West Highland White Terriers

At a glance
westieThe West Highland White Terrier is a dog breed that started out in Scotland in the 1800s. These terriers have white coats and energetic personalities. They weigh 15 to 20 pounds on the average, stand at 11 inches at the withers and live to about 12 to 14 years.


  • Names – Westie, Westy, Poltalloch Terrier, Roseneath Terrier, White Roseneath Terrier
  • Group – AKC: Terrier Group; KC: Terriers
  • Size – small
  • Life expectancy – 9 – 15 years; Westies normally live for 13 or 14 years, declining in health rapidly towards the latter years.
  • Cost of ownership – medium
  • Ease of ownership – low
  • Aggressive tendency – medium
  • Amount of Exercise – medium
  • Amount of Grooming – medium
  • Ease of Training – high
  • Obedience level – high
  • Suitable for Children – high
  • Amount of Care Required – medium
  • Susceptibility to Health Problems – low

The beautiful shaggy coat, button nose and small, erect ears give this breed a cute and cuddly image. Their bodies are compact and their heads have a fox-like appearance. The coat, however, is their hallmark. It is a double coat, the outer coat is comprised of straight, hard hair and the under one is soft and plentiful. Their movement is free, straight and easy. In terms of allergies, the dog can be capable of excessive barking, which produces an increased amount of saliva and dander.


  • Bitch: from 7kg (15lbs) to 10kg (22lbs)
  • Dog: from 7kg (15lbs) to 10kg (22lbs)


  • Bitch: from 25cm (10″) to 28cm (11″)
  • Dog: from 25cm (10″) to 28cm (11″)


  • Color – white
  • Coat – The outer coat is straight, harsh and wiry. The under coat is close, fluffy, and soft.
  • Shedding – low
  • Allergies – medium
  • Causes Allergies – low

Westies are rugged and highly trainable little terriers. While they are fairly social and are really friendly without being possessive, they may still give the odd nip to a boisterous or careless child. Despite his size, they make a very good watchdog. Westies like to dig and bark and can develop behavior problems, such as biting, guarding food and furniture if they are attempting to fill the dominant role if they don’t recognize their owner as their leader. The key is to start early and provide the dog with firm, confident, consistent, leadership. This way it is clear to the Westie terrier that the owner is his true pack leader.

As a whole, the Westie has become one of the most popular terrier breeds among dog owners and he is celebrated for his intelligence, good manners, calm disposition and determination.

  • Separation Anxiety – low
  • Barking tendency – high
  • Aggressive tendency – low
  • Compatibility with other animals – medium
  • Suitable for children – high
  • Watchdog suitability – high

Even though they are lively and are generally at ease with other dogs, they may, nevertheless, want to harass other pets in the house or dogs in the streets if they lack a dominant owner (pack leader). At worst, they may snap when irritated and be hostile with other canines.

The Westie must be trained at an early age, especially in regard to socialization. Moreover, the best way to train them is through love and gentle guidance. It is well known that most Terrier breeds do not respond well to harsh methods of training, as this often only leads to obstinacy.

  • Obedience – high

Exercise required
A daily walk is sufficient for these little dogs. Play can also take care of much of their exercise needs. Nonetheless, their primal instinct is still to walk. Depriving a Westie of his daily walk will likely create behavior problems in the dog. They greatly enjoy being allowed the freedom to run off leash. Just make sure that if they are taken off the lead, this should only be done in a secure and fully fenced yard or dog-friendly area.

  • Energy – high
  • Amount required – 60 minutes daily

A professional groomer may be needed to provide the dog with an efficient coat stripping at least twice per year. Bathe the dog only when really needed, since they are prone to dry skin. In fact, dirt on their coat is easier to clean if it is allowed to dry first, as it will just brush off later. The Westie may be susceptible to deafness, patella luxation, and allergies.

There is a growing and legitimate concern over the quality of pet food nowadays. First, be sure you are giving your dog at least a premium quality dry dog food brand. One specific example is a lamb and rice based kibble that contains no animal by-products. Refrain from feeding your dog chocolate, sweets, cookies, cakes, chicken bones, and table scraps.

The Westie’s attractive double coat needs a bi-weekly brushing. Westies’ coats are rough and do not require frequent bathing. Grooming is all that is needed to typically get rid of any loose hairs.

  • Ease of grooming – high
  • Amount of grooming – low

Breeding a Westie litter takes time, commitment and considerable costs. Responsibility must be exercised by the breeder throughout the breeding process, from choosing the right mate for your dog to scrutinizing the most suited adoptive families for the puppies produced.

Unfortunately, poor quality puppies can still be produced by people who breed their pets just to have a litter or who only want to make a profit. These reckless individuals breed without any thought at all for quality, looks or temperament in the puppies they produce. Essentially, when it all comes down to it, there really is no other sensible reason to breed Westies than to make the breed stronger and healthier.

  • Litter size – average 3; range is 3 to 4.
  • Puppy cost – range $420 to $700

While Westies are fairly healthy, a few may be susceptible to chronic skin problems and deafness.

  • Susceptibility to illness – low
  • Common health problems – Deafness, Inherited metabolic liver defects, Skin disorders, Epidermic Dysplasia, Krabbe’s Disease, CMO

Home dwellers looking for a quiet lapdog will want to think twice about obtaining a Westie. Westies may look small, cute and cuddly but the reality is they are high-energy hunters and diggers that are always on the look out for adventure and need long walks and plenty of play time. They are a self-confident, intelligent watch dog that has plenty of charm.

  • Living conditions – West Highland White Terriers are suitable for people living in the suburbs and the country but are not entirely compatible with city life. Although they are very active indoors, they are happiest when exploring and freely enjoying a yard.
  • Good with Children – Westies will enjoy rough and tumble play with older children and have the stamina to do so for lengthy periods of time.

The West Highland White Terrier was bred for hunting and capturing vermin in the region of Scotland. The West Highland White Terrier has the same descendents as the Scottish Terrier, the Cairn and the Dandie Dinmont Terriers. In the 1800s, the West Highland White Terrier was fully developed in Argyll. Presently the Westie is more of a companion than a worker.

  • County of origin – Scotland
  • AKA KC name and group: Terrier

Did you know…

  • Happy from the American TV series “Seventh Heaven,” is a mixed breed Westie.
  • Westies need to sleep 13 hours each day, but they are quite willing to adjust to the sleeping patterns of their human companions.
  • Winsor Pilates

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