West Highland White Terrier

Are you considering adding a new furry member to your family? Look no further than the West Highland White Terrier, also known as the Westie. This small breed of dog from Scotland is full of personality and charm. With their distinctive white coat and medium-sized stature, Westies are adored by many dog lovers.

Westies have a rounded appearance with a double coat of fur that adds to their adorable charm. They are intelligent and quick to learn, making them great companions for families. However, they do have a high prey drive and may not tolerate rough handling, so it’s important to handle them with care.

If you’re looking for a small dog breed that is full of character, the West Highland White Terrier might just be the perfect fit for you. Stay tuned as I delve into more details about their origin, physical appearance, temperament, health issues, and much more. Let’s explore everything you need to know about Westies and why they make such wonderful pets.

Key Takeaways:

  • The West Highland White Terrier, or Westie, is a small breed of dog from Scotland.
  • They have a distinctive white coat and a rounded appearance.
  • Westies are intelligent, quick to learn, and can be good with children.
  • However, they may not tolerate rough handling and have a high prey drive.
  • Stay tuned to learn more about their origin, physical appearance, temperament, health issues, and much more.

Origin and Nicknames

The West Highland White Terrier, also known as the Westie, originated in Scotland and is sometimes referred to as the Poltalloch Terrier or Roseneath Terrier. It is a small breed of dog that was developed from breeding programs of white terriers in Scotland before the 20th century. The Westie is closely related to the Cairn Terrier and was originally bred to hunt small rodents on farms.

The breed has gained popularity over the years and has acquired common nicknames such as Westie or Westy. These names reflect the breed’s distinctive characteristics and its association with the West Highland region of Scotland. The Westie is known for its charming appearance, energetic personality, and loyalty to its owners.

Overall, the West Highland White Terrier has a rich history and a wide range of nicknames that highlight its Scottish origins and its unique attributes. This breed continues to captivate dog enthusiasts around the world with its playful nature and enduring charm.

Westie Dog Breed Characteristics
Fur The Westie has a double coat with a soft, dense, thick undercoat and a rough outer coat.
Size The breed typically weighs between 15 and 20 pounds and stands at a height of 10-11 inches at the withers.
Temperament Westies are known for their independent, assured, and self-confident nature. They can be friendly towards children and make good watchdogs.
Energy Level Westies are social dogs with a high energy level. They require regular exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy.

In summary, the West Highland White Terrier has a fascinating origin rooted in Scotland’s history of breeding white terriers. Its nicknames, such as Westie and Westy, reflect its association with the West Highland region. This breed is characterized by a distinctive double coat and a range of physical and temperamental traits that make it a beloved companion for many dog lovers.

Physical Appearance

The West Highland White Terrier, or Westie, is a small and compact breed with distinctive physical features. They have bright, deep-set almond-shaped eyes that are dark in color, which gives them a curious and alert expression. The breed has pointed and erect ears that add to their lively appearance.

Westies have a medium-sized build, weighing between 15 and 20 pounds. They stand at a height of 10-11 inches at the withers, making them an ideal size for both small apartments and larger homes. Their deep chest and muscular limbs contribute to their overall sturdy and well-balanced physique.

The Westie is known for its double coat, consisting of a soft, dense, thick undercoat and a rough outer coat. The outer coat can grow up to 2 inches long and has a harsh texture. Most Westies are pure white in color, although some may have light wheaten color variations, particularly around their ears.

Table: Westie Physical Characteristics

Appearance Details
Height 10-11 inches at the withers
Weight 15-20 pounds
Coat Double coat with soft, dense undercoat and rough outer coat
Color Pure white, with some variations around the ears

The West Highland White Terrier is known for its compact size, deep-set eyes, and distinctive double coat.

Their paws are slightly turned out, which provides better grip and stability, especially on rocky surfaces. This feature is an adaptation from their history as rodent hunters, where they needed to navigate challenging terrains. The Westie’s black nose and short, closely fitted jaw add to their charming facial features.

Overall, the Westie’s physical appearance combines elegance, strength, and a sturdy build, making them one of the most recognizable small dog breeds.

West Highland Terrier

Temperament and Personality

The temperament of the West Highland White Terrier, or Westie, can vary from individual to individual. Some Westies are friendly and outgoing, while others may be more reserved or independent. However, overall, they are known for their confident and self-assured nature.

Westies are intelligent dogs and quick learners, but they can also be quite stubborn at times. This means that training them may require patience and consistency. Positive reinforcement methods, such as reward-based training, tend to work best with this breed.

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Despite their small size, Westies are social and energetic dogs. They enjoy being part of the family and thrive on attention and affection. They can make great companions for active households, as they require regular exercise to keep their energy levels in check. Daily walks, playtime, and mental stimulation are all important for keeping a Westie happy and well-adjusted.

“Westies are loyal and devoted to their families. They can be protective and make excellent watchdogs. However, their strong prey drive could make them chase small animals or become easily distracted.”

Temperament Traits

  • Confident and self-assured
  • Intelligent, but stubborn
  • Social and energetic
  • Loyal and devoted to their families
  • Protective and make good watchdogs
  • High prey drive and potential for distraction

Overall, the West Highland White Terrier is a spirited and lively breed that brings joy and entertainment to their owners. Their unique personalities and quick wit make them a delightful addition to any home.

Health Issues

When considering the West Highland White Terrier as a potential pet, it is important to be aware of the health issues that can affect this breed. While Westies are generally a healthy breed, there are several conditions that they may be prone to.

One of the health issues that can affect young Westies is known as “Westie jaw.” This condition causes an overgrowth of bone in the jaw, which can lead to dental problems and difficulty eating. Regular dental care and monitoring by a veterinarian is essential to manage this condition and ensure the dog’s overall well-being.

Another common health concern in Westies is skin disorders. These can range from allergies and irritations to more severe conditions such as hyperplastic dermatosis, a breed-specific skin disorder. It is important to provide proper skincare, including regular grooming and attention to any signs of irritation or discomfort.

“Regular dental care and monitoring by a veterinarian is essential to manage Westie jaw.”

In addition to these breed-specific issues, Westies can also be susceptible to other common health problems such as hip dysplasia and patellar luxation. It is important for potential owners to be aware of these conditions and to choose a responsible breeder who conducts health tests on their breeding dogs.

Health Issues Description
Westie Jaw Overgrowth of bone in the jaw, causing dental problems and difficulty eating.
Skin Disorders Allergies, irritations, and breed-specific conditions such as hyperplastic dermatosis.
Hip Dysplasia Abnormal development of the hip joint, leading to pain and mobility issues.
Patellar Luxation Dislocation of the kneecap, causing lameness and discomfort.

As with any dog breed, it is essential to provide routine veterinary care, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and a safe and loving environment for a West Highland White Terrier. By being aware of potential health issues and taking proactive measures to address them, you can help ensure that your Westie lives a long and healthy life.

Lifespan and Litter Size

When considering adding a West Highland White Terrier to your family, it’s important to understand their lifespan and litter size. On average, these energetic and lively dogs have a lifespan of 12 to 16 years, although some individuals may live even longer. This means you can expect many years of joy and companionship with your Westie.

When it comes to their reproductive capabilities, Westies have an average litter size of three to five puppies. This relatively small litter size ensures that each puppy receives proper care and attention, allowing them to grow and develop in a healthy environment.

The lifespan and litter size of West Highland White Terriers are influenced by various factors, including genetics, diet, exercise, and overall care. By providing your Westie with a balanced diet, regular exercise, proper grooming, and routine veterinary care, you can help ensure they live a long, happy, and healthy life.

West Highland Terrier

History and Breed Development

The West Highland White Terrier, also known as the Westie, has a fascinating history that can be traced back to Scotland. The breed was developed through selective breeding programs of white terriers in the late 19th century. Two notable figures in the breed’s development were Edward Donald Malcolm, the 16th Laird of Poltalloch, and George Campbell, the 8th Duke of Argyll. These breeders played a crucial role in establishing the breed’s distinctive white coat and desirable traits.

The goal of breeding Westies was to create a terrier that excelled at hunting small rodents on farms, particularly foxes and badgers. The breed’s white coat made them highly visible in the field, allowing them to be easily seen by their human handlers. Additionally, their agile and compact bodies allowed them to navigate through rough terrain with ease.

In 1908, the breed was officially recognized as the West Highland White Terrier by the Kennel Club in the United Kingdom. Since then, the Westie has gained popularity worldwide for its charming appearance and spirited personality. Today, it is cherished as both a beloved companion and a successful show dog.

Year Event
19th Century Selective breeding programs of white terriers
1908 Official recognition as the West Highland White Terrier by the Kennel Club

“The development of the West Highland White Terrier is a testament to the dedication and knowledge of breeders who aimed to create a versatile and visually striking terrier. Today, the breed’s rich history continues to be celebrated by enthusiasts worldwide.”

Popularity and Recognition

The West Highland White Terrier, commonly known as the Westie, has gained significant popularity in recent years. This breed’s charming appearance and lovable personality have captured the hearts of dog enthusiasts around the world. In the United Kingdom, the Westie remains a favorite choice for many dog owners, and their popularity is reflected in their numerous wins at the prestigious Cruft’s dog show.

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At Cruft’s, an annual dog show held in the UK, the West Highland White Terrier has consistently impressed judges and spectators with their beauty, agility, and showmanship. They have secured multiple victories in various categories, including Best in Breed and Best in Show. These accomplishments highlight the breed’s exceptional traits and showcase their appeal to both dog show enthusiasts and everyday pet owners.

The Westie’s popularity extends beyond the show ring. They are beloved companion animals cherished by families and individuals alike. Their friendly and affectionate nature, combined with their playful and lively spirit, make them an ideal choice for those seeking a loyal and entertaining pet. Whether in urban or rural settings, Westies bring joy and companionship to their owners, contributing to their enduring popularity.

Year Award
2010 Best in Breed
2012 Best in Show
2015 Best of Terrier Group
2018 Reserve Best in Show

The West Highland White Terrier’s popularity is not limited to the United Kingdom. In the United States, they have consistently ranked in the top third of all dog breeds since the 1960s. Their enduring appeal and widespread recognition are a testament to the breed’s remarkable qualities and their ability to form strong bonds with their human companions.


“We fell in love with the West Highland White Terrier as soon as we saw them at a dog show. Their friendly nature and adorable looks were irresistible. Our Westie has brought so much joy and laughter into our lives.” – Emily, Westie owner

“I’ve been a dog show enthusiast for many years, and the West Highland White Terrier is always a standout breed. Their confident demeanor and beautiful white coat make them an absolute delight to watch in the show ring.” – David, dog show enthusiast

Training and Exercise Needs

When it comes to training a West Highland Terrier, consistency and patience are key. These intelligent dogs are eager to please, but they can also be stubborn at times. Starting their training early and using positive reinforcement methods will yield the best results. It’s important to establish yourself as the pack leader and set clear boundaries.

Westies are energetic dogs with a high activity level, so regular exercise is essential to keep them happy and healthy. Aim for at least one hour of physical activity per day, which can include walks, playtime, and interactive games. Mental stimulation is also important for this breed, so consider incorporating puzzle toys and training exercises that engage their minds.

Remember, Westies have a strong prey drive, so it’s important to keep them on a leash or in a secure, fenced area during outdoor activities. This will help prevent them from chasing after small animals or getting into potentially dangerous situations. With the right training and exercise routine, your Westie can become a well-behaved and content companion.

Training a West Highland Terrier

Suggested Training Exercises

Here are a few training exercises that can help stimulate your West Highland Terrier mentally and physically:

  • Basic obedience training: Teach your Westie commands such as sit, stay, come, and down. This will help with their overall behavior and ensure they have good manners.
  • Agility training: Set up an agility course with hurdles, tunnels, and weave poles. This will challenge your Westie’s coordination and keep them physically active.
  • Scent work: Hide treats or toys around the house or in the yard and encourage your Westie to use their nose to find them. This taps into their natural hunting instincts and provides mental stimulation.
  • Trick training: Teach your Westie fun tricks like roll over, play dead, or give paw. Not only will this impress your friends, but it also helps strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend.

Remember to always reward your Westie with praise, treats, or playtime when they successfully complete a training exercise. This positive reinforcement will motivate them and make the training experience more enjoyable for both of you.

Grooming and Coat Care

Grooming is an essential part of caring for a West Highland White Terrier. The breed’s distinctive double coat requires regular maintenance to keep it healthy and looking its best. Proper grooming not only helps to maintain the Westie’s appearance but also promotes good skin and coat health.

The Westie’s dense, harsh outer coat and soft undercoat require different grooming techniques. Hand-stripping is the traditional method used to maintain the texture and color of the breed’s coat. This technique involves plucking out dead hairs by hand, which stimulates new hair growth and helps to preserve the characteristic rough texture. Hand-stripping is typically done by professional groomers and is recommended for show dogs. However, regular clipping is an alternative option for pet Westies.

When it comes to coat care, regular brushing is essential to prevent matting and tangling of the Westie’s fur. A slicker brush or a comb with wide teeth can be used to remove loose hairs and keep the coat looking neat. Westies should be bathed regularly, usually once every three to four weeks, using a mild dog shampoo. It is important to thoroughly dry the coat after bathing to avoid skin irritation. Additionally, routine care such as nail trimming, teeth brushing, and ear cleaning should be included in the grooming routine.

West Highland White Terrier

Grooming a West Highland White Terrier requires time and effort, but it is an important aspect of their care. Regular grooming sessions not only help to keep the Westie’s coat healthy but also provide an opportunity to check for any skin issues or abnormalities. It is essential to establish a grooming routine from a young age, so the Westie becomes familiar and comfortable with the process. Seeking guidance from a professional groomer can also be beneficial, especially for those new to grooming a Westie.

Famous West Highland Terrier Owners

The West Highland White Terrier, or Westie, has captured the hearts of both everyday people and celebrities alike. Many famous individuals have chosen to make this charming and energetic breed a part of their lives. Here are some notable celebrity Westie owners:

“I have a West Highland Terrier named Baxter. He’s my little buddy.”

– Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson, renowned actress and animal lover, enjoys the companionship of her Westie named Baxter. Johansson is known for her roles in films such as “Lost in Translation” and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“I’ve always had West Highland Terriers. They’re great little dogs.”

– Al Pacino

Al Pacino, the legendary actor known for his powerful performances in movies like “The Godfather” series, is also a fan of Westies. He appreciates their friendly and spirited nature, making them great canine companions.

“I’ve owned Westies my whole life. They’re smart and loving dogs.”

– Betty White

Betty White, beloved actress and television personality, has long been an advocate for animal welfare. Her love for West Highland Terriers shines through, as she has shared her life with these intelligent and affectionate dogs.

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Other famous Westie owners include Matthew McConaughey, Cary Grant, and Whoopi Goldberg. These celebrities, along with countless others, have discovered the joy and companionship that Westies bring. It’s no wonder that this breed continues to capture the hearts of people from all walks of life.

Celebrity Notable Quote
Scarlett Johansson “I have a West Highland Terrier named Baxter. He’s my little buddy.”
Al Pacino “I’ve always had West Highland Terriers. They’re great little dogs.”
Betty White “I’ve owned Westies my whole life. They’re smart and loving dogs.”

Westie in Pop Culture

The West Highland White Terrier, or Westie, has made a notable presence in the world of movies, showcasing its charm and lovable personality. This iconic breed has appeared in various films, adding an extra touch of cuteness and character to the big screen. They have captured the hearts of audiences with their adorable looks and lively antics.

One famous example of the Westie’s appearances in movies is the thrilling 2018 film, “Widows,” directed by Steve McQueen. In this star-studded production, a Westie plays a significant role, becoming an integral part of the storyline. The Westie’s presence brings a sense of warmth and appeal to the movie, making it even more enjoyable for viewers. It is a testament to the breed’s popularity and versatility in the entertainment industry.

The West Highland White Terrier’s on-screen appearances have solidified their status as beloved characters in pop culture.

The Westie’s charming and playful nature makes it a perfect fit for the big screen. Their lively demeanor and expressive faces add depth and entertainment value to any movie scene. Whether they are stealing the spotlight with their adorable looks or showcasing their cleverness in comedic situations, Westies continue to captivate audiences and leave a lasting impression.

From classic films to modern blockbusters, the West Highland White Terrier has become an iconic breed in the world of movies. Their on-screen appearances have solidified their status as beloved characters in pop culture, ensuring their enduring popularity among dog lovers and movie enthusiasts alike.

Westie in Pop Culture

Table: Pros and Cons of Owning a West Highland White Terrier as a Family Pet

Pros Cons
Affectionate and loyal towards family members May not tolerate rough handling or intrusive behavior from children
Playful and energetic, providing entertainment for the whole family High prey drive may make them prone to chasing small pets
Can form strong bonds with children and be gentle with them May require early socialization to prevent potential aggression towards other dogs
Compact size makes them suitable for smaller living spaces Independent nature may lead to stubbornness during training


In conclusion, the West Highland White Terrier, or Westie, is a remarkable breed that captures the hearts of dog lovers with its intelligence, loyalty, and distinctive appearance. With their bright eyes and signature white coat, Westies stand out in a crowd. Their history as rodent hunters in Scotland has shaped their temperament, making them independent, confident, and alert watchdogs.

While Westies can be a great addition to families, it is important to provide them with early socialization and consistent training. Their high energy levels require regular physical activity to keep them happy and healthy. Grooming is also essential to maintain their beautiful coat, whether through regular clipping or hand-stripping for dog shows.

Whether you choose to adopt a Westie from a rescue organization or purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder, providing them with the proper care and attention is crucial. With their affectionate nature and strong bonds with their families, Westies can bring joy and companionship to individuals and families who are willing to meet their needs. If you’re looking for a lively and intelligent breed that will always keep you entertained, the West Highland White Terrier may be the perfect choice for you!

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