, and the two breeds were finally separated and made distinct. Since then the Westie has evolved into a dog of more substance, being about one inch taller and weighing about three pounds more, as comparison of the two present breed standards shows.

-- Westies From Head to Tail

Also from the same sample chapter:

In the mid-1800s, farmers and gamekeepers destroyed light-colored puppies, which were thought to be weak. The serious breeders considered the white dogs an embarrassment, never to see the light of day. Edward did not agree. As a boy growing to manhood, he kept a number of the lightest-colored dogs and hunted them in his own pack. When army duty summoned him abroad, his dogs worked along with those of his brother, proving themselves quite worthy and far easier to be seen in the field. One day a favorite reddish-brown dog, emerging from cover, was mistakenly shot for a fox, convincing Edward all the more that the white dogs were preferable for hunting.

Gameness in the dogs was the first consideration, since the dogs were used for hunting marauding animals that preyed on poultry and lambs, destroyed the crops, and competed with the people for game needed for food. Stories are told that the half-grown puppies were lowered on a rope into a barrel containing a badger or a couple of rats. If the dog was the winner in ten minutes, he was considered worth his keep. These sound like hardhearted tactics to dog lovers of today, when “survival of the fittest” is left to Mother Nature. But the Foxhunter or the Rabbitcatcher of those days saw nothing amiss with giving her a hand in weeding out the weak and the timid.

-- Westies From Head to Tail

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We met a 4 year old Westie yesterday when we had Barney with us and it was interesting to compare them. The Westie had a significantly shorter back length than Barney. The face shape seemed the same, but it was hard to tell because the Westie's hair was much longer than Barney's. She had that cute Westie hair cut! Her legs seemed shorter than Barney's and her body stockier.

I think Barney was a bit smitten with her because he was all over her! She was really cute!

All creatures great and small, the Lord God, He made them all!

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sheila and Misty

we also considered a norwich and westie...after reading up on them we decided the cairn was not quite as wild. but yest they are different breads.

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We had decided to get a Cairn but ended up with a Norfolk. The rescue folks called him a Cairn but after seeing all the pictures on this forum we knew we had something else! Chewie behaves pretty much like everyone describes their Cairns. His only apparent difference is floppy ears!

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After my last dog ( not a Cairn ) died, I knew I wanted another small breed, but beyond that I didn't know what I wanted. I bought a book called "Small Dog Breeds" by Dan Rice DVM and compared different breeds. The book was a help, but I'd hesitate to suggest it for anything more than basic initial research.

It didn't take long to narrow it down to a small group of breeds, and the Cairn kept coming to the top of the list. I was rather ignorant of the different breeds and "Silly me" thought "Terrier" was just a word. I didn't realize that Terriers are a whole 'nother type of dog!!. A family across the alley and down the block had a "cute little white dog" that would check me out anytime I drove down the alley. I don't know them, but I actually went to the house and asked the owner what breed it was and that was my first encounter with a Westie.

That book stated that the main differences between a Cairn and a Westie were color and size. It stated that an adult Westie should be around 20 pounds or so, and a Cairn should be around 15 pounds. It also gave the impression that a Westie was a lot more "Hyper" than a Cairn. There are a lot of Westies in my area and relatively few Cairns, but I decided on a Cairn and got lucky and found Renny in about two weeks of looking.

We have met quite a few Westies on our walks, and while there are a lot of similarities in appearance, differences become more apparent under closer scrutiny. I was surprised that most of them are actually smaller than Renny, but seem to have a similer temperment.

Renny is a lot more energetic than I expected, and his exercise needs are WAY more than I was looking for. If I had known then what I know now, I probably wouldn't have selected a Cairn. That said, do I regret getting a Cairn? Absolutely not. We both get a lot of much needed exercise, and my Doctor has finally quit bugging me about getting more exercise. As a result, I feel better than I have in years. He is an absolutely great companion and I couldn't be happier with my choice.


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