Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
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The Wauzer comes in several different sizes as they can be a mix of the West Highland White Terrier (Westie) with either the Giant, Miniature or the Standard Schnauzer. In general, though, it is the smaller, Miniature Schnauzer, that is used in the mix. Active and outgoing with a desire to please, the Wauzer makes a pleasant companion. However, thanks to the Terrier within them, they can prove too much for some.

Small yet sturdily built and with solid muscle, the Wauzer is strong despite its short stature. Their limbs are relatively short and their stubby tail is usually carried straight up in a slightly comical manner. They have a double coat, which can be pure white like the Westie but that is more often various shades of grey, as well as black.

About & History

The Wauzer is also known as the West Highland Schnauzer and is thought to have first been bred during the 1990s. They were bred for the purpose of being a companion animal and not for any specific work. They are one of the lesser known hybrids but are well-loved by those who know them.

The West Highland White Terrier

The West Highland White Terrier is known for its spunky, courageous attitude and persistent nature. An independent soul, these guys are quite content in their own company and are not overly reliant on their owners. They are a Scottish breed; similar to a number of other terriers, such as the Skye Terrier and Cairn Terrier.

In their time, they would have been used to hunt a variety of prey, including badgers and rats. They were well-suited for this purpose as they are a high-energy, tenacious breed with the ability to fit into small spaces and track scents close to the ground. Many experts believe that the reason the Westie was bred to be white was so that they would be easily distinguished from their darker fur prey; avoiding shooting accidents by human hunters. The Poltalloch Terrier gave rise to the Westie in the early 1900s and some people will still refer to them by this name to this day.

The Schnauzer

Schnauzers are a German breed that have been used for several hundreds of years as all-round farmyard dogs. The natural devotion they have for their owners makes them excellent watch dogs. On top of this, they would be used as vermin hunters (much like the Westie) and livestock herders. While most are kept exclusively as pets today, they excel in a range of disciplines thanks to their versatility and athleticism. A good number of them have been trained as sniffer dogs and many individuals compete to a high standard in canine sporting activities.


The Wauzer is much longer than it is tall, which is down to their elongated back and stumpy, little legs. Their skull is in proportion to their body and they should have a good length muzzle which is never ‘snubbed’. Many have longer fur around their muzzle, making it seem as though they have grown an impressive moustache and beard! Their triangular ears are relatively small and sit high up on their heads.

For some, their ears will stand completely erect while for others they will fold over towards the front of their face, like those of their Schnauzer parent. They have round, dark brown and intelligent eyes. Their neck is thick while their chest is quite deep for a dog of their size. The medium length tail should be straight and is carried confidently above their back.

Wauzers rarely reach heights over 36cm, unless of course they have been bred from the Standard or Giant Schnauzer, in which case they will be substantially taller. None will be shorter than 18cm. When fully grown, the typical Wauzer will weigh between 5.5 and 9kg. The wiry coat of the Wauzer is quite dense and stiff. It is medium in length and most have fur that is a mixture of black and grey, though some individuals have solid white or solid black coats.

Character & Temperament

Energetic and a lover of the outdoors, the Wauzer is always up for a game of fetch in the garden or a nice, long hike in the park. Once exercised sufficiently, they know how to relax and will happily chill out with their family in the evenings. They get on well with all family members though don’t often become over-reliant on them, making issues like separation anxiety generally unheard of in this breed.

A dog with a high prey drive and a desire to sniff and track, the Wauzer can be easily distracted when outdoors and may give chase at little warning. Even the best trained dog may find the allure of nearby prey just too much to ignore. While most can be taught to co-exist among other dogs, it is far harder to find a Wauzer that will live side by side with smaller pets, such as rabbits or guinea pigs.

Feisty and quite protective, the Wauzer is the ideal watch dog who will quickly alert their owner of a new person arriving to their property. However, they are too small to be taken seriously as a guard dog.


Training the Wauzer can be rewarding most of the time but they can be independent and headstrong. To combat this, owners should focus on positive reinforcement training methods and should avoid repetitive sessions, which can quickly become a bore. Their brain will soon switch off and they will stop responding to cues once they have become disengaged with the task at hand.


In recent years, the Westie has gained a bad reputation when it comes to their health with many owners finding them to have skin, ear and eye problems that can significantly impair their quality of life. Due to this, the outbreeding of them with pedigrees, such as the Schnauzer, has been welcomed as a step in the right direction. However, the Wauzer could easily inherit these same issues if not bred responsibly.

Atopic Dermatitis

While affected to a lesser degree than their Westie parent, Wauzers can still have skin afflictions. Symptoms can start at any age between six months and six years and typically consist of paw licking, face rubbing and generalised itchiness.

If the allergen source can be identified, it should be eliminated from their environment (if this is possible). Many will be managed on a cocktail of medications, including anti-itch medicines and antibiotics.

Kerato-Conjunctivits Sicca

Also known as ‘dry eye’, affected dogs do not produce adequate tears, which leads to a drying out of the surface of the eye and subsequent infections and ulcers. Owners may notice that the eyes look ‘glazed’ and the dog has a thick, mucoid discharge. Some dogs may also display signs of discomfort, such as squinting or pawing at their eyes. For most, the condition can be well-managed with medicated drops.


An inflamed pancreas can be extremely painful and affected dogs are typically lethargic, nauseous and will find it difficult to settle. Bloodwork and abdominal imaging can diagnose the condition and many will need to be hospitalised and treated with intravenous medicine while they recover. Those who have had one bout of pancreatitis are prone to developing the condition again in the future and should be fed on a low-fat diet.


Diabetic dogs will have excessively high blood sugar levels that can lead to symptoms including excessive thirst, excessive hunger and weight loss. To diagnose diabetes, vets will search for high levels of sugar in the blood and/or urine. As dogs tend to develop type one diabetes, they generally require daily insulin injections to control the disease.

Exercise and Activity Levels

While small, the Wauzer loves to keep fit and enjoys tagging along on any activity going. On top of games and play time, they should be brought out for a couple of 30-minute walks each day. The route taken should vary and they should be given every opportunity to sniff to their heart’s content.


The coarse fur of the Wauzer does not shed much but can be prone to tangling so should be brushed a few times a week. Most breed members benefit from being bathed every couple of months in a sensitivity shampoo. Daily tooth brushing can go a long way when it comes to preventing dental disease and should be started from six months of age to get the dog used to the idea.

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