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For Those With Cairns and Westies Together


Izabella's Mom
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I'm new to both breeds so I'm just curious what other Cairn/Westie owners would say. I might say my Cairn right now but they are still puppies.

Do you find the two breeds mostly alike in a lot of ways as in just overall breed characteristics, other then appearance?

Thanks.

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Hii, Izabella,

I have a Cairn and a Westie now but this is my first Cairn (he was a rescue). How can I put it? Henry, at 4 years younger, is a little "sneakier" and Pepper (my 8-year-old Cairn sweetie) is more dignified. But they have a lot of similar behaviors -- and they are kinda first cousins in breeds! I really enjoy my two little guys. And in this case, I think the age difference contributes as much to anything to differences in the two dogs' behavior.

pam

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I had a Westie in the past and now have Cairns - I'd say the characteristics are super similar - sometimes with my biggest, Hollie I see my last Westie and accidentally even call her the wrong name! (Old memories) but that tells you how close they are w/behavior. Love both breeds, however I have to say that I'm enjoying qualities of the Cairn - mine do not have the severe allergies my Westie had.

Hollie Edelbrock & Brystal Sonoma
Chris, Stacy and Little Noah
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I agree with goforette. My westie was a submissive beta-female, while my cairn is an alpha-male, but everything else is the same, except the allergies. My westie had terrible skin allergies and she couldn't really eat any "people food". I've heard that it could be a breed difference, as Westies are prone to skin conditions, but it is also likely a breeding difference - we had gotten the westie from some Mennonite farmers, and it was pretty much a puppy mill, while the cairn was from a (slightly) more responsible breeder.

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I added a Westie pup to my family of 3 Cairns last Nov. There are definitely alot of similarities in appearance and personality. They both play the same, shaking a stuffed toy to it's death and playing tug-a-war w/ eachother, stealing toys and running. They both have that inner play growl that sounds so vicious yet is harmless. While I have always loved having female Cairns (Kiara, Abbey & Hannah), I find the Westie male (Ninja) to be even more of a lover, which I didn't think was possible. He also learned all of his basic commands by 6 mths. I have to take into account that Abbey & Hannah are only 6 mths apart, so training was a little more difficult. Ninja is only 9 mths old, so no allergy problem yet, but I do have a dh into holistic medicine and Ninja is on holistic food and distilled water to prevent tear stains, so we're keeping our fingers crossed. I have no doubt that a Westie is just a smart, but he's still in the puppy stage. With the Cairns, Kiara is extremely smart, but she is also the oldest. Having just turned 6 (sorry, haven't posted b-day pics), she has the wisdom that the younger ones lack. To me, adding the Westie was just like getting another Cairn, a white one.

<img src=&quot;http://img.photobucket.com/albums/1003/maiwag/terriersiggy.jpg" border="0" class="linked-sig-image" />

Beth, mom to Ninja (5), Hannah (7), Abbey (7 1/2), Kiara (10)

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westies are true-breeding white cairns. they are the same dogs. westies are cut differently and the color of their fur is associated with a slight difference in texture. i think that for various reasons they may also be raised in different sort of homes from cairns. but they are the same dogs. that's why the AKC will accept any color cairn except white --if it's all white, no mixed hairs at all, it's a westie.

Edited by pkcrossley
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  • 4 months later...

My mom has a Westie male and a Cairn Female. Harri the Westie is more affectionate, and more submissive. Harri aims to please and really doesn't ever disobey. Ricki on the other hand is less affection, total alpha, and generally runs the show wherever she is. As far as intelligence goes, I think they are about equal. Harri seems to respond to commands better, but that is probably because Ricki is so darn stubborn. Harri and Ricki are both rescue dogs and about 7 months apart in age. My Cairn is definately more like my mom's Cairn.

The world revolves around Benny and Sally...or so they think!

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Why are Westies groomed differently than Cairns if they're the same thing, only white? If they have the same coat (except for color), wouldn't they need to be stripped?

Jandy and my Cairns, Kirby & Phinney 
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Sorry if I stray a little bit off topic, but since the question is directed to those who have both Cairns and Westies, it might be a good place to mention my observations.

In my area Westies far outnumber Cairns. At first glance they do appear to be nearly identical except for the color. I've only met a couple of Westies on our walks where I could observe my Cairn standing next to a Westie. "Standing" is a bit of an understatement with these guys. But seeing them side by side, the Westie seems to be a bit taller due to slightly longer legs, and has a slightly shorter "wheelbase" due to a slightly shorter back.

Have those of you with both breeds noticed this slight difference?

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I only have a Cairn which I adore. But my first choice was a Westie until I read up on them and all the allegery problems. There is a dog on a dog food brand, I think it's Caesar Food - is that dog a Westie?

av-2164.jpg
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i don't know what the answer is the to wheelbase problem. as for the difference in coats between westies and cairns --hair color and texture go together. for people as well as cairns. a pure white cairn (in other words, a westie) will have very different texture to its fur from a brindled cairn, and fanciers will probably begin to use different strategies for grooming. standards for length, angle, blunt or stripped, that kind of thing, grow out of the standards that become accepted in the dog shows.

once a breed has been identified and breeders start culling the genetic outliers, other sorts of markers will begin to dominate the genetic stream. personally, i think some of these are related to temperament. the best example i can think of are lhasa apsos and shih-tzus. i read that until 1933 they were the same breed. nowadays, they not only look different, they have very different temperaments, in my experience. i don't think it is related to the gene for dwarfism. i think it is a mild product of genetic selection. temperament can run in families, let alone in "breeds."

a lot of breed branching has to do with identifying achondroplasic dwarfs as breed material. some large breeds, and all terrier breeds, have recessive genes for dwarfism. if you stop avoiding dwarf phenotypes and start breeding them, you will be on your way to starting a new "breed" (as well as creating a great deal of havoc and suffering). this is one of the differences between shih-tzus and lhasa apsos --shih-tzus are descended from achondroplasic lhasas. among the terriers from the west of scotland, skyes and scotties tend toward achondroplasia. the main stock, not singled out for breeding dwarves, was the near source of cairns and westies. their ancestors a little over a hundred years ago were all the same. at the time there was general farmer's prejudice against pure-white animals, as it was believed that they were albinos, or deaf, or cursed, or otherwise defective. it may have been donald malcolm or perhaps another farmer living nearby (okay, maybe even the duke of argyll), who at the end of the nineteenth century decided that he was tired of his terriers being shot by neighbors who mistook them for varmints, and so he kept and bred his white terrier pups, despite the superstitions, for use in hunting. apart from the founder's effect in the gene pool (due to isolation from the main stock of terriers), westies are simply cairns who are white. fortunately westie breeders have not developed an interest in selecting for traits that would morphologically separate them from cairns --for instance, flop ears, curly fur, blue eyes, dwarfism, or anything else. and cairn breeders have respected the relationship --their pups can be anything BUT white (otherwise westies would be kind of pointless).

i am interested in the observations of supposed structural or temperamental differences, but i haven't observed it myself. westies in person and in pictures just look to me like what they are. white cairns, who've been separated from the main group (but still using the same genes) for a little over a century now.

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Actually, both Cairns and Westie are branches off the original "Scotch Terrier" tree. Through their evolution, Westies became heavier boned, shorter backed, larger-- according to their standard, and their tail set was/is/ should be straight up.

Their ears are slightly closer together than the Cairns-- probably due to a "project" of Dr. Americ Flaxman, who started breeding white dogs out of a Scottish terrier bitch who consistently threw white puppies. It was inevitable that this-- as well as the dogs of the Duke of Argyll and the guy who was arguably the "founder " of the breed, Colonel Malcolm of Potalloch-- would help the breed deviate from the more pigmented Cairn terrier. The lore explains that upon returning from the Crimean War, the myopic(?) Colonel shot his favorite colored terrier having mistaken it for a fox. After that he vowed NEVER to breed another dark dog again and the Westie was on its way to independence.

The Westie is technically not a white dog, per se. Think interior wall paint. Most "white" family paints have a hint of pigment-- and it is so with the Westie. Some will be brighter than others-- some have more of a tannish tinge-- and it is not unusual to see a "dorsal stripe" along the spine of the dog that is a little darker than the rest of the coat. This is not considered a fault. Often you'll see them on harder-textured coats.

In any case, until the beginning of the 20th Century, in a single litter, the light/white dogs would be registered as West Highland White Terriers and the colored ones would be deemed Cairns.

Jill in Oregon

Edited by magadog
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One other supposed difference in the book I used when deciding on the breed I wanted, stated that a Westie is a slightly larger dog at an average of about 20 pounds. The same source said an average Cairn should be closer to 15 pounds. Using those weights as "normal", we also have to assume that a female will tend to be a little smaller, and a male a little larger.

I'm not sure if I agree with the "standards" I was working from. But Renny is about 16 pounds, and the few Westies we've met have been close to his size in terms of weight. The differences in height and length were the only apparent differences.

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Most Westies average 16-22 lbs. When I went searching for a Westie, I was interested in a smaller one. My Ninja's parents were both small, weighing 10-12 lbs. He's 14 mths and just hitting 9-10 lbs, cute as a button. I kind of like having a small Westie, and the Cairn girls all tolerate him very well. I'm thinking he'll get a couple pounds heavier and be the size of my smallest Cairn, Hannah.

<img src=&quot;http://img.photobucket.com/albums/1003/maiwag/terriersiggy.jpg" border="0" class="linked-sig-image" />

Beth, mom to Ninja (5), Hannah (7), Abbey (7 1/2), Kiara (10)

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