The West Highland White Terrier, often simply called the Westie, is a small, sturdy dog. The head is in proportion to the body and when viewed from the front gives off a round appearance. The blunt muzzle is slightly shorter than the skull and tapers toward the nose. There is a defined stop. The nose is black. The teeth meet in a scissors bite with teeth that are large in proportion to the dog. The almond-shaped, deep-set, dark brown eyes are set wide apart. The ears are erect, set wide apart on top of the head and triangular in shape, coming to a point. The legs are somewhat short but not too low to the ground. The undocked tail is relatively short, about 5-6 inches (12.5-15 cm) long, thicker at the base and tapering to a point. Dewclaws are sometimes removed. The double coat has a straight, hard outer coat that is about 2 inches long (5 cm) and a soft, dense undercoat. The coat color is solid white.
The West Highland White Terrier is a game and hardy little terrier that is easy to train. It is fairly friendly toward strangers and gets along well with children. Easy dog to travel with. These dogs are lively and extremely self-assured toward other dogs, but will not pick fights if their owners know how to display proper leadership. They may chase a cat for fun, and need to be corrected if they do attempt this. Robust, friendly and spirited, Westies just love companionship. Despite their size, they make a very good watchdog. The Westie likes to dig and bark. If a Westie is allowed to become the pack leader, it may snap when irritated and be combative with other dogs. A lack of leadership on the owner’s part can cause many behavior problems, such as biting, guarding food and furniture. A Westie that has an owner who knows how to display firm, confident, consistent, leadership will not experience these behavioral problems. These problems can be corrected once the owner becomes the dog’s true pack leader. Do not allow the Westie to develop Small Dog Syndrome.
Prone to chronic hernias, liver disease Legg-Cavé-Perthes syndrome (hip problems), jawbone calcification, cherry eye and skin problems.
West Highland White Terriers are suitable for people in towns and cities as well as in the country. They are very active indoors and will do okay without a yard.
These little dogs need a daily walk. Play will take care of a lot of their exercise needs, however, as with all breeds, play will not fulfill their primal instinct to walk. Dogs that do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display behavior problems. They will also enjoy a good romp in a safe, open area off lead, such as a large, fenced-in yard.
About 15 or more years.
The harsh, straight, shorthaired double coat is fairly easy to groom and sheds little to no hair. Simply brush regularly with a stiff bristle brush. Brushing should keep the coat clean, so bathe only when necessary. Trim around the ears and eyes with blunt-nosed scissors. The whole coat should be trimmed about every four months and stripped twice a year.
The West Highland White Terrier originates from Poltalloch, Scotland, and was once called the Poltalloch Terrier and later was called the Roseneath Terrier, named after the Duke of Argyll’s estate. The breed came about in the mid-19th century when a Scottish breeder of the Cairn Terrier whelped some white pups in his litters. Those pups were selected and bred to obtain the West Highland White Terrier, which is simply a white Cairn. The West Highland was first shown in the USA in 1906 and first recognized by the AKC in 1908. In 1909 the breed’s name was changed from the Roseneath Terrier to the West Highland White Terrier. Like the Cairn, the Westie was originally bred for controlling the population of rats, fox, badger, otter and other vermin.
CKC = Continental
FCI = Fédération
AKC = American
UKC = United Kennel
KCGB = Kennel
Club of Great Britain
CKC = Canadian
ANKC = Australian
National Kennel Club
NKC = National
NZKC = New Zealand
CET = Club Español de Terriers (Spanish Terrier Club)
APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
ACR = American Canine Registry
DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
Brody the adult West Highland White Terrier
"Oscar is a Westie (West Highland Terrier). In this photo he is 6 months old. Oscar does not shed, loves to play with other dogs and is totally fearless. His favorite pastime is eating bugs—including bees, which he catches and spits out. He is very mellow for a terrier and likes to cuddle with us. A little dog (20 pounds) with a big personality!"
WHWT breeding station, Al-Moktar kennel, photo courtesy of Lekesova
"This is a photo that I took of my dog Max, who is a really special Westie at 2 years old, almost 3, and has pancreatic insufficiency, which is similar to diabetes, but is not the same thing. Instead of not having insulin in his pancreas, he is missing a vital enzyme that takes nutrients out of the food he eats. We began to notice that he was acting somewhat strange a few months after he turned 1. He began to eat constantly, need tons of bathroom breaks, have loose stools, and eat his own fecal matter. We took him to the vet's office many times, with no luck in finding what it was. They checked for worms and all sorts of things and he became very skinny. He ate and ate and yet he still lost more weight. I was terrified for him because it really looked like the end of my short relationship with my frisky puppy that had lost his energy. He slept, ate and went outside. He became very tired and lazy. He no longer wanted to tear things up, scratch at people's legs until they played with him or take walks. You really don't realize how great those sometimes irritating actions are in a dog are until you lose them due to illness. We never lost hope though, and kept taking him to the vet's office. Eventually we switched vets, and only a month after we did so, they found what it was! Our dog was missing that enzyme. They had him switch to wet food, and now he is fed twice a day with the enzyme, taken from pigs, mixed into his food. He is a really happy dog who has endless energy and is just the cutest little thing. We suspect that it might have been genetic and could have something to do with the breeders that the pet store got our dog from. Who knows what would have happened to Max if we had chosen a different dog? We are very privileged to have the money to treat Max's disease and his allergies. I suspect that he would have been put down or ended up on the streets. I have two siblings, one nine and the other six, and Max loves them. We haven't had problems with his temperament at all. He does love to bark though, and it is very loud. We feel bad for the neighbors sometimes. He loves to run around in the yard and chase popped soccer balls, Frisbees and other things. Ever since he stopped eating dry food, he hasn't liked hard treats. Only the soft stuff now! Surprisingly enough, he hasn't had any dental problems. He is so sweet and has so many things to love about him that he makes his medicines worth every penny. I love him to death."
"Awwwwww! This is Sterling Tiffany Necklace. She is a 3-year-old West Highland White Terrier. Like most Westies, she is all personality! She loves playing with the kids and romping in the yard. Westies are fun-loving dogs that require patience and training from their owners. This is not a breed for the lazy! She loves to dig holes and chase imaginary rodents, so keeping her coat white is a challenge! She has been diagnosed with "White Shaky Dog Syndrome." It is a rare disease that can be controlled with medication if properly diagnosed. This little "tough pup" is going strong and very happy. We LOVE her!!!"
Sterling Tiffany Necklace the West Highland White Terrier at 3 years old