The West Highland White Terrier

The West Highland White Terrier


There are accounts of white Scottish breeds as far back as the 1500’s, during the reign of James VI.

The modern West Highland white terrier is generally attributed to Edward Donald Malcolm. After his brown terrier was mistaken for a fox and shot, Malcolm decided to breed his terriers white. Malcolm later refused to take credit for the breed, and asked that it not be named after him.

They were first termed "West Highland white terrier" in Otters and Otter Hunting written by L.C.R Cameron and published in 1908.

The first breed club was set up in 1904 and Recognition by the American Kennel Club came in 1907.

The first West Highlands to enter the United States were Ch. Kiltie and Ch. Rumpus. They were known then as Roseneath Terriers.

Like all terriers the West Highland white is a descendant of small game, hunting dogs.

Sizing up:

  • Weight: 15 to 22 lbs
  • Height: 10 to 11 inches
  • Coat: Double, soft
  • Color: White
  • Life Expectancy: 15 – 20 years

What’s the West Highland like?

The West Highland white terrier is a loyal and exuberant breed. Each one has his own attitude. Some love to be near people and others are relative loners who will only bond with a single individual. In either case they won’t tolerate rough playtime and can be stubborn and corky at times

The West Highland will train well, but only on his own schedule. When bored, the West Highland might dig or bark excessively and you should be prepared to put a stop to this behavior right away.

The West Highland is a watchdog and would prefer not to stay on the couch. He needs to be challenged with exercise, sports and games.

The West Highland has been known to jump up on a counter or table and steal a few bites of food. You should definitely begin training early so that he knows what is and is not allowed.

The West Highland’s coat doesn’t shed often but does require frequent brushing.


The West Highland has an impressive life span but will be more susceptible to several conditions:

  • Abdominal hernias
  • Craniomandibular osteopathy
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Globoid cell leukodystophy
  • White dog shaker syndrome

Takeaway Points:

  • The West Highland isn’t a lap dog
  • Each West Highland is an individual
  • The West Highland can be stubborn

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

Searching for a West Highland Terrier?

The West Highland white terrier is a very intelligent dog with excellent ratting skills. It was bred to have its distinctive snowy coat colour and strong tail for its own safety during hunts. The Westie, as it is popularly known, is a great family pet due to its playful nature, loyalty, and friendliness. Although easy to train, it is not recommended for first-time owners as this breed has a stubborn streak.

Its compact size makes the West Highland white terrier a good choice for pet owners residing in apartments. However, its feisty ways and reputation for barking more than usual may be quite a handful for some. Its charm lies in its cute and cuddly appearance, sociable demeanour, and eagerness to please. As such, it is a popular canine breed.

West Highland White Terrier Personality

The West Highland White Terrier is a strong, sure, carefree, smart dog who can discover happiness in the least complex joys of life, for example, noisy toys, a tummy rub, and food.

His cheerful aura and love of life make him a most loved for some, despite his evil. He doesn’t do not have any confidence.

However, he’s not all that domineering in his certainty that his confidence turns into a negative characteristic.

He is neighborly and coexists with everybody, and he appreciates being a piece of his family.

You will never get the complaints of this lapdog from neighbors. He once in a while stirs something up, yet he is after every one of the terriers, so he won’t leave one.

He’s an enthusiastic little person who welcomes the experiences in existence with radiance in his eye and a skip in his progression, especially when he’s cutting over your feet to get to his food bowl.

Same-sex animosity around different dogs isn’t uncommon. However, females will, in general, be more alpha than guys.

Both terrier breeds need a fair amount of exercise, with the Scottie probably needing more than the Westie. Either dog adapts well to city, suburban or country living. Take your dogs out for walks daily, or let them run in the backyard. Don't let either breed roam if you live in the sticks—those terrier noses can lead them far afield.

All purebred dogs are prone to certain genetic issues. For the Westie, one of the most common is atopic dermatitis, skin allergies that cause hair loss and constant scratching. Like many small dogs, Westies may suffer from slipped kneecaps, formally known as luxating patellas. Scotties may develop Scottie cramp, a disorder peculiar to the breed that affects their ability to walk. It ranges from mild to serious. This shouldn't be confused with epileptic seizures, which also affect the Scottie.

Westies have a double coat. Up top, their fur is coarse and firm. This straight fur should not be clipped if you’re hoping to show your Westie. Show dog Westie owners will want to strip this top coat, so it retains its texture. Stripped fur requires special cleaning.

Underneath a Westie’s coarse fur is a soft furry undercoat. Those who don’t show their dogs typically clip this fur into a skirted style. Grooming fur, in this manner, may require additional efforts from your groomer. You’ll want to bring along a picture of a well-groomed Westie, so you can show the groomer what you want your dog to look like.

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