West Highland White Terrier

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13-16 lbs
9-11"
Scotland
Poltalloch Terrier, White Roseneath Terrier, Roseneath Terrier, Westie/Westy

West Highland White Terriers are adorable dogs that are small but sturdy. They were originally bred to hunt small prey, like otter, badger and fox, and still enjoy field and earth dog trials today. They are also good at agility, tracking and obedience, but can be difficult to train. This is not because they aren’t smart, as they are in fact very intelligent, but because they are stubborn. They are tough dogs but are at risk to many diseases. They love their family and will enjoy getting attention from anyone, but are a bit more active than your typical lapdog. They will enjoy having a home with a nice fenced in yard, but can adapt well to any house, as long as they get enough exercise outside of home.

Purpose
fox, badger, and vermin hunting
Date of Origin
1800s
Ancestry
scottish, skye, dandie dinmont, and cairn terriers

West Highland White Terrier Health

Average Size
Height: 10-12 inches Weight: 15-21 lbs
Height: 9-11 inches Weight: 13-16 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Inguinal Hernias
  • Copper Toxicosis
  • Addison's Disease
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease
Minor Concerns
  • Craniomandibular Osteopathy
Occasional Tests
  • Hip
  • Knee
  • Blood Test
  • X-Rays
  • Physical Examination

West Highland White Terrier Breed History

Since they are all branches from the same breed, the West Highland White Terrier is considered to share the same history as other similar breeds, such as the Scottish, Skye, Dandie Dinmont and Cairn Terriers. This breed is from Scotland, where they were used to kill rats and other vermin. They were also used to hunt fox, otter and badger. Although their exact history cannot be known for certain, many believe that these dogs have existed since the 17th century. This dog’s signature color is white, although that was not always the only possible color of this breed. It is said that one day while hunting, Colonel Malcolm of Poltalloch and one of his loyal Cairns dogs were on the trail of foxes. The Colonel had mistaken his dog, which was wheaten colored, for a fox, and had accidentally shot him. He was devastated and had decided to only breed white dogs that could not be mistaken for a fox. These adorable little dogs became members of the Kennel Club of England in the year of 1906. It was at the Scottish Kennel Club dog show in Edinburgh in the year of 1904 that the West Highland White Terrier was first shown under its modern name. They were introduced to America in 1905, where they were recognized by the American Kennel Club in the year of 1908. By the beginning of the 20th century, they had become a very popular dog breed. To this day, these dogs are skilled at agility, field trials, obedience and tracking.

West Highland White Terrier Breed Appearance

These sturdy and compact little dogs are rectangular in shape and will be slightly longer than tall. They have dense double coats that are, of course, white, with adorable black button noses. This breed will also have dark pigment around the eyes and mouth. They have round and wide skulls, which will be slightly longer than the muzzle. The stop is defined, and the intelligent eyes are dark in color. They have teeth that will be level and meet in a scissors bite. The West Highland White Terrier has ears that sit erect and wide set on the sides of the skull. They have level toplines and deep chests. Their tails will be carried over the back and have an average length of 5 to 6 inches. The undercoat is short, but the overcoat can be up to two inches long. Their coats are not soft or silky, but are instead rough and harsh, giving them the ability to pass through brush and shed dirt easily.

West Highland White Terrier Breed Maintenance

West Highland White Terriers should be fed twice a day and with a net amount of 1½ to 2 cups. Although these dogs shed very little, they will need regular grooming and occasional trimming around the feet, ears and eyes. The coat should stay fairly clean and will be easy to groom, so they should only be bathed when necessary. Instead of going through complete baths, you can just wipe down your dog’s coat. Once a week you should check for any signs of abnormality and wipe their ears using a gentle ear cleaner, which will help you notice any issues, like infection, before it develops. They will need regular exercise for the body as well as the brain. These dogs should be taken on walks every day and will need some playtime in the yard as well. If they live in a home without a fenced in backyard, they can be taken to the dog park every week to compensate. For mental exercise, agility, flyball and earthdog activities are always enjoyed by this breed, and they are good at them too. They can also be stubborn and hard to train, so be prepared to have many short and varied training sessions. If they feel threatened, this breed can snap and will also lose trust easily. This is why it is important to be gentle, as it can take a lot of work to gain back that trust.

West Highland White Terrier Breed Activity Requirements