The West Highland White Terrier!

The West Highland White Terrier or the Westie is a hardy dog developed in Scotland to hunt small game. It has a compact body and short muscular legs with an upright tail measuring about 5 to 6 inches long. Its ears are small and pointed and are carried erect. The Westie’s coat consists of a soft thick undercoat and an outer coat of coarse straight hair about 2 inches long. It closely resembles a Cairn Terrier which is believed to be its ancestor. It used to be known as the Poltalloch Terrier after the man who developed the modern Westie. He believed that the use of white dogs in hunting vermin is more advantageous due to its high visibility amongst the rocks. Other previous names were Roseneath Terrier and White Roseneath Terrier.

Some Quick Facts:

Life Expectancy:
12 to 14 years

Energy Level:

Living Conditions:
Flexible, though yard preferred.


Exercise Needs:
Daily walk; occassional opportunity to dig.

Breed Group:


9-11 inches

13-22 pounds

Standard Hair Colors:

National breed club:
The West Highland White Terrier Club of America

West Highland White Terrier Skills

Being a descendent of working terriers, the West Highland White Terrier has been used to hunt for foxes and other small animals such as squirrels. Modern Westies have become more popular as pets, show dogs and obedience competitors. Some have been used as hearing dogs, therapy dogs, tracking dogs and have been used in various commercials and advertisements.

West Highland White Terrier Personality

West Highland White Terriers have a lively disposition which makes them ideal family dogs. This breed is very intelligent, highly trainable, faithful, courageous, is good with children and very devoted to its owner. Extreme affection is very evident in its dealings with its owners but it cannot be trusted with small animals due to its natural inclination towards hunting. Proper training can make a Westie a good obedience dog. It thrives best under lots of attention.

Exercise Needs

A Westie does not require a huge amount of exercise but opportunities for boredom should be avoided as it is usually the cause for the dog to create trouble. Being earth dogs, they do like to dig. A regular walk or playtime in the park would be quite beneficial to the dog.

Living Conditions

Environment in a town, city or country may all be equally suitable for a West Highland White Terrier. A home without a yard is acceptable since it is quite active indoors. However, it will appreciate the outdoors to dig as they are essentially earth dogs.

Grooming Requirements

The harsh short haired double coat of a Westie is reasonably easy to groom. A stiff bristle brush can be used for regular brushing to keep the coat clean. A trim every four months and stripping twice a year is recommended. Frequent bathing should be avoided as this usually causes dry skin. Washing once a month or on a longer interval is usually sufficient. However, weekly washing of the inside of the ears is preferable to avoid wax build-up.

Health Issues

The West Highland White Terrier is a fairly healthy breed but may be prone to chronic skin problems, hip problems, hernias, liver diseases and jawbone calcification.

If you liked this dog…

...the Scottie or the Scottish Terrier may be an option. It measures about 10 inches tall at the shoulders and weighs anywhere from 18 to 22 pounds, nearly the same as the Westie. Both breeds are powerful in spite of their small size. They also originated from the same country – Scotland.


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