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Westie Vs. Miniature Schnauzer: Breed Differences & Similarities


Last Updated: March 20, 2023 | 9 min read | 3 Comments

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The West Highland Terrier and the Miniature Schnauzer are both small and feisty pups, worthy of a place in the family home. But they need different types of families to be happy. So, are you considering which dog to adopt next? Let’s find out which is the best choice for you.

The Westie and the Miniature Schnauzer are very similar in some ways yet totally different in others. They are both full of canine character, packed into a small body. However, the Westie is well suited to those looking for their first dog, compared to the sassy Schnauzer, who needs a firmer and more experienced hand.

With a lot more differences, you’re bound to know which one is better suited to you and your lifestyle after reading this comparison guide. So, let’s jump straight in and compare these two small but feisty pups.

Breed Comparison


  • Height 10-11 Inches
  • Weight 15-20 Pounds
  • Temperament Happy, loyal, entertaining
  • Energy Moderate
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 13-15 Years
  • Puppy Prices $1,000 and Up

Miniature Schnauzer

  • Height 12-14 Inches
  • Weight 11-20 Pounds
  • Temperament Friendly, smart, obedient
  • Energy Moderate
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 12-15 Years
  • Puppy Prices $1,000 and Up

Breed History

Looking at a dog breed’s past can tell you a lot about why they are the way they are and what to expect from them in the family home. Let’s take a brief look to see how they compare.


Westie smiling and sitting next to green kiddy pool
Westies are a popular purebred that comes from northwest Scotland.

The “Westie” is officially known as the West Highland White Terrier. Scotland is the birthplace of many terriers, mainly because the farmers all had one thing in common, a pesky rodent problem. These little guys were designed for hunting rats and removing the pest problem.

Although it is not officially known when the Westie was created, historical documents show that they came into focus in the 18th century. Legend has it that the famous Malcolm clan began breeding white dogs on their Poltalloch estate after accidentally shooting one of their wheaten-colored terriers. Sadly, the Colonel mistook one of his dogs for a fox. And this is also why you might sometimes hear this breed referred to as the Poltalloch Terrier.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) registered its first Westie in 1908. They have been popular dogs ever since they came to America. They are best known for being as cute as a button and for their spunky attitude. Celebrities that have fallen under their spell include Whoopi Goldberg, Matthew McConaughey, and Jennifer Aniston. The AKC consistently ranks between the 40th and 50th most popular dog breed in America.

Miniature Schnauzer

Dark Miniature Schnauzer standing in field
The Standard Schnauzer originates from Germany, and farmers in the Middle Ages created them to be versatile farm dogs.

As you might have guessed, the Miniature Schnauzer is the mini version of the Standard Schnauzer. Over time, they realized that they also needed smaller versions capable of hunting rats in small spaces and nests on farms. They mixed the Affenpinscher and the Miniature Poodle into the bloodline to achieve the smaller size needed.

Because of their ratting background, the Mini Schnauzer finds themselves in the Terrier group, the same group as the Westie. But technically, they are not terriers at all. Unlike the West Highland Terrier, the Mini Schnauzer is hardly used as a ratter today. Instead, they enjoy the high life as companion dogs and are the most popular of the three Schnauzer breeds.

Ever since their registration with the AKC in 1926, they have continuously found themselves in America’s top 20 dog breeds. Celebrities who have succumbed to the charm of the Mini Schnauzer include Bruce Lee, Sugar Ray Leonard, Katherine Heigl, 50 Cent, and Doris Day.


Westie and Miniature Schnauzer faces up close
These dogs are very different in appearance.

The only similarity between them is their small size. However, the Westie is the shorter and squatter of the two breeds, and the Mini Schnauzer is the taller and more elegant-looking pup.

The Mini Schnauzer measures between 12 and 14 inches tall, from paw to shoulder. Compared to the Westie, who measures between 10 and 11 inches tall. However, the Westie is, on average, slightly heavier than the Mini Schnauzer. The Westie weighs between 15 and 20 pounds, and the Mini Schnauzer from ranges 11 to 20 pounds.

The Mini Schnauzer usually has a neater appearance compared to the Westie. Many Schnauzer owners opt to groom them meticulously to achieve their well-groomed appearance. Including their wise beard and larger-than-life eyebrows. The Westie’s coat tends to grow out at all angles, giving them a scruffier appearance. If you want to show either breed in the show ring, the rules are stricter for the Mini Schnauzer.

A true Westie is always white when it comes to coloring, with no exceptions. The Mini Schnauzer opts for darker colors such as salt and pepper, black, and black and silver. The salt and pepper color is a multi-colored strand of hair that typically finishes with black. So every time they have a haircut, they often look like they’ve changed color. Mini Schnauzers have more color variation than the always brilliant white Westie.


Westie and Miniature Schnauzer being held by owners
The temperament of these pups is more similar than different.

Although the Mini Schnauzer is not a terrier by blood, he acts like one, which means that both of these doggos are lots of fun, full of energy, and have a stubborn streak. Both of these guys suit families who are looking for fun times with a doggy companion.

They also both have a high prey drive, especially for small, fast rodents. Meaning that if you have a rat infestation that needs sorting, both of these guys are up for the job. Out of the two, the Westie is more likely to have the higher prey drive simply because the Mini Schnauzer has become accustomed to the easier companionship life. But really, neither of these dogs is suitable to live with smaller non-canine animals.

They are both curious creatures that always find themselves up to no good. They both need entertaining families that can stimulate them throughout the day, such as games at home or outdoor adventures. Otherwise, you’ll find your yard dug up in no time.

Despite being small doggos, they are both bold and self-assured, often thinking they are always right. They are intense dogs for sure, and some families prefer quieter, more submissive dog breeds. Out of the two breeds, the Mini Schnauzer is the more stubborn of the two. If they don’t get their own way, they are known to sulk for hours on end.

The most significant difference is that the Westie is friendly with strangers and outgoing. Whereas the Mini Schnauzer is an aloof pup, suspicious of everyone that comes into their territory. With their protective nature and surprisingly loud bark, there aren’t many people that would dare mess with this little guy. Meaning if you are after a tiny guard dog, the Mini Schnauzer is your best pick. But if you’re after a friendly pup, the Westie is your best option.


Westie and Miniature Schnauzer Exercising running
Their exercise needs are very similar.

Despite their small frames, they are bouncy and tireless, and you are more likely to tire out before these two do. They both need around an hour of exercise a day. This might seem like a lot for small dogs, but they are working terriers with a need for adventure.

They also need a lot of entertainment throughout the day, so don’t think they stop after an hour of daily exercise. They both enjoy interactive games in the yard, chasing after toys. Plus, they like to entertain themselves with chew sticks and treat-dispensing puzzle toys. And given their love (or hate, depending on how you look at it) of rats, they also go mad for squeaky toys.  

If you fail to exercise and entertain the Westie and the Mini Schnauzer to their liking, they can cause a lot of trouble for you. They both love to dig, chew furniture, and terrorize the neighbor’s cat (although they might do that anyway). The Mini Schnauzer is likely to become more unruly than the Westie, mainly because of their sassy, bossy boot personality. But, whichever dog you decide to pick, please be sure you can meet their needs.


Westie shaking and Miniature Schnauzer jumping over agility course poll
Their training needs are very different.

The Mini Schnauzer is much more stubborn than the Westie, and they always think they are right. The Westie is much more amenable to training. This difference means that first-time dog owners find it much easier to train the Westie. Mini Schnauzers are better suited for those with more experience under their belt.

Both are at risk of developing something known as “small dog syndrome.” This occurs when dog owners essentially let their small dogs get away with naughty behaviors that big dogs cannot get away with. This can be more problematic with the sassy Schnauzer, more of a diva doggo than the Westie. Schnauzers are also known for their vocal nature, so it’s advised to learn about the “quiet command” and use it when your Schnauzer becomes too shouty.

Like all dogs, they both need to be socialized from a young age too. The crucial period for teaching them how to interact politely with other dogs, humans, and the world around them is between 3 and 12 weeks. The difference between these two breeds is that the Westie tends to be quicker in picking up polite manners. In comparison, the protective and headstrong Mini Schnauzer needs to be reminded regularly of their manners, which is sometimes a lifetime training commitment.

Despite this difference, all doggy owners need to train either dog breed from an early age to achieve the best results. The best way to teach both the Westie and the Mini Schnauzer is with positive reinforcement training. They are both motivated by treats and toys to play with. Make training sessions short and fun to keep them both interested. Persistence is the key to success.


Westie and Miniature Schnauzer at vet
Their long lifespan is typical of small dog breeds.

These toy dogs are comparatively healthy dog breeds that both enjoy an average lifetime of up to 15 years. They are both at risk of suffering from several eye problems. The most common concern in both is progressive retinal atrophy, a degenerative disease of the retina. If not treated, this can lead to total vision loss.

The only other recommended test for the Mini Schnauzer is a cardiac test. The most common cardiac concern is mitral valve disease, a leading cause of death in the breed. The Westie should be tested for something known as hip dysplasia. This health condition usually results from a poor hip inheritance, so it’s crucial to ask your breeder for their hip scores. Westies are also susceptible to luxating patella, where the kneecap dislodges and floats.


Westie and Miniature Schnauzer eating
These two are similar in weight and activity level.

These two breeds eat roughly the same, and your monthly food bill is similar. It’s important to feed both dogs the best quality food you can afford, as this meets their nutritional needs. And remember, a healthy pup is a happy pup.

The Westie and the Miniature Schnauzer are small dogs and benefit from eating food designed for small breeds. These foods are higher in energy to meet their specific needs. Plus, if you choose to feed them kibble, the pieces are also small enough for them to eat comfortably. They both have eyes bigger than their bellies, so be sure to keep the treat portions under control to avoid weight-related health problems.


Westie and Miniature Schnauzer at the groomer
Overall, their grooming needs are more than the average dog’s.

The difference between the Westie and Mini Schnauzer’s grooming regime depends on what type of haircut you choose to give them. You need to be prepared to invest time, effort, and money into keeping them looking their best — especially the Mini Schnauzer, whose haircut is more particular than the Westie.

Suppose you want to show your dogs in competitions or prefer the traditional terrier look with a trimmed topline and longer underbelly. In that case, your dog needs their coat hand stripping to preserve the wiriness of their coat. This is usually best done by a professional. Achieving the hairstyle of the Mini Schnauzer is more complex than the Westie because they have facial hair to shape. Owners of both dogs usually send their pups in for a pampering session every four to eight weeks.

Owners who don’t need or want this level of grooming tend to give their dogs a puppy or teddy bear cut, which is much easier to maintain. They can usually do it themselves too. Both of their harsh and wiry coats need brushing at least three times a week to remove dead hair and prevent matting. A soft slicker brush and a metal comb are the best tools to keep in your toolkit for both of these guys.

They are both hypoallergenic dog breeds that shed less compared to the average pup. Although being completely hypoallergenic is a myth, they are both easier on slight allergy sufferers. Bathing is usually required once every four to eight weeks for both pups too. And regular teeth cleaning is a must for them both as they have small, compact mouths, which lends them to periodontal disease.

Puppy Prices

Westie and Miniature Schnauzer Puppies
There is not much difference between the price of these two pups.

The average starting price for a puppy from a responsible breeder is around $1,000. This cost can reach several thousand for both breeds when looking for a top-pedigree puppy.

Working with a responsible breeder is crucial if you want a better chance of securing a healthy puppy. Always research any breeder you choose to work with and be aware of the tactics used by irresponsible breeders and puppy mills.

As with all pups, there are more costs to think about than the initial puppy price. But considering that they have an average starting price, are similar in size and lifestyle, and have an equal lifespan, they are likely to cost roughly the same across their lifetime.

Final Thoughts

The Westie and the Miniature Schnauzer are equally similar and different. And this is why many parents considering these two breeds need help deciding between them. Thankfully, by focusing on their differences, you can easily pick which breed suits you and your lifestyle better.

The Westie is the easier going of the two pups and simpler to train, making them the better option for first-time dog owners. They are also happy-go-lucky dogs who are friendlier with strangers.

Mini Schnauzers are more stubborn, making them harder to teach for those with little dog experience. They are also more protective, making the better watch and guard dog of the two.

Ultimately it comes down to what qualities are most important to your family. But despite their differences, they both make equally fantastic family pets.

two small dogs tan and gray sitting in grass

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