West Highland White Terrier | Information & Dog Breed Facts


The West Highland White Terrier, or Westie, is a friendly little dog, but rough and brave at the same time. Developed as a hunting dog, today it is one of the best pets that exist. This breed of dog comes from Scotland, more specifically from Argyll, and is characterized by its bright white hair. It appeared at the beginning of the 20th century as a result of the offspring among cairn terrier specimens that had white and cream fur. At first the breed was used for fox hunting although it soon became the excellent companion dog we now know.

The Westie is a beautiful breed of dog with woolly fur, buttoned nose and small erect ears is very attractive.

The West Highland White Terrier is a very affectionate and sociable dog, that is why it is ideal for families with children, who can give them a lot of company and affection. In addition, this breed needs to do moderate physical activity, so it is perfectly compatible to have a Westie in a small apartment or house, while its dose of daily walks.

West Highland White Terrier

Breed history

The West Highland White Terrier is one of the Scottish Terriers, and it is not recommended to call the breed English in the presence of highlanders. The Westie, Scottish Terrier and Cairn Terrier make up Scotland’s national pride.

These 3 dog breeds are close relatives and have the same history until the beginning of the 19th century. Terriers were kept for hunting small. For such work, dogs of brisk disposition, independent and even reckless, were selected.

In Scotland, there was an additional requirement for mink terriers: coarse coat and short legs. The harsh climate affected, the cold water of mountain rivers and rocky terrain.

The selection was based on working characteristics, but they did not favor light puppies, and if they appeared in the litter, they tried to destroy them. Fortunately, this prejudice was not shared by Sir Edward Donald Malcolm.

The colonel liked the light-colored dogs, and besides, he considered the white color to be safer on the hunt. When a red-haired terrier crawls out of a hole, it can be confused with a fox and shot.

On his estate in Poltalloch, Malcolm engaged in directed breeding and managed to raise a sufficient number of one type and color. In parallel, but in an atmosphere of rivalry, two more enthusiasts acted: The Duke of Argill of Rosnit and Dr. Flaxman. All three demonstrated terriers received at exhibitions at the end of the 19th century.

Initially, the half-shells, as visitors to the exhibitions called them, were of two colors – white and light cream, often with spots, and West Highland White Terrier dogs were white. Dr. Flaxman managed to get pure white Scottish terriers. All dogs differed in the shape of their heads and coat structure.

Still, there were more common features: a small erect ear, a bulging tail, a compact body on short strong legs. And the character is gambling, fearless. In the end, these pedigree groups merged into one, taking Malcolm dogs for the desired type, but with a white color.

West Highland White Terrier

Westie Breed development

The first club of the breed was formed in 1904 in Scotland, and three years later in England. Until the First World War, the breed was experiencing a real boom, at that time dogs were valued very highly – at hundreds of pounds.

For a long time, West Highland White Terriers were bred in parallel with Cairn terriers, this practice was banned only in 1924.

The West Highland White Terrier club developed in jerks, wars greatly slowed down the dynamics and threw the breed back.

The number of livestock in England and Scotland was only stabilized in the 1950s, after which the white small terrier quickly became an international favorite. True, along with the popularity of news, he lost his hunting practice and became a completely decorative breed.

This was a logical consequence of the improvement of the exterior. The first thing that the news needed as a relatively young breed was to fix a pure white color. This was achieved by losing quality as wool.

Further improvement of the breed went towards grooming, an original hairstyle appeared in the news. In addition, the terrier “grew up” a little at the withers, extended its neck and straightened the top line. He became so interesting and stylish that in 1976 for the first time in the history of the breed he won the main exhibition of the United Kingdom – Crufts.

The West Highland White Terrier is common, especially for Europe, in North America and Japan, mainly in countries with not very hot climates. Dogs from the UK are still the most prized.

West Highland White Terrier

Physical characteristics of the West Highland White Terrier

The West Highland White Terrier – the most elegant and energetic of the group of short-legged terriers in the UK. This is a small but extremely confident and courageous dog. His addition allows him to be sturdy, agile and omnipresent.


  • Height 26-28 cm.
  • Weight 7-10 kg.

The West Highland White Terrier stands firmly on the ground, because he has a fairly wide chest and developed pelvic bones. The front and hind limbs are short, but bony and very well-muscled. Paws are assembled “in a lump.” The Westie can climb rocks and climb inclined trees.

The West Highland White Terrier gives the impression of a dense lump of energy, in the terrier there should be no effeminacy and lethargy. A good indicator of the temperament to lead is “cheerful,” that is, a high-set tail. Tails do not stop, the “correct” tail is no longer than 15 cm.

The back of the news is short, straight and strong. In the modern type, the top line is a saddle – a long wide neck smoothly passes into a pronounced withers and continues to a shortened lower back. Seen from above, the back and lower back are wide.

West Highland White Terrier

The main signs to lead:

  • Compact.
  • Strong.
  • The back is wider than the front.

The head of the modern West Highland White Terrier is hidden by a hairstyle, but an experienced expert will be able to evaluate its lines. It should be the head of a working dog, wide, with pronounced superciliary arches and a well-filled, slightly shortened muzzle. Smoothed skull and narrowed muzzle are not suitable.

The West Highland White Terrier has large teeth, for the correct location of which requires a sufficiently wide arch of the jaw.

Strictly evaluated:

  • Ears are small, erect.
  • The nose is quite large, black.
  • Eyes – as dark as possible, widely set, oval. The characteristic expression of the eyes is especially checked.

The coat is not limited to white. The West Highland White Terrier refers to wire-haired terriers, which means that too soft, wavy and curled hair is rejected. A properly prepared terrier shows a two-layer coat – a soft short undercoat covered with a stiff awn.

In any case, the West Highland White Terrier wins proportionally folded, with a “company” look and light energetic movements.

West Highland White Terrier

Character and temperament of the West Highland White Terrier

The West Highland White Terrier dogs have a cheeky, confident and affectionate character. They are always alerted and courageous, thus becoming excellent guard dogs.

They can also be devious and stubborn, but they will always remain completely loyal to their families. However, they must remain in contact with cats during their youth, otherwise they will try to hunt them as adults.

West Highland White Terrier dogs have a certain tendency to be mischievous, so it is recommended to train them well.


The West Highland White Terrier is a real terrier full of ebullient energy.

Like all terriers, the lead tends to be dominant and needs serious education and socialization.

It is not recommended to get a West Highland White Terrier for a child under 10-12 years old. Firstly, this dog breed is not very loyal to young children.

Secondly, the child is unlikely to be able to become a real authority for the Westie: the dog needs a firmer hand.

This is due to the fact that the West Highland White Terrier, with all his cute white fluffiness, have remarkable will, stubbornness, inventiveness and a penchant for adventurous pranks.

It’s amazing how cunning the intelligence of this indefatigable adventurer can be.

West Highland White Terrier dogs are incredibly loyal to their owners and at the same time terribly jealous.

If you want to pet another dog or even a cat in his presence, your pet may be terribly offended and rush to punish a competitor.

If you want to have another animal in the house, the size of which is larger than a snail, keep this in mind.

Like most terriers, the West Highland White Terrier adores starting a fight, and with equal fury the terrier is able to rush both at the baby toy terrier and at the huge bullmastiff, one head of which weighs more than the entire West Highland White Terrier.

West Highland White Terrier


The West Highland White Terrier is a genetically extremely healthy dog. Mobility and a calm attitude to food add to him several full years of life – up to 14-16. Of course, provided that the owners often walk with dogs and do not overfeed.

Still, the main problems are:

  • Food allergy.
  • Skin diseases.

Heredity plays a role, but it is rarely possible to find out reliably the “anamnesis” of the puppy’s parents. Therefore, all newly made terriers are given universal advice for the prevention of allergies:

Immediately give preference to hypoallergenic dry food super-premium and holistic.

Avoid protein overfeeding.

Strictly adhere to the diet and do not create erratic mixing of products.

Some skin diseases maybe prevented with proper care.

West Highland White Terrier puppies

Basic care

Trimming (plucking)

The first trimming must be done in 3-4 months, when the puppy fluff changes. Subsequently, the West Highland White Terrier is trimmed on average every 2 months. If you act in this mode, you can maintain a decent appearance of the terrier without completely exposing the skin. Get a comfortable two-layer hairstyle.

If you skip trimming for 4-6 months, the dead coat will have to be plucked out completely.

The frequency and complexity of the procedure greatly depends on the quality of the coat. West Highland White Terrier dogs have a very wide range – from high-quality stiff awn with moderate undercoat to undesirable cotton uniform coat.

Everyone can master the technique of hygienic trimming. It helps to remove excess hair, especially the undercoat, a tool called a furminator. The remaining coat is recommended to be plucked by hand.

West Highland White Terriers cannot be cut with scissors or a machine. This leads to a rapid change in the structure of the hair towards thinning. After two haircuts, the hair becomes thin and soft.

In most cases, an unusual procedure is entrusted to a groomer – a dog hairdresser. At least at first it would be better for a novice dog breeder.

If your West Highland White Terrier is sufficiently “tough” by nature, run from the groomer, who does not pluck the wool, but only wields the machine. The best trimming is done with your fingers. Thinning scissors and a machine are allowed only at the last stage of trimming, to fine-tune and smooth transitions.

West Highland White Terrier

Washing and bathing

You can comb the West Highland White Terrier every day. Suppose a pass is up to four days, and then there may be problems with unraveling the hair and the accumulation of dead hairs.

Contrary to the opinion that white West Highland White Terrier dogs often have to be bathed, these small dogs are bathed only when necessary, every 2-3 months. The procedure will be required less often, the harder the dog’s coat. Shampoo is selected without a softening effect; dry cleaning powders and foams are convenient.

Unfortunately, the wool of excellent stiffness in Westie, as a rule, has an imperfect white color – fawn, light sand. This is not the best option for the show, but it’s much easier to keep such dogs in everyday life. After trimming, the house will be clean.

Bleaching wool with special means, as well as often bathing dogs is not the best way, knowing the tendency of vests to skin manifestations.

We have to upset those who dream of a West Highland White Terrier with the famous “chrysanthemum.” Such a hairstyle can really be done only for 1-2 days and only with the help of hair fixers. This “flower garden” is intended exclusively for exhibition display.

Like all terriers with a hunting history, the West Highland White Terrier has large teeth. Plaque and tartar are a frequent occurrence requiring regular treatment.

Small erect ears pose a risk during bathing, so they are usually laid with cotton swabs. The hair inside the ear should be regularly removed by plucking and cutting.

In addition to hygiene and hairdressing procedures, the main concern of the owner is the organization of leisure news. Funny games, walks, communication give the dog a tone and interest in life.


The West Highland White Terrier needs exercise. He is an energetic little dog who likes to play ball. He also likes to dig or walk around, so make sure your garden is well fenced.

As an adult, the Westie needs about an hour of daily exercise, although these very active dogs are looking forward to the extension of this period.

West Highland White Terrier


The West Highland White Terrier is unpretentious in food, but prone to food allergies. The diet of terriers should have enough meat, fish, vegetables.

When you have made a choice in favor of dry food, use professional super-premium and premium food.

Some food lines have special foods designed for small West Highland White Terrier dogs.

It is more difficult with natural feeding, but dogs grow better and faster on natural food.

However, provided that you can feed the Vesta in a balanced way.

The meat should be at least one third of the total volume.

Lean beef and veal, rabbit, lamb, beef offal (especially tripe) are preferred.

Do not give pork. 1-2 times a week, you can offer lean, boiled sea fish without bones.

A third of the diet is porridge, of which buckwheat and rice should be preferred.

Barley, corn, millet, pearl barley and semolina are not suitable: they only load the digestive system.

Milk can only be given to puppies, but fermented milk products must be included in the diet.

Low-fat kefir, cottage cheese should be at least 1/5 of the dog’s diet.

Zucchini, cabbage, greens are suitable vegetables. Terriers are happy to gnaw both carrots and beets, but these brightly colored fruits may change their coat color, which is undesirable for show dogs.

From fruits, you can give apples, pears and other fruits, if the pet does not suffer from allergies.

It is forbidden to give bird bones, smoked and spicy foods, as well as feed the dog with waste from the table.

West Highland White Terrier

West Highland White Terrier Dog Breed Highlights

Positive points:

  • Very loyal and loving companion and good pet.
  • It is intelligent and enjoys being in a family environment.
  • The West Highland White Terrier is a small, moderate dog.
  • It is a good size which makes it very adaptable to living in an apartment.
  • The West Highland White Terrier is very playful by nature.

Negative points:

  • The Westie is known for loving the sound of its own voice.
  • Can be a bit willful and stubborn, which makes its training more difficult.
  • The West Highland White Terrier is subject to allergies.
  • It is a dog breed known to be quite independent by nature.
  • The West Highland White Terrier requires a lot of maintenance.
  • It is likely to suffer many health problems, so veterinary bills can be high
  • This dog can be difficult to train.

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