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West Highland White Terrier

Westies are one of Britain’s most famous native breeds. As of 2020, they’re the 4th most popular Terrier breed with 1,460 Westie puppies registered with the KC. We’re going to take a look into this popular dog in today’s guide below!

West Highland White Terrier Breed Standards:
Kennel Club Member: Yes
Westie Lifespan: 13-15 years
Westie Exercise: Up to 1 hour per day
Height: Male 11 inches Female 10 inches
Weight: 7-9 kilograms
Hypoallergenic: Yes

The West Highland White Terrier is native to Scotland known widely for its distinct white coat and cuddly appearance! These loveable little dogs may be small but they’re certainly mighty! Still highly popular today, the Westie is one of Britain’s most loved Terriers!

Unfortunately, a quarter of surveyed Westies were affected by allergies. Potential owners should make themselves aware of the breed’s health issues so they know what to possibly expect. There are plenty of Westie rehoming centres looking for adopters so why not check them out first before getting a Westie puppy.


Check out the pros and cons of the West Highland White Terrier dog breed below:


  • May live in small homes including apartments
  • Westies are intelligent & easy to train
  • Hypoallergenic, a better choice for allergy sufferrers
  • Ideal breed choice for first time owners


  • This breed likes to bark
  • Prone to separation anxiety
  • Independent & stubborn
  • Susceptible to weight gain

The Westie dog is a small breed easily distinguished by its white coat, dark eyes, and a black nose. It has a double coat with the harsh upper layer acting as a form of protection. They have a tight scissor bite with the top teeth slightly overlapping the bottom.


West Highland White Terriers are friendly, courageous, hardy, active, and alert. A small canine that’s packed with personality! A true Terrier at heart but one of the easier members to own! Tough and a force to be reckoned with, the Westie is full of life and fun to be around.

On occasion, the breed can be stubborn. They like their independence, therefore, require a firm leader that won’t let them rule the roost! They will snap if they feel annoyed. Whilst they can be naughty they’re deeply affectionate and make fantastic companions.

Westies are vocal so they’ll quickly alert their owner to any stranger approaching their home. They may be a little reserved at first but should relax and be friendly. Due to their small size, they won’t be good guard dogs. A lack of socialization will cause a Westie to exhibit aggressive behaviours.

This breed is an excellent family pet and great for children of all ages. Despite their small size, their sturdy and robust build prevents them from being easily injured. Westies are lively little characters that make good playmates and companions for children. Play should always be supervised in case it becomes too boisterous.

Westies get along with other dogs and are one of the more sociable Terriers. They can live with other dogs but it’s best if they are of different sex. Felines should only be introduced during puppyhood as the Westies natural instinct is to chase.


The West Highland White Terrier is a Scottish breed developed from the Cairn Terrier. Records of small white Scottish Terriers date back to the late 1500s during the reign of James VI of Scotland. The King would send these dogs from Argyll to France as a gift.

A variety of white Scottish Terriers were produced in the past. George Campbell 8th Duke of Argyll created his version known as the Roseneath Terrier. Dr Americ Edwin Flaxman of Fife developed his own line named the Pittenweem Terrier. He actually drowned over 20 puppies trying to obtain darker coats!

Edward Donald Malcolm, 16th Laird of Poltalloch is credited for his development of the modern Westie we know today. They were originally named the Poltalloch Terrier until 1903 when Malcolm stated he no longer wanted to be known as the breed’s creator. In 1907, Westies were handed their Kennel Club recognition.

The Westie’s white coat prevented them from being mistaken for a fox when working on the moors. Their typical prey included foxes, otters, and rodents. During the early years, Westies were commonly found on farms where they’d act as ratters catching any rodent that dared run past!

In 1907/8 Robert Goelet imported two Westie dogs into the United States. Their names were Ch. Kiltie, and Ch. Rumpus Glenmohr. At this time they were known as Roseneath Terriers and were recognized as such by the AKC in 1908. Soon after the Canadian Kennel Club recognised the breed in 1909 and the Westie had firmly established its presence across the world!

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Exercise & Grooming

Westies need up to one hour of exercise per day. Due to their strong prey drive, they should only be allowed off-leash in an enclosed space. Although small, the breed is energetic and thrives off interactive play. They can be a little mischievous so it’s important to keep them active.

Thanks to their intelligence, Westies are great competitors at dog sports. Their best categories include agility, obedience, earth dog trials and rally. Mental stimulation must be factored into their exercise routine as these curious canines pick up bad habits when bored!

Gardens must be secure as Westies will venture off on an exploration. Given the right training and exercise, they can happily remain home by themselves for around 6 hours. Don’t overexert Westie puppies as it may damage their growing joints.

Brush them once a day with a slicker brush or steel comb. Trim the fur around the face once it appears overgrown. Some Westies will need to be hand stripped depending on the texture of their coat. It should be done every 8 weeks to remove dead fur although show dogs will need this more frequently.

Baths should be given every 4-6 weeks and they’ll probably need their fur clipped around the same time. Clean the ears weekly to remove any debris. Nails should be trimmed fortnightly but these may file naturally during walking. Vets recommend teeth are brushed daily.


Check out the West Highland White Terrier health issues below:

  • Luxating Patellas: The kneecap moves out of position temporarily before going back to the normal position. Dogs are unable to fully extend the affected leg.
  • Westie Lung: Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis targets the lungs causing them to become inflamed, thickened and scarred.
  • Abdominal Hernias: The abdomen causes a tear in the muscle wall by pushing through. Over 90% of cases are genetic and it’s typically common in puppies.
  • Westie Jaw: Craniomandibular Osteopathy is a developmental condition that affects the jaw. Symptoms include swelling, pain, reduced appetite, and drooling.
  • Atopic Dermatits: An allergic skin condition causing intense itching. It must be managed as there is no cure.
  • White Dog Shaker Syndrome: A stress related condition causing muscle tremors, rapid eye movements, and a lack of coordination.
  • Legg-Perthes Disease: This painful health issues will cause the hip joint to crumble and collapse. An operation will be needed to remove the diseased joint.
  • Drye Eye: Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca causes pain and irritation due to a lack of tears being produced by the tear glands.

Westie Training

Westies are naturally intelligent and easy to train but on occasion are a little stubborn. Owners will need to be firm yet patient. Like most Terriers, this pooch will test the boundaries, so it’s important he is disciplined whenever he does.

A strong personality is what gives the Westie its sense of character but this can be a setback when it comes to training. Food rewards are a great way to grab any dog’s attention! Westies will quickly grasp basic commands and do best in short training sessions around 10 minutes long.

Socialization is important for any Terrier breed, especially the smaller ones! Westies are a little bossy and this could all go wrong in the dog park if they aren’t well-socialized! Even though they’re one of the more calmer members Westies will still snap if they feel they’ve been pushed too far.

Distractions are so easy for the Westie to fall victim to. Always on the alert, this breed is best trained in quiet spaces. Build on this slowly before venturing outdoors. Recall is one of the harder commands to teach. A smell in the air or a darting squirrel is too tempting to resist!

Crate training is great for small dogs especially the Westie. It’s a space of comfort a dog can retire to when they simply want a break. Westies are independent so having a section they can call their own is important. Crates are also great for housebreaking.

Westie Interesting Facts

  • Dog food brand Caesar have used the Westie as a mascot for their brand ever since its creation! Black & White Whisky also used the Westie and Scottish Terriers for the face of its brand.
  • It’s no surprise the rich and famous have also taken a fancy to this breed. Some celebrity Wesite owners include J.K Rowling and her pooch Brontë, Muhammad Ali Jinnah founder of Pakistan, Whoopi Goldberg and HRH The Duchess of Cambridge!
  • Westies are a prominent breed on our tv screens and have been featured in a number of movies and TV shows. These include The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby (2006), Gamenight (2018), Widows (2018), Lethal Weapon 3 (1992), A Boy & His Dog (1975), and many more!
  • In 1942, Westie Ch. Wolvey Pattern of Edgerstoune won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The title was won again in 1962 by Ch. Elfinbrook Simon. At Crufts the breed won Best in Show in 1976, 1990 and most recently in 2016 by Berneze Geordie Girl!

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2 thoughts on “West Highland White Terrier

  1. […] Recommended: Have a look at one of Britain’s most famous breeds, the Westie! […]

  2. […] early 1900s ‘Skye Terriers’ were separated into separate breeds. The Scottish Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Skye Terrier, and Cairn Terrier were now independently recognised. Other names for […]

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