West Highland White Terrier
The beautiful, shaggy coat, button nose and small, erect ears make this breed very attractive. Their bodies are compact and their heads have a fox-like appearance. The white coat, however, is their hallmark: a double coat, the outer coat being straight, hard hair and the under one being soft and plentiful. Adult Highland Westies measure 28cm and weigh 7-10kg.
- Category size: Small
- Grooming requirements: Once a week
- Shedding: Moderate
- Allergies: No
- Noise: Vocal
- Dog Group Kennel Club: Terrier
- Alone: Less than 1 hour
- Other pets: Medium
- Stability as a guard: Medium
The West Highland White Terrier was bred to hunt otters, foxes and vermin. From the rough-coated terrier stock in Scotland, white whelps were selected to form this breed. James 1, King of England in the 1620s, requested some 'little white earth dogges' out of Argyleshire in Scotland and these were possibly Westies! Col Malcolm of Poltalloch, Argyleshire, accidentally shot and killed his favourite terrier (a dark coloured one) and vowed from then on only to have white dogs – then called Poltalloch Terriers. The Duke of Argyll's estate at Dumbartonshire was called Roseneath and in the 19th century, these white Terriers were then known as Roseneath Terriers in honour of his patronage and interest.
The West Highland White Terrier is cheeky, confident and affectionate characters, totally loyal to their families. They are alert and courageous, making them good watch dogs and they can also be cunning and stubborn. However, they must be introduced to cats when they are young, as they will chase them once they get older. They can have a mischievous streak, so training is recommended!
The most common health problem encountered are skin allergies. The breed can also be affected by an inherited bone disorder of the jaw.
West Highland White Terriers need exercise. They are energetic little dogs who love to play with a ball. They enjoy digging and some do wander off, so make sure the garden is well fenced. As a guide, an adult needs about an hour's daily exercise, though these active dogs will happily take more!
Small dogs have a fast metabolism, meaning they burn energy at a high rate, although their small stomachs mean that they must eat little and often. Small-breed foods are specifically designed with appropriate levels of key nutrients and smaller kibble sizes to suit smaller mouths. This also encourages chewing and improves digestion.
When a West Highland White Terrier gets dirty it is best to let the mud dry on them and brush it off when dry. The coat needs to be hand plucked two or three times a year by a professional groomer. A weekly groom is all that is needed to get rid of the loose hairs.
Is this the right dog breed for you?
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What to Consider next
It is incredibly fulfilling to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or rescue organization. It often means offering them a second chance in life. There are many dogs waiting for a loving family, a forever home. Reputable centers will be very careful about matching the right people with the right dogs. Staff learns all they can about the dogs they take in, and will spend time getting to know you, your family and your lifestyle, before they match you with any of their dogs. They’ll also be happy to give you advice and answer any questions you might have before and after the adoption.
Finding a good breeder
If your heart is set on a pedigree puppy, then your best bet is to find a reputable breeder. Contact The Kennel Club or a breed-club secretary who may have a list of litters available, or should be able to put you in contact with breeders in your area. Try to choose a breeder who is part of the Kennel Club’s assured breeder scheme.Visit dog shows to meet breeders in person and inquire about availability of pups of your chosen breed.
Welcoming your dog home
Whether you’re bringing home a tiny puppy or rehoming an adult dog, this is a hugely exciting time for everyone. While you’re waiting for the big day you might need to distract yourself, so luckily there are a few things you need to sort out before you welcome your new arrival. Click here for more information