Home /

Dogs / Breeds / West Highland Terrier

/ Are Westies Hypoallergenic?

Are Westies Hypoallergenic?

Misfit Animals is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn More.

Yes, Westies are hypoallergenic. West Highland Terriers don’t shed much, produce low amounts of dander, and don’t drool a lot, which all reduce the chances of allergic reactions.

Many dog lovers experience allergic reactions. If that’s you, you should know that you are not bound to live dogless for the rest of your life. Westies are a great option and you will be amazed at how fun they are to be around.

But before getting a hypoallergenic dog, you should know why people are allergic to dogs. What is it that makes Westies hypoallergenic?

This article answers all your questions.

You will also learn why you should follow some cleaning rules, even if you have a hypoallergenic dog such as a Westie.

What Are Hypoallergenic Dogs?

Hypoallergenic dogs are less likely to cause allergies. There is no such thing as 100% hypoallergenic dogs. The reality is that all dogs can cause allergies. But some don’t produce as many allergens and are called hypoallergenic.

Between 10–20% of people around the world suffer from dog or cat allergies[1]. As this number is increasing, it is essential to understand what hypoallergenic means. 

People with severe dog allergies should consult their physician before getting a hypoallergenic dog.

The word “hypoallergenic” means that something has a low probability of causing allergic reactions. 

This table illustrates the meaning of the word “hypoallergenic”.

Word rootsMeaning
Hypo-Beneath, below, or under.
AllergenicSomething has a high probability of causing allergies.
What Are Hypoallergenic Dogs

Are West Highland Terriers Hypoallergenic?

Yes, West Highland Terriers are hypoallergenic. They are low shedders, minimal droolers, and produce low amounts of dander. 

Some hypoallergenic breeds are minimal shedders while others shed a lot. But, it is a misconception that only minimal shedding dogs are hypoallergenic.

This misconception stems from the idea that it’s dogs’ hair that causes allergies. This is false. It is the dander attached to the hair that triggers allergic reactions.

Westies are not always recognized as hypoallergenic. They are moderate to low shedders, which causes people to believe they are not hypoallergenic. 

This is not true, as it is their low production of dander that makes them hypoallergenic.

What Causes Allergic Reactions To Dogs? 

People are allergic to seven allergens found in dogs’ dander, saliva, urine, sweat, and other bodily fluids. Dog hair doesn’t cause allergies itself, but when it falls off it helps dander become airborne.

Scientists have long ago produced enough evidence to debunk the myth that dog hair causes allergies[2]

Instead, they found seven components in dogs that trigger allergies in humans. These allergens are named “Can f” and are categorized from 1 to 7.

What Causes Allergic Reactions To Dogs

This table illustrates where the seven proteins that cause dog allergies are found.[3]

AllergenPresent In 
Can f 1Dander and saliva
Can f 2Dander and saliva
Can f 3Dander, saliva, epithelia, serum, liver, and salivary glands
Can f 4 Dander
Can f 5Urine
Can f 6Dander and saliva
Can f 7[4]Epididymis secretions

People who are allergic to dogs have a reactive immune system to one or more of the seven allergens. When these allergens enter their bodies, the immune system perceives them as dangerous. 

As a result, it tries to get rid of the allergens or kill them. Allergic reactions are a sign that the body is fighting allergens. 

Most dog allergens are present in their saliva and dander. Particles of dander and saliva trigger allergic reactions when they become airborne and enter the human body through the nostrils:

  • Dander attaches to dog hair and becomes airborne when their hair falls out. 
  • Dogs lick various surfaces. When their saliva dries, it is spread into the air by air currents. 

Do Westies Shed a Lot?

Do Westies Shed a Lot

No, Westies don’t shed a lot as they are moderate to minimal shedders. They shed more compared to other hypoallergenic breeds but less than dogs with a high potential of causing allergic reactions.

Westies are seasonal shedders. They are double coated and have medium-length hair. Every spring and fall they renew their hair. 

Compared to other double-coated breeds, Westies don’t lose significant amounts of hair.

This table compares Westies’ shedding levels to other hypoallergenic breeds.

Breed Shedding Score (1 to 5)
Westie3
Poodle1
Yorkshire Terrier1
Maltese1

Do Westies Drool a Lot?

No, Westies don’t drool a lot as they are minimal drools. As a result, they don’t produce many saliva-related allergens compared to heavy droolers.

This is great news for people allergic to dog saliva. Westies don’t leave their saliva everywhere they go, and you can train them not to lick you or other surfaces.

The problem for people allergic to dogs’ saliva is that dogs lick their bodies. When you pet Westies, your skin can touch allergens. 

While it is hard to prevent your Westie from liking itself, you can reduce or avoid petting them.

Do Westies Drool a Lot

How to avoid the allergens in Westies’ saliva:

  • Train your dog not to lick you.
  • Wash your clothes daily (dogs often lick owners’ clothes).
  • Don’t allow your dog to sleep in your bed.
  • Don’t allow your dog to sit on the couch or any of your chairs.
  • Wear gloves while washing your dog’s feeding and water bowls.

Here are the main allergic reactions caused by dog saliva:

  • Red skin
  • Swollen skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Skin hives
  • Skin rashes

This table compares Westies’ drooling levels to other hypoallergenic breeds.

Breed Drooling Score (1 to 5)
Westie1
Poodle1
Yorkshire Terrier1
Maltese1

Do West Highland Terriers With Allergies Affect Their Owner’s Allergic Reactions?

Yes, Westies with allergies can produce more dander than usual when they experience skin allergies. As a result, more dander sticks to their hair. When the hair falls out, the dander becomes airborne. The more dander, the more likely you are to experience allergic reactions.

Like all Terriers, Westies have a predisposition for skin allergies. 

The most common form of skin allergy in Westies is called atopic dermatitis[5]. Westies with atopic dermatitis have itchy skin. When they scratch, more dander detaches from their skin and releases into the air.

West highland Terriers can also be allergic to food. The best solution is to feed them hypoallergenic food. This type of dog food has fewer artificial colors, taste enhancers, and preservatives. 

You should also use hypoallergenic products while grooming your Westie.

Here are the ingredients that should be avoided around Westies:

  • Parabens
  • Formaldehyde
  • Perfume
  • Sulfates 

Other ways to manage Westies’ skin allergies:

  • Take them to the vet to identify what they are allergic to.
  • Avoid highly processed dog food.
  • Remove the allergen from their environment.
Do West Highland Terriers With Allergies Affect Their Owner’s Allergic Reactions

West Highland Terrier Hypoallergenic Mix

It is easy to conclude that all Westie mixes are hypoallergenic, but many of their offspring inherit the non-allergenic gene from the other parent. Mixes with a 100% chance to be hypoallergenic are crossbreeds of Westies with another hypoallergenic breed.

To get hypoallergenic Westie mixes, breeders use parents from different breeds for the first generation. The next generations have hypoallergenic crossbred parents. 

This type of crossbreeding results in many non-hypoallergenic dogs in the initial generations.

This table lists the most popular hypoallergenic Westie mixes.

MixResults From
WestiepooWestie + Poodle
Highland MaltieWestie + Maltese
Fourche TerrierWestie + Yorkshire Terrier
Wee-ChonWestie + Bischon Frise

Here is a list of other hypoallergenic breeds:

  • Irish Water Spaniel
  • Peruvian Inca Orchid
  • Schnauzer – Standard, Miniature, Giant
  • Bolognese
  • Chinese Crested
  • Coton de Tulear
  • Affenpinscher
  • Kerry Blue Terrier
  • Lagotto Romagnolo
  • Löwchen
  • Afghan Hound 
  • Bedlington Terriers
  • Xoloitzcuintli
  • Peruvian Inca Orchid
  • American Hairless Terrier
  • Portuguese Water Dog 
  • Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
  • Russian Colored Lapdog

Rules for Living With Westies 

No dog breed is 100% hypoallergenic. Westies can trigger allergic reactions but not as often as other breeds. It is best to still follow some rules of living with dogs if you are allergic.

Here are 9 steps you need to take to prevent allergic reactions:

  1. Use an air purifier.[6]
  2. Clean your home regularly.[7][8][9]
  3. Wash their toys and bed weekly.
  4. Wash clothes after every use.
  5. Remove the dust on the furniture daily.
  6. Vacuum daily.
  7. Use a mask while grooming your Westie.
  8. Wash your hands after you pet your Westie.
  9. Don’t allow your Westie to sit on the couch. 

Conclusion

Westies are hypoallergenic. They are moderate to low shedders, don’t drool much, and don’t produce a lot of dander. People are not allergic to dog hair but to proteins present in dogs’ saliva, dander, and bodily fluids. 

No breed is 100% hypoallergenic. Westies can cause allergic reactions but the probability is low. Still, it is best to take some safety measures while living with Westies. This is essential especially if you have experienced severe allergic reactions to dogs in the past. 

About Ioana Moldovan

Ioana is a Misfit Animals staff writer and psychology student interested in animal behavior. She likes to dive deep into the newest scientific studies to find out the latest discoveries in the field.

Looking for something?

Try searching our website!