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Your Pet, Our Passion.

West Highland White Terrier

The sharp contrast of sparkling dark eyes and button nose, against crisp white fur and sharply pricked ears gives the West Highland White Terrier or ‘Westie’ an attractive appearance. With a compact body, fox-like head and hard, shaggy double coat, the Westie is unmistakable for any other breed. 

  • Dog suitable for non-experienced owners
  • Some training required
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys walking an hour a day
  • Small dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Non hypoallergenic breed
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Guard dog. Barks and alerts
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • May require training to live with kids

Key Facts

Lifespan: 12 – 16 years
Weight:  7 – 10kg 
Height:  25 – 30cm 
Colours:  White 
Size:  Small 
UK Kennel Club Groups: Terrier 

Ratings

Family-friendly: 4/5
Exercise needs: 4/5
Easy to train: 4/5
Tolerates being alone: 2/5
Likes other pets: 5/5
Energy level: 4/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 4/5
West Highland White Terrier sitting near the water

Personality

Courageous, cheeky, jaunty and affectionate, loyal to their families and friends, the Westie is understandably an appealing little dog. Perfectly capable of being trained to a high level with the right encouragement, they still retain that working terrier nature, willing to take on foe many times their size. Not afraid to be confrontational, the Westie is a good watch dog, alerting the whole household loudly to anything they believe constitutes ‘trouble’.

West Highland White Terrier walking in the yard

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Scotland

Like many of the Scottish terriers, the Westie was bred to work, hunting otter, fox and other vermin. Unlike any others however they are always white in colour for a unique and tragic reason. Back in the 1600s, Col. Malcolm if Poltalloch was out hunting when he mistook his beloved dark coloured terrier for a fox, shooting and killing him. After that he vowed only to have white dogs to ensure that could never happen again.

First called the Poltalloch Terrier, the breed only appeared in the show-ring under the name of West Highland White Terrier in 1904 and has gone on to be one of the best-loved of all the terrier breeds.

Health and Common Issues

The most common health problem encountered are skin allergies. The breed can also be affected by an inherited bone disorder of the jaw. Check the Kennel Club website and the breed club for further health information.

Exercise Needs

Westies need walks – an hour of exercise per day, but more if you have the time. This is a playful and energetic little dog so providing a variety of walking routes, games, training and puzzle solving exercise is essential.

Space Requirements

Small and compact, the Westie is not difficult to house. A secure garden is essential as they are capable of jumping many times their own height, squeezing through small spaces and digging enthusiastically under an obstacle. Suited to town or countryside, but training will be needed to teach a Westie not to alert bark to every noise or moving object.

Nutrition and Feeding

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.

Grooming West Highland White Terrier

When a West Highland White Terrier gets dirty it’s 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. Daily checks of paws and ears after exercise and wiping the face after meals will keep a Westie clean and pleasant to live with. 

Training West Highland White Terrier

The Westie will enjoy training as long as you set them up to believe it was all their own idea. They will work hard for food rewards and toys they can chase, tug and rag about. Early work on recall, and socialisation to children, cats and livestock is important. An intelligent and versatile dog, if you enjoy training there is no reason the Westie cannot compete well in a variety of dog sports and competitions. 

Best Family Dog Breeds

A great companion for older children who can respect a dog’s need for space and take part in training and exercise. Small breeds are not ideal for very young children who find it very difficult to differentiate between ‘toy’ and ‘real live animal’ and terriers are unlikely to suffer such treatment without reaction.

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with and respect each other, and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them.

did you know?

Did You Know?

  • With their bright white coat and dark eyes and nose, the Westie been a long-standing favourite of artists and advertisers for many years. From Gallant the Westie who featured in artist Marjorie Turner’s works in the early 1900’s, to the Black & White Scotch whisky brand, Rheingold beer and as the face of several dog food brands, the Westies attractive face is undeniably appealing.  
  • They also appeal to celebrities and even royals with owners having included HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, Matthew McConaughey, Whoopi Goldberg Hugh Laurie and many others.
  • Despite their small size they have an incredibly loud bark. Interestingly, they were actually bred this way so that if they ever got stuck underground when hunting, their owner could locate them. 
  • West Highland Terriers have very sensitive skin on their ears and they can get sunburnt – so make sure you pop on some dog-safe sunscreen! 
  • Westie’s were developed to have a super strong tail that they can be pulled out by if they ever get stuck in a hole.  

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